One company is looking to bring 12-bit color encoding to Blu-ray.
Earlier this week, a company called Folded Space said that it has created encoding/decoding algorithms that will bring deeper color to media such as movies and TV shows, which are filmed using high dynamic range digital cameras. This set of algorithms is called DCE (Deep Color Encoding), and will process original content with 12 bits per color instead of the current 8 bits.
"With DCE, studios can now release Blu-ray discs and even next generation UHD/4K physical media to support what's commonly considered to be the most important, most visual improvement in next generation video," said John Schuermann, who leads business development for Folded Space.
Although the wave of 4K UHD TVs, Blu-ray players and other equipment is beginning to saturate the market, most of the media that will play on these devices are encoded with 8 bits per color channel. When you look at the media up close and personal, it's easy to see color "banding," or rather a failed attempt to blend several colors together.
That said, encoding media in 10-bit, 12-bit and even 16-bit will eliminate banding because there are billions of colors to use. Folded Space's DCE can do this while keeping the content roughly the same size as the 8-bit version, and while preserving backwards compatibility. That means one Blu-ray disc will cough up a movie that works on 8-bit and 12-bit players.
Of course the big drawback is getting the industry to accept the new technology. This would not only apply to the media burned on a Blu-ray disc, but the optical drives that read them as well. That means devices would need to be on the Internet to receive a firmware update that supports the algorithms.
"The company's proprietary yet simple and fast algorithms process original content with 12-bits per color and imperceptibly encode information about the fine color detail into a standard, backward compatible 8-bit Blu-ray disc," reads the company's press release. "Newer displays and Blu-ray players with the decoding algorithm can then restore a 12-bit equivalent of the original image in support of much greater color range of recently announced displays."
Folded Space plans on licensing the encoding algorithm to software partners free of charge to "stimulate" deep color and high dynamic range content production as soon as possible. The company also plans to license the decoding algorithm to player and display partners for a "modest" fee.
For more information about Folded Space and DCE, head here.