‘Color volume’ lauded as display quality’s new standard

In conventional 2D TVs, as shown in the top row, colors are reproduced with limited color coordinates so they cannot display top-quality brightness when rendering images. Their “inept color volume,” mostly measuring 67 percent, is translated much better with 3D color presentation, shown in the bottom row, which renders brightness at full capacity with a wider range of color coordinates and perfect color volume. / Courtesy of Prain Global.

By Ko Dong-hwan

Color volume, a measure of color rendering capacity at different luminance levels, is the new yardstick to determine television display resolution quality.

Just as a green leaf’s color can be depicted differently, from light green to deep green, depending on how it reflects light, color volume measures the varying brightness on a TV display at pinpoint levels.

Its predecessor ― conventional 2D color presentation ― only captured how colors are rendered on a flat screen. Color volume measures in three dimensions, capturing various color coordinates depending on different brightness levels.

Display experts at the AVS Forum in the United States said color volume is “a tool to present visuals more realistically.” They said other critical factors include how to render colors more richly and how bright the rendering can go.

Color volume was introduced in 1976 by the International Commission on Illumination. But because the range of TV brightness levels was limited then, the term did not have much use.

The resolution of TVs has evolved. High-definition (HD) TVs have a picture made up of about 1 million pixels, while ultra-high-definition (UHD) TVs with 8.6 million pixels now dominate the market.

As these products spiked up brightness to unprecedented levels, demand for the new tool to measure performance has emerged.

High-quality TVs nowadays use high dynamic range (HDR), a technology that renders bright zones brighter and dark zones darker to maximize display contrast. To measure this resolution quality more precisely, color volume has started gaining attention.

With the color gamut of 2D TVs, when displays are turning bright or dark, color coordinates are rendered rather poorly, showing uneven color balance and low clarity. Their HDR levels were so low it was almost impossible to measure them.

But color volume, which broke through the conventional color gamut’s boundary, can precisely measure HDR levels using a broader rendering spectrum, even when brightness levels are high.

TVs with higher color volume can thus effectively render HDR content that mostly uses luminance levels more than double those of their 2D predecessors. They can also perfectly realize the DCI-P3 color gamut ― the content production standard adopted by many Hollywood film studios ― reproducing content makers’ ideal color schemes and grabbing viewer attention with fine color rendering.

Global TV industry experts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January hailed the idea of color volume, saying it opened a new path to measuring TV display resolution.

SpectraCal, one of the leading display system providers in the U.S., said it will add a color volume measuring feature to its CalMan display calibration software. The software, popular with experts dedicated to analyzing and evaluating display quality, is expected to quickly make color volume the new measurement norm.

An industry insider said color volume is “a paradigm shift to measure display resolution that will become a new concept for next-generation TVs.”

At the CES, Samsung Electronics introduced its QLED TV that uses new metal quantum dot material to provide a broader range of color coordinates. The premium TV is the world’s first that can realize color volume 100 percent. Its 1500-2000 HDR nits, a measure of luminance, can express the optimal brightness and contrast rate, bringing a three-dimensional feel to all luminance levels.

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