CTV, which is in the process of building a 4K-compliant flagship vehicle for next May, has yet to make a final decision on the camera technology it will outfit it with.
Realistically, since it is the only game in town, OB facilities companies will place their 4K bets with Sony, but say they are reluctant to commit before clients like BSkyB are satisfied. There are concerns, for example, about framerate compatibility with HD and also the ruggedness of a camera designed for studios rather than outside broadcasts.
“We're putting everything into the truck that will enable us to do 4K alongside HD, but we've not concluded a decision on cameras,” said CTV international director and COO Euro Media Group, Barry Johnstone.
“We're waiting for manufacturers to stabilise the equipment. Most of what is out there is in beta. We could put a 4K camera in our trucks tomorrow and it will work regardless of the transmission path and it will give us better HD pictures, but we're waiting for Sony to refine their package.”
The 'beta' workflow to which Johnstone refers was trialled by CTV in its first 4K live production, last October, of a Peter Gabriel concert from the O2 Arena.
This paired multiple Sony F55 cameras recording RAW to F5 Recorders and HD onto SxS cards. The cameras, reconfigured from their original cinematography design to support live production, streamed Raw 4K into BPU-4000 Base Band Processor Units, which in turn output four HD-SDI streams and a separate down-converted HD output.
A CA-4000 camera adaptor attached to the F55 provided familiar CCU operation such as viewfinder return, tally and talkback to the operator.
“All of this works, but we need it in a single package, not lots of bolt-ons,” said Johnstone. “Everything is there, but it needs rehousing. We are working with Sony and it's more a matter of fine tuning.”
Also weighing 4K investments is fellow OB supplier NEP Visions, where cameras are again the main stumbling block.
“If we take the plunge on one type of camera, will it suffice for 1080p 60p as well as Ultra HD?” asked Brian Clark, its commercial & technical projects director. “We have to be careful as an industry that if we launch 4K we are giving the consumer a true 4K shoot rather than cut outs from 4K cameras or up-conversions. The closest we can get to 4K live acquisition is with the F55 adapted camera. It's a working system, but to be blunt where I struggle is having an integrated 4K system in which you can be confident of the future.”
By Adrian Pennington