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THE UL­TRA HD Al­liance is on a mis­sion to spread the good word of Ul­tra HD, which, as any self-re­spect­ing home theater en­thu­si­ast will tell you, is more than just a res­o­lu­tion story. Yes, hav­ing four times as many pix­els as stan­dard HD is a def­i­nite boon to im­age qual­ity, but high dy­namic range (HDR), wide color gamut, and other re­cent ad­vances in TV pic­ture qual­ity are even more com­pelling, nudg­ing us ever closer to im­ages that mir­ror the real world. Last sum­mer the Al­liance re­cruited in­dus­try vet­eran Mike Fi­dler as its first full-time pres­i­dent. We re­cently caught up with Fi­dler, who has served in key ex­ec­u­tive roles at Sony and Pi­o­neer, to get an update on the Al­liance and its ef­forts to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of what it calls a “pre­mium au­dio/video ex­pe­ri­ence.”

—Bob Ankosko

S&V: Let’s start with a lit­tle back­ground. How did the UHD Al­liance (UHDA) come into be­ing, and what is its mis­sion?

MF: The or­ga­ni­za­tion was formed in 2015 with the pri­mary mis­sion of more faith­fully de­liv­er­ing cre­ative in­tent us­ing next-gen A/V tech­nolo­gies, es­tab­lish­ing a min­i­mum bench­mark to en­sure a com­pelling user ex­pe­ri­ence, and es­tab­lish­ing a logo pro­gram to iden­tify prod­ucts that meet strict cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cri­te­ria. The Al­liance is com­mit­ted to ed­u­ca­tion that helps con­sumers bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate how ad­vanced pic­ture qual­ity con­trib­utes to a “pre­mium” au­dio/video ex­pe­ri­ence across con­tent, de­vices, and ser­vices. S&V: What role does the Al­liance play in es­tab­lish­ing per­for­mance re­quire­ments for TVs, Blu-ray play­ers, and other en­ter­tain­ment de­vices?

MF: The UHD Al­liance has spec­i­fied tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments for UHD con­tent, dis­tri­bu­tion, and de­vices that must be met to de­liver a high-qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence—one that pre­serves cre­ative in­tent. Our scope in­cludes de­vel­op­ing test­ing method­olo­gies and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams. With that in mind, we es­tab­lished the UHD Al­liance logo pro­gram to iden­tify prod­ucts cer­ti­fied to de­liver an op­ti­mal pre­sen­ta­tion of UHDAbranded con­tent on UHDA-branded de­vices. The Al­liance also es­tab­lished spec­i­fi­ca­tions—in­clud­ing manda­tory dis­tri­bu­tion re­quire­ments re­lated to HDR, res­o­lu­tion, color bit depth, and color pal­ette—and in the past year ex­panded those specs to in­clude bat­tery-op­er­ated de­vices.

S&V: How about con­tent—what role does the Al­liance play there?

MF: From a con­tent per­spec­tive, the Al­liance has es­tab­lished both manda­tory and rec­om­mended specs. Manda­tory “con­tent mas­ter re­quire­ments” in­clude HDR, im­age res­o­lu­tion, color bit depth, and color pal­ette. Mas­ter­ing dis­play rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude dis­play re­pro­duc­tion, peak bright­ness, and black level.

S&V: How does UHD cer­ti­fi­ca­tion work?

MF: The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram for hard­ware de­vices uses independent test­ing labs around the world to ver­ify con­for­mance with our per­for­mance spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The man­u­fac­turer sub­mits can­di­date prod­ucts to the Au­tho­rized Test Cen­ter, and if the de­vice passes cer­ti­fi­ca­tion tests (as de­fined by the Al­liance), test re­sults are sub­mit­ted for fi­nal re­view by the Al­liance’s man­age­ment com­pany (VTM Group), which spe­cial­izes in com­pli­ance en­force­ment to en­sure proper test­ing pro­to­col was fol­lowed. Once the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process is suc­cess­fully com­pleted, the UHD Al­liance ex­e­cutes the req­ui­site li­cens­ing agree­ment, al­low­ing the brand to use the UHD Pre­mium logo. S&V: It’s been a cou­ple years since the Al­liance in­tro­duced the Ul­tra HD Pre­mium logo. How suc­cess­ful has the pro­gram been?

