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Hi10p Playback Support

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Hi10P Playback Support

1. What is Hi10P?

Hi10P, or High 10 Profile, is a specialized version of the commonly used H.264 High Profile. While most H.264 encoding profiles utilize 8 bits of information to represent color, Hi10P uses 10 bits per channel instead. While this may not sound like an overly significant change, the increased color precision amounts to exactly 64 times the amount of representable shades. This means that you will see significantly less color banding in releases, as transitional color can be more accurately displayed. Incidentally, 10-bit H.264 videos tend to be somewhat smaller in file size.

The difference can be difficult to see with the human eye in most cases, but here is a screenshot comparison provided by Cman in which the differences can readily be seen. Comparison link offline.

2. What does this mean for me?

As fansubbers are gradually transitioning to 10-bit encoding, it is important to be able to support these files. The reason for this change is multi-faceted. As files encoded in Hi10P tend to be smaller than their 8-bit cousins, encoders are able to pack more quality byte-for-byte, meaning they can either raise their CRF value and see the same level of quality at a smaller filesize, or drop the CRF and see increased quality at the same filesize. Overall, it's a win-win situation, especially when taking into account the inherent reduction in banding.

Unfortunately, 10-bit video tends to require more processing power than 8-bit video, as it is decoded entirely on the software side (no hardware support exists yet). This means that users with lower-end machines should stay away from 10-bit content as you would high-resolution video. Finally, since consumer hardware support for Hi10P video is virtually non-existent, those with standalone media boxes (Boxee, Roku, etc) are unable to play such content.

3. Playback Options

There are many different ways to play Hi10P content on the various operating systems. Each method is explained below, with the one we recommend underlined.
  • Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux

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