Technicolor Touts Its Own HDR Technology

LAS VEGAS — While much of the buzz on the advanced high dynamic range (HDR) front came from the announcement of Fox and Warner backing HDR10+ and manufacturers incorporating Dolby Vision in their products, Technicolor/Philips touted its own HDR solution at the Consumer Electronics Show.

What’s behind door No. 3?

According to Kirk Barker, SVP, emerging products, technology division, for Technicolor, Advanced HDR by Technicolor offers a dynamic metadata technology that is cheaper than the competitor that charges royalties (Dolby Vision) and more friendly to broadcasters than either of the other two solutions (HDR10+ and Dolby Vision). Dynamic metadata in all three technologies adjusts contrast scene by scene.

LG was the first TV manufacturer to integrate Technicolor’s HDR technology. The technology is also in Funai products.

“Our solution has three different modes,” Barker said.

These modes make the technology a better solution for broadcasters that have to broadcast in HD as well as UHD with HDR. Essentially, Advanced HDR by Technicolor means broadcasters don’t have to have two sets of crews/trucks, one for HD and another for UHD with HDR.

“It’s a better solution for broadcasters,” Barker said.

The technology was first tested at a 2016 Dodgers game.

Irdeto Launches Next-Generation Piracy Control

LAS VEGAS — Digital platform security firm Irdeto at the Consumer Electronics Show announced the launch of its next-generation piracy control solution.

The new online piracy detection and enforcement solution provides data-driven web video discovery tools with expert analyst oversight, multi-language site searches, integrated social media and search engine discovery, as well as peer-to-peer stream discovery such as SopCast and Ace Stream, according to Irdeto. These new features enable content owners and distributors to quickly and accurately identify and then shut down pirated content across streaming video on demand, direct download and hybrid pirate websites.

This data-driven approach allows Irdeto to “look at where web traffic is going,” rather than just checking the usual suspects for piracy, said Lawrence Low, VP, business development and sales for Irdeto.

“We’ve got to follow where the pirates are,” he said. “Sites come and go.”

Pirates have become increasingly sophisticated, he said, offering subscriptions and benefitting from advertising based on traffic.

“You go to these sites and they look legitimate,” he said.

Irdeto Piracy Control is a scalable solution that now offers artificial intelligence and machine learning for automatic logo detection, text and facial recognition, as well as video fingerprinting for automated tagging of metadata, according to the company. This provides a combination of flexibility, enhanced accuracy and speed. With watermarking built into the solution, content owners and operators now have the most robust anti-piracy solution to address growing piracy concerns, the company stated.

“The biggest threat to the content creation industry is content redistribution over the internet,” said Rory O’Connor, SVP of cybersecurity services, Irdeto. “As pirates become more business savvy, content owners, studios and operators need a trusted security partner who has the in-depth understanding of piracy and the technology expertise to implement a robust anti-piracy strategy to disrupt a pirate’s business model. Irdeto’s next-generation Piracy Control solution puts the content owner and distributor in the driver’s seat to protect their brand reputation and revenue.”

BDA: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Format Making Big Strides

LAS VEGAS — The blu-ray disc market has a new star, 4K Ultra HD.

“Hollywood really got behind the format last year,” said Sony’s Victor Matsuda, chair of the Blu-ray Disc Association’s global promotions committee, during the Consumer Electronics Show.

“Everybody says the same thing, sales are a very pleasant surprise,” he said.

UHD blu-ray disc sales increased eightfold from 2016, according to the BDA. In addition, the number of titles more than doubled in 2017, with many studios releasing catalog as well as new releases on the new format, Matsuda noted. There are currently more than 250 titles in the market.

In July Disney joined Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount,
Sony, Universal and Warner in supporting 4K UHD blu-ray, announcing the release of megahit Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 on 4K UHD blu-ray.

“That fact that they chose the biggest movie of the year prior to Star Wars was a testament to the format,” Matsuda said.

Announcing it with the stars of the movie at Comic-con also was a great show of support for the format, as has been support from other talent such as Galaxy director James Gunn and acclaimed director Christopher Nolan, Matsuda noted, adding Nolan’s Dunkirk is being sent out to Oscar voters on 4K UHD BD.

