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By David Sayed

Vice President, Product Strategy at Brightcove

Get Ready for Ultra High Definition


Are you ready to buy a new TV? After seeing the latest 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) video, you just might be. Known as ultra high definition (UHD), not only are images four times the resolution of 1080p HD, but they are more colorful and lifelike. In fact, well-produced UHD content on a suitable display appears to have greater depth than the 3D TVs from a few years ago - without the need for those silly glasses! While this may sound like technical hubris, think about it for a minute: we’ve been in a resolution arms race from 480p all the way up to 4K resolutions, but color, brightness, and frame rate have stayed pretty much the same since the days of analog color television. The commonly held definition for UHD, as specified by the UHD Alliance, addresses these neglected attributes through wide color gamut (more colors), 10-bit encoding (more levels for brightness and color) and support for 60 frames per second.

While you will probably need to buy a new TV to truly appreciate UHD, the good news is that they are already at consumer-friendly prices. But what does this mean for content? Practically speaking, more efficient video codecs are needed to actually deliver the data-rich content. Fortunately, the video transcoding industry has not been idle and there are not one but two new codecs for your consideration: HEVC, commonly known as high efficiency video codec (HEVC),  and VP9 (an open and royalty free codec developed by Google).

Today we’re pleased to announce that Zencoder remains at the forefront of cloud transcoding through its support for HEVC, VP9, 10-bit video processing, and the BT.2020 wide color gamut color space. Together, these features enable content owners to use Zencoder to deliver UHD content to devices that support it. We’ve introduced a new UHD pricing tier for transcoding content into outputs that range from just over 2K, right up to the Digital Cinema Initiatives’ 4K standard (4096 x 2160 pixels) at 60 frames per seconds. The new UHD tier follows the traditional Zencoder pricing model of charging only based on the resolution and duration of the content that you transcode into. The choice of codec does not enter into the price, you will pay the same to transcode into a 480p standard definition (SD) output whether you choose H.264, HEVC or VP9. Similarly, a 1080p high definition (HD) output in H.264, HEVC or VP9 would cost you what you pay now. Only when you transcode into a 4K output will the new UHD multiplier take effect. You can read more about our pricing here.

The new features will become available in an open beta starting April 30th. New customers and enterprise customers will automatically have access to the beta. Current volume customers will need to accept the new UHD price tier by opting into the beta.
Check back on April 30th for more about our UHD support and some examples to get you started!

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