October - The UHDTV Paradigm
Headed to IBC 2013, where Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) was to be a prominent topic, David Wood, Chairman of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) working party 6C, the group responsible for making international recommendations associated with UHDTV, was eager to discuss the latest on UHDTV. UHDTV has clearly soared from being a buzzword and interesting technological experiment to a format that will have major implications for broadcasters, filmmakers, and consumers in the coming years.
August - Workflows in the Cloud
Now that media distribution companies such as Hulu, Netflix, and others have successfully pioneered ways to distribute media content using Cloud computing-based systems, the industry is now pondering what parts of the content production workflow chain might someday be moved into the Cloud.
June - Internet Broadcasting
With all the buzz surrounding digital television these days, the impact of a specific subset of that category--Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and broadcasting video via the Internet in a myriad of ways--can get lost in the haze of all the new camera, encoding, and display technologies and the fancy, new workflows and infrastructure overhauls that are now permeating the broadcast world. That said, in a sense, no new technology has more fundamentally impacted the traditional broadcast industry model than the Internet. After all, studies are consistently showing that the rapid growth of IPTV subscribers around the world, generally, the wide-ranging distribution of Internet-enabled television technology, and the ongoing movement toward Web-based services such as Netflix and Hulu have transformed home media consumption by diverting it away from merely "watching TV" to the advent of home media centers, where TV, streaming, games, data, and interactivity with content are all available to the consumer on demand. This development has diluted, disrupted, or altered traditional broadcast viewing numbers, habits, programming strategies, and business models in recent years.
April - Compression Trends: HEVC and More
The July 2012 SMPTE Newswatch covered how the Main Profile of the new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) scheme, technically known as ITU-T H.265|ISO/IEC 23008-2, was on the verge of being finalized--a potentially significant leap forward in helping broadcasters achieve meaningful bandwidth savings on the distribution of high-quality video images over the existing H.264|MPEG-4 AVC standard. This past January, as expected, the ITU-T Study Group 16 achieved consensus and MPEG received approval for publication of the standard. That consensus, according to industry experts, is that HEVC has the potential to reduce data bit rates by as much as 50% over the current AVC standard. The new standard includes a main (8-bit support) profile and a main-10 (10-bit support) profile.
March - What's Next for Digital Cinema?
In an era where manufacturers of digital cinema-related technologies are routinely pushing an onslaught of tools and workflow techniques to advance what is theoretically possible in categories like stereoscopic imagery, higher frame rates, laser projection, content security, image capture, and so many others, the question to ask is what will eventually be feasible, rather than what will be possible. Keeping that question in mind, the follow-up might be, what is the next big thing for digital cinema, or at least, what should be the next big thing?
February - Closed Captioning
In recent years, most of the significant action in advancing the accessibility of closed captions in media has occurred in the world of broadband/Internet-based video. This march forward shifted into high gear in the past few years, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) encouraged adoption of the SMPTE Timed Text (SMPTE-TT) format for delivering closed captions over the Internet.
January - Technology Trends 2013
Fresh from a visit to the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), SMPTE Immediate Past President Peter Ludé, also Sr. VP of Engineering at Sony Electronics, recently sat down for his annual conversation with SMPTE Newswatch to offer his thoughts on where media creation, distribution, and viewing technologies might be heading in 2013. His overall impression is that the industry remains in a state of evolution, rather than revolution, but he is pleased with the progress he has seen in many technology categories.
January - Next Generation Cinema Audio
In the world of theatrical sound, there are two important issues that SMPTE Technology Committees and sound system manufacturers are expected to focus on in 2013, closely followed by content creators and exhibitors. The first issue revolves around the growing need to improve ways to standardize testing, measurement, and calibration of theatrical sound systems in order to arrive at consistent playback between theaters. The second major issue involves expanding and improving multichannel playback to provide the cinema listening audience with "immersive" sound.
December - DRM Drama
Digital Rights Management (DRM), at its most basic level, has traditionally been considered as the strategic use of technology to monitor and enforce intellectual property licensing agreements by controlling access to digital content as it is being distributed, protecting it from unauthorized use or downright theft. In the modern world, however, the notion of "broadcasting video" now includes over-the-air terrestrial signal distribution.
November - Higher Frame Rates for 3D
With help from high-profile thrusts in recent months by two major filmmakers--Peter Jackson and James Cameron--the subject of higher frame rate presentations for digital cinema, particularly 3D exhibition, has seen its profile rise dramatically lately. In fact, as this newsletter was being prepared, the topic was under discussion as a major focus at the SMPTE 2012 Symposium, and articles covering the subject in-depth have also appeared in the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.
October - Color Gamut Gains
SMPTE Newswatch last examined the topic of expanding color gamut in projectors and displays a little over a year ago. Since then, there have been no fundamental shifts on the landscape regarding how best to achieve that expansion. On the cinema projection side of the equation, the best path to achieving wider gamut remains linked to improving light sources, brightness capabilities, and contrast--traits industry experts are optimistic will eventually become possible by evolving laser projection systems when they become practical and widely affordable to the industry.