Planet Earth II is set to drop on BBC iPlayer in 4K

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Is there anything better than eating leftover takeaway on a Sunday evening and watching David Attenborough narrate some Planet Earth II?

Well, actually, there is — watching a plague of locusts, pride of lions and swimming sloths in glorious 4K high dynamic range (HDR).

And starting from today, the BBC is bringing this dream to its iPlayer. If you own a high-tech telly, you’ll be able to watch a short excerpt from the show in detail never before produced by the broadcaster.

So what does this actually mean?

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Well, the HDR footage will essentially show off a range of fresh colours, resulting in greater detail in dark sections and brighter detail in lighter sections.

Like in the harsh wild, though, it’s not all perfect. The catch here is that only select Panasonic TVs currently support the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) type of HDR used by the BBC. Obviously, this greatly limits who’ll get to trial the feature.

Despite this, Phil Layton, Head of Broadcast at BBC’s R&D division, seemed positively buzzing about what the lucky few will get to see.

He said: “One of the clips is a frog on a leaf with lots of rain, and the reason this is so interesting is that the redness of the frog is a really deep Ferrari red that you would never get in broadcast television at the moment.”

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“We want to show that this is how the BBC could make ultra-high definition HDR material available to iPlayer. And we want to use this as a trigger to work with manufacturers to get their products updated so there’s a pathway there for future on-demand BBC content,” Layton continued.

If you happen to be one of the many without a next-level Panasonic TV, the BBC has also promised to make the footage available “as soon as the relevant models support it”.

And as far as full scale expansion is concerned, Layton indicated that the current challenges could be resolved within the next year-and-a-half — a time period which will also allow for many viewers to make the transition to 4K-ready TVs.

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