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Blu-ray discs may soon get billions of colors with new encoding tech

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
January 22, 2014
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It's nice that 4K streaming is coming to match the onslaught of Ultra HD screens, but most media is still encoded with a "measly" 8 bits per color channel, rendering around 16 million colors. That might sound fine, but so-called deep color (10, 12 or 16 bits per color) can drastically improve images by eliminating nasty color banding -- and many new HD projectors, high-end TVs and monitors already support it. Now, a company called Folded Space wants to bring the media in line, too. It's developed algorithms to encode 12-bit Blu-ray discs with billions of colors, while keeping them backwards compatible with existing players -- and holding files to nearly the same size. For all that to happen, studios would need to adopt the encoding tech and manufacturers would also have to incorporate it into new Blu-ray players. Those are pretty big "ifs," but the company is offering the tech free to content creators to get the ball rolling -- meaning you might soon get full fidelity in shows that actually merit it.

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