Vendor View, Ian Trow, Harmonic

Expected tech trends: At IBC2014, 4K/Ultra HD will continue to be a headline issue. However, I think most broadcasters are significantly more educated and aware of the impact and implications of introducing 4K services. For broadcasters that have significant brand traction and sports content portfolios, there is an obvious drive to align themselves with flagship live events. A parallel market exists for streaming services, to which most of the legacy infrastructure issues facing broadcasters do not apply. This leaves the market open to promoting movie streaming services on the expectation that viewers will be able to watch in 4K, should their broadband connectivity have sufficient robustness and bandwidth.

High dynamic range (HDR) is the latest technical parameter to be standardized for HD and 4K/Ultra HD applications. While this is a worthy addition to the technical feature set of 4K, there is considerable concern with the incremental release of technical improvements and the screen legacy they leave, especially for early adopters.

Virtualisation of the video arena is definitely a key issue, with many now referring to headends as data centers. The move to more harmonized workflows that are IT-centric rather than bespoke broadcast is of prime importance to IBC attendees, with many contemplating whether to continue as owner-operators or to contract out key areas of their technical operations in the light of new service provision.

New at IBC: At IBC2014, we will demonstrate a new video delivery ecosystem that unifies all media processing functions under a single workflow. Attendees can stop by the booth, 1.B20, to see how Harmonic’s VOS and Electra XVM technologies bring unprecedented efficiencies to broadcasters through intelligent function integration and the ability to leverage an all-IT infrastructure, as well as enable virtualized media processing. We will also showcase enhancements to our playout, contribution, and cable edge solutions.

Initial thoughts on 4K/8K: For now, most early traction for 4K will be gained by broadband streaming services that can tap into early enthusiasm for the format. From a broadcast perspective addressing live linear services, the technically-savvy are contemplating a move to 1080P as a half-step towards full 4K adoption. There have been plenty of comparisons showing 1080P to be more appropriate for the typical access-bandwidths currently available to viewers.

What is for certain is that the production environment will endorse 4K to futureproof commissions. Those most involved in designing workflows are wrestling with issues surrounding how far an IT-centric approach can be taken and whether another iteration of SDI is appropriate or if the time has come to embrace fully next-generation Ethernet connectivity.

8K is garnering interest, particularly for high-end cinema applications. However, outside of Asia the format hasn’t yet achieved market traction due to the significant 4K technical hurdles yet to be addressed.

Favourite bar, pub or restaurant in Amsterdam:Restaurant Red is the one for me — seafood and steak. Drink is to be expected at IBC, but it must be accompanied by sustenance!

How many IBCs to date; any IBC trade show tips: It has been 22 IBCs for me, and my best trade show trip is to stay off the bikes. They are lethal when mixed with booze and tram rails!