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Author Topic: Sony, Microsoft form interest group to improve HDR gaming experience  (Read 74 times)
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« on: August 20, 2018, 01:54:59 PM »

Sony and Microsoft have formed the HDR Gaming Interest Group (HGIG) and are inviting TV manufactures, game developers, and others to participate in an effort to improve the HDR gaming experience. The proposed initiatives also change how a game console and TV interoperate.

A better HDR gaming experience

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is already one of the most significant developments in gaming in recent years but Sony and Microsoft, fierce rivals in the gaming console space with their PlayStation and Xbox consoles, believe it can look even better.

The two companies will work together to ensure “a better HDR gaming experience” by forming the HDR Gaming Interest Group (HGIG). They are inviting TV manufacturers, game developers, and other players in the field to voluntarily participate.

- ”HDR Gaming Interest Group, with participation of leading companies from the entertainment, game and TV industries, analyzed issues behind the negative reactions from consumers about HDR games and recommend the guidelines for HDR game production,” Microsoft and Sony wrote. “In sum, the core element of the recommendation is to produce an HDR game that parameterizes its tone mapper when given information about an HDR display's tone mapper. This will compensate for the variance in how displays handle HDR.”

HGIG has released “best practice recommendations” for HDR gaming based on four guiding principles (see table for full details). HGIG says that companies should “acknowledge differences” in HDR hardware, ensure “consistent and fair gameplay”, ensure that games are “forward compatible” as hardware improves over time and that consumers (and developers) get access to “easy to use and practical” tools.

Changes how console & TV interoperate

The 24-page “best practice recommendations” document goes into detail on how Sony and Microsoft envisage implementing the changes across the industry. It is clear that they are not only proposing small tweaks or doing this for the sake of face-keeping.

In fact, they are proposing a noteworthy change to how game console and TV interoperate. It is impossible to convey everything here but in essence, HGIG wants a TV to communicate its capabilities (black level, peak brightness, range, more) to the game console via HDMI. CEO of HDMI Licensing, Rob Tobias, says HDMI 2.1 is "ready for these HDR improvements". The game console will have a database that stores display characteristics and tone-mapping information for TVs, and it will automatically tweak its video output to conform to the TV’s capabilities. Of course, there will also be fallback options if the game console fails to identify the TV.

In other words, rather than having a “dumb” pipe between game console and TV, this new approach would create a more intelligent system based on two-way communication. The game console would effectively know if you are gaming on an LCD TV, OLED TV or another type of future display technology. It would also know what your TV can and cannot do in terms of HDR. There would still be some level of user calibration available if you are not fully satisfied.

- “This collection of best practices proposed in the guideline will be easy to implement and will also support improved operability,” said HGIG. “The HGIG is welcoming broad participation from the gaming and TV display industry, and intends to further investigate additional best practices for improved technical standards relating to HDR gaming, and plans to improve on the guidelines to deliver the more immersive gaming experience made possible by HDR."

Why is this important? Because the capabilities of HDR TVs range from extremely poor to very good, and there is still a lot of headroom – higher peak brightness, wider color gamut, etc. – in the HDR standards for future displays to unlock. The recommendations also ensure that your favorite game will, potentially, look even better on your future TVs.

Of course, this is not the first time that industry players have come together in an effort to improve HDR. The UHD Alliance has tried to create a certification for TVs, Hollywood content, distributors, and other parts of the video chain. Unfortunately, the previous initiatives have not done much to alleviate the situation on the TV side as the alliance has handed out certification even to edge-lit LCD TVs that are incapable of reproducing proper HDR. The initiatives proposed by HGIG look more promising but there is still a lot of hard work to do in order to get it implemented.

Besides Sony and Microsoft, LG and Vizio are members of HGIG. Additionally, several other companies have “expressed interest in participating”, including Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, Ubisoft, EA, Activision, and others.

High Dynamic Range is a big step forward for gaming and if you are still not gaming in HDR you are definitely missing out. HGIG wants to make the experience even better – and we hope they can.

« Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 02:02:28 PM by javajolt » Logged

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