The EBU UHDTV Strategy Support group recently delivered two recommendations that provide valuable ready-to-use guidance. The recommendations, EBU R 153 and EBU R 154, are a response to the lack of a common baseline for a UHDTV exchange format. The first is a basic set of recommendations for UHD-HDR live signal contribution via SDI or IP interfaces, while the second concerns non-live content exchange.

While only a handful of EBU Members are offering UHDTV content at present, many have begun to formulate strategies to ensure they are prepared as the format becomes more widespread. As major global players invest heavily in their UHD content offer, the demand for increased video and audio quality will grow, with public service media being expected to respond. An EBU group created in March this year, led by Technical Committee member Karl Petermichl (ORF), quickly identified a need among Members for practical advice on how to implement UHD and HDR (high dynamic range).

The result of five months of intense work by participants from a wide range of EBU Members, the two recommendations represent a ‘best of’ compilation of earlier work on the topics of UHDTV, HDR and Next Generation Audio. (With regard to audio, the recommendations adopt the term used by SMPTE, Metadata-Guided Audio.) The guidance should be used when no other agreements between two parties for UHDTV programme exchange are in place. The new recommendations can make life easier for day-to-day content exchange between EBU Members, other broadcasters, service providers and production companies.

These recommendations can also be used as a starting point by broadcasters and production companies just beginning in-house UHD-HDR content production or processing, and who need a simple and concise set of parameters and rules that can be used for tender and/or commissioning purposes.

Technology choices

Both documents recommend HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) as the HDR method, as it is the approach most widely used in current broadcast installations in OB trucks and facilities in Europe. It was also the HDR format for major sporting events in 2021.

The recommendations offer concrete and practical advice for live exchange over SDI and IP, as well as for Metadata-Guided Audio. For audio, the emphasis was on translating the existing strong theoretical base into guidance that can underpin practical adoption.

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