Next generation 4K and Ultra HD (4K/UHD) television formats present broadcasters with an opportunity to intrinsically transform their operations.
By embracing 4K/UHD broadcasters have the opportunity to jettison legacy technology whilst rethinking and reshaping their broadcasting platform with the future in mind.
Designing the Broadcast platform around software-based compressed video processing components is now a commercially proven option that warrants careful consideration.
Latest generation software operates directly on the high efficiency video coding (HEVC) video bit stream, in its compressed form, without fully decoding and re-encoding every frame. The amount of processing required is therefore significantly reduced and video quality is preserved.
With software-based compressed video processing components, 4K/UHD HEVC services can be economically delivered and monetised on non- proprietary IP-based infrastructure today.
This provides a platform enabling Broadcasters to easily scale up the number of services delivered and migrate to higher resolutions, frame rates and pixel depths, without the need to replace infrastructure.
The television industry is going through rapid change. The adoption rate of new formats and technologies is accelerating. Facilities no sooner get up to date with one set of standards (e.g. SMPTE 292M HD-SDI) then they have to think about replacing them.
Technology innovation, coupled with business advantage, is a trigger for change.
Next generation 4K/UHD television formats present broadcasters with an opportunity to intrinsically transform their operations.
Along with the advantages that come with differentiating content offerings and being able to influence the rate at which new formats are adopted, embracing 4K/UHD provides broadcasters with the opportunity to jettison legacy technology and to rethink and reshape their broadcasting platform with the future in mind.
Delivery to the home of 4K/UHD television services is enabled by the new HEVC video compression format.
However, since encoding 4K/UHD HEVC requires significantly more computation than encoding high definition (HD) Advanced Video Coding (AVC) services, first generation encoders are highly complex.
Given the inherent lag that a new resolution introduces, waiting for market-ready 4K/UHD baseband platforms means the generational opportunity to transform operations could be lost.
Replacing Serial Digital Interface (SDI) workflows with Internet Protocol (IP)-based ones is now a widely accepted method for revamping a broadcast platform.
However, the bandwidths needed to carry uncompressed 4K/UHD necessitates the deployment of cutting edge network infrastructure.
10GbE IP networks cannot carry uncompressed 4K/UHD TV formats and deploying multi-link 10GbE, 40GbE or 100GbE networks requires significant investment.
On the other hand, the compressed 4K HEVC video profiles used to deliver content to the home, can easily be carried on standard IP networks.
Another developing trend is the deployment of software-based capabilities, running on commodity off-the-shelf hardware, to fulfil standard broadcast functions.
The operational and commercial benefits of using standard IT hardware are obvious. The sheer processing demands of processing raw 4K/UHD video data means the current generation of hardware is not always adequate.
Redesigning the Broadcast platform around software-based compressed video processing components is one way to avoid additional infrastructure investments.
Latest generation software is able to operate directly on HEVC video, in its compressed form, without fully decoding and re-encoding every frame. This style of processing greatly reduces the amount of bandwidth and processing power required, preserves quality and saves processing time.
With currently available software, 4K/UHD HEVC services can be delivered and monetised today on non-proprietary IP-based infrastructure.
In live environments, content insertion such as ad replacement and regionalisation can be achieved without the expense of additional encoding hardware.
File based processing and media distribution also benefits from reduced time for delivering content to consumers; whereas generating regional copies of 4K/UHD HEVC movies can take days with offline software encoding.
By utilising compressed video processing, which avoids the need to re- code every frame of video, generational losses are avoided and processing times significantly reduced.
The timely combination of consumer demand for higher quality content (4K and Ultra HD) and a new compression standard (HEVC) provides a rare window of opportunity for broadcasters to challenge the status quo and revolutionise delivery platform design.
This paper looks at how broadcast platforms can be transformed using software-based compressed video processing components and how platforms can be deployed today which provide flexibility to migrate to future formats and resolutions without replacing existing infrastructure.
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