The BBC is Test Streaming 4K HDR Planet Earth Footage from Today

By James O Malley on at

If you have a sufficiently snazzy telly, from today you could get a glimpse of a much brighter future thanks to Auntie BBC. The corporation's research and development team has today published a four minute clip from Planet Earth 2 that has been specially graded for high dynamic range (HDR) broadcasts, which use a new Hybrid Log-Gamma system, which promises greater sharpness, more shadow details, a wider range of colours and supposedly more "natural" highlights and reflections.

The trial is rolling out to compatible TVs today - and it'll be flagged up when you go into the iPlayer app. If you want to give it a go, or have a particularly snazzy telly waiting under the tree, the Planet Earth demo will be available until "early next year". The HLG standard has been developed in-house at the BBC alongside Japanese national broadcaster NHK - and it is now part of the official HDR standard, meaning that support will slowly roll out across HDR TVs as a firmware update.

I actually attended a demonstration of the technology yesterday, so can confirm that yes, it is pretty jaw-dropping. I'm not a TV expert, but the pictures were pretty stunning as we watched a compilation of some of the series' best bits, such as when a jaguar wisely chose not to eat the adorable capybaras.

According to the BBC, in one sequence with a frog, you can see greens and reds that have never been broadcast on TV before.

Phil Layton, the Beeb's Head of Broadcast & Connected Systems, is quoted in the press release as saying: “Increasing the dynamic range of TV images makes a huge difference to how real the images appear to viewers – it’s closer to looking through a window than watching a standard TV set. Crucially, HLG works with existing TV technology and workflows making it ideal for broadcasters, and audiences, all over the world.”

If you've got a suitable telly, let us know what you make of the new technology in the comments.