BBC iPlayer to test Planet Earth II in 4K Ultra HD

Ever watched a video of a frog and thought, “Man, I wish that frog was in Ultra HD, 4K definition”? Well, good news - the BBC is trialling 4K and HDR content on iPlayer, and it’s starting with Planet Earth II.

The current test is on just a four-minute clip from the show, featuring an adorable red frog chilling on a leaf in the rain, but it's just a precursor for more programmes in amazingly crisp resolution in the future.

4K Ultra HD video is about four times the definition of HD - somewhere around 4000 x 2000 pixels - and is currently only supported by a handful of TV sets.

HDR (high dynamic range), meanwhile, gives clearer colours, supposedly at a range closer to what our eyes are capable of seeing. Again, it's only supported by a small range of devices.

So what difference will it make to a broadcast of Planet Earth? Phil Layton, head of broadcast and connected systems at BBC R&D, said: "One of the clips is a frog on a leaf with lots of rain, and the reason this is so interesting is that the redness of the frog is a really deep Ferrari red that you would never get in broadcast television at the moment."

It's also a good test to springboard more 4K and HDR stuff from the Beeb.

"We want to show that this is how the BBC could make ultra-high definition HDR material available to iPlayer," Layton continued. "And we want to use this as a trigger to work with manufacturers to get their products updated so there's a pathway there for future on-demand BBC content."

It'll be quite a while before normal scheduled programming will be broadcast in 4K or HDR, but this is a good first step.

To take a look at the clip yourself, you'll need a 4K smart TV. Download the iPlayer app to your telly, and check back over the next week or so to see if it's available for you to watch.

Source: BBC

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