December 15, 2016

Focus on Ultra HD and HDR: German TV-Platform and the DTG operate largest Plugfest to date at Fraunhofer HHI

  • 3-day event at Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin from 6 - 8 December 2016
  • 60+ participants from 29 companies, 22 UHD devices tested: Displays, Receivers, AV Receivers, UHD Blu-ray Players
  • Focus on interoperability (HDMI/HDCP) and HDR: PQ, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG)
  • First European Ultra HD HDR Broadcasts based on HLG likely during 2017
  • Satellite UHD HDR video feed used for testing was encoded live using Fraunhofer HHI's HEVC encoder

German TV-Platform and the DTG’s (Digital Television Group) UHD Forum held the largest joint Plugfest to date from 6 - 8 December 2016 at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute. A record number of 29 companies sent their engineers and developers to Berlin, including leading manufacturers of TV sets, set-top boxes, AV receivers and UHD Blu-ray players, as well as technology companies, infrastructure operators, research institutions, broadcasters and content providers. Within three days, some 250 test runs were conducted with 22 devices, focusing on interoperability (HDMI/HDCP) and High Dynamic Range (HDR).

“Considering the ever-growing number of Ultra HD devices and the very recent decisions regarding HDR standards, both interoperability and HDR capabilities – for both PQ and HLG –  are on a very good level,” said Stephan Heimbecher (Sky), board member of the German TV Platform and head of its Ultra HD Working group. “However, Ultra HD will continue to be a challenging topic for the industry, as specifications in the field of Ultra HD and HDR are constantly evolving.”

HDR is considered to be a cornerstone for the development of Ultra HD and is expected to drive its breakthrough into the mass market. “With PQ and HLG now specified for HDR in production and programme exchange by the International Telecommunication Union in BT.2100, the door is open for European broadcasters to start Ultra HD services with HDR in 2017,” continued Heimbecher. “The results of the Plugfest are indicating that manufacturers will very likely support both HDR standards, PQ and HLG.” Until now, Ultra HD HDR content is only available on certain Ultra HD Blu-rays and streaming services.

The state-of-the-art High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard is key to compress the large volume of data associated with UHD HDR video so they can be transmitted to the TV sets and set-top-boxes. Fraunhofer HHI is one main technical contributor to the HEVC standard and also provides the broadcast industry with highly efficient HEVC live encoding solutions. The satellite UHD HDR video feed used for testing was encoded live using the Fraunhofer HHI HEVC live encoder.

“It is very important that various procedures and specifications are tested in practice whilst new products are being developed, which is why events like this are so valuable for manufacturers, content providers and broadcasters. Plugfests are the best possible away to ensure compelling picture and sound experiences for their customers and viewers,” said David Daniels, Project Director, Advanced AV at the DTG. “This was our third international collaboration with the German TV-Platform, and the growing number of Plugfest participants since 2014 clearly shows that our initiative is considered invaluable by the entire industry. With the recent inclusion of HDR for HbbTV in our latest D-Book, we’re sure that the fourth will prove just as exciting.”

The Ultra HD Plugfests by German TV-Platform and DTG have provided a neutral platform for the members of both organisations as well as for interested companies and institutions, since 2014. The fourth joint Ultra HD Plugfest will take place mid 2017 at the DTG’s headquarters in central London.