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experimentation in the next couple of years. We’ll see continued experimentation with frame rates and other variables from major broadcasters such as Sky in the UK and NHK in Japan, from display manufacturers, camera makers — everyone up and down the chain. In the near future we’ll also see the results of some experiments, such as the Sochi games and updates to the SMPTE standards, which should help us move closer to establishing best practices for 4K. Engineers can also look forward to the end of interlacing, which is a very good thing because interlacing complicates everything, especially the second/multiscreen experience. frame rate has a huge impact on everything else. Be clear of the specifi c expectations at the outset. Which of the “4Ks” does the director want? The one that’s under or the one that’s over? Or do they really mean 5K? Know which standards are at play. Even though the fi le or signal you receive is following standards, the question is, which standards is it following? Because no combination of standards, frame rates, color spaces, and audio maps is set in stone, you can expect a lot of trial and error, and some combinations simply won’t work. So ask people which standards they are using, and be specifi c. They might say “UHDTV,” but that could mean UHD-1/Rec. 709 color/5.1 audio at 50 fps, or another of an endless combination of specs. Even after clarifying standards and expectations, what other engineering challenges are in store? There are a few. The fi rst has to do with the color spaces. Right now you have to convert the color among Rec. 709, BT.2020, and XYZ (which is not a standard but is part of the mix). While they are expected to improve, at this point color volume conversions only proceed with 16 percent accuracy. That inaccuracy is a problem because it interferes with the artistic intent of the material and can result in lost detail, such as the variations in color that allow you to see the textural difference between a piece of burlap and a piece of cardboard. Second, the displays themselves — whether a TV, a computer screen, or a projector aimed at the side of a building — must be told what’s coming at them so that they know what to do with the information, and that happens via metadata. We’re still experimenting with which metadata schemas work best with which screens. Not only that, but screens that play 4K video are just now being invented, so it’s an ongoing process. Finally, there are economics to consider. For one thing, there is the cost of displays. Before 4K, much of an engineer’s work could be done using an affordable HDTV available at any appliance store, but with 4K and all of its variables, sometimes a more sophisticated display is required. A high-quality 4K display can cost as much as an expensive car. In many cases, the less expensive display would suffi ce, but how do you know which one to use when? What can we expect in the near future? Given the evolving nature of the medium, there will be a lot of Finally, there’s a trend toward high dynamic range (HDR), which means consumers will be able to make adjustments to their displays within much broader limits. To put it in context, since the 1930s, dynamic range (measured in nits) has been limited to 100 nits, but now we can expect it to go up to as much as 100,000 nits in some applications. Today’s HDTVs already offer a range of nearly 1,000 nits. If HDR goes up on the displays, then it has to go up everywhere else to feed the displays. That means engineers must become familiar with dynamic range and how to accommodate it. The good news is, my company is working to overcome all the variables and uncertainty in 4K, with affordable workstations equipped with a unique software player and specialized test patterns that make engineering for 4K much less expensive and much more precise. The Archimedia 4K/UHDTV Workstation, for example, is confi gured to be a complete reference system for all master formats, including 4K uncompressed and JPEG 2000, and includes the Archimedia Master Player software, 4K HDMI output, loads of storage, and all the CPU power necessary to play, QC, verify, and manipulate master fi le formats. TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013 | 53