Four minutes of Sir David Attenborough’s acclaimed natural history series Planet Earth II is now available to stream in Ultra HD via the BBC iPlayer.
Available on compatible TVs, the footage will be available in Ultra HD and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and mark’s the BBC’s first public UHD broadcast. The corporation will use feedback to help decide how best to stream full-length Ultra HD programmes in future.
The BBC says the inclusion of HLG is “central to the trial” as it sees the technology as an integral part of future Ultra HD programming. Where Ultra HD improves image quality by increasing the number of pixels in a TV set, HLG takes this one step further by providing better quality pixels.
Developed by BBC R&D and Japanese broadcaster NHK to address the complex needs of TV broadcasters, HLG works by enabling images to be shown in extremely high contrast. This provides greater sharpness, extended detail in the shadows and dark areas of the picture, a wider range of colours, and more natural and brighter highlights and mirror-like reflections.
Dan Taylor-Watt, Head of BBC iPlayer, said: “The extra quality HLG brings to Ultra HD needs to be seen to be believed. It’s still early days for the technology but this experiment puts us in the best possible position once audience demand is there.
“This year we’ve brought live events like the Euros and Olympics to iPlayer, introduced new personalised features and now we’re giving people a glimpse of what the future may hold.”
Phil Layton, Head of Broadcast & Connected Systems, BBC Research & Development, said: “Increasing the dynamic range of TV images makes a huge difference to how real the images appear to viewers – it’s closer to looking through a window than watching a standard TV set.
“Crucially, HLG works with existing TV technology and workflows making it ideal for broadcasters, and audiences, all over the world.”
Due to the nature of the trial using cutting-edge technology, the test footage will only be available on a small selection of the latest TVs. A full list of compatible TVs will be published later today here.