In other positive news, 4K Ultra HD player sales were up 133% in 2017, and the number of manufacturers and number of products doubled last year from 2016. LG, Microsoft, Oppo, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Cambridge Audio all produce 4K UHD blu-ray players, some of which were highlighted at CES. Most of these manufacturers are coming out with a full line, Matsuda noted.

“The key driver is sales of 4K TVs,” he said.

Nearly one-third of households globally are anticipated to have 4K UHD TVs by 2021, according to FutureSource data cited by the BDA. More than half of U.S. and Western European households are anticipated to have the new TVs by 2021, Matsuda noted.

Streaming services that support 4K UHD include Amazon Video, Netflix, GooglePlay, Vudu, FandangoNow and iTunes. Streaming devices that support the format include Roku 4, Amazon Fire, NVIDIA Shield, Chromecast Ultra and Apple TV. Still, Matsuda pointed out that to stream in 4K UHD with high dynamic range (HDR), Netflix recommends a consistent minimum download speed of at least 25 megabits per second. In the U.S., only 21% of users enjoy such speeds, with such developed markets as France, Germany and the United Kingdom at adoption percentages lower than that, noted Matsuda. That doesn’t even account for drains on speed such as multiple users streaming at the same time, he added.

Thus, the blu-ray disc is still the most convenient way to get top-quality 4K UHD with HDR content, he said.

“With our best of quality proposition, we can take a share of that pie,” he said.

With the expansion of HDR technologies, the BDA’s new spec (V3.2) accommodates Dolby Vision, HDR10+ (which garnered support from Fox and Warner at the show and it backed by Samsung) and Philips/Technicolor’s SL-HDR2. Supporting any of these HDR technologies is optional for both player and content. The BDA also approved a new UHD BD recording format spec for Japan.

The importance of HDR to the consumer experience and potential consumer confusion about it have prompted the BDA to step up consumer outreach. Consumer awareness of 4K is fairly high, especially in the United States at 75%, the BDA noted, citing FutureSource research. U.S. awareness of HDR (44%) lags significantly. The awareness gap exists in other markets as well.

To educate consumers about HDR, which is actually “the key consumer benefit,” Matsuda noted, the BDA has created a brochure, a website and educational videos, among other materials, that can be utilized by consumers, manufacturers and retailers.

The educational videos are available on the BDA’s website and on YouTube.

UHD Alliance Ramping Up Marketing Efforts

LAS VEGAS — With a new president, the UHD Alliance came to CES 2018 with a new directive.

Industry veteran Mike Fidler started in July 2017 with a mission to move the organization beyond technical efforts and grow its marketing activities.

For an organization of companies with disparate interests, the key, Fidler said, is “how do we come up with some consistency in messaging?”

The UHD Alliance aims to come to some industry consensus to give the press and consumers a clearinghouse for information and “to give some confidence to the marketplace as well,” he said.

To gauge consumer pain points, the UHD Alliance looked at negative experiences on the popular AVS Forum website. The Alliance found that 31% of such experiences involved picture quality, 21% peripherals and 18% the content itself.

“We want to make sure we are proactive, instead of reactive,” Fidler said.

To that end, the Alliance in late July formed a new Interoperability Working Group, headed up by Sony’s Don Eklund. The group looks at how the different manufacturers’ products work with each other in part by literally plugging them together, via “plug fests.” The aim is to make sure that when consumers set up their systems, they work and provide the best quality possible.

“For consumers, their expectation is plug and play,” Fidler said. “We want to make sure consumers get the full experience.”

Manufacturers can remedy pain points with flyers in boxes or firmware upgrades.

On the educational and informational front, the Alliance has a new brochure and in October launched a website, Also on tap are five educational videos due in the coming weeks.

In talking to consumers the key is to avoid intimidating terms such as “nits” and “specs,” but to focus on the experience, Fidler said.

“Consumers have to understand what the values are, what the benefits are,” he said.

Fidler is also looking to work with the other trade organizations, such as the Blu-ray Disc Association and DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, to “make sure we talk the same language” and share resources, he said.

