TV-BAY Issue 88

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TECHNOLOGY Get the 8k WOW factor at NAB! by Bob Pank O nce again 4K will be a prominent feature at NAB. There will be a 4K Zone in the North Hall but surely the format is now so popular that its many supporters will make it ‘4K everywhere’ and not confined to a dedicated zone. But 4K is only a part of UHD, the other being 8K, which has far more wow factor (why else go to Las Vegas!) and is being presented in spectacular style at the show. Way back in 2003 it was NHK research that was pulling in the NAB crowds with demonstrations of its new Super Hi-Vision (SHV)... long before it was bracketed with 4K under the UHD banner. Over the 11 years since there has been a series of developments aimed at making the format a practical proposition. This year at the NHK (Booth N231), the format will be displayed on a 350-inch (that’s only just shy of 10 yards) screen – allowing visitors to actually see all the detail of the images. This is how this huge format should be presented to best effect, delivering an immersive experience to the audience; a very different type of television. Footage to be shown includes shots from the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, as well as other occasions and events. It will be interesting to see how close it comes to the claim that it makes you ‘feel as though you 48 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 88 APRIL 2014 are actually there’. My guess is that’s not true; the 8K audience will actually see more than those who were at the event. Of course there will be the 22.2 audio too with a new ‘display-integrated’ 3-D sound reproduction speakers: a sound system that can incorporate 12 speakers into the TV set’s box. This is said to enable the delivery of 22.2 multichannel 3-D sound reproduction on a household TV. NHK and its 8K development partners are aiming to start test broadcasts (including terrestrial) in 2016 and a full broadcast service in 2020, and so are working on several fronts to complete a practical scene-to-screen system. Much progress has been made including replacing the original ‘monster’ camera with a choice of normal sized models – including one weighing just 2 pounds (1kg). There is a real-time HEVC coder that claims four times the efficiency of MPEG- 2 compression. A new terrestrial broadcasting system is said to be four times as efficient as current standards, delivering an incredible 90 Mbps transmission capacity in one 6 MHz TV channel. This has already been tested in Japan. This technology should make possible the delivery of SHV to the home but there’s no way there will be room there for that 350-inch screen! I’ve never been to Japan but I’m told their houses are usually not big so they could only accommodate much more modest screen sizes, perhaps around 60 inches. And to appreciate the 8K picture detail viewers have to be within about 21 inches of the screen (0.7 of screen height) – a very different way of watching TV at home. Many see 4K as a more suitable domestic format; even so the maximum viewing distance to see all the detail is still close, at twice (1.4 x screen height) that of 8K. And with that ‘4K’ number widely used as the format’s name, it is easy to forget what other goodies come in the television system that is defined by the ITU-R BT.2020 recommendation that also includes 8K. It is highly likely that features other than picture size will be what really catch people’s attention. That fact is that the last set of such recommendations, ITU-R BT.709, was for HD and date back to 1993. Much has changed since then. Probably the most prominent feature is the much wider colour gamut. Rich colours are very appealing but to truly see them the whole train, from scene to screen, must support them, and there are reports that even modern TVs do not. However, I have seen what look to me as, at least, richer colours. Let’s hope manufacturers step up to the mark and fully support the 2020 colours... at NAB, maybe? The Rec 2020 standard moves up from Rec 709’s 8-bit component video sampling to offer a superior a