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Ryder Cup trial for UHD learning curve

With Sky about to extend its UHD trials with a shoot at the Ryder Cup – in order to settle on a programme chain for different genres of sport – chief engineer Chris Johns has compiled a ton of format experience to apply to his co-chairmanship of the DTG UHD Group.

“There has been a push by the consumer vendors to make UHD happen and we are not drawn into as trap.” he said at IBC. “We are watching very carefully what consumers are actually getting.

“There is a worry with the Digital Europe release where they have committed to the basics of UHD, and are sticking to 8-bit. All broadcasters want to push the boundaries and go for 10-bit and above simply to deliver a bigger, better picture,” he added. “By sticking to 8-bit we have a legacy which we are trying to move away from.”

The DTG is dealing with the same issues everybody has with UHD.

“There is that big push to make it happen, but then you take a deep breath and suddenly realise there are all the nuances of frame rates, Phase-1 and Phase-2, and dynamic range,” said Johns. “Do we have to have HDR now? How do we deliver HDR through the production system?

“It is very easy to produce a screen that delivers all those bright colours, but if you want to get it through an entire production chain you have to look at that seriously,” he added. “The DTG is pushing for what the consumer needs, and what we need in production, post and delivery.”

On the issue of frame rates, Johns would like a utopian world with one standard. “When we looked at this, and the proposal went forward for 60 and 120 fps (ITU Rec) we quickly discovered that lights, cameras, shuttering and lighting in a 50Hz world produce strobing effects,” he said. “So we still have to have the 50Hz variant for a time. It may be several years before we get to a single harmonised frame rate.”