Deep color 12-bit video promised for existing Blu-rays and TVs

If CES 2014 is anything to go by, this year will be all about Ultra HD 4K TV. But one of the current issues is a lack of content able to take advantage of this latest advance in TV technology.

We've already heard that streaming 4K video from Netflix could become a reality as early as next month, with the second series of House of Cards poised to be the first 4K streaming content.

MORE: Best TVs of CES 2014

However, one American company has now announced a new process that it says will bring more media into line with HD and UHD 4K by delivering 'deep color' 16-bit movie content to compatible TVs.

Folded Space says the availability of deep color content encoding/decoding algorithms will allow compatible HD and UHD 4K displays to show rich, vibrant colours from original film elements, boosting the picture quaklity beyond existing 8-bit Blu-ray discs.

Content with 12-bits per colour is processed into an 8-bit Blu-ray disc – the current standard, making it compatible with existing players – before it's restored to a 12-bit quality by new TVs and Blu-ray players with the Deep Color decoding capability.

According to Folded Space, the process doesn't require much additional bandwidth or processing power to provide the 12-bit colour on compatible devices.

The company – a division of anamorphic lens manufacturer Panamorph, Inc. – says it will licence the encoding algorithm to software partners free of charge and the decoding algorithm to disc player and display partners for a "modest fee".

John Schuermann, who leads business development at Folded Space, said: "Real life has a stunning range and depth of colors that has always been muted by limitations in the way content is delivered to the home.

"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."

MORE: Ultra HD 4K TV: reviews, news and everything you need to know

by Pete Hayman

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Pete was content editor on What Hi-Fi?, overseeing production and publication of digital content. In creating and curating feature articles for web and print consumption, he provided digital and editorial expertise and support to help reposition What Hi-Fi? as a ‘digital-first’ title; reflecting the contemporary media trends. He is now a senior content strategist.