HD TVs can't reproduce the true colors of the World Cup teams

18 Jun 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

The 2018 World Cup in Russia is being broadcast in 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR), which means that fans at home, for the first time, can experience the true colors of the World Cup teams, according to dot color.

True colors of the World Cup

4K resolution will give you more pixels, whereas High Dynamic Range offers an expanded range of luminance and colors. We are switching from the old BT.709 color space that was introduced with HD to the larger BT.2020 color space that covers many more visible colors.

When watching the 2018 World Cup on a regular HD TV (or a non-HDR 4K TV) the colors of the teams’ flags and uniforms do not necessarily appear accurate on-screen as some of these very saturated colors lie outside of the color space that an HD TV can reproduce. These colors will appear either a bit desaturated or in a different tone that intended.

Jeff Yurek of dot color used the opportunity to “plot the dominant flag colors for the top 10 World Cup countries into the CIE 1931 color space”. He chose flag colors because color data for the 2018 uniforms is incomplete at this time. Surprisingly, Yurek found that only two teams’ flags could be accurately reproduced on a standard HD TV.

- ”The results were a little bit surprising. Based on this data, just two teams entire flags – Argentina and France – can be accurately displayed on a standard HDTV with the BT.709 color gamut,” noted Jeff Yurek from dot color and Nanosys, and added: ”This means fans with wide color gamut sets will finally be able to see their county’s colors in their full glory when viewing a 4K HDR broadcast.”

The graph’s full color scale represents the colors that are visible to the human eye. The smallest triangle depicts the BT.709 color space of standard HD TVs. The larger triangle depicts the BT.2020 color space typically used for HDR. The color plots outside of the smallest triangle can only be reproduced accurately on HDR TVs with wide color gamut.


World Cup 2018 in HDRSource: dot color


HDR is the next standard

Dot color previously highlighted the fact that Lionel Messi’s turquoise football boots during the 2014 World Cup fall outside of the standard BT.709 color space. At the 2018 World Cup, Messi is playing in lime green boots.

Also read: List: Best HDR TVs

Lionel Messi boots in HDRSource: dot color


High Dynamic Range – or HDR – is widely considered to be the next standard in TV and is now used in movies, TV shows, games, sports, and more. Amazon and Netflix began offering HDR content in 2016. Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 came onboard later that year. Most cinemas still screen movies in SDR but with a wide DCI-P3 color gamut.

The 2018 World Cup is one of the first sports events to be broadcast in 4K HDR.

- Source: Dot color



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