Meanwhile, the UHD Alliance continues to expand. The group added five new members in the last three months: ASUS, Chroma ATE, Google, Synaptics and Arcadian Technologies.

The new members indicate “a broadening of the ecosystem,” he noted.

“That’s always a good sign,” he said.

The Alliance also continues to certify products and software with its Premium logo via independent labs.


Polk Audio Unveils Amazon Alexa-Enabled Sound Bar

LAS VEGAS — High-performance audio brand Polk Audio Jan. 9 introduced the Polk Command Bar, a voice-controlled sound bar with the Amazon Alexa Voice Service built in.

Available in spring 2018, the Command Bar will retail in the United States for $299.95.

The Polk Command Bar includes integrated far-field microphones atop the sound bar to control master volume, mute, bass, sound modes and source selection with voice commands through the Polk Connect Skill. In addition, the Command Bar includes a dedicated HDMI port designed to fit Amazon Fire TV devices and other HDMI streaming devices with wide form factors. The Command Bar compatibility with Fire TV enables customers to use their voice to control Fire TV, Amazon Alexa-enabled devices and the sound bar. A built-in USB port in the rear panel can power compatible Fire TV devices. The Command Bar also allows users to control lights, locks and HVAC in addition a variety of Amazon Alexa-supported music services, including Amazon Music. Support for additional music services will be announced later in 2018.

“Intelligent voice services like Amazon Alexa have fundamentally transformed how we interact with our surroundings. However until now, the home theater was devoid of an elegant solution,” said Kevin Duffy, CEO and president, Sound United. “For the past year, we worked to develop a sound bar that profoundly changes how we interact with the home entertainment experience. The result is a product that produces Polk Audio-quality sound for movies and music, while simultaneously delivering voice control not yet found in a traditional sound bar.”

“Voice is an incredibly natural way to interact with your home, and we’re excited to work with Polk Audio to bring customers a new Alexa experience for the home theater,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon. “With Polk Audio’s new Command Bar, customers get great sound quality and Alexa voice control for an even better entertainment experience.”

Dolby Touts Expansion of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos at CES

LAS VEGAS — Dolby Laboratories touted partners and the expansion of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos adoption at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The company noted leading global partners, such as Apple, Lenovo, LG, Netflix, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, TCL and Vestel.

“Dolby advances the science of sight and sound to create and enable spectacular experiences,” said Kevin Yeaman, president and CEO, Dolby Laboratories. “We are excited to showcase the momentum of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos at CES and to continue to deliver more Dolby experiences to consumers around the world.”

Some of the partnerships highlighted at the show:

  • Lenovo is bringing Dolby Vision to its ThinkPad X1 Series – the X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga. This milestone marks the first PCs to support Dolby Vision.
  • Panasonic is bringing Dolby Vision to its UB820 4K UHD Blu-ray player, expanding the lineup of OEMs that support Dolby Vision.
  • Three Chinese TV OEMs bring new products supporting Dolby technologies. TCL is the first TV OEM to announce a Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos TV in China. The company also announced a new line of mainstream Dolby Vision TVs available in the United States. Both Hisense and Changhong are expanding support of Dolby Vision to new TV lines. In addition, Skyworth has plans to bring Dolby Atmos to its TVs in 2018.
  • LG Electronics announced that all 2018 LG OLED and Super UHD TVs will support both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. LG also unveiled its latest Dolby Atmos sound bar – the SK10Y. These announcements will enable a broader range of LG’s product lines to deliver both cutting-edge imaging and state-of-the-art sound.
  • Sony revealed that its 2018 X900F series and A8F Bravia OLED series TVs will support Dolby Vision and will be joined by its first Dolby Vision capable 4K UHD Blu-ray player. To marry stellar imaging with phenomenal audio, Sony also announced a new line of mainstream Dolby Atmos sound bars including the HT-X9000F, priced at $599 MSRP.
  • P&F USA, branded as Philips in the United States, is bringing Dolby Vision to its new 69 and 59-Series TVs.
  • Dolby’s proposals for dynamic metadata and color representation, which are foundational components of Dolby Vision, are now included within the HDR specification of the ATSC 3.0 next-generation TV standard. This major milestone enables delivery of live broadcasts in Dolby Vision.
  • Dolby AC-4 has been selected for ATSC 3.0 audio and will deliver the future of audio entertainment to living rooms around the world.

