4K or not 4K? Broadcast and Pro Video Professionals Speak Out

21 Jan

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The past couple of weeks SCRI has been running a poll and inviting comments from broadcast and pro video professionals on the future of 4K. Last week we published the preliminary results and some comments. This week we publish the final results and over 10 pages of comments received from the survey as well as fromLinkedIn groups. The following is a comprehensive report on the potential future of 4K as seen by broadcast and pro video professionals.

The final survey numbers were consistent with the preliminary numbers — more than six out of ten (62.2%) broadcast & pro video professionals expect 4K to take off in terms of consumer demand and content delivery in 2015 or beyond. Another 23% see it happening by 2014. Only 6.8% think that it has or will happen this year and 8.1% believe that it will never happen.

Jed Deame: I think the 4k market will sprout in the professional sector before it does in the consumer space, since the benefits to the consumer are non-existent without 4k content.  Pro A/V, on the other hand, has a lot to gain from 4k displays.  I see it as a replacement for the 2×2 video wall.  A 2×2 wall with 4 HD windows is actually displaying a 4k canvas.  Unfortunately, there are big  mullions (bezels) running through the center of the canvas.  This can be reduced with high cost super narrow bezel LCD’s, but never eliminated – that is unless a 4k display is used.

Tom Skinner • With UHD TV needing 8.3 MP the first thing that needs to be tackled for delivery to consumers is the Codec that will be used to deliver the content over the existing pipes. HEVC and SVC are two ways to deliver this but then the decoder will need to be deployed before this has a chance. Existing Codecs will be pushed to their max to be able to get this to the consumer. 1024 QAM if it stays RF but more than likely this will be the first video that MUST be delivered over IP. 21 Gbps compressed down to a “viewable” BW is something that MUST be tackled and so on. BW is going to be the major constraint in delivering this to consumers, more than 1 channel at a time for viewing and DVR’s, and it keeps building from there. So before this is considered for consumers someone will have to tackle BW.

Thomas Brunet • “The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards body in the United States approved the use of H.264/AVC for broadcast television in July 2008, although the standard is not yet used for fixed ATSC broadcasts within the United States.[3][4] It has also been approved for use with the more recent ATSC-M/H (Mobile/Handheld) standard, using the AVC and SVC portions of H.264″

Interesting, broadcasters now have zero chance to compete with anyone, period. Even ATSC-M/H IMO is NOT going to replace our standard ATSC codec?

At first, I focused on legacy frame rates, but the real coffin nail is MPEG II itself. Which BTW was the codec that changed our industry & the world. Now it’s going to be the technical downfall of OTA DTV inside the US.

Contrived?

Paul Scott • Over and above the technical viability of deploying 4K, which I think can be sorted. This is very similar to the 3D question. It comes down to, “When will the consumer market demand higher resolution?” There has to be some value add hook. I see value in the “Multiview” application perhaps. That possibly would enable a single network to stream multiple HD feeds to a given user on multiple displays. But again with the consumer market moving to smaller more mobile devices does this make sense? We have all been working to create the “Bigger Better” viewing experience but I see the market moving towards a more mobile viewing experience. So in my opinion, we’ll have to create the hooks to make the market want to move to 4K. Bottom line!

Chuck Westfall: The first stage of consumer demand for 4K video is already beginning this year in terms of awareness as the motion picture industry seeks to differentiate its product, i.e., box office business at movie theaters. Original 4K content from major creative talents such as James Cameron, Peter Jackson, and others is already onscreen or in production, and more 4K movie content is sure to follow.

In the meantime, SMPTE is already working with broadcasters to set the standards for Quad HD (UHD) content delivery through television providers such as Verizon FIOS, Time-Warner, ComCast etc., just as they have already done for Full HD content including 3D movies. These standards will, in turn, allow broadcasters to begin developing the necessary infrastructure for live 4K coverage of major sporting events, perhaps as soon as 2016.

Prototypes of 4K TV monitors for consumers were introduced last year at CES, and the technology continues to advance rapidly as shown at this year’s exhibits. It is too early to predict when consumer demand for 4K video in homes will take off, but in my opinion, it is clearly a matter of “when,” not “if.”

Patrick Sullivan • It’s just a little too early to scrap the 720P & 1080I systems. It’s barely paid for, yet, and there are some stations are not even HD yet…This is a set for a market that does not rely on current infrastructure. Theaters, etc.. Considering how long it took plain ole HD to launch, I think with 4K, and it’s big brother, 8K, it’s going to be years in just changing the infrastructure, much less Joe Average spending $10K + for a 55″ OLED 4K Flat screen!

