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4K: “still challenges ahead”

“Ultra-HD is really complex, and it is a new eco-system. 1080p is a good compromise until UHD/50-60fps 10 bit comes to life and including High Dynamic Range,” stated Thierry Fautier, VP/solutions marketing at Harmonic. “Silicon is starting to be available now for set-top boxes, and ready for 2015 deployment. But we still need to look further at standards, and aspects such as content protection need to be addressed before mass deployment can take place. There are still challenges ahead.”

Fautier was speaking at a fascinating IBC session produced in association with standards body ETSI, and chaired by ETSI’s Chantal Bonardi and which heard presentations on 4K’s technical demands, and the progress being made by NHK’s engineers on their 8K/Super Hi-Vision plans.

Fautier added that despite some examples of 4K streaming already taking place by the likes of Netflix, there were also good opportunities to ‘push’ 4K content to a consumer’s set-top box hard drive. “We see transmission demands settling at about 20 Mbps, and perhaps 25 Mbps in 120 fps. While this is demanding it is way below the 100 Mbps expected for UHD-2/Super Hi-Vision, which is undoubtedly the nirvana and when we can all go home and retire!”

Further challenges were thrown up by Pierre Routhier (VP/Technicolor) and his team, who have been testing, comparing and contrasting the differences in spatial and temporal resolution when capturing content in 4K. “People seem to take for granted that when you go from HD to UHD it is simply a matter of changing cameras. This is not the case.”
Rothier showed a variety of test shots, but admitted that much of what he had seen suggested that good DoPs were going to be extra-busy on 4K shoots, especially OBs. He further confounded the audience by giving them some quality choices, only for the audience to discover that the best quality material, as far as motion blur was concerned, was achieved on ‘ordinary’ HD.