Stacey Spears and Don Munsil, creators of the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Series, have released the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark, a three-disc, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc set with more unique patterns than any previous calibration tool. The New York Times and leading audio/video industry publications have recommended previous versions of the Benchmark. The Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark adds even more features and patterns, and brings Spears & Munsil’s precision and attention to detail to the calibration and evaluation of UHD displays.
The Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark gives professionals and enthusiasts alike access to a wealth of test and demonstration materials to tell them what their displays are doing, identify weak links in their hardware and software, and dial in the optimal settings not only for their equipment, but for future equipment that hasn’t even been designed yet.
“Every pattern has been rethought with High Dynamic Range and Ultra HD in mind,” says co-creator Stacey Spears. “We believe this disc completely changes the game for test and evaluation discs, by making use of all of the features and range that HDR and wide-gamut standards can offer.”
Almost every pattern is encoded in multiple versions, with metadata and peak levels adjusted for a wide variety of HDR display technologies. “The previous disc had 1000 separate encoded files, which was a high-water mark for evaluation discs at the time,” Spears adds. “We blew past that record with this new set, which includes over 5000 separate video and audio clips!”
Like the previous discs, the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark uses patterns created from scratch using Spears & Munsil’s own in-house software. “There really isn’t any other way to make patterns that we can stand behind,” says co-creator Don Munsil. “We build every pattern using our own tools, written from scratch in C++. If a pattern needs to be generated directly in a very specific color space and data format, we generate it in that color space and format; we’re not limited to what you can do with off-the-shelf graphics software. In a few cases we’ve had to create our own format, because no existing file format could represent the pattern we needed to create.”
The disc includes new editions of some favorite patterns from the earlier editions, plus many new patterns exclusive to Spears & Munsil. It also expands the range of formats and encodings supported. “In this set, we’ve included video in HD and UHD resolution, in SDR (encoded in both BT.2020 and BT.709 color spaces), HDR10 (with multiple target peak luminance options), HDR10+, and Dolby Vision,” says Spears. “On the audio side, we include test material in both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, which is completely compatible with earlier iterations of Dolby Digital and DTS.”
As with the previous editions, the S&M Ultra HD Benchmark contains patterns suitable for the professional calibrator or serious enthusiast who wants a complete suite of test patterns usable with spectroradiometers and colorimeters. “These patterns are tested by real industry professionals, multiple times over multiple iterations, before we put them on the disc,” says Spears. “These are the same patterns used regularly by the same people who produce your displays, players, and movie content.”
High Dynamic Range (HDR) was designed with the future in mind. Instead of creating a standard based solely on the capabilities of existing displays, the video-standards bodies designed HDR to meet the capabilities of future displays as well. Properly implemented, HDR content remains backward compatible with today’s technology while making available metadata and picture information that will produce brighter, more dynamic, more colorful images on the displays of tomorrow. For years, content has had to be mastered for the lowest-common-denominator displays, not the newest and most capable consumer displays, which have long been capable of producing a brighter image with wider gamut. The new standards mean that content can be smartly scaled to use the color depth and dynamic range of the display, which means the content created today will look better on tomorrow’s display technologies.
“HDR represents a new way of thinking about video,” says Munsil, “with a completely different approach to transfer functions, or what we used to call ‘gamma,’ and that meant that a bunch of old patterns just plain didn’t work anymore. Video is now encoded for very-high-brightness devices, and then has to be remapped by the display to fit that display’s actual capabilities. Needless to say, every display does it a little differently — now, with the Ultra HD Benchmark, enthusiasts and professionals will be able to get insight into exactly what the display does when it makes those important remapping decisions.”
- 2023 disc: Approx. 5000 files; Previous disc: Approx. 1200 files
- 2023 disc: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and DTX:X audio test tones from 5.1.2 – 9.1.6. (5.1, 7.1 and 9.1 base; 2, 4 and 6 height); Previous disc: Last disc was HDR10 only. No audio tones outside of AV Sync
- 2023 disc: 3-disc set= 2 x 100 GB and 1 x 66 GB; Previous disc: One disc was 100 GB
- 2023 disc: Pop-up help! Previous disc: No pop-up help
- 2023 disc: Small sample of 59.94p test patterns; Previous disc: None
- 2023 disc: Peak Luminance test pattern for a more accurate measurement than the legacy window pattern. Pixel Agining pattern to break in OLEDs properly.
The Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark available now from authorized dealers. MSRP: $59.94.