Thomas Brunet • Consumer Electronics Show, practically anything is technically possible.. in reference Patrick’s comment, OTA broadcasters are soo far from this target it’s not even on the virtual map IMO. Plus 1920 x 1080 i or P is def a relatively robust specification, even for extreme hi-end home theaters. DLP, etc. inside a given relative large scale custom viewing room is more than adequate pixel density, coupled with off-the-chart audio experience. Seriously, the fact we are now viewing discrete color components with near transparent compression codecs…come on, want to see evidence? Input composite NTSC “video” into your DLP.

That said, i.e. money no option? (note to self: what does that feel like?) 4K is already here. The technology to display and store (SAN’s) pgm content has been with the military and the upper class / successful for longer than one might imagine. In fact the driving force $$ behind our industry may surprise most. “Personal” virtual environments, where one adorns interactive body suite w/eyewear, just walks into his/her virtual reality “room” and their fantasy begins. It’s beyond 4K…and 3D. Literally technology on steroids (pun intended).

Patrick Sullivan • Yesterday the local news had a report from CES. The gist was 4K Flatscreen pricing is between 10 to 20 thousand dollars. It was nice to note the reporter did include the comment, “Currently there is very limited content for this Flatscreen to display”! I have to agree!

Alex MacGregor: Cost needs to come down, the first application will be upconverted regular HD and maybe viewing videos from newer smartphones. At CCW, Laurence Thorpe from Canon said there is still a problem with camera lenses for 4k and higher usage.

Berry. Ebben • There is no consumer demand, only early adapters. If 4K is reaching the same level as HD in selling it will be replaced by 8K. So wait for 8K ? Take probably only 2 years from now.

Miles Hudson • 4K also needs a couple of things, I believe; OLED screens to come to tthe mass consumer market plus enhanced file based service delivery platforms to exploit the emerging titles – like 3D this is still so niche that few broadcasters will dedicate linear channels to this. This combination will induce me to be an early(ish) adopter.

T Miles G Johnston • 4K and 8K are obviously for the Cinema market….but the practical applications of editing and transferring and storing such massive amounts of dat is a serious problem for the practical everyday editing and file storage and transfer, let alone the transmission to cinemas.

Ned Soseman • It’s a great production format but I don’t see it coming to living rooms anytime soon.

Jonathan Ng • Tele-Medicine and space exploration application. This is where the value comes in.

Berry. Ebben • 4K and 8K TV sets will arive in your living rooms with ”Gimmick free 3D”’. In my apart of the world cabling is not so difficult. Fibre is well on its way with bandwidth up to 500Mbps. Compression schemes for 4K and higher like H265 are on the way. So what is keeping you to buy 4K on this moment? Price?

Euzebio Tresse • Globo TV, in Brazil, has produced some material in 4K.

Robert Borts • The biggest problem is getting product to set! Transmission standards haven’t been set! Transmission for that amount of data is a huge undertaking! Web based 3D and 4K product are available via the web but you need a lot of pipeline to get it to the house! these formats as everyday broadcast formats are a lot farther away than everyone believes! Broadcasters and cable outlets are still updating plants for HD! Capitol investment isn’t happening at this time to get these new formats to market!

Jonathan Ng • You may also run out of storage with existing server quickly!

Tim Malone • In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the U.S. has been going through a bit of an economic depression over the last 4 years. Aside from infrastructure challenges in delivering 4K content, it is the lack of robust employment and high paying jobs in the U.S. that will be a governing factor for 4K sets to land in many homes. It seems more likely that the ascending Chinese middle class might be their early adopters. Adding to the economic issues, many titles aren’t even available to rent on BR because the demand for higher image quality has not been great enough from consumers. A lot of people still actually watch DVDs and other SD content! Does anyone really think that these people are going to rush out and spend thousands of dollars on a 4K set when they don’t even insist on BR / HD? Vendors can dream all they want, but until wages and employment levels go back up, the cash is simply not there for these small incremental improvements in user experience. Tablets (note- smaller screens, not larger) and smart phones? Well that’s another story.

Kevin Miller • I do not see 4K taking off as you put it until two major things occur: 1. Native 4K content becomes available, and the pricing on 4K resolution displays comes down to even a remotely affordable level.

Jeremy Blasongame • The FCC will have to auction off further white space to in the sub 1GHz region for stations to have the bandwidth to broadcast in 4K. It will be a few years before we see affordable products for the home consumer environment. Last week Sony unveiled their first 4K projector at $25,000. Everyone just made the transition to 1080, and with the economy pinching people’s expendable expenditure I’m going to guess (though I could be completely wrong) it will be at least 3-5 years before we see 4k take off.

