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4KTV at SMPTE: Broadcaster Update

HOLLYWOOD —It’s not your eyes. It’s the TV. Pixel counts abound. The folks at NHK in Japan are doing 8KTV; U.S. broadcasters are experimenting with 4KTV, and much of Europe is still moving from standard- to high-definition TV. It’s enough to make a world traveling TV watcher visit the eye doc.

At the SMPTE Technology Conference in Hollywood this week, Hiroshi Shimamoto of NHK noted that the Japanese public broadcaster started doing “super hi-def,” or 2K-by-2K, in 1992. The network brought 8K to the NAB Show last year with footage shot at the 2012 London Olympics. The experimental coverage helped Tokyo secure the 2020 Summer Games, which NHK pledged to do in 8K’s resolution of 7680 x 4320. NHK will return to NAB 2014 once again with their “Super Hi-Vision” 8K theater with 22.2 surround sound.

Meanwhile, the European Broadcast Union is grappling with how to handle 4KTV. Yvonne Thomas of the EBU said the spectrum squeeze in Europe is putting pressure on her organization to come up with useable bit-rate and transmission platform, “because in Europe, we’ll lose more and more spectrum through 2015. It has not yet been determined if we can use the spectrum for UHDTV,” 4KTV’s other acronym. “Broadcasters are still migrating to HD in Europe.”

U.S. broadcasters have employed 4K on the production side. Bob Seidel of CBS said the network is now acquiring assets in 4K. He also described how the network used 4K for what it’s calling “Heyeper Zoom,” with emphasis on the “eye.” CBS employed six 4K cameras at the Super Bowl to acquire footage at 3840 x 2160 pixels and used the footage for slo-mo replays and highlights.

The camera system employed 4096 x 2304 CMOS imagers, and would do from 60 to 900 frames per second. CBS settled on 300. For-A’s FT-1 cameras were used, each with 1 TB memory cartridges partitioned into six segments. The FT-1’s each had four 3 Gbps outputs—one for each quadrant. Standard PL Fujino lenses were used. Seidel said one of the concerns was whether or not the camera operator could find focus.

An Evertz stream server and a standard EVS slo-mo controller was employed. The switcher operator extracted the 4K images with a moveable zoom window.

Fox developed a similar system—“Super Zoom”—which it started working on in 2010. Fox’s Kevin Callahan said the network started with a Vision Research Camera and PsiTech Vortex for ingest, playback and extraction. Fox later moved to the Sony F-65 with CDU for the camera and AJA Corvid Ultra for extraction, retaining the Vortex for ingest. Earlier this year, Fox acquired NASCAR events in 4K with a For-A FT-100 and a Canon C-500.

Beginning of this year, Fox did NASCAR in 4K… acquisition, FOR-A FT-100 and Canon C-500, which was also used for the MLB All-Star Game along with AJA’s KiPro Quad DeBayer. For NFL games, Fox used the Canon C-500 with AJA’s KiPro Quad DeBayer and Corvid Ultra, as well as EVS XT servers.

What Fox has learned with Super Zoom, Callahan said, is that:
- Not every play lends itself to 4K.
- Focus is critical.
- Filtering is needed for extraction.
- Uncompressed is better.
- Motion blur is still a problem with 4K.
- Moving 4x3 Gbps SDI can be difficult.

Also see…
September 9, 2013:
IOC Selects Tokyo as Host of 2020 Summer Olympic Games
The Japanese city won out over Istanbul and Madrid after two rounds of voting during the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

May 9, 2013:NHK and Mitsubishi Develop HEVC Encoder for 8K ‘Super Hi-Vision’ TV
NHK and Mitsubishi are pursuing research and development of real-time coding of the 120 Hz frame frequency of Super Hi-Visoin.

January 4, 2013:NHK to do First 8K U.S. Broadcast Demo at NAB Show
Besides the presentation in the theater, NHK will also show for the first time outside Japan the real-time, over-the-air transmission and reception of Super Hi-Vision broadcasts, using two UHF television channels.