posted on Friday, 23rd January 2015 by Steve May
If you thought you’d be watching Peter Jackson’s blockbuster Hobbit trilogy on Ultra HD Blu-ray in high-frame rate 3D, the way the director intended it to be seen, think again. The long anticipated new disc format, due to go on sale at the end of the year, will not support 4K 3D.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing says Kazuhiko Kouno (pictured below), Panasonic’s chief engineer responsible for 4K Blu-ray player development. Speaking to Inside CI at CES 2015, he confirmed that 3D 4K was unlikely to be supported, although conceded that the final specification was not yet completed (so never say never, until the fat lady sings). “The Ultra HD Blu-ray standard, as it stands at the moment, does not support 4K Blu-ray – and we are at an almost final specification,” he said, adding: “It’s my personal opinion that 3D doesn’t need such a high resolution.”
However it’s not a perceived lack of interest in stereography that’s behind the snub, more the sheer cost of implementing the technology. “4K 3D would require a very costly 4K 3D decoder chip,” explains Kouno-san. “I think it would be too expensive to commercialise.”
As it stands, the upgraded disc specification does support “4K titles, 4K HDR titles and 2K HDR titles…” confirms the man from Panasonic. HDR 4K discs will play back with regular brightness levels on non-HDR displays. It seems High Dynamic Range content is increasingly being seen as a key ingredient in the UKD Blu-ray mix, even though there are no agreed standards for HDR display brightness. Leaked authoring guidelines would seem to indicate that 4K HDR discs will be authored with a maximum frame average light level of 400 Nits, with a peak of 1,000 Nits for highlights. However, Kouno-san says the format can handle content mastered for a peak brightness of 10,000 Nits. At least we’ll all be able to use our redundant 3D goggles as sunglasses...
Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics
industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.