Five broadcasters and 19 tech partners signed up for trials at next month’s European Athletics Championships

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The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) will be leading trials for live distribution of UHD content with high frame rates (HFR), high dynamic range (HDR), and next generation audio (NGA) at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin next month.

The trials involve the world’s first live distribution of UHD content with both HDR (HLG/BT.2100) and HFR (100 frames per second, 2160p100).

Current state-of-the-art live broadcasts don’t exceed a field or frame rate of 50Hz in Europe, and HD interlaced (1080i25) is still the dominant broadcast emission format even though commercial encoders and TV sets manage up to 2160p50 resolution.

In Berlin, a 2160p100 HLG/BT.2020 production workflow will be set up in collaboration with EBU members, the BBC, France Télévisions, IRT, RAI and ZDF, and a range of technology partners.

The 2160p100 feed will be used to derive two additional 1080p100 and 1080p50 signals.

These three feeds will then be encoded in HEVC and multiplexed for a live transmission via the Eurovision satellite network to RAI’s experimental test bed in the Aosta Valley, Italy, and via the Eurovision Fibre infrastructure to the European Championships Broadcast Operations Centre (BOC) based at BBC Glasgow.

The 1080p100 programme will also include Next Generation Audio (NGA) sound in the form of 4+7+0 channel and scene-based beds, with four additional interactive mono object signals for two commentaries and two audio descriptions.

NGA is commonly thought of as providing immersive experiences, but also enables additional features, such as personalization, accessibility and interactivity, by means of “objects”.

The trials are taking place with the support of several technology providers:

- ATEME encoding and remixing technologies for the 1080p100 feed with all NGA flavours;

- Dolby immersive and object-based audio technology (AC4);

- Ericsson contribution technology (HEVC, MPEG-H Audio) for 2160p50;

- EVS server for near real-time 2160p100 editing;

- Fraunhofer IIS immersive and object-based audio technology (MPEG-H Audio);

- Jünger Audio 3D audio monitoring and authoring units (MPEG-H Audio);

- KaiMedia encoding technology (HEVC, MPEG-H Audio) for 2160p50;

- Klang and Areitec 3D audio monitoring over headphones;

- LG prototype OLED TV sets capable of decoding the live UHD streams with HFR (2160p100Hz), HDR (HLG & PQ), and NGA (Dolby AC-4);

- NTT encoding technology for the 2160p100 signal;

- b<>com scene-based production tools

- Qualcomm compression technology (MPEG-H Audio);

- Rohde & Schwarz servers for uncompressed recording;

- Schoeps and Areitec ORTF-3D microphone outdoor set;

- Sony XVS video switcher, PWS Live production server and storage solutions configured for a 2160p100 video production workflow and HDR acquisitions, plus one complete Sony UHD camera and 2160p50 picture monitoring;

- Solid State Logic System T S300-32 mixing console with 3D panning and Network I/O;

- TPC, the Swiss broadcaster’s operational subsidiary, will supply two other complete cameras, and a fourth camera will be provided by AMP Visual.

European Athletics Championships take place in Glasgow and Berlin (2nd-12th August).