A Visionary Alliance for a Clearer Picture25 Jan, 2016 By: Thomas K. Arnold
4K Ultra HD was once again the star of the CES event in Las Vegas this year, just as it was in January 2015.
But the twist, this time, was two-fold: The appeal to consumers promised not just more pixels (four times as many as HD), but better pixels, thanks to high dynamic range (HDR), a technique that is used in imaging and photography to produce brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays — and that much more closely mimics what the human eye actually sees than conventional imaging and photography.
To deliver this vastly improved viewing experience to consumers, at least initially, content owners and consumer electronics companies are looking to the Blu-ray Disc, which has the capacity to do the format justice, whereas electronic delivery — in particular, streaming — still has bandwidth issues to contend with.
Two days before the show opened, the year-old Ultra HD Alliance (UHDA) held a packed press conference in which the consortium unveiled specifications and a new logo to identify to consumers devices, content and services capable of delivering the premium viewing experience.
And in a panel discussion after the press announce, Man Jit Singh, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, excitedly said he believes the transition to 4K Ultra HD will be smoother than the introduction nearly 10 years ago of Blu-ray Disc, which has a launch that was marred by a brief format war with HD DVD. He said development of the logo and specifications are critically important “because we have to be careful not to confuse the consumer.”
In just a year, the UHDA has made a significant step toward combatting that confusion. The mission won’t be easy. The overwhelming success of Netflix shows that consumers are willing to give up quality and choice if they can get content cheap enough and easy enough. But the UHDA is leading the charge to remind consumers of just how wonderful their home theater systems can be if they can watch the latest hit movies at a level of quality that far surpasses even HD and rivals what they see in the movie theater.
It is for this reason that Home Media Magazine is honoring the UHDA with its 2016 Home Entertainment Visionary Award. In the coming year, the association will be on the front lines of the 4K Ultra HD launch, a launch home entertainment executives believe will revitalize their industry — our industry.
As Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, said at the UHDA event, 4K Ultra HD is “going to become ubiquitous,” with analysts expecting full household penetration within 10 years.
He added, “The exciting thing about this is that we are going to be first – there is not a lot of broadcast out there.”
With a partner in the UHDA, the industry has found yet another way to deliver top quality home entertainment to consumers.