Blu-Ray Discs May Carry Ultra High-Definition Movies

Blu-Ray Disc Association Explores Feasibility of 4K Movies on Blu-Ray

by Anton Shilov
01/14/2013 | 11:56 PM

While the Blu-ray disc (BD) format has been on the market for seven years now, it looks like it has enough potential not only for today’s movies in 1920*1080 resolution in 2D or stereo-3D, but maybe even for the forthcoming movies in 4K quality (3840*2160). According to the head of the Blu-ray disc association (BDA), the organization is currently exploring possibilities to add 4K to the BD specs.


“We created a task force three months ago to study the prospects of adding new technologies to the format. We will evaluate three criteria, starting with the technical feasibility of doing 4K, which is four times the picture quality of 1080p,” said Andy Parsons, the chairman of BDA, in an interview with TechHive web-site.

Big movie studios nowadays make master copies in 4K quality; hence, the movies seem to be available.

There is also HEVC/H.265 codec that supports maximum resolution of 7680*4320 and therefore can support both incoming quad-FHD (3840*2160, QFHD or 4K) as well even beyond ultra high-definition resolutions (7680*4320, UHD, UHDTV or Super Hi-Vision [SHV]) video. HEVC/H.265 is, according to some experiments, is 51% - 74% more efficient than today’s MPEG4-AVC/H.264.

Several manufacturers currently produce BDXL standard media, which provides customers with triple-layer 100GB RE (rewritable) and R (write-once) discs as well as quad-layer 128GB R discs.

All-in-all, the content in 4K is available, adding capacity to Blu-ray media as well as improving efficiency of coding do not seem to be the main problem for the BDA. What the organization should keep in mind is whether the forthcoming Blu-ray 4K will be compatible with existing players in a way Blu-ray 3D movies are compatible with 2D BD players (they just playback 2D versions of the movies).

Perhaps, the most important thing that BDA will have to consider before standardizing Blu-ray technology with 4K support is marketing. Blu-ray discs have dropped their prices in the recent years, but are still more expensive than DVDs. Theoretically, movie studios might want to charge even more for 4K movies. However, a price of $30 or more per disc seems to be too high for the mainstream market. Whether or not BDA and movie studios want to segment the market of packaged movies further is something they will have to consider on the first place.