Keeping W3C Relevant in an HDR / WCG Living Room Environment

Presenter: Zachary Cava (Disney)
Duration: 8 min
Slides: download

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Hello everyone, my name is Zachary Cava.

I'm here today on the behalf of Disney Streaming Services and Hulu to prompt a discussion about keeping the W3C relevant in an HDR and Wide Color Gamut living room environment.

Let's start by defining the living room experience.

Unlike other traditional interactions, the living room experience is defined by lean-back environment and interaction model.

Here, the application experience is built around the fixed 69 widescreen format, as optimized to write as smooth and responsive experience even on the lowest powered computing devices.

This experience is built to showcase and invite users to explore the vast libraries of entertainment media that are available to them.

The combination of discovery, personalization, and editorialization creates a complex interleaving of graphical and interactive elements that must be made easily traversable within the heavily restricted interaction capabilities of the environment.

This experience is defined by the fidelity of the content it provides.

This is where consumers will experience the cutting edge in video and audio technology.

This creates complexity as all content will not always be available in all formats.

Instead, advocacy applications must present mixtures of these old and new formats as seamlessly as possible.

Today these next generation technologies are ultra high definition, high dynamic range, and special audio but the bar is always raising.

As new technologies are created, the expectation of this environment requires us to address them, even before they've reached full maturity.

And this in turn brings additional complexity to the applications.

While much around application structures maps well to what the W3C has defined for the web.

The TV as the primary screen type presents a great challenge as these simply are not the monitors the web was built for.

The features and functionality of these devices are tailored to the presentation of entertainment media, which are commonly the first to utilize next generation formats.

To add urgency to the equation, the general declining prices and shorter replacement cycle of these devices is driving rapid adoption of next generation features.

HDR is a banner feature of this latest cycle.

Another point of challenge is the delivery of content to these TV screens.

Content is provided by an application running on either the TV directly, or a device connected via an HDMI cable.

In both the TV and connected device environment, application authors typically have the choice of an HTML environment or system native environment to develop their application.

In order for an application environment to be practical for a content distributor like us, it must provide the ability to use the features available on the output devices.

To take HDR as an example, this is not as simple as supporting it by stream format.

The environment must be able to properly decrypt, decode, render, and composite the HDR data into the full application experience, which may contain a mixture of other colorspaces and content from other security zones.

On top of this, the application environment must also understand the capabilities and constraints of the output path, which may again be the running device, or a downstream one.

Today, the support for proper detection or use of HDR across device HTML publications is very inconsistent, and many times drives the implementer away from the HTML framework and towards the native device framework.

This shift away from HTML can be attributed to the broader change of landscape that has occurred.

If you look at the history of the living room experience, you'll find that HTML has historically been at the heart of it.

The idea of easily developing and deploying immediate application across a wide variety of devices using the well-defined and standardized set of web specifications was a great one.

It allowed for a broad sharing of knowledge and expertise between web and application developers and increase the speed and efficiency at which experience could be brought to life for consumers.

All media formats stayed relatively static has worked.

The biggest race of the time was for higher resolutions which MSC and AME could easily handle.

Today, this has drastically changed.

We are now iterating a media technology yearly, and have a multitude of ongoing format competitions for next generation experiences which have created severe functionality fragmentation across devices.

This rapidness coupled with a lack of standardization for HTML application environments has resulted in device environments choosing their own path, and in many cases, choosing device specific integrations.

Unfortunately in the living room environment, features like HDR have already become table-stakes requirements for business success.

And this business need will outweigh the burden of integration complexity.

If supporting a feature on the day and date launch of an application or a device, it means taking the native approach over the HTML one, that is a trade off that will be made, even if it means specialization over standardization.

Well, this is a burden today.

It is an unsustainable future for us all.

We, as an industry, need to tackle this situation head on and bring back standardization and interoperability to this environment.

This will take the work of content owners, content distributors, device manufacturers, browser vendors, and countless other experts that are involved in these media experiences.

We need the W3C and other standards bodies to respond to the environment as rapidly as it is under ongoing change.

The longer it takes us to respond, the further entrenched complexities and incompatibilities will be.

With directed effort, living room experience can once again be a first class HTML supported experience.

This environment may appear to be one of the smallest implementation basis for the W3C, but in reality, it is a consumption medium whose daily engagement is second to none.

Today, we've talked about the needs of HDR on this environment but that's just the beginning.

A focused group of study would need to dive deeper into many technical areas such as the performance of web technologies and low-powered environments, the considerations of how multi-form graphics video, and texts interact, and the definition of richer mechanisms for the discovery and differentiation of device media capabilities and performance.

Through these studies, we may even find that the best path forward is environment specific specification variance.

While this would be a new and complicated task, it may be the best way to accommodate the needs and challenges of this environment without compromising or complicating the core web experience.

But before we get that far on the conversation, we need to start it.

Living room environment is at the heart of the consumer experience for us, and most other streaming providers.

The compatibility and stability of technology in this space are paramount to the success of many, and that is why we've chosen to raise this issue today with the hopes of inspiring collaborative conversation of tomorrow.

We very much look forward to our continued exploration of this space together, Thank you.

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