CES 2014: Dolby Vision Offers Brighter, More Life-Like TV Images
January 6, 2014 8:08 PM
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Dolby has found a way to use the full gamut of colors, local contrast and peak brightness
unveiled a new TV technology today with the goal of offering a picture that mimicked what the human eye sees, and that technology is called "Dolby Vision."
Dolby Vision is supposed to offer brightness, contrast and colors in a way that no other television has been able to accomplish before. Dolby said that it threw traditional TV and cinema color-grading standards out the window, since they're based on old technologies, and has found a way to use the full gamut of colors, local contrast and peak brightness.
Today, video is created using a reference peak brightness level, and the unit of measurement is called a "nit." Old TV displays had an average peak brightness of 100 nits, and that’s still the same reference level used today (although TVs today tend to take that signal and expand it to match their own peak brightness typically between 400–500 nits). But making the picture too much brighter will cause it to fall apart.
What Dolby found is that this peak brightness of 100 nits was far too small. The human eye is capable of seeing a wide range of brightness, from 1.6 billion nits while the sun is up at noon to .0001 nits when there's nothing but starlight. The 100 nits just wasn't covering it, as this number tends to only allow bright colors or dark colors to
pop out in detail
, but never both.
Dolby fixed this by building a 1080p, liquid-cooled experimental display with a backlight made up of 18,000 RGB LEDs and a peak brightness of 4,000 nits. This is huge, since standard reference displays use around 4,500 RGB LEDs and as we know, only 100 nits.
This change in rules made the company able to color grade footage with a much wider range and improved contrast.
"The creative community is thrilled to have an expanded color palette and the added contrast so that viewers can see details that might have previously gone unnoticed," said Roland Vlaicu, Senior Director, Broadcast Imaging, Dolby Laboratories. "Meanwhile, TV manufacturers can offer consumers a dramatically improved video experience, regardless of screen size or viewing distance."
Dolby Vision's technology covers the whole deal from the mastering process to the actual displays. The company said it has already signed on with hardware makers Sharp, TCL and Vizio for Dolby Vision-packed TVs.
In addition, content providers like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and Vudu have all agreed to offer Dolby Vision-specific content. TV shows and movies will have to be graded for the Dolby Vision format specifically, but Dolby is already taking care of that by offering reference displays and software plugins to companies.
Dolby Vision TVs are expected to be ready to hit the market by holiday season 2014 (which is also when major Hollywood studios should have films equipped for Dolby Vision). A few prototypes are hanging around at the Consumer Electronics Show (
) 2014 this week.
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1/7/2014 10:55:06 AM
TV shows the image as linear instead of exponential as the eye actually sees it. Linear is “good enough” for neutral brightness images, but it fails to show bright and dark images at the same time with both having good detail. The white will be washed out, or the black will lack detail. You can clearly see that when you try to take a photo with shadows and a bright sky. You have to change the brightness to focus on the on which one of the two you want details on, but you can’t have it on both. You can use a “cheat” named Dynamic Range which will reduce the brightness on bright areas and increase the brightness on dark areas, but it has limitations.
With an exponential scale it will be able to capture and show details on dark objects while still showing bright images without being washed out. If implemented correctly this will make a big difference in picture quality.
They also want to push up the brightness so that a bright sky actually is showing a bright sky. I don’t want to watch TV with sunglasses on, so I will pass on this feature.
"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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