In Broadcast - NABSHOW 2015 - 60


60

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 5 - Issue 3 | March 2015

InFocus

Beyond The 4K Tipping Point
Elemental Technologies Chief Marketing Officer Keith Wymbs looks at the
road to delivery of 4K content distribution...

D

espite a number of high-profile
and successful public trials, 2014
fell short of predictions that it would be
the year of 4K.
However, 2015 is shaping up to
deliver on the promise of this new
format as more pieces of the Ultra
HD (UHD) ecosystem fall into place.
Software-defined video processing
will help bring down the cost of UHD
satellite bandwidth, there's more
availability of UHD compatible TV
screens at mass market prices, and
the programmes UHD offers are going
beyond sporting events.
The 2014 Football World Cup was
a catalyst for 4K test programming,
with media leaders, such as the BBC,
trialling the new format with the
support of technology leaders such as
Elemental. We can safely assume that
the 2016 Olympics will be another such
event.
This will be fuelled by content
providers' revenue aspirations, the
continued downward spiral of Ultra HD
television screen prices, and slow but
steady progress in terms of in-home
bandwidth readiness for 4K.
Akamai, in its 2014 Q3 report,
noted that the sustained connectivity
of about 15 Mbps is required for
4K - and that year-over-year, global
4K-readiness rose 32 %.
The list of pay TV providers and
broadcasters successfully testing or
launching 4K services is growing.
With many Pay TV providers and
broadcasters - such as Eutelsat, Sky,
DIRECTV, DISH Network, ESPN Tata
Sky, VideoCon d2H, Japan Sky Perfect
JSAT, and NTT Plala - launching
services to keep pace with content
providers like Amazon and Netflix.
Picture Quality
We can expect to see everything
move faster than the transition to HD
- from video infrastructure readiness
and delivery approaches, to consumer
price points. This will be fuelled
by consumer demand for the best
experience possible on devices beyond
4K-ready and Smart TVs, including
smart phones, tablets, and more.

Elemental Live

China in particular is leading the way
globally for 4K adoption. NPD Group's
DisplaySearch forecast predicted that
in 2014 China would account for 78%
of the 4K TV market - leading all other
regions combined by a factor of three.
The research firm forecasts that China
will remain the leading region for 4K
TV shipments in 2015 even as other
regions begin to catch up.
4K Streaming
Thanks to the latest iterations of
the MPEG-DASH adaptive bitrate
streaming protocol, a significant
portion of 4K UHD TV broadcasts are
now taking place online for web-based
applications, or through the HbbTV
standard for smart TVs.
In May 2014, the Vienna State Opera
used Elemental encoders to stream
the world's first live opera production
in 4K UHD TV HEVC. Delivered via the
MPEG-DASH, Verdi's Nabucco starring
Plácido Domingo was made available
for viewing on the Internet, smart TVs
and mobile devices.
For pay TV operators, premium
sports content remains a major driver
of 4K UHD adoption.
As the first vendor with a video
processing solution capable of
supporting live HEVC encoding for 4K
UHD, Elemental has assured end-toend video processing interoperability
for multiple unprecedented live 4K
workflows over the past year:
	 *	 During the Sochi Winter Games,
Elemental worked with Russian
satellite TV operator NTV Plus and
semiconductor supplier Broadcom,
to transmit the world's first 4K
HEVC/H.265 satellite transmission;
	 *	 In May, Elemental partnered with
Sky Deutschland to successfully deliver
the world's first Ultra HD broadcast
of a live football match, between
FC Bayern Munich and SV Werder
Bremen;
	 *	 For the World Cup, Broadcom
and Elemental collaborated to deliver
4K UHD TV satellite broadcasts of the
final three matches with Brazilian pay
TV provider, Globosat, to selected

Elemental encoders streamed a Vienna State Opera production live in 4K

subscribers and Pay TV operators at
4Kp60 10-bit Rec 2020 colour.
Satellite TV providers are also in
a good position to deploy live 4K
services rapidly by addressing UHD TV
sets that include HEVC decoders, or by
bundling new HEVC compliant set-top
boxes with their service.
DirecTV has publicly announced
its intent to launch 4K offerings ondemand before the end of the year.
The same timeline applies to major
forward-thinking
cable
operators, while telco
operators may launch 4K
UHD TV services to add
value and further entice
consumers to sign up for
their Fibre To The Home
(FTTH) offers. However,
those telco operators that
remain reliant on copper
wires are less likely to roll
out 4K UHD TV any time
before VDSL factoring
becomes more prevalent in
access networks.
SDV Enables 4K
Software-Defined
Video
(SDV)
systems used to process MPEG-2 video
can offer a more seamless migration
path to H.264 and High-Efficiency
Video Coding (HEVC/H.265), than
dedicated hardware equipment.
SDV is an infrastructure agnostic
approach to implementing flexible,
scalable and easily upgradable video
architectures.
Unlike
legacy
solutions,
this
advancement allows video providers
to deploy software across an optimal
combination of dedicated and

virtualised resources in both private
and public data centres.
A software-defined approach frees
video providers from the constraints
of dedicated equipment by allowing
for the best architecture and processor
combination to be used for a particular
application, even if that application
changes over time. Support for new
services and video formats can be
integrated seamlessly through simple
software upgrades.

Elemental deployment models for
Software-Defined Video

For example, Elemental's SDV
solutions currently offer full frame rate
4K Ultra HD video encoding using the
HEVC codec, ensuring that customers
will be able to continually support new
video compression standards as they
are adopted.
In some cases, advances developed
for newer codecs such as HEVC can
also be applied to previous codec
generations. These may include deinterlacing, scalar processing, colour
correction, noise filtering and other
special purpose effects such as scene
change detection, transition detection,
and complexity measurements.


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