—More pixels won’t cut the mustard for the European
Broadcasting Union, which wants to see better pixels become a part of the
standard for ultra high-definition TV.
“The [technical committee] believes that the current ‘4K ultra HD’ approach of
the consumer electronics industry is unsatisfactory and will be of limited
success in broadcasting,” the EBU said in its recent policy statement on UHDTV.
The better pixel argument has been circulating among video engineers since the
advent of 4KTV. The premise is that higher frame rate, dynamic range, greater
color gamut provides more noticeable picture improvement than simply more
pixels. There is ongoing debate on whether or not higher resolution alone is
even discernible by the average viewer in the average living room.
Televisions being marketed and sold now as “ultra HD” are simply higher res
than hi-def, that is, 3,840x2,160 pixels versus 1,920x1,080 or 1,280x720. The
EBU cited Display Search projection that 12 percent of TV sets sold next year
will be the higher-res 4K sets.
“The EBU Technical Committee believes that the current focus of the [consumer
electronics] industry to provide only
an increased resolution—4K—and ignoring other enhancements is not a sufficiently
large step for the introduction of successful new broadcasting services,” the
“The DVB Project has specified that a Phase 1 UHDTV broadcast format shall only
include the higher resolution and does not take into account other enhanced parameters
for ‘better pixels.’ The parameters—or a combination of them—that provide a
more immersive viewing experience, such as frame rate, dynamic range, color
gamut and enhanced audio are to be considered for a DVB Phase 2 UHDTV broadcast
format,” the EBU said.
The EBU noted that YouTube, Netflix and Amazon already could deliver enhanced
4K (with adequate bandwidth). Meanwhile, NHK in Japan is working on delivery
8KTV for the 2020 Olympics.
“The impact of this on the rest of the world is unclear,” the EBU said.
A complete migration to 4K is not expected any time soon, particularly since
many operations are not yet capturing and/or transmitting in HD. There’s also
the issue of missing pieces, EBU said:
“Mainstream production infrastructures for 4K and UHDTV are still in development….
Many different combinations of parameters are currently under discussion and
key interoperability standards are still missing.”
EBU also said better pixels for HD was worth exploring.
“An enhanced, 1080p-based, HD service that includes a certain combination of
UHDTV parameters except for the resolution increase, e.g. higher frame rate,
higher dynamic range, wider colorimetry and advanced sound system audio, is not
yet standardized,” it said.
“Such a 1080p-based HD format could be an appealing option for some
broadcasters and should be taken into account in the standardization and
investigation process. The EBU proposes that an enhanced 1080p format be
developed for broadcasting.”
Statement on Ultra High Definition Television