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BBC plans further all-IP UHD production tests

Adrian Pennington 8 July 2014
BBC plans further all-IP UHD production tests

On completion of its groundbreaking all-IP live Ultra HD production from the Commonwealth Games in a few weeks, the BBC is formulating plans to produce other kinds of programming in HD/4K over IP.

It is looking to build a permanent installation of its IP Studio production equipment to further understand the platform’s strengths and weaknesses.

One future test will explore return path interactivity from users and the incorporation of third-party data feeds.

Members of the public can view the experiment in action at the Glasgow Science Centre.

“This is not like the SHV demos at the Olympics, where an audience came in and sat down for a 45-minute viewing experience,” explained John Zubrzycki, BBC R&D. “It is more like an exhibition where visitors will be able to walk around various stands to see and try various experiences.”

A typical visit might include seeing the IP production gallery and watching a live UHD sports programme being made.

A presenter will be on hand to explain what is happening – especially useful during breaks in the live sports.

Another stand features a pair of 65-inch displays showing an IP- and DTT-delivered live UHD programme. There will also be a mock up of a living room with a 4m wide video wall, as well as a selection of other stands showing technologies enabled by an IP infrastructure.

A key part of the workflow will use 4K source media and a simultaneous working resolution of HD and lower, adjusted to the suitability of the production device.

“It’s not always appropriate to send a 4K signal to a multiviewer, for example, or a tablet where the size of screen is a fraction of full-screen Ultra HD,” said BBC R&D principal technician Phil Tudor. “It will be 4K in and on the network, but there will also be an HD feed and a sub-HD proxy so that content is suitable for different devices.”

It will test the 4K signal at mezzanine compression levels of 1.5Gbps and 100Mbps for HD. “This approach is not intrinsically about bitrates, since the system has inherent flexibility to be configured for any bitrate you want,” said Tudor. “The beauty of IP is its scalability as opposed to the rigidity of 3G SDI.”

Again, the production codec choice of H.264 is “an implementation detail” for this test. “IP production can handle many different formats on the same infrastructure whether optimised for Ultra HD, HD, or lower resolutions,” said Zubrzycki.

The BBC said the Ultra HD content from the Commonwealth Games would be archived to inform research, but that there are no plans to broadcast it.

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