Software as a Service, IP connectivity and HDR themes will dominate at IBC, says Tom Lattie, vp, market development; product strategy, video products, Harmonic
The primary themes impacting the industry at IBC are Software as a Service (SaaS), IP connectivity and HDR yet, it’s only when these issues are explored in more detail will the true state of the transformation underway within the broadcast industry is revealed. From a production perspective there is a definite drive to use SaaS and IP as the main vehicles for existing workflows, in addition to experimenting with value-add services like virtual reality and gaming.
Mezzanine production formats are increasingly seen as the best way to address the growing consumer demand for multiscreen content. But for broadcasters contemplating live UHD deployments, the key issue will be how to accommodate HDR during capture and deliver it to HDR-capable screens, while maintaining sufficient backwards compatibility with the vast majority of SDR viewers.
The challenge for broadcasters is complex. Do they join the UHD bandwagon based on 4K resolution alone, wait until HDR screens become more widespread, or adopt a phased approach from SDR to HDR? In the midst of this decision lies the prospect of 1080p, which is considered by many as the ideal compromise between offering HDR and being backwards compatible with the current HD infrastructure.
As it stands most UHD workflow demos have been 1080p while the industry catches up with the requirement to handle native UHD, ideally as part of an IP-based infrastructure upgrade. Add to this the reality that typical access bandwidths favor HD delivery and the case for HDR in 1080p is clear. Or is it?
Personally, I believe backwards compatibility implies interoperability with HD workflows and screens already deployed. Expecting existing HD infrastructure to be 3G capable and pass 1080p all the way through an STB is asking a lot, unless an operator has just rolled out broadband-based movie streaming.
Furthermore, introducing HDR necessitates that viewers have advanced screens supporting wider color gamut. Advanced signaling is required to deliver HDR to the latest in bright screens, begging the question: Why not just upgrade to UHD? Don’t get me wrong, 1080p has a big part to play, but only as a subset of UHD, not as a complete alternative. 1080p HDR still requires adopting new screens and infrastructure.
Regardless of whether the video production and delivery workflow is managed on-premises or via a professional cloud media processing service, operators want to know the tangibility of these applications and to what extent they can replace existing infrastructure.
Critical evaluation criteria include performance, density and flexibility, in terms of adapting existing workflows to software-based solutions.The long-term goal is like-for-like replacement.
This content was first published at IBC2016
The views expressed are those of the author.