On the last afternoon of the SMPTE Conference, an interesting insight into the practicality of UHD-1 (aka 4k or Ultra-HD) came from a French consortium of companies, the ‘4ever project. This is investigating how practical it will be to broadcast it on terrestrial television in France.
The case for broadcasting UHD-1 has, they suggested, two pillars: more information in the picture – the picture now tells more of the story, and more emotional involvement by viewers.
Their project uses (because it is the only form available) the ‘Quad HD’ format, with an interesting new audio idea. They plan for 8 audio channels, which will be used as an ‘adaptive’ system rather than with a fixed number of speakers around the room. The system can adjust itself to the speaker configuration the viewer has in his room (some similarity to the Cinema Atmos system here).
They find there are today three cameras available – from Red, JVC, and Sony. None are perfect for day to day television production, but the JVC image seems likely to allow the greatest compression.
They have looked at the new compression technology, HEVC, which they categorized as an encoder with a gain of bit rate of 50% and a gain of complexity of 10x. Decoder complexity increases by 2-3x.
The companies in the group argued in MPEG for the inclusion of 10 bit/sample in the first HEVC specification to be issued net year, and they believe they have won the battle.
Their initial finding is that the HEVC compression will put UHD-1 capacity well within reach of digital terrestrial television, and that in France it will be possible to add new terrestrial services using DVB-t2, UHD-1, and HEVC in the coming years.
Do you think they will be the first?