We’ve Discovered 10-Bit Video!

We’ve Discovered 10-Bit Video!

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At home there are some 10-bit TVs and displays that can display HDR video.” – Mark Walton in Ars Techina

Well, my 1984 Zenith color TV could display 10-bit video quality. Not when watching an OTA broadcaster like the Almost Broadcasting Company, (who used 8-bit D-2 videotape,) but most likely when watching Discovery Channel (they used 10-bit Digital Betacam) and definitely when watching my 12 inch analog videodiscs. (I know because my post facility mastered some of those discs.)

Now I know that my Zenith had maybe 350 lines of resolution (if I was lucky), but it didn’t have just 256 steps (8 bits) of brightness. In fact, because it (and the whole transmission chain at the time) was analog, it had no steps at all. Brightness flowed smoothly from 0.339 volts (black) to exactly one volt (white). None of this stair-step stuff you see at the end of some commercials where the finely-graduated background color looks more like van Gogh’s “Starry Night“. So in this 4K and HDR world we now live in, its┬áCRAZY to have newly produced specs (like the NABA-DPP Common Technical Specs) that call for delivery of 8-bit files instead of 10-bit files. What a rip-off for consumers who purchase HDR sets expecting to get better OTA and cable TV pictures.