Talking UHD at the HD Forum

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The Ultra HD Convention, hosted by HD Forum in Paris on 8 + 9 December, offered industry leaders and innovators the opportunity to share ideas and discuss the future direction of high definition broadcasting. Naturally, as a founding member of the HD Forum, HBS was on hand to participate in the discussions.

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During the second day of the two-day event, hosted at the HQ of Eutelsat, HBS Chief Technical Officer Jörg Sander participated in a panel debate regarding the usage of UHD during major live productions. The panel also included Adi Kouadio (EBU/UER), Christophe Chatain (Fédération Française de Tennis), Fabien Pisano (Sony) and Christophe Barbé (Euromedia).

A significant amount of experience in the field has been accumulated by Infront Italy and HBS at different events, including the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup™, and the lessons learned and knowledge accrued has been, and will be in the future, beneficial to projects incorporating UHD.

“Technically the 4K production went reasonably well in Brazil,” explained Sander. “In general, we now know the optimal positions for cameras, taking into account the existing limitations. Presently, the key issues with UHD are more on the editorial and operational side. Limitations are imposed by using a cinema-style camera and cinema-style lenses. They only offer a short zoom range, which is not appropriate for covering football in big stadiums. Consequently, too many compromises are made to the editorial narrative.

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“Also the 35mm sensor of, for example, the F55 offers a much shorter depth of field, making it very difficult for camera operators to stay on focus. Therefore, additional focus operators in the OB-truck are required.

“At the moment, the production in a quad-HD distribution makes the entire production chain uneconomical, as the capacity of the production facility is reduced to 25%. There is certainly a lack of an affordable solution to complete the production chain.

Sony F55 with 35mm sensor - Hitachi SK-UHD4000 and Grass Valley LDX with B4 mount lenses

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“If UHD wants to make progress in live production, a far more pragmatic approach will be required. Already the first camera manufacturers have started to present their solutions, using regular B4 mount lenses on standard camera bodies, reducing editorial limitations for camera coverage,” clarified Sander.

Created in 2005, bringing together 17 member companies, HD Forum’s objective was to coordinate professionals involved in the production chain of HD television from content creation to distribution to playback. Evolving over time, HD Forum now has 50 members and has moved with the ever-changing technology to embrace 3D, Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) and now UHD to remain a leading partner in the development of the high definition television sector.

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