TV-BAY Magazine

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12 months to 4K T by Bob Pank he closer you look at 4K UHD the more you see what needs to be done to make it work from scene to screen. Until that pipe is complete no practical service can flow to the consumer. The parts that are working and available now are the cameras, recorders and post production. Beyond those there are a few satellite transmission services and very few television screens able to show the pictures. The first reported 4K set-top box was shown at IBC receiving a Sky Deutschland 4K test feed from the Astra 2 satellite. This from Technicolor STB is believed to be ready for delivery in about a year – around IBC 2014 time. So UHD material is being produced, but mainly for tests. This is only a trickle compared with the vast flow of SD and HD material produced today. With the industry news being full of 4K stories, you might think that 4K TV is just around the corner but we are a long way from a widely viewed UHD TV channel. However this is no bad thing. HD started the same way, with the production and post in place and in use for a considerable time before the delivery system and TV sets were there in numbers. Looking at home delivery, satellite transmission appears to be in the lead. Eutelsat scored a first with the launch of its UHD channel in January 2013. Its website says it is designed to benefit all actors in the broadcasting chain who want to acquire expertise in 4K, including production companies, pay-TV operators, rights owners and TV-set manufacturers. It is broadcasting in 50P in four Quad HD streams at 40 Mb/s with MPEG-4 coding. A second channel followed in September with HEVC encoding, operating at 30P. There is also a third channel on the same Eutelsat 10A satellite dedicated to a partnership with Samsung to promote UHD at point-of-sale outlets. That must be what I saw at Currys! With the evolution in video compression from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 and now to the upcoming HEVC, each change has roughly halved the data required for 48 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013 TV pictures. Also DVB’s advanced transmission systems T2, S2 and C2 (terrestrial, satellite and cable) are at least 30-percent more efficient at carrying data than their predecessors. Combined these allow over five-times more video to be carried over the same bandwidth. So, for example, on a UK terrestrial Freeview multiplex that typically now carries five Standard Definition TV channels (MPEG-2, T(1)) there could be, theoretically, 25 channels with HEVC compression and T2 transmission! As 4K UHD images are only 20 times the area of 576- line SD, then there would be ample room to carry one channel on one multiplex... assuming 25 frames per second, but many would argue that 50Hz is required. Of course people will want to watch UHD in the same ways as they do with SD and HD, so some form of download or recordable media (DVD) is needed. Taking a typical movie which is usually run at 24 f/s it is estimated that this would require somewhere about 100GB of storage. Well, cometh the hour, cometh disc! Right on cue the German company Singulus Technologies recently announced its development of a new Blu-ray Disc. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rinck, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Just in time for the market introduction of the new ultra- high definition television technology, we completed the development of the production technology for the new triple-layer Blu-ray Discs with 100GB storage capacity”. The company also states that the triple-layer Blu-ray Discs with 100 GB storage capacity is the preferred playback medium for the new 4K technology. Of course providers of on-demand Internet streaming media think they have the best way to deliver UHD movies to homes. I would agree and I’m delighted with my Virgin Media connection that runs at 4 Mbits/s – but slower in the evenings. But now I’ve done the maths I see that would take