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NAB 2014 to Showcase Latest 4K Gear

Blackmagic Design 4K Production Camera

LAS VEGAS—This year’s gathering promises rapid maturation of 4K acquisition, workflow, infrastructure and delivery strategies. (4K-related product and demo announcements follow article.)

Blackmagic Design is finally shipping its Blackmagic Production Camera, introduced during the 2013 show at $3,995, but reduced in price to $2,995. For the DSLR crowd, Panasonic will be shipping the GH-4 with optional interface unit in May. The camera itself is priced under $1,700 and the interface unit is under $2,000. The combination will enable resolutions up to 4096x2160 via SDI at 4:2:2 sampling. In the digital cinema range, Sony will be upping the ante with add-ons to their F5/F55 cameras.

Jumping the gun a bit to the next level, Hitachi will even be showing a demo of terrestrial broadcasting with its joint NKH 8K camera.

Most anticipated, though, is Panasonic’s entry into 4K for digital cinema and broadcast with its 4K Varicam. Price and availability will be announced at a later point—maybe even at NAB. Expect to see a prototype on display at the Panasonic booth.

Sony’s F5-F55 Cine Alta cameraCONSUMER DRIVEN?
There will no doubt be other announcements in the camera department, even as the field of external recorders will expand, such as Convergent Design’s Odessey 7Q, which is expected to gain added functionality.

While the 2014 International CES 2014 saw the introduction and price reductions of a number of 4K-capable televisions, the NAB Show should see expansion of higher-end 4K production monitors and i/o devices to drive them. Blackmagic Design has been shipping its $995 UltraStudio 4K capture and playback box and AJA is now shipping its $1,995 Io 4K. Both of these devices have Thunderbolt interfaces making them suitable to the newer Macs as well as those PC’s adopting chipsets which support Thunderbolt.

, Sony,Canon,JVC and TVLogic are already shipping 4K production monitors. Definitely look for new products and new manufacturers entering this market space.

Larry Thorpe of Canon Likewise, storage and archival solutions will increase in both speed and capacity to handle 4K requirements. Last year, vendors such as Ericsson and Elemental were touting H.265/HEVC encoding solutions, so expect to see additional hardware as well as software encoding products. The ability to encode and deliver 4K ultimately is what will drive the adoption of the format which in turn will drive acquisition and editing platforms.

Larry Thorpe, senior fellow at the Imaging Technologies & Communications Group for Canon USA said the combination of content creators, technologies, delivery media and home viewing are stronger for 4K than at this same point in time during the introduction of HD.

“Interest in 4K is growing. Movie studios, broadcasters, and cable and satellite operators all see 4K production as augmenting the shelf life of high-end program assets while offering superior HDTV derivation for today’s distribution,” Thorpe said. “Sporting leagues, mobile TV producers, and broadcasters and cable have all been active in adding 4K cameras to their coverage of major sporting events, creating wide-angle shots that can be digitally zoomed into to offer enhanced images that are integrated into the HDTV coverage.” Thorpe added that Canon has been increasingly systemizing its EOS C500 4K camera and 4K zoom lenses for such sports applications.

Karl Kim, a Holmdel, N.J.-based DP can attest to the demand for 4K content. Kim, who has just added two Canon C500 cameras to his tool kit, notes that “on the independent side, as a working DP I’ve been asked to shoot in 4K as distributors are now requesting 4K delivery. It’s not a deal breaker to shoot 1080 or 2.5K if the movies are good enough, but our potential clients are now specifically requesting 4K.”

The trend toward 4K will accelerate as consumers feel comfortable with UHDTV set prices and as content becomes more widely available. Netflix has a major hit on its hands with

Netflix confirmed in January that it plans to stream its original series “House of Cards” in 4K to specially equipped UHDTV sets this year. “House of Cards” and its delivery in 4K is just the kind of content needed to drive consumer demand. Netflix’ agreement with Comcast not to throttle bandwidth opens the door to agreements with other carriers. That in turn increases exposure of the format.