Joel Appelbaum • I think the biggest impediment (in addition to major infrastructure costs) will be getting 4K content over existing cable and satellite distribution. It’s a lot more bandwidth and these providers are already maxed out.

4K may just be another “pie in the sky” like 3D TV.

Josh Kairoff • I’m a bit confused as to why 4k content is seen as needed for 4k display success. Very little of the HD content we currently accept and enjoy has the pixel resolution of our displays. We buy digital cameras with ever higher pixel resolutions, but don’t demand monitors or printers match content native resolution. We enjoy compressed audio on our home hifi.. Demanding pixel to pixel compliance is losing the forest through the trees.

James Chan • Interesting question…. 4K has been in existent on the pro side for over 5 years now, and it is still considered as an early adopters display. We install them it mostly in verticals like medical and network operating centers when they need huge amount of data to be displayed in ultra high resolution displays. To accelerate and make 4K adoption happen in the consumer world, contents need to be available first. And I mean exciting contents like movies or films or broadcast programs, not demo slides or clips of breath-taking sceneries. This alone will take at least a few years. Then, the infrastructure to deliver these exciting contents must be in place with the proper speed, bandwidth and cost Goethe adopters to seriously consider upgrading from their recently upgraded equipment. Finally, pricing has to be no more than 2X that of t

a premium 1K or 1080p display. Then, we will start seeing wide spread adoption…. for now, it will be a device for the early adopters and the “can-afford’s”, the really well-to-do people who have very different concept of value than an average consumer. Having said that…. The TV manufacturers will need to make 4K successful as they were not able to make 3D fly… 4K is quantifiable with real spec improvement spot won’t be that hard. It just need the right price with the right contents delivered at acceptable speed and cost. I personally think it will take between 5-10 before popular adoption of 4K will take place. But I could be wrong…. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and these are very challenging times to be making and selling TVs if profitability is partridge the goal of that product line.

Derek R. Flickinger • 1) I think it is important that we distinguish between “4K” and Ultra HD. “4K,” at least from a DCI perspective, already is widespread in theaters. Ultra HD, expect for some of the early professional products, is just starting to kick in.

2) I think that we also need to look at the whole content creation workflow process for broadcasting. While most film production houses already support “4K,” most broadcast facilities do not have the appropriate equipment to support the Ultra HD workflow and add insertion requirements (just look how long it took to upgrade their equipment to support the CALM effort). Until the broadcasters can manage Ultra HD content in house, they are not going to be able to send it out “over the wire (or air).”

3) I think one of the big impediments to Ultra HD right now is HDMI. While the current HDMI spec “supports” Ultra HD (4K), the current versions must restrict the color depth and/or the frame rate at that resolution. Being that most of us in this group are video professionals who always are looking for better and more accurate picture quality, we will not accept a reduction in it just to get higher resolutions. We could debate if the average couch potato cares, but my view is that it is difficult for a manufacturer to standardize on a solution that delivers less than what they make now when everyone else is trying to make the quality of the picture better. The current “4K” displays and projectors still have a single HDMI port for consumer-level content while the better ones require a Dual-link DVI or a PCIe bus. Unfortunately, the current crop of consumer Ultra HD sets only have a single HDMI port per source and there is no way to get around a reduction in the quality of the picture, even though it has more pixels. HDMI technically has a 29-pin solution defined, which would allow them to support an even better picture in UHD or 1080p, no products use it. I guess the 2.0 version will give us some hope.

4) I do think that Ultra HD definitely will help to increase the adoption rate of passive 3D and some aspects of multi-player/single-screen gaming.

5) My question is “Why doesn’t some creative TV manufacturer provide an Ultra HD set with multiple tuners or the ability to select multiple HDMI sources simultaneously so someone could watch multiple shows or sporting events on the same screen (quad screen view)?” I think if a product were to come out with that capability, I would be interested in paying some extra bucks for that feature (and it would make it a lot easier sell the underlying technology). It also would open up some new opportunities for video conferencing, digital signage, stock trading, or running multiple applications on the screen simultaneously.

Marty Shindler: Given the prevalence of 4K TVs and their ability to up res from 2K as well as the seeds of a 4K infrastructure taking shape, it is just a matter of time as prices for the TVs decline, before the format gains traction.  It is also easy to extrapolate 5, 8 or 10 years into the future to see that a 40, 50 or 100 foot display will eventually be installed in movie theaters.  If theaters do not take action they will fall far behind the quality picture and sound presentations found in the home.

