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Check out SMPTE for the Big Picture!

June 8, 2021

During this year’s Olympic games, 9000 hours of sports will be broadcast over 17 days, with a significant portion of that in UHD-2/8K ultrahigh-definition format. When you consider that the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) will be 30% smaller than it was in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it really emphasizes the advances made in remote production. It also changed the perspectives of those who believe that cloud costs are unrealistic for UHD. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already firmly under way in 2019. Cloud production and remote back-haul now require a significantly smaller number of people to be on-site and it is cost-effective to pull UHD feeds internationally to remote studios where the individual countries’ broadcasters can create a local program from a broad range of live and offline feeds made available by the host broadcaster.

Beyond live UHD production, an increasing volume of UHD-1/4K and 8K content is available to the consumer. A quick Google search for “Where can I watch 8K content” provides a comprehensive list of services that gives users a great viewing experience. The search for “Where can I watch 4K content” gives an even longer list. Of course, the results depend on the country, the speed of the internet, and the visibility of satellites over your head. Bandwidth gets cheaper and compression gets better, but 4K always takes more bandwidth than high-definition (HD), and unless enough consumers are willing to pay for it, there will be fewer services. A quick review of the Eutelsat website showed a little more than 30 UHD channels, around 1700 HD channels, and 6600 standard-definition (SD) channels for European audiences. I believe this is representative of many providers in the western world. While UHD has undoubtedly arrived, a long tail of SD revenue continues to be generated.

From SMPTE’s perspective, all the compression, transport, and file formats already have UHD features and functionalities to ensure that live and prerecorded content can be created, produced, mastered, distributed, and consumed in UHD. For a full run-down on the technology that underpins the use of UHD, SMPTE has a dedicated course that teaches everything from resolutions to bitrates to interfacing. If you need something a little more bite sized then go to youtube.com and search for @smpteconnect UHD to get a listing of SMPTE presentations on UHD. You will find everything from the deep tech of modulation transfer functions to closed captioning and IP transport. Check out SMPTE for the Big Picture!

Tag(s): Featured , UHD , News

Bruce Devlin

Bruce Devlin has been working in the media industry for 30 years and is the chief media scientist at Dalet Digital Media Systems as well as the founder of Mr MXF Ltd. and co-founder of the Media Bay LLC. He is well known in the industry for his technology presentations, especially his educational YouTube series—Bruce’s Shorts. Devlin has designed everything from ASICs to algorithms. He tweets as @MrMXF chaired the SMPTE working groups and literally wrote the book on the MXF format. Devlin is an alumnus of Queens’ College Cambridge England. He is a member of the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers (IABM) and Digital Production Partnership, a fellow and U.K. Governor of SMPTE, a recipient of SMPTE’s David Sarnoff Medal, a recipient of BKSTS’ Achievement award, keen to educate the world about media and a rider of bicycles (occasionally quickly). Devlin is also a recipient of the SMPTE Excellence in Standards award.

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