Universal Casually Embraces HDR10+

HDR is the  future, and for my money, it’s even better than any gimmick like 360 or 3D video. Give me more dynamic range and color gamut any day. But with that, we have launched headlong into another format war, as rival studios put their support behind either HDR10 or Dolby Vision, or both. But now there is a third contender, the once and future king known as HDR10+. And it looks so good, could Universal be moving away from Dolby Vision? Well, sort of ….

GLASS. Image Credit – Universal Pictures

HDR10+ is the next generation standard, and offers additional picture information that enables deeper colors and better dynamic range on HDR10+ supported TVs. But here’s where things get weird. Though Universal took the opportunity to announce support for the rival HDR10+ format in home video releases, it isn’t releasing any titles just yet. Even more to the point, Universal just released M. Night Shyamalan‘s Glass, without an HDR format at all.

Universal was the founding member in support of Dolby’s Dolby Vision HDR image format, and used it to release the very first Dolby Vision titles in 4K Blu-Ray (the first Despicable Me films), is skipping any HDR support on Glass, even though the film was originally released in Dolby Cinema for its original theatrical release. It would seem to me that if you were going to move away from a format, you would use the opportunity to have a release for the new format? But as we all know, where’s a right way, the wrong way, and the Universal way. If you’re confused, welcome to the party.

“Titles may be released with one [format] or the other or both or perhaps none. Determinations will be made on a title-by-title basis, driven by an assortment of business considerations.”

Universal tells Forbes that moving forward, HDR content will be released on a title by title basis, and some won’t enjoy the high dynamic range format at all, while some will be released in either Dolby Vision or HDR10 (and now 10+), or both.  Yeah, that’s not confusing, especially considering that Glass isn’t getting an HDR10+ release.  However, a hint may be in the phrase “driven by an assortment of business considerations.” It may be that the lackluster box office performance of Glass, makes it simply not worth offering an HDR10+ version at the moment, since re-encoding a film based on one digital format could be more problematic than it’s worth. But if you’re not going to re-encode it, then why not release the film with its original Dolby Vision encoding?

Currently, TVs made by LG, Sony, TCL, and Vizio support Dolby Vision exclusively, while Samsung supports HDR10+, and Panasonic and Philips will support both formats in Europe later this year. Sounds like a typical format war, doesn’t it? As for 4K Blu-ray players, Panasonic and Pioneer support both Dolby Vision and HDR10, while the rest choose one or the other, likely what their TV’s support.

It really bites that studios are once again forcing movie fans to choose, and sometimes their favorite films will end up on rival platforms, causing them to settle for an inferior format. If you ask me, Panasonic, Pioneer and Philips have it right. Support both. It can’t be that much more expensive.

Then again, with optical media dying in favor of streaming, this may all be a moot point in a year.

About James DeRuvo 780 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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