What are the prospects for television beyond the HDTV systems we have today? Dr Hans Hoffman (right) gave his views to the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference in Hollywood earlier this week. The timely presentation came after the approval in August 2012 of ITU-R BT ‘2020’ – the two layers of Ultra-High Definition Television. The lower layer (UHD-1 in EBU terms) is now called Ultra-HD by the US consumer electronics association, and the upper layer (UHD-2 in EBU terms) is called Super Hi-Vision by NHK, the Japanese broadcaster.
Decisions and costs
As explained by the EBU's Head of Media Fundamentals & Production, one of the key issues today is to analyse the options that UHDTV provides in areas such as picture or frame rate. We need to decide what higher frame rates, and other parameters are worth in quality, and how much they will cost in studio and transmission bandwidth.
There is more to work on before UHDTV is used: in particular, all the interfaces needed for programme production and for connections in domestic equipment. The new family of compression technologies, HEVC is shortly to be published, but much testing remains to be done.
But what will UHDTV mean for broadcasters? Broadcasters need to analyse business needs and consequences. Hans Hoffmann's team at the EBU Technology & Innovation Department have worked with the EBU Beyond HD group to prepare a set of test sequences for UHD-1 and some are publically available.
He concluded with a plea to try production at UHD-1, and to take part now actively in the UHD-1 discussions, rather than complain later that it’s not what is needed.