Understanding the Ultra HD Blu-ray Specification

The Blu-ray Disc Association has just completed the Ultra HD Blu-ray Specification, and in this article we’ll quickly go over the information we have so far. Here’s the official logo:


This specification is important because you’ll soon have movies available on it, and clients asking for it.

Here are some important specs available now:

  • 3840×2160 resolution
  • Support for High Dynamic Range (HDR)
  • Support for High Frame Rate (HFR) content.
  • Next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats will also be delivered via the Ultra HD Blu-ray specification.
  • Optional “digital bridge” feature, – “a content purchase can enable the consumer to view their content across the range of in-home and mobile devices”. This means you get a digital copy along with the physical disc, so you can watch your movie on computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc.
  • All new Ultra HD Blu-ray players should be backward compatible to Blu-ray discs.
  • Licensing starts in summer 2015
  • New ULTRA HD Blu-ray discs will hold up to 66GB and 100GB of data on dual and triple layer discs respectively. Blu-ray could only hold up to 25GB of data (single-layer) and up to 50GB of data (dual-layer discs).

Who decides these things?

The specification is under the control of the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group of companies.

Clarity needed for the following specifications (My notes in brackets):

  • Will there be region-coding similar to current discs? (Most likely yes, right now there are three regions)
  • What is the target bit rate for Ultra HD (It might be around the 100-128 Mbps mark)?
  • What is the maximum frame rate (most likely 60p)?
  • What is the color space (Will it support Rec. 2020? It’s hard to say, because most Ultra HD TVs don’t, but this might change soon.)
  • What is the bit depth (Will it be 10-bit? It should, but how many Ultra HD TVs are 10-bit?)
  • Which audio formats are supported (Dolby Atmos almost a given, others we’ll need to wait and see).
  • The disc format is most likely BDXL with UDF2.5 as the file system (unconfirmed)
  • What is the codec? (Most likely it will be HEVC, H.265)
  • What is the container format? (Currently it’s the BDAV MPEG Transport Stream)
  • What aspect ratio sizes are supported? (Currently it’s 16:9)
  • What is the chroma subsampling rate? (Currently it’s 4:2:0, but it might be 4:4:4)
  • How many channels of audio are possible?
  • Will it also incorporate Blu-ray 3D and have Ultra HD 3D?

I’ll update this article when more information is officially released. For those who feel discs are outdated, here’s a thought: How many 100 GB movies can you download a month?

3 replies on “Understanding the Ultra HD Blu-ray Specification”

  1. Sareesh Sudhakaran AndrewRice1 I use Encore mostly to burn BluRay Screeners.  So for me the demand would initially come from Festivals who switch over to UHD players.  This usually doesn’t require a menu, just a straight up load and play, so something simple would work.  I do make the occasional full DVD/BluRay with menus etc, and then we send it off for duplication to discmakers or similar.  So I assume at some point there will be enough consumer demand for UHD discs too, and that someone will fill that gap with software to handle UHD disc creation.

  2. AndrewRice1 It might come once the discs are available and the specs are officially “launched”. But I’m not sure how powerful the features will be, because most users won’t be recording to Blu-ray anyway.  Unless the wedding industry drives a massive demand, that is!

  3. I currently use Adobe Encore CS6 to publish BluRay Discs.  But this wonderful piece of software is EOL as far as I can tell. Anyone have a clue as to how we will be publishing these discs?

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