Major Hollywood studios including Disney, Lionsgate, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos in the home, noted Dolby. Nearly 200 movies are available in Dolby Vision on iTunes, and Netflix has more than 200 hours of Dolby Vision content and continues to grow its catalog. This includes popular series such as “Stranger Things 2” as well as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos titles such as Marvel’s “The Punisher” and the recently released film, Bright.

EMA Partners on Its First International Arm, EMA Asia

LAS VEGAS — The Entertainment Merchants Association Jan. 9 announced a partnership with Singapore-based Vuulr to establish its first international arm: EMA Asia.

The agreement covers China, India, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

EMA Asia will advance the EMA’s digital supply chain efficiency initiatives in Asia through conferences, seminars and workshops that will create awareness and promote adoption of the EMA’s standards, specifications and best practices for online video, according to the EMA.

Vuulr, which provides digital transaction solutions, will operate EMA Asia from its offices in Singapore under an exclusive multi-year license from EMA.

“We’ve unintentionally pigeonholed ourselves domestically,” said Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the EMA. “We’ve created EMA Asia in part to support those of you here in the U.S. who have partners internationally. Our goal is to expand adoption of the EMA standards and to get feedback on how they can be improved. We believe we picked the right team to work with.”

Ian McKee, CEO of Vuulr, noted, “This is an industry that has a huge amount of disruption coming to its doorstep every day. There’s a huge amount of inefficiency.”

He added that the Vuulr office is well located to address Asia.

“Within a short flight of about five hours, we can be anywhere in the market,” he said, adding EMA Asia aims to help EMA members find out about some of the different challenges in those markets.

Increasing global utilization of the EMA’s standards, specifications and best practices for online video will open more markets to a greater diversity of content and allow more content to get online, more quickly and at a lower cost, benefitting content providers, retailers and consumers, according to the EMA. EMA’s digital supply chain standards, specifications, and best practices are developed to reduce friction points in the supply chain identified by digital video retailers and video programming distributors, the organization noted.

Members of EMA Asia will receive certain EMA member benefits and member rates for EMA conferences and events. As part of the agreement, Vuulr will also become a sponsor of Digital EMA, the EMA’s community for the online video industry, and participate in the EMA’s digital supply chain workgroup.

TV: A Control Panel in the Internet of Things

If you listened to the various presentations by top exhibitors on the eve of the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show, you’d think human beings are in for a life of leisure. In the very near future, we will all be free to dream, do yoga and go on impromptu, fantastic ski trips while the mundane tasks of preparing dinner, buying groceries, doing laundry and changing the thermostat are handled by the new, cloud-enabled Internet of Things — powered by artificial intelligence and a panoply of connected devices.

LG, Samsung, TCL and others touted the growing connectivity of the appliances and consumer electronics in the home, which will also connect to our new electric cars, which will know the optimum time to charge themselves. Washing machines will know what cycle to use. Refrigerators will be able to compose a meal from items in the fridge that are nearing expiration. Various robots that can learn and approximate human emotion will help us use voice commands to run our homes and entertain our family.

Interestingly, at many of the presentations, while not at the center, the television played an important role in directing this brave new world.

Joe Stinziano, EVP, Samsung Electronics America, aptly noted that while the family room used to be designed around the television, “now our 2018 TVs are designed around your life.”

Indeed, the TV can act as a center to plan a trip via Google Maps, peruse vacation photos, control the humidity in a room, or see who’s at the door.

“The TV has always been an important part of your family life,” noted TCL’s Kevin Wang. “It’s not only a TV, but also a smart engine.”

TCL hailed its growing partnership with Roku, and Roku CEO Anthony Wood showed up at the TCL event to tout the Roku Entertainment Assistant, which offers more advanced voice control and will be released later this year.

David VanderWaal, VP, marketing, LG Electronics USA, noted LG TVs powered with Google Assistant can allow consumers to use voice control to direct many things in the home.

“You can also order pizza straight from your television,” he said.

Of course, those televisions are getting better, more realistic pictures and sound.

