TV-BAY Magazine

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Supporting the transition to 4K by David Ackroyd, OmniTek P lasma, LCD and LED screen technologies brought broadcasters HD audiences that justified their investment in HDTV. Recent computer monitors, tablets, mobile phones, digital cinema and 3D have driven an explosion in viewing formats. Together they have created an appetite for continued change and development in screen technologies. The new Ultra Hi-Def formats promise further enhancement of spatial and temporal resolution. Broadcasters, filmmakers, researchers, equipment manufacturers and others looking to go Ultra Hi-Def will need a full suite of test & measurement tools to support their transition from today’s 3G, HD and SD standards. This article looks at the issues from the point of view of innovative test & measurement equipment developer OmniTek, whose Ultra 4K Tool Box was previewed in September at IBC 2013. The case for supporting Ultra Hi-Def is compelling. While it could be thought that there is not sufficient demand for further increases in spatial and temporal resolution, the costs are not what they were when HDTV was new, and the ability of broadcasters and telcos to accommodate and deliver different resolution services is far advanced from the early days of HDTV uptake. With non-broadcast applications such as large screen events and digital cinema growing all the time, there is undoubtedly serious interest in developing professional equipment to handle formats beyond those currently handled by most broadcast equipment. With that interest comes the need for early and advanced tools to assist in the development of new products and systems. A number of issues are raised in offering that support. Which standards to support Precisely which video standards will be taken up by the industry is currently up in the air. While the SMPTE standards for UHDTV1 (4K) & UHDTV2 (8K) and the 2022 (compressed and uncompressed) video over IP standards have published, the transport standard for SDI at 6Gb/s is just emerging and standards for 12Gb/s (and above) have not yet been agreed. However, thanks to similarities with previous generations, standards agreement and compatibility is a less contentious issue than it was when previous formats were introduced and it is expected that progress can be made alongside the emergence of these standards. Of equal interest to these increases in spatial resolution are the increased temporal frame rates that are being proposed and gaining support. Already 48Hz cinema releases have demonstrated the support for improved temporal resolution and this may be a direction broadcasters could favour. 120Hz had also been widely tested. These higher frame rates could also provide a solution for consumer device manufacturers needing to counter 60 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013 ‘definition weariness’ amongst consumers. Alongside the new resolutions are alternative physical transport methods to consider, suiting different usages. Key players here are DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0 connections, both of which support 4Kx2K/60. Test environments supporting HDMI 2.0 connections will probably also need to cater for HDCP 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 4K+ content protection schemes. Which standards emerge as winners will depend on experiments with prototype products and systems, and coordinated collaboration between manufacturers and end-users whether broadcast, telco, digital cinema, AV, medical or signage. It is likely that many formats will coexist as suitable for different media, and there will be a constant requirement for multi- standard equipment, as there is with SD & HD now. What facilities to offer Experiments are already being carried out beyond the development laboratory to test operational issues with 4K UHDTV1 and devise practical solutions. It is expected that these experiments will soon be extended to 8K UHDTV2. Whether these tests are carried out in a studio or in an Outside Broadcast set-up, UHD TV test gear is needed to assist with the signal multiplexing, transport and conversion that is needed in these experimental environments. Similarly any tests looking at interoperability between prototypes and or between items of equipment from different manufacturers will require format conversion, test signal generation and signal analysis. As with previous video formats, all new video technologies will need tools and test equipment to get them from the drawing board to the field and, wherever possible, the benefit of the accumulated experience of engineers who understand the detail of these