Distribution Technology

Ultra HD and HDR

MovieLabs and the Evolution of Video

Advocating the adoption of new technologies in the service of storytelling is an important part of MovieLabs mission. In 2013, MovieLabs published a studio position that high-dynamic range (HDR) and a larger color volume was essential to the roll out of Ultra HD. We then worked with studio and industry partners to ensure the inclusion of HDR in international and industry standards bodies. At the same time, we also put forward security elements for the protection of this new content in consumer distribution.

Since then MovieLabs has continued to work with its member studios on HDR best practices and content security for consumer distribution.

These documents are intended solely as a guide for companies interested in developing products which can be compatible with other products. Each member company of MovieLabs shall decide independently the extent to which it will utilize, or require adherence to, these specifications.

HDR Best Practices (2017-current)

Best practices help ensure the delivery of consistent experiences to consumers while preserving the intent of the creators of those experiences. From time to time, MovieLabs puts forward practices developed in conjunction with its member studios.

Content is typically mastered for specific display systems, whether cinema or consumer SDR and HDR televisions. The best consumer experience of the content usually comes from displaying the content on the type of display it was mastered for. But this is not always possible.

While most of the scripted HDR content from our member studios is mastered in BT.2100 PQ, BT.2100 HLG is used by some distributors. To accommodate this use case when approved by the content provider, MovieLabs has published a best practice for mapping PQ with its larger dynamic range to HLG using a tone mapping algorithm known as maxRGB. Related to this, we also provide links to additional material. The tone mapping approach is described in a SMPTE Journal paper, which SMPTE has made publicly accessible. In addition, one of our member studios, NBCU, has made available to the industry a set of LUTs that can be used in the conversion of PQ to HLG and of HLG to SDR.

Also, limitations of some devices to seamlessly switch between SDR and HDR display modes means some are configured to remain in HDR mode all the time. To accommodate this use case, MovieLabs has published a best practice for mapping BT.709 video to BT.2100 PQ/HDR10.

MovieLabs HDR Best Practices Documents

Additional Materials

Next Generation Video (2013)

Technologies for the distribution, playback and display of video content continuously evolve, but transitions that involve improvements to resolution and color historically have occurred more rarely. In 2013 technologies had evolved that could deliver content consumer that was visually richer and more engaging on an ever-expanding range of devices than traditional HD (BT.709) video. In particular, advances in displays meant that wider color gamut and greater dynamic range could provide directors, cinematographers and colorists with a larger creative palette for their visual storytelling.

In September 2013, MovieLabs published a high-level specification defining key elements for these new content distribution formats and platforms, including high dynamic range and mastering display metadata. The “MovieLabs Specification for Next Generation Video” covers these elements.

Since the original publication, significant aspects of the Next Generation Video Specification have been standardized and adopted worldwide. MovieLabs continues to work on essential enabling practices for these technologies.

MovieLabs Next Generation Video Specification

Enhanced Content Protection (2013-current)

The Enhanced Content Protection (ECP) Specification was initially published in 2013 alongside the Next Generation Video Specification. Since then, the ECP has been widely implemented by industry partners. Based on discussions with those partners and in response to evolving threats, MovieLabs from time to time publishes updates to the Enhanced Content Protection Specification. The latest version, 1.3, was published in December 2020.