What is the Color Depth?
In recent years, the display quality of TV devices has improved dramatically. An image pixel always consists of three individual color specifications for the amount of red, green and blue (RGB) resp. Brightness and Saturation (YUV). Until recently, it was common for these values to cover the range from 0 to 255 which means they could be represented by 8 bits. But now that modern TVs have become so extremely large and precise that a refinement of the color information became a necessity. The manufacturers began to offer 1024 different values (10 bits) and some even more. As a result the video formats had to follow. Newer movies are now encoded more and more with 10-bit color values (e.g. Amazon movies). The also existing 12-bit color encoding is still very rarely to see out "on the range" at the moment.
How do I find out the Color Depth of a video?
You can analyze the type of the video stream inside. But you need a program like Multimedia Xpert that can decode nearly any video format in existence. You can do this by calling the Format Info function or by using the function of the same name in the right-click menu of Windows Explorer. Then take a look at the type of the video stream. If there is something like "high 10" or similar behind it, or something like "yuv420p10le", the input material is encoded in a 10-bit format. Since version 2.0 of Multimedia Xpert this is shown on the first line behind the file length with "10-bit" or similar, so you don't have to search for it anymore.
How can I watch a 10- or 12-bit video (or higher) on an 8-bit player?
You can first check if there is an update for your player that makes this possible. If not, a conversion is the only solution left. Multimedia Xpert knows a huge number of video formats, so it can convert virtually any formats of color depth from lower to higher or in the other direction. To do this, go to the conversion page and select your target format, such as Matroska or MP4. For bit values higher than 8 you will will have to encode the video stream in the newer format H.265, also called HEVC. The predecessor H.264 supports only 8 bits. To find out about the limits of your target format you can switch to the Format Info tab and press the link Video-Comparison on the top right.
Check the values of the Output Specification by pressing and focus on the Pixel Format field. There you can select one of the pixel formats with the required bit depth. In case you are producing an MPEG format the best compatibility with players is the 8 bit format 'yuv420p'. The [MPEG 8-bit] button will select this one.
In case you use one of the older versions of Multimedia Xpert before 2.0, make sure that in the field Input Options one of the following strings is present:
- For 8 bit: -pix_fmt yuv420p
- For 10 bit: -pix_fmt yuv420p10le
- For 12 bit: -pix_fmt yuv420p12le
You can now start the conversion.