TVs display high dynamic range

Researchers at Warwick University (Coventry, UK) together with partners at goHDR and Altera Toronto Technology Center (Toronto, ON, Canada) have developed a system that allows existing televisions to display high-dynamic-range (HDR) video content.

Sep 13th, 2011
Compilation of three film exposures from the HDR video by University of Warwick
Compilation of three film exposures from the HDR video by University of Warwick

Researchers at Warwick University (Coventry, UK) together with partners at goHDR and Altera Toronto Technology Center (Toronto, ON, Canada) have developed a system that allows existing televisions to display high-dynamic-range (HDR) video content.

HDR video captures a wide range of light intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to low-light images. It is claimed to offer an enhanced viewing experience even when the higher contrasts are reduced through appropriate luminance compression algorithms for display on low-dynamic-range (LDR) devices such as televisions.

Warwick University's Professor Alan Chalmers said that HDR video has very large data and computational requirements. A minute of HDR footage, for example, requires 42 Gbytes of storage, compared to only 9 Gbytes for standard video. This creates significant challenges for video processing on a low-power embedded platform such as a television or set-top box.

To solve those issues, the researchers developed a system in which HDR video is first compressed at a ratio of 100:1 using goHDR’s compression algorithm. The video is then streamed to an Altera field-programmable gate array (FPGA), which decompresses it for display with minimal perceptual loss.

The partners gave what they claim was the first public demonstration of an HDR-enabled television working with a standard LED TV at the IBC 2011 event (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) between September 9-13.

There they showed a specially created short film called "Morgan Lovers," which was shot, manipulated, and could be displayed entirely in HDR.

The film was a collaborative venture with Vermillion Films (Birmingham, UK) and Morgan Cars (Malvern Link, UK) and was brought about through Warwick Manufacturing Group’s International Digital Laboratory SME program, which is funded by Advantage West Midlands (Birmingham, UK).

-- Posted by Vision Systems Design

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