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image is four times as big as an HD image, and if you ramp up a 30fps show to 60fps – or 120fps, which is what the Ultra HD Forum considers a genuine high frame rate – its footprint expands over traditional HD at a jaw-dropping rate. Most new TV sales today will be 4K HDR TVs, but most of those won’t even display much native 4K or HDR content. Built into the system of living room entertainment is an increase in the power consumption, which is standing ready for content that’s only played occasionally. Additionally, other devices that work within the ecosystem might not always have power consumption and efficiency in mind. The Ultra HD Forum strives to create links between suppliers and service providers to create interoperability and consistency. Sustainability is impossible if every contributor to the supply chain is operating alone. One example that points out the waste which can occur is TV device manufacturers deciding that, if their TV is attached to a set-top box with HDR support, then the TV will output an HDR image. But this can lead to absurdities like SDR signals being converted to HDR in order to be played out by the TV as SDR images. Encoding and decoding always costs a lot of energy. The less decoding that happens throughout the process, the better. Deciding where decoding happens requires intelligent engineering, but also communication among vendors and operators. Decoding in hardware is more efficient than doing it in software, but it’s not always possible. A lot of our sustainability issues get pushed on the cloud, but decoding in software uses a lot of CPU power. Though the Forum doesn’t only think in terms of sustainability, helping its members create greater efficiency has always been part of its mission. Ian Nock, media tech consultant and the chair of the Ultra HD Forum Interoperability Working Group, explains: “What comes before energy usage for many is the fact that it costs money. When people first started producing 4K HDR content, there was this issue about it requiring a lot of coding and a lot of bandwidth, and we asked how we could improve that. It just so happens that cost is a synonym for energy usage in many streaming environments. “We’re a good engineering organisation and that’s really what comes through. Sustainability is just an engineering aspect you need to deal with.” The Forum and its members are experimenting with a number of new strategies for reducing power consumption in Ultra HD images. French research company Interdigital, also an Ultra HD Forum member, is working on projects aiming to lower the power consumption in HDR displays. The first, Advanced HDR by Technicolor – a collaboration between Interdigital, Philips and Technicolor – is a suite of high dynamic range production, distribution and display solutions that leverage machine learning to maximise the image quality of any HDR format. The technology adapts

the rendering of the HDR content to the display’s capabilities. It can offer the opportunity to lower the energy consumption of the display, by reducing peak luminance for example, but still preserve the quality of the image. “It’s not just cutting back on the image and getting rid of the brightest area,” explains Valérie Allié, Interdigital Video Solution Group senior director. “It really is about adapting the content so that the viewing experience and the creative intent are the same but with lower energy consumption.” The other technology Interdigital is working on, which is still under development, is Pixel Value Reduction (PVR), which uses AI-based technology to adapt the image at the pixel level. Where Advanced HDR works at the image level, PVR can work at the level of individual pixels to reduce energy consumption, which also gives even greater control in retaining the quality of the image and user experience. WHAT’S NEXT? In 2018, the Ultra HD Forum created a Service Tracker to monitor consumer-facing UHD services in the real world. When it was launched, there were so few services that they could be counted on one hand. Now there are 248 Ultra HD services being tracked. The tracker provides invaluable data about each channel, its technical parameters, including codecs used, and what Ultra HD services the channel provides. The historical data is particularly powerful, allowing researchers and technologists to see the waves of different codecs, audio technologies and other tech waves and how they were implemented around the world. The kit of tools under the Ultra HD banner (HFR, HDR, 4K etc) are becoming widely available now, and the Ultra HD Forum aims to turn its view on prosumer and even consumer use. “At least 50% of phones people carry in their pocket can do HDR and a large number of them can shoot 4K – some can shoot 8K,” says Schwarz. “We’re confronted with this new world. We feel that the Ultra HD Forum has a role to play there.” “There may come a day where we won’t refer to it as Ultra HD technologies,” adds Nock. “They will just be video technologies – high dynamic range, wide colour gamut at any resolution you want and higher frame rates, all delivered to consumers with next-generation audio on top of everything else. The fact that it can be done in someone’s home with equipment they’ve got around them is a game changer.” For more media industry sustainability stories, sign up for The Flint ’s weekly newsletter: theflint.media/sign-up


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