In a statement made to CNET, the Blu-ray Disc Association has revealed that they have received proposals for extending the Blu-ray Disc format to support the new UltraHD “4K” standard. Here’s what we know so far about this proposed new 4K Blu-ray format:
As part of its ongoing responsibility to maintain Blu-ray Disc as the premium platform for watching movies and other content at home, the BDA established a task force last year to study a range of possible format extensions, including those that potentially enable 4K content playback on Blu-ray.
Through the first quarter of this year, the task force solicited and received numerous proposals, and is now evaluating the various technologies.
The task force, which is comprised of representatives from BDA member studios, consumer electronics manufacturers and media technology companies, looks forward to sharing with and receiving input from content creators, and is expected to make specification and technology recommendations to the Blu-ray Disc Association board of directors later this year.
The Blu-ray Disc format has already been super-sized once for 3D, so bringing on higher resolution 4K Blu-ray isn’t a surprising move. The real thing the BDA needs to decide is whether they want to create another backwards compatible extension, or to create an entirely new software framework for a 4K-only format. Based on file sizes seen on prototype Sony 4K download boxes, with new HEVC encoding, a 4K Blu-ray movie should have no problem fitting on existing BD-50 discs, and by the time the format is ready, file sizes are only going to get smaller.
Personally, I’m hoping that the hybrid disc proves practical, not because I’m hanging on to 2006, but because this will encourage the studios to not hold back when it comes to making software available. If they can handle the encoding in a way similar to Blu-ray 3D, where the difference between the left and right eye (or, in this case, the additional pixels) is encoded in the ride-along stream, studios can ship one 4K Blu-ray SKU and help consumers start building a library of 4K content that will be sitting there waiting for their next TV upgrade.