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BT Sport: “The 4K viewer comes first”

Andy Beale, chief engineer at BT Sport who is responsible for the telco’s UHD transmissions, said that a year ago he anticipated that 4K viewers would want their own dedicated images and commentary team. “Not so,” he said.

“Initially we sought permissions from the clubs to place side-by-side cameras for HD and 4K, because we thought that viewers would appreciate the much higher-definition from 4K and the wider field of view, especially in football, as well as a separate commentary team.”

During Thursday’s Paper Session: ‘UHDTV Launches Across the World’, Beale said the company’s thinking had moved on considerably. “We now know that fans want just as many close-ups and edits as the ‘normal’ HD feed.

Now we have advanced to a single OB truck, where we handle 4K and HD from the same unit – and the same commentary for both.

Everything that we do is in a smaller production, and the clubs and viewers are very happy.”

“We loved our new UHD cameras, but maintaining focus was a headache for the operators. We solved this by placing the HD-quadrant 1 [portion of the image] on the reverse circuit to the camera so the operator could toggle in order to see that larger image much more easily, and help to maintain focus.”