Sony touted its new X1 Ultimate processor for TVs, an improvement on the X1 Extreme processor, as well as a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

But picture and sound are the least of the things our new TVs are designed to do. They will become a control panel for our lives, allowing us to boldly go where we have gone before — to do laundry, buy groceries, make dinner — but with a little less effort.

Samsung Unveils TV That Uses AI to Upscale to 8K

LAS VEGAS — Talk about a smart TV. On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung announced what it billed as “the world’s first QLED TV featuring 8K AI upscaling technology.”

This technology upscales standard definition content to 8K by employing a proprietary algorithm to adjust screen resolution based on the image quality characteristics of each scene.

The technology “uses a proprietary algorithm to improve the TV’s picture performance regardless of native image,” said David Das, SVP, consumer electronics marketing, Samsung Electronics America.

This includes detail enhancement — upgrading standard definition content, noise reduction, edge restoration function — which more clearly outlines on-screen objects, according to Samsung.

“The TV intelligently upscales the resolution to an 8K viewing experience,” Das said.

Also at the pre-CES event, Samsung introduced a 146-inch display called “The Wall” — that it billed as the world’s first consumer modular, self-emitting MicroLED display — and a Smart TV platform with Bixby and SmartThings integration.

Warner Bros. Joins HDR10+ Push

Two studios are now backing the proprietary High Dynamic Range platform called HDR10+ that Samsung began pushing last year.

Twentieth Century Fox, Panasonic and Samsung Jan. 5 announced updates for the HDR10+ platform. At the same time, Warner Bros. announced it had joined the coalition, as well.

In the move toward advanced 4K ultra high-definition televisions, including higher resolution, frame rates and enhanced contrast, and color, adoption of High Dynamic Range has been limited to paying Dolby Vision or using HDR10 – an open-source format any CE manufacturer can use without paying a licensing fee.

The companies envision the updated metadata platform being made available to content companies, UHD TVs, Blu-ray Disc players/recorders and set-top box manufacturers, among others, in the new year.

Fox and Samsung begun discussing HDR10+ dynamic metadata in late 2016. It was in February and March that Fox, Samsung and Panasonic came together to build the licensing program for HDR10+. Samsung and Amazon Prime officially joined the group in April 2017. Warner is the second studio to join. Media reports suggest Netflix is considering implementing the format as well.

“Our aim is to deliver an immersive experience no matter what you’re watching,” David Das, SVP, Consumer Electronics Marketing, Samsung Electronics America, said at a Jan. 7 Samsung press event in Las Vegas, on the eve of CES 2018. “That’s why we’re also expanding our HDR10+ platform with industry-leading partners to deliver HDR content into the home.”

“In addition to Amazon, we are partnering with some of the biggest names in entertainment, including 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., to expand the HDR10+ ecosystem and empower others to leverage an open, royalty-free platform.”

Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab, said in a statement, “It was important for us to create an open system that is flexible and offers a viewing experience much closer to the filmmaker’s creative intent for the film. Together with Samsung and Panasonic, we aim to standardize the licensing process making it easy for partners, including content creators, television and device manufacturers, to incorporate this technology and improve the viewing experience for all audiences.”

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment says it will support HDR10+ to enable a dynamic metadata solution for Warner Bros. content to Samsung, Panasonic and other HDR10+ capable 4K HDR TVs.

“Warner Bros. has always strived to provide the best next gen home entertainment experience to consumers,” said Jim Wuthrich, president of the Americas and Global Strategy, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “With HDR10+ dynamic metadata, WB can continue to more accurately bring the filmmakers’ vision of our 2018 releases and our vast catalog of over 75 4K HDR titles to the home across a broad range of HDR10+ capable TVs.”

In an interview with Media Play News at the Samsung press event on Jan. 7, Bill Mandel, VP, Industry Relations at Samsung Research America, said the advantages of HDR10+ are that it is royalty free, a little newer technology, and offers “more precise dynamic meta data control.”

Companies attending CES 2018 in Las Vegas Jan. 9-12 can view the new logo, learn about the license program, including final specifications, adopter agreements and/or sign up to receive a notification when technical specifications for HDR10+ become available at

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