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Ultra HDTV is getting close

Ultra-HDTV, or more formally UHD-1 in its 4K guise is again the hottest of hot topics at IBC2014. This session wraps a full day of focus on Ultra-HD with earlier presentations devoted to the technology aspects of UHD, a pair of Cutting Edge sessions on going ‘Beyond HD’ and another on ‘Future Content Creation & Display’. This panel is produced by SMPTE, so will be up-to-date on their latest thinking.

They’ll be discussing whether to adopt UHD-1 now, or wait for UHD-2? The debate is timely. While most of the headlines these past few months have focused on the FIFA World Cup experimental 4K transmissions out of Brazil, the fact is that there is growing support for UHD-1 technology, and while some brave pioneers are already transmitting ‘channels’ of UHD content, the reality is that most are high rotation programming blocks within existing channels.

But that is changing, and perhaps faster than attendees to IBC might appreciate. Programming is now being made in 4K and not just by Hollywood and the sports community. Italian public broadcaster RAI has dipped its toe into the water with a magnificent 4K production of La Boheme, while pay TV rival Sky Italia has produced Treasures of the Vatican in 4K (and 3D), while the BBC has tested terrestrial distribution for 4K, and broadcasters as far afield as Russia, South Korea, Japan and Brazil are already geared up for transmission and capturing factual, drama and other key genre shows in UHD-1/4K for future transmission.

The US, helped by House of Cards and Breaking Bad is also producing plenty of drama series in 4K and the likes of Netflix is earning good money by streaming 4K material.

France Televisions, and its associates in the nation’s 4Ever consortium, are looking into streamlining workflow practices, while Orange in France is looking to tap into HEVC for its IP-based delivery of content. NRJ, a music channel tested two weeks of 4K transmissions in July. The 4Ever consortium is already doing advanced work on UHD-phase 2, in high-frame rate, and looking at future developments.

This session will also look at some specific elements of the production and transmission chain, as well as looking closely at the two possible routes for ‘next generation’ broadcasting. SMPTE promises the session will embrace controversy as well as being educational!