IBC 2013: The halls of IBC were awash with tools for capturing, crafting and delivering Ultra HD content, but not everyone in Amsterdam was entirely effusive about the high resolution technology.
When conference delegates in one session were asked to consider if we really need to go beyond HD, most voted against a shift to UHD.
One of the arguments against was that current HD transmissions are of a high enough quality.
The conclusion among broadcasters on the ‘Beyond HD: the Technology Landscape for Future Broadcasting’ panel was that UHD needs to be more than just a “polished” version of HD, otherwise viewers could be underwhelmed.
“We have had digital switchover, then 3D and now UHD, and we may hit fatigue unless it [UHD] is a big enough step change that contains additional frame rates and high dynamic range, especially for sport,” said BBC head of technology HD and UHD Andy Quested.
Another area of broad agreement among a panel that consisted of representatives from the BBC, Sky, Disney and Sky Germany was that a consensus on the minimum technical specifications needs to be reached sooner rather than later to avoid confusing consumers.
There were plenty of opportunities for IBC visitors to judge the higher-resolution content for themselves, with a host of 4K demonstrations across the trade show, culminating in a live 3840 x 2160 resolution, 4:2:2, 10-bit, 60 frames-per-second screening on Sunday of the Saracens v Gloucester rugby match.
The demonstration, which drew a large crowd to Sony’s viewing theatre, used three Sony F55 cameras to capture the action in London, which was then encoded with Ericsson kit, transmitted over BT fibre and uplinked using Newtec equipment to Intelsat’s 905 satellite.
The manufacturers involved in the live demo said the screening showed that the satellite delivery chain can accommodate UHD as soon as broadcasters are ready.
Although most manufacturers were keen to tout their UHD credentials, Harris Broadcast chief executive Charlie Vogt sounded a note of caution.
He warned against moving “ahead of the technology curve” by investing too much in a market that he said might not materialise for two or three years.
Panasonic, which has been slower to enter the 4K capture market than some of its rivals, provided an update on its plans with the announcement that it would “prioritise the development of the 4K VariCam”.
A working model will be available by April next year, with devices expected to ship by October.
Meanwhile, vice-president of Sony Professional Solutions Europe Katsunori Yamanouchi said UHD had made “remarkable” progress over the past year, but given the low number of 4K TV sets in peoples’ homes and the lack of content, he was keen to stress the benefits of the company’s 4K systems not only for UHD but for HD productions.
At the Sony press conference, Fifa said UHD trials during the Confederations Cup had given it the confidence to produce next year’s World Cup tournament in 4K.