Blue Planet II series to be streamed in 4K on BBC iPlayer

Tuesday, December 5th 2017

The BBC has announced that the TV series of Blue Planet will be screened in the Ultra HD (4K) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) formats. All the 7 episodes will be screened via the BBC iPlayer just after the broadcast (on BBC One) of the series finale on Sunday (10 December), provided that you have the right compatible TV and fast broadband connection to watch it. This is the second trial of Ultra HD run by the BBC.

Phil Layton, Head of Broadcast & Connected Systems, along with Andrew Cotton, the Principal Technologist, jointly blogged that the initial trial and its success gave a signal to leading manufacturers that the BBC was seriously considering the format. This led to some 300 compatible devices/models being made available by major manufacturers this time around.

The Chief Technology & Product Officer for Design & Engineering, Mathew Postgate, said the the quality of Ultra HD, HDR and the wide range of colours possible is unparalleled and Blue Planet II is the first programme to be shown in such high quality. This demonstrates how the boundaries of digital innovation are being pushed by BBC, he pointed out. He remarked that the next step in reinventing the BBC for a new generation, is offering via iPlayer, full series in Ultra HD and HDR, starting with the spectacular Blue Planet II.

BBC is using the Hybrid Log-Gamma, a type of HDR that allows the most natural colours on domestic TVs possible. It was invented by BBC Research & Development and NHK, the Japanese broadcaster. BBC R&D has converted Blue Planet II with specialist encoding and packaging tools and BBC plans to add to the existing iPlayer platform an UHD HDR encoding capability. The series has used revolutionary camera technology and techniques, to capture stunning images from the oceans across the earth. Narration in the landmark documentary series is by Sir David Attenborough.

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