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4KTV The next bigger thing? runs at 24p, 30p and 60p frame rates using a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor at 8.2M pixels, a pixel-to-pixel rendering of 4K – offered at a price under $5k. Interestingly the images are divided into four 1080 HD frames for handling in the camera and its four on-board SD card recorders. MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression is applied to each stream making a total recording 60, 50 or 24fps progressive at 144Mbps recording onto four SDHC or SDXC cards. I make that 36 Mbps per HD channel... which starts me thinking of quality. Surely 4K is all about picture quality. Also it’s no good having shaky handheld 4K camcorder as it would make very uncomfortable viewing on the necessarily big screen. Then there’s the lens; can it resolve 4K? Many comments from CES were not positive. The Gizmodo reporter pointed out that consumers don’t have the screens it see 4KTV so the only users might be those that could not afford a RED or other professional 4K cameras. Canon’s EOS C500 looks like a better attempt at a 4K TV/cinema camera – at a more serious price of around £20,000. For output you can select DCI (ie movie) (SMPTE 2048-1:2011 standard) or ‘television-centric’ Quad- HD (SMPTE 2036-1:2009 and ITU-R BT.1769 standards). On paper this should be able to deliver the image quality that 4KTV deserves. Similarly FOR-A’s new FT-ONE super slowmo camera offers both cine and TV 4K formats and records action at up to 1,000fps. There are many more 4KTV camera models on offer – maybe more than there are 4KTV screens to see the pictures! However this end of the market is just coming alive with the LG 84LM960V 84-inch panel, which also offers passive 3D viewing – available soon – receiving a lot of attention at the shows. Cost now is quoted as over £10k + VAT... so this is not going to set the 4KTV consumer market on fire! But then that’s around the price panel screens were about 12 years ago. Can we wait that long? Other 4KTV screens are becoming available too. The point is to see the resolution of 4KTV you need to have a very big screen watched the same viewing distance as for HD. Then you can see the 4KTV detail. However Panasonic has produced a 20-inch 4KTV screen. The 4K2K IPS Alpha Panel appears to be a bit of a breakthrough but you would have to sit really close to this one to appreciate all the available picture detail. It means that you could watch a big picture in a relatively small room. There is more serious action in the USA where Consumer Electronics Association has announced the formation of a 4K working group. The CEA 4K Working Group is intended for manufacturers, retailers and content providers to help push forward 4K technologies and educate consumers. Meanwhile in Europe, where we usually try to walk before running, there is serious work afoot to establish a viable 4KTV compression scheme and generally ‘how to make 4K workflows and distribution a reality’. The just-started three-year 4EVER project (www.4ever-project.com) is supported by the French government and many leading manufacturers research labs including Doremi, the world’s biggest supplier of DCI digital cinema players, ATEME and many others. Jerome Vieron, ATEME research manager, says that the member companies believe that 4K-quality signals will be able to be distributed at bitrates as low as 13 Mbps using High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). This seems incredible so don’t miss Mr Vieron’s paper at IBC! At that rate we could almost squeeze two 4KTV channels onto one UK DTT multiplex. I hope we do not end up with small detail ruined by compression – compromising the whole point of the format. Despite all the products and industry efforts I am still wondering why 4KTV is here, or aiming to be here. Maybe the Japanese have the answer. They have a saying “One thousand-mile march starts with first step.” Yes, you have to start somewhere and it looks as if the camera is that first step, but somehow it also looks like the answer to the question that no one asked. My view is that 4KTV has come about because it is a halfway house between 1080 HD and SHV (Super Hi-Vision, AKA UHDTV) – the amazing 8K video and 22.2 sound system that escaped from the NHK labs (where HD came from) and was first seen in the western world at NAB 2006. The 7680×4320 SHV picture is a 4-by-4 version of 1080p HD, and at the recommended viewing distance of 0.75H (picture width) the audience is immersed with a 100-degree viewing angle. As a halfway house, is 4KTV worth the effort? Is it different enough from 1080 HD to attract an army of consumers into the stores? Although it is technically easier to achieve than SHV, it still has a long way to go before all the necessary standards are fixed and product is available. And by then SHV will have moved closer to public availability. Note 4KTV is shorthand for 2x 1920x1080 (HDTV), ie 3840x2160 and seems to be the popular choice for television applications. This is slightly smaller that 4K that is used in digital cinemas, which is 2x 2048x1080 (2K), ie 4096x2160. This only refers to image size. There are also likely to be many other differences including colorspace, sampling, etc. 34 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY067JUL12.indd 34 05/07/2012 22:24