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8K Buzz Becomes Reality in Japan; Inter BEE 2018 Highlights 12Gbps, VR and Next-Gen Replay

15/12/2018

8K Buzz Becomes Reality in Japan; Inter BEE 2018 Highlights 12Gbps, VR and Next-Gen Replay By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Friday, December 14, 2018 - 10:55 am

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The InterBEE trade show in Japan, the Japanese equivalent of NAB, is always a unique show for those involved in the broadcast and production industry. It is squarely focused on the needs of the Japanese broadcast industry and that makes it an interesting mix of a commitment to known technologies (one of the big themes this year was 12 Gig SDI) and a commitment to the future with (another big theme was 8K which is now a reality for consumers in Japan).

The NHK booth at Inter BEE featured a countdown to the launch of NHK's 8K service.

Let's start with the big news of the official launch of 8K broadcasts (as well as 4K) via satellite. The 8K signal, called BS8K, requires 100 Mbps of bandwidth to be delivered and the broadcasts are available 12 hours a day. That 12 hours, like the early years of HD here in the U.S., will comprise a mix of original full resolution material as well as upconverted material (audio is in 22.2-channel Surround Sound). Highlights so far include an 8K broadcast of 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as a live broadcast from the Vatican on Dec. 2. NHK also continues to roll out 8K production units that can be deployed around Japan and the goal is to have five in operation by the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin.

Eutelsat is a key partner in the delivery efforts, and NHK relied on DVB-S2X modulation, in 16APSK, and HEVC encoding for the Vatican live shot. The images were shot at 60 frames per second in BT2020 colour space, with 10 bits of colour depth and high dynamic range HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), combined with 22.2 channel audio.

Sony's booth at Inter BEE featured a massive 8K video wall.

The launch garnered mixed headlines and it will be some time before it will garner large audiences. The consumer electronics industry will most likely roll out a number of 8K sets at CES (Sharp is currently selling a 70-inch set for about $12,000) and the 8K receiver tacks on an extra $2,000 to the cost. Of course, anyone suffering sticker shock at those prices should consider that 4K sets were at that level only a few years ago so prices could fall within a couple of years.

SVG has discussed the production of 8K over the years and since the 2012 London Olympics the format has made some serious strides that are worth keeping in mind. For example, in 2012 recording the events for replay required 36 Panasonic P2 decks to be slaved together. Today that, thankfully is not the case.

And yes, the camera signals each are still a massive 48 Gbps but the number of cameras involved in the production continues to grow and their features, like slow-motion replay, also continue to expand.

NHK is currently the only broadcaster on the planet to commit to 8K and it is worth remembering that when people ask why? that NHK was committed to 8K before 4K was even a legitimate format. So, the why was simple: there was (and still is) a belief that 4K did not offer enough of a difference in terms of picture quality from 1080p to make it a worthwhile step. But 8K opened up a number of new applications like live broadcast to cinema screens and also would provide a signal that could support massive screens that measure more than 120 inches diagonal.

NHK's commitment, however, is enough to have a number of manufactures on the show floor at InterBEE displaying 8K production systems. Sony, Ikegami, Astrodesign, For.A, and others rolled out various 8K capable production components. And there actually is a practical application for an 8K camera today. It could be mounted within a stadium and capture a wide shot of the entire field of play and then allow for 1080p segments to be extracted and broadcast, allowing a single camera to do the work of multiple cameras and never miss a moment. And, of course, if 4K can turn the corner as a production format there could eventually be a need for 8K cameras to serve in the role of virtual zoom cameras so that a full 4K image can be extracted (similar to the role 4K cameras in extracting full HD images for replay).

The other big story at the show was products that supported 12 Gbps transport. 12 Gbps capable products were found in a number of booths and for many Japanese production professionals the familiarity with SDI architecture makes 12 Gbps more compelling than IP.

Advances in Next-Gen Replay

One of the highlights on the Canon stand this year was a next-generation version of the company's take on the 360-degree replay systems that take video from multiple cameras mounted around a stadium, synthesize it, and then allow for a replay from virtually any angle along with the ability to zoom in and move between players and objects.

It's called Free Viewpoint and it has made some strides since last year. Canon offered a quick demo of footage from rugby matches that were captured with 100 cameras mounted around the upper level of the stadium. The latest demo was impressive as the large number of cameras gave plenty of additional picture information to enhance the quality of the view. The problem? It still takes a long time to synthesize all of the data but the Canon team hopes they cut the processing time down greatly by the time the 2020 Olympics begin. Here's a YouTube clip of last year's version for a sense of what will eventually be offered (the new version, however, is more photorealistic).

Another cool technology demonstration was courtesy of Tokyo Broadcasting Systems (TBS). It was called Virtual Grabber and was designed to bring the VR environment to the world of technical directing. An operator outfitted with VR goggles and VR pointer hand controls was able to cut a show by looking at a virtual monitor wall and pointing an
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2018/12/14/8k-buzz-becomes-reality-in-japa...
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