Mikhail Shapiro •  There is already 5k and beyond, with all this new media-rich technology photography will begin to fade away as we are able to create stills through our edits.

Comments form the Survey:

  • Would likely require even more compression to minimize payload to match current operations. Doubt people are ready to spend more to deliver 4K at this time
  • It is going to take several years before the costs of the sets gets to where anyone other than early adopters buy in. The uprez capability is an important feature.
  • “Take off” is a relative term. I think 4K has a better chance of success than many predicted 3D would have. The issue will be, how will 4K be presented to the buying public. Where will the content come from and, will it be available as a viable product over cable or the internet. All the moons will have to align for this format to be a success.
  • If the USA can catch up with the rest of the developed world in internet broad-band delivery systems.
  • Only on very large home theater systems.
  • I see 4k high frame rate as bigger in the long run than 3d
  • Will be on disk or non realtime file for some time
  • Content needs to catch up and set prices come down. It’s a subtler shift than HD was, and — while eventually will be “expected” — won’t see the uptake that HD did.
  • Most folks are not going to dump their current HD investment until they have too! This stuff is way to expensive to just dump a 2000.00 Flatscreen a year or two after they buy it! Not in this economy. The broadcast content had better damn well vastly improve to rate a 4k HD investment! Jerry Springer just don’t cut it!
  • HD took 10 years from standard completion to significant take-up
  • It will be a theater-only experience, in a “good enough” world of tablets, smartphones, etc.
  • Really only a viable product in the Professional sector.
  • production in 4K has begun
  • Also needs OLED screens to become the norm
  • the broadcasters/ content creators have not yet totally gone HD – and “4k” is not a great improvement – but HFR UHD2 is the way to go..
  • It’s already prominent in Hollywood/professional.
  • may be the 8k will obscure the 4k before it takes off
  • Would likely require even more compression to minimize payload to match current operations. Doubt people are ready to spend more to deliver 4K at this time
  • It is going to take several years before the costs of the sets gets to where anyone other than early adopters buy in. The uprez capability is an important feature.
  • “Take off” is a relative term. I think 4K has a better chance of success than many predicted 3D would have. The issue will be, how will 4K be presented to the buying public. Where will the content come from and, will it be available as a viable product over cable or the internet. All the moons will have to align for this format to be a success.
  • If the USA can catch up with the rest of the developed world in internet broad-band delivery systems.
  • Only on very large home theater systems.
  • I see 4k high frame rate as bigger in the long run than 3d
  • Will be on disk or non realtime file for some time
  • Content needs to catch up and set prices come down. It’s a subtler shift than HD was, and — while eventually will be “expected” — won’t see the uptake that HD did.
  • Most folks are not going to dump their current HD investment until they have too! This stuff is way to expensive to just dump a 2000.00 Flatscreen a year or two after they buy it! Not in this economy. The broadcast content had better damn well vastly improve to rate a 4k HD investment! Jerry Springer just don’t cut it!
  • HD took 10 years from standard completion to significant take-up
  • It will be a theater-only experience, in a “good enough” world of tablets, smartphones, etc.
  • Really only a viable product in the Professional sector.
  • production in 4K has begun
  • Also needs OLED screens to become the norm
  • the broadcasters/ content creators have not yet totally gone HD – and “4k” is not a great improvement – but HFR UHD2 is the way to go..
  • It’s already prominent in Hollywood/professional.
  • may be the 8k will obscure the 4k before it takes off

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Professional Attitudes on 4K Confirmed - January 29, 2013

    […] … more than six out of ten (62.2%) broadcast & pro video professionals expect 4K to take off in terms of consumer demand and content delivery in 2015 or beyond. Another 23% see it happening by 2014. Only 6.8% think that it has or will happen this year and 8.1% believe that it will never happen. – SCRI International Professional Survey on 4K […]

  2. 4K or 3D? The future remains unclear › Toki Solutions - February 25, 2013

    […] In late January, SCRI ran a poll and asked for comments regarding the future of 4K. Many of the responses show skepticism in rapid adoption of 4K. Here are some of the responses. The entire comments section is available here. […]

  3. 4K or 3D? The future remains unclear | Broadcast Engineering | 423 Digital, Inc. - February 25, 2013

    […] In late January, SCRI ran a poll and asked for comments regarding the future of 4K. Many of the responses show skepticism in rapid adoption of 4K. Here are some of the responses. The entire comments section is available here. […]

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