SMPTE Advances UHD Dialog at #IBC2015

By Barbara Lange, Executive Director at SMPTE

Already the focus of much industry buzz, ultra high definition (UHD) continues to be a hot topic as IBC2015 approaches.

Barbara Lange, SMPTE Executive Director
Barbara Lange, SMPTE Executive Director

Every day the contributions of increased spatial resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), and wider color gamut (WCG) to delivery of an immersive viewing experience are becoming better understood by a broader swath of the industry, much about UHD still remains unclear. This is largely because, despite its rapid evolution, UHD for broadcast remains a technology without a complete and well-established ecosystem. The actual rollout of UHD services demands a host of adaptations to existing broadcast ecosystem, from end to end.

SMPTE has been taking a long, hard look at this ecosystem in its standards work, and the Society brings its expertise to a technical session at IBC2015 titled “UHD: Where Do We Stand, and Where Are We Going?” Though members of the Society will contribute to a variety of sessions during the IBC2015 exhibition, this particular session is produced by SMPTE. Scheduled for 16:00 on Sunday, Sept. 13, in the Emerald Theatre as part of the Advances in Technology stream, the session will be moderated by SMPTE Executive Vice President Matthew Goldman, who is senior vice president of technology, TV compression, at Ericsson. He will be joined by panelists including Hans Hoffmann, head of media production technology at the EBU and former SMPTE standards vice president; SMPTE executive member Spencer Stephens, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer at BT Sport and BT TV; and Richard S. Prodan vice president and chief technical officer at BROADCOM Corporation.

In addition to exploring the ways UHD’s implementation will affect broadcasting and theatrical releases, these industry leaders will dedicate time to examining the full UHD ecosystem, from equipment such as UHD-capable cameras, switchers and servers to UHD-ready infrastructure and the bandwidth it can provide. Specific topics slated for discussion will include UHD’s demand for bandwidth, and how that requirement is driving the development of new compression methods (and related standards) that will support delivery of UHD content to consumers. Naturally, because the debate is far from over, experts will also weigh in with their views on the relative importance of resolution, HDR, and WCG.

The fact that the UHD ecosystem is still in development makes an investment in new technology a potentially risky move. During the session, Goldman, Hoffmann, Stephens, and other industry leaders will talk about how this concern influences their research and development efforts and strategic decision-making, and also about the steps they are taking to remain nimble even while investing in UHD.

Complementing this topic will be a series of case studies — provided by leading broadcasters— that examine the strategy and success of the “pathfinders” that have rolled out the first UHD implementations. In addition to providing a fresh and timely perspective on the state of UHD, these case studies will offer insight into how media companies are moving into UHD, the strategy behind such initiatives, the challenges and opportunities they have encountered, and the unique ecosystems they developed to make UHD services a reality in broadcast and cinema.

In addition to chairing the SMPTE-produced session, Matthew Goldman also will participate in a session titled “Breaking the Codec: Are Current Video Compression Standards Enough?” with SMPTE Fellow David Wood, a consultant to EBU Technology and Information, current chair of DVB groups in 3DTV and UHDTV, and past chair of the World Broadcasting Union Technical Committee. Scheduled for 16:00 on Sunday, Sept. 13, the session will touch on current and emerging video compression standards, discuss the demands driving further development of such standards, and offer a look ahead at the array of UHD-related standards that will carry the industry forward.

The EDCF Global Update session, an annual IBC event, will include a notable group of SMPTE Members. Scheduled for 15:45 on Sunday, Sept. 13, it will feature SMPTE Fellow Siegfried Foessel, head of cinema technologies at Fraunhofer Institute; SMPTE Fellow John Hurst, CEO at Cinecert; Julian Pinn, director at Julian Pinn Ltd.; and Richard Welsh, SMPTE governor for EMEA and Central and South America Region and CEO at Sundog Media Toolkit. These panelists will offer an overview of the latest business, technology, and quality developments in cinema around the world. The long-awaited and long-debated transition to SMPTE DCPs is now becoming an operational reality and the importance of this move and how it is being managed in Europe will be explained. An interactive question and answers session will conclude the session.

At 2 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, “Immersive Cinema: Sound” also will feature a panel made up almost entirely of SMPTE Members. The session will feature Pinn, who is the session producer; Dean Bullock, director of technology strategy, cinema, at Dolby; Brian Claypool, senior director of strategic business development at Barco; Ton Kalker, vice president of emerging technologies at DTS; and Denis Tremblay, manager of electrical and audio engineering of audio technology at IMAX. Attendees can expect to get a clear explanation of the standards work now being undertaken with respect to cinema sound, as well as an expert perspective on the latest advances in immersive audio for cinema. Finally, the session will provide examples of immersive audio as featured in the IBC Big Screen Experience.

In addition to producing sessions within the IBC conference, as an IBC-partner, SMPTE is once again supporting the Rising Stars program, which offers conference sessions designed to tackle the topics most important to young professionals. Ready to answer questions from prospective and existing SMPTE members of all ages and experience, the Society’s staff and volunteers will be available on the SMPTE stand to discuss current trends and answer questions about SMPTE activities, resources, and publications including the latest “SMPTE Standards Quarterly Report,” which will detail the outcome of the July meeting of the SMPTE Standards Committee, and the launch of the SMPTE digital library on the IEEE Xplore platform.

SMPTE staff and leadership will be available at the IBC2015 stand (Partnership Village 8.F51f) to discuss membership benefits and the Society’s role in international standards and interoperability. We will also be able to provide full details on the SMPTE 2015 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2015), which will take place Oct. 26-29 in Hollywood, California. There, the dialog fostered by SMPTE Members at the IBC2015 show surely will continue, fueling further progress in the art and science of motion imaging.

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