Bandwidth is the key which drives the entire production cycle. Internet providers continue to offer greater bandwidth even as compression efficiency increases. Watch for these trends at this year’s NAB Show. Late last year, TV Technology reported on Advanced Systems Group’s annual workshop on 4K and large raster production workflows. The workshop stressed the need for roadmaps and plans as broadcasters and other content delivery organizations produce and deliver 4K content. Dave Van Hoy, ASG president, expressed concerns that it is not yet time to bring broadcast news operations to 4K. Such an observation may be perfectly consistent with the move to HD since many stations continued to acquire and post-produce in SD resolutions, up-rezing to HD only for delivery. An obvious reason for not acquiring news footage in 4K is again, the sheer volume of data in an environment demanding fast turnaround.

Cameras, software, delivery and indeed the very concept of 4K will rise front and center at this week’s show. Expect not only surprises but, more significantly, refinement of the total production cycle.

The following is a sampling of 4K product announcements as well as sessions and events on 4K/8K production.
Consumers, 4K and Next Gen Home Entertainment—Which Experiences Will Most Excite Them?
Monday, April 7, 2:30 p.m.–3:30, S222

MLB Network: Advancing the Way Audiences View Baseball with 4K Technology, Tuesday, April 8, 9:00 a.m.– 9:30, S227

In Depth: Moving Beyond HD: 2K, 4K, 6K & More, April 8, 10:00 a.m–1:00 p.m., N261

4K: A Strategic Approach, April 8, 4:00 p.m.–4:30, S227

4K and Copper Cable, Wednesday, April 9, 9:00 a.m.–9:30, S228

The Future of 4K UHD: Examining Methods to Acquire, Exchange and Distribute Content, April 9, 10:00 a.m.–10:30, S228

4K Arrives! A Perspective from a Real UHDTV Broadcasting Experience, April 9, 11:30 a.m.–noon, S228

At the NAB Futures Lab, Tokyo’s NHK will present the latest iteration of its Super Hi-Vision system (pictured above, left), including a closed-circuit demonstration of over-the-air transmission of 8K content in a single 6 MHz UHF TV channel and show newly shot Super Hi-Vision content (8K video + 22.2 channel sound) in a special presentation theater.

Zaxel will demonstrate its Z8, a video server with 8K resolution and 60 fps playback in one chassis.

General Dynamics Mediaware of Canberra, Australia, will demo frame-accurate linear HEVC splicing.

Denver’s Imagine Communications, formerly known as Harris Broadcast, is bringing out Selenio X100 signal processing to accommodate 4K.

Yves Faroudja’s new company, Faroudja Enterprises, will introduce its Video Bitrate Reducer, the VBR100 in the Wynn Parlor Suites E.

For-A of Cypress, Calif., will bring its URC-4000 super-resolution 4K upconverters.

New York-based Adder will be launching 4K-capable KVM products, including a firmware upgrade to the AdderLink XD522—a high resolution DisplayPort and Thunderbolt display extender.

Harmonic of Sunnyvale, Calif., will feature a live 4K Ultra HD 2160/60p demonstration, and the latest in its encoding, stream processing, storage and playout solutions.

For-A of Cypress, Calif.,will showcase a new version of its FT-One 4K super slow-motion camera. The new version offers fiber I/O connections built directly into the unit. The company’s new ZE-ONE 4K extraction system will debut.

Samaserve of Ramsey, N.J., will spotlight its Nipros LS-750/GT camera-mounted fiber-adapter system, which works with any 4K camera. It’s said to simultaneously acquire and pass uncompressed 4K and HD signals.

OmniTek of Basingstoke, England,will have its Ultra 4K toolbox, which incudes 4K waveform analyzers, test signal generators, and monitoring tools.

Portland, Ore.-based Apantac will launch new 4K converters that are part of its Crescent line of signal processing gear.

Ikegami will host an 8K Technology Exhibit with the latest advances in Super-Hi-Vision.

LG subsidiary Zenith and GatesAir, the renamed Harris Broadcast transmission business, will demo their ATSC 3.0-based “Futurecast Universal Terrestrial Broadcast System” by streaming one 4K and two mobile TV signals in a 6 MHz channel.