MF: The logo pro­gram has been very suc­cess­ful in es­tab­lish­ing per­for­mance bench­marks that en­sure a pre­mium ex­pe­ri­ence for con­sumers. We have cer­ti­fied prod­ucts in nu­mer­ous cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing UHD TVs, UHD Blu-ray play­ers, UHD con­tent, com­puter mon­i­tors, mo­bile de­vices, PCs, and me­dia play­ers. We be­lieve the es­tab­lish­ment of per­for­mance spec­i­fi­ca­tions, de­vel­oped and agreed to by all mem­ber com­pa­nies, is sig­nif­i­cant, but we also un­der­stand that mem­ber com­pa­nies are free to de­cide how to use the logo pro­gram.

We are work­ing to­ward a more ex­pan­sive use of the Ul­tra HD Pre­mium logo pro­gram with our mem­ber com­pa­nies and re­tail­ers to help clear up con­fu­sion around new UHD-re­lated tech­nol­ogy an­nounce­ments and give con­sumers con­fi­dence in choos­ing UHD prod­ucts. We are also work­ing hard to ex­pand the pro­gram to in­clude new cat­e­gories of de­vices, in­clud­ing set-top boxes, stream­ing me­dia, and desk­top PCs and to ex­pand our mar­ket­ing ef­forts through a new con­sumer web­site (Ex­pe­ri­enceUHD. com), brochures, and a soon-to-bere­leased set of ed­u­ca­tional videos. S&V: Res­o­lu­tion tends to be the first thing peo­ple think of when they hear “Ul­tra HD,” but the for­mat rep­re­sents so much more in terms of video qual­ity. Can you talk about the sig­nif­i­cance of the other tech­ni­cal el­e­ments that fall un­der the UHD um­brella?

MF: We couldn’t agree more and have es­tab­lished key pil­lars of per­for­mance to help con­sumers un­der­stand what goes into a pre­mium A/V ex­pe­ri­ence. Be­yond 4K res­o­lu­tion, we in­clude high dy­namic range (HDR), wide color spec­trum, color bit depth, and im­mer­sive au­dio. We fo­cus our col­lat­eral ma­te­rial on ex­plain­ing what these at­tributes mean in terms of per­for­mance and how Ul­tra HD Pre­mium cer­ti­fi­ca­tion op­ti­mizes the ex­pe­ri­ence. High frame rate is an­other fac­tor in the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence—one that will play a key role in defin­ing pre­mium live broad­cast­ing, es­pe­cially sports broad­casts.

S&V: The Al­liance broad­ened its scope last year with the cre­ation of the Mo­bile HDR Pre­mium logo for por­ta­ble de­vices, which could be seen as overkill. Why mo­bile?

MF: Mo­bile video con­sump­tion is grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially, and we be­lieve mo­bile de­vices de­serve the same at­ten­tion as non-mo­bile de­vices, which is why we es­tab­lished a sep­a­rate set of spec­i­fi­ca­tions that are based on dis­play size and prox­im­ity of the screen to our eyes. We fo­cus on the same core spec­i­fi­ca­tions used for Ul­tra HD Pre­mium to make sure you can get an en­hanced visual ex­pe­ri­ence on the small screen.

S&V: What will the Al­liance be do­ing in the com­ing year to in­crease aware­ness of HDR and wide color gamut as fea­tures?

MF: We have put an enor­mous amount of time and re­sources into build­ing an ex­cep­tional web­site that ed­u­cates con­sumers on the ben­e­fits of the Ul­tra HD Pre­mium and Mo­bile HDR Pre­mium pro­grams. Ex­pe­ri­enceUHD.com is a great re­source, and it will be up­dated through­out the year as we work to in­crease aware­ness among con­sumers, re­tail­ers, and the press. We pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion about the tech­nol­ogy and de­vel­op­ments in the UHD space as well as a list­ing of all Ul­tra HD Pre­mium–cer­ti­fied prod­ucts, with di­rect links to mem­ber com­pany web­sites, ex­ten­sive FAQs, and guides to help con­sumers get full en­joy­ment from UHD de­vices and con­tent.

We have also pro­duced a com­pan­ion brochure that ex­plains the ben­e­fits of our Pre­mium pro­grams and helps con­sumers de­ter­mine with con­fi­dence which prod­ucts will best meet their needs. In ad­di­tion, we have pro­duced five videos de­signed to help con­sumers in a friendly, non-tech­ni­cal way un­der­stand UHD tech­nol­ogy and make buy­ing de­ci­sions. These will be avail­able shortly.

The full ver­sion of this in­ter­view ap­pears on soun­dand­vi­sion.com.

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