Last week, the EBU Strategic Programme – Beyond HD
evaluated a set of real-time UHDTV HEVC contribution encoders. Thomson Video Networks and NTT electronics submitted their systems to a long and extensive quality test, evaluating the latencies, picture quality, resilience to cascaded encoding etc. in 4:2:2 10 bit modes.
Several HDTV HEVC contribution encoders are available today. However, barriers still exist, including real-time UHDTV encoders (NTT, Thomson Video Network, Digigram,) and even worse, the barrier for HEVC UHD real-time contribution decoders. For this test, Village Island and NTT supplied a decoder.
“This test provided us with a snapshot of the current status of the industry, which is good in terms of quality performance, but needs further work in terms of interoperability. The picture quality and encoding latencies observed are certainly appealing especially for UHDTV contribution over satellite where the H.264 quad solution is bandwidth consuming. They show that these products have already reached a certain level of maturity,” said EBU’s Beyond HD Chairman Giorgio Dimino (RAI).
HEVC / H.265 (High Efficiency Video Coding), the replacement of MPEG-4 / HEVC has been a standard since 2013 and is supported by most UHDTV screens today in 4:2:0 modes. Currently, UHDTV contribution is done using quad-H.264 systems encoding the 4K picture as separate tiles reconstructed and synchronised at the receiving side. A HEVC UHDTV encoder constitutes a viable solution as they reduce the bandwidth, avoid synchronisation issues and can be repurposed as four independent HD HEVC encoders.
The complete report of this first HEVC test will be published in the coming month.