HPA Tech Retreat Day 2

ATSC 3.0, the Olympics in 8K, and more...

The Tech Retreat is an annual four-day conference (plus Monday bonus session) for HD / Video / cinema geeks, sponsored by the Hollywood Post Alliance. Day 2 covered design considerations for HDR displays, ATSC 3.0 and the future of TV, broadcasters' concerns, mobile DTV, 8K UHDTV, and more.

Herewith, my transcribed-as-it-happened notes from today's session; please excuse the typos and the abbreviated explanations. (During the rest of the week, you can follow the Tech Retreat on Twitter with hashtag #hpatech13, thanks to various Tweeters in the audience. I will of course post my notes at each day's end.)


Welcome

Leon Silverman, HPA

This is the 19th Tech Retreat, a gathering originally known as “The Engineer's Picnic”.


Introduction & Technology Year in Review

Mark Schubin

The 20th Tech Retreat will be Feb 17-21 2014 in Indian Wells.

27th (or 78th) “the year of HDTV”.

3/4 of US households have HDTV sets, but we're still using analog press bridges and are still shooting and protecting 4×3.

4th (or 85th) “year of 3D”, but The Verge said 3D is dead (massive applause).

Good year for TV: record election spending, record Super Bowl and Olympics audiences.

Wired: “no one uses Smart TV Internet because it sucks.”

Ken Auletta, New Yorker blog yesterday: “Some believe… foremost threat comes from… Dish Network's Hopper… Netflix and Amazon… My candidate is… Aereo.

Radio received by 95% of world; US adults use OTA radio 8x as much as satellite radio, 17x more than streaming/downloading.

32,000 year-old animation (cave paintings; look up “Marc Azema”).

Now-ish: phosphor, plasma lighting. [email protected], 8K @ 120fps

Future-ish: ultra-multiview autostereoscopy, metamaterials for computational imaging (metamaterials.duke.edu/node/922), artificial DNA for data storage.

But the 9 foot Lechner distance still allows lean-back and lean-forward; can vary eye-to-screen distance by 3 feet overall.


What Is Actual Customer Behaviour?

Sarah Pearson, 1-3-9 Media Lab

1-3-9 refers to the viewing distances: handheld, computer, TV. 1-3-9 Media Lab studies tech usage patterns, with in-depth micro-behavioral coding and ethnographic surveys (a month at a time), semi-structured interviews. Study running for six years. Detailed analysis, from channel changes, people entering/exiting room, who is in control of the remote control, capturing content of all screens as people text during TV, etc.

We think appetite for simultaneous screens around TV will steady; engagement across platforms is on the rise; behavior change around new tech is socially driven.

In one family, the husband had the remote 75% of the time. Then an XBox and Skype were installed, and the wife wound up using the TV as an entertainment/communications platform much more.

Study with Olympics / Super Bowl: give people mobile apps related to the programs and see what happens: how did peaks of engagement drive use of second screens (anecdotal sample clips).

A day in the life of three young women, recording viewing distances and second screen use throughout the day. Similar study of a young couple with a baby, a TV, and a Windows 8 Surface; another with a family watching the Super Bowl, with iPads in hand (video clips showing screen uses and viewing distances).

[Basically a lot of sample clips of behavioral data gathering; not much in the way of actual results. -AJW]


What Will Win the Future of TV?

Hans Hoffmann, European Broadcasting Union

TV consumption pattern is changing, with increasing second screen usage. Mobile TV is coming back. Context vs. media services:

Market situation for Ultra HD: HD is state of the art and migration is complete. Tech evolution continues, but display market is declining in profitability. New opportunities? Smart/connected vs. immersive. Immersive = perceived better quality.

Why is 3D not working in the home? Eventually all 40″+ displays will be 3D enabled, but consumers don't use the 3D capability. Reasons: uncomfortable glasses, cost, limited content, poor image quality, etc.

Why buy a new UHD-1 (3840×2160) TV? No content, only looks better if you're very close or the screen is very large. Will UHD-1 make it, or be superceded by UHD-2 (8K).

Resolution: 3840×2160 (UHD-1) or 7680×4320 (UHD-2); 10- or 12-bit; 24, 25, 30, 50, 60, 120fps progressive only; color response defined; etc.

HD viewing distance 3x picture height, so UHD-1 is 1.5x and UHD-2 is 0.75x! Can we see a difference between HD and UHD-1 on a UHD screen? 72 participants tested, F65 material cropped to QuadHD @ 50Hz uncompressed, also downconverted to 1080i, 1080p and 720p. Viewed at 1.5x picture height (standard viewing distance for UHD-1), and 2.7 meters (average in UK viewing distance). Viewers rated image quality of clips on a numerical scale.

No statistical confidence that 1080i, 1080p or 720p looked any different, but the UHD material looked better… very slightly.

These tests were with uncompressed material; compression may change things significantly (need to test with HEVC in UHD, h.264 in HD).

Resolution isn't the whole thing; HFR important, too. Higher res seems to call for higher frame rates. We have HFR cameras and HFR displays, the problem is the distribution chain in between. Same thing with HDR.

Even if farther from screen (resolution advantage not seen), blur improvement in HFR, HDR, color improvements would still be seen.

Need production infrastructure (Sony and Panasonic have ideas here), HEVC coding for transmission, new STB. Also need new HDMI standard for single-link UHD at rates above 30p.

EBU UHD-1 test sequences available to public at tech.ebu.ch/testsequences

HEVC test; slight detail loss at 10 Mbps, worse at 6 Mbps, when zoomed in on image.

Relax: HDTV investments are good, Just increasing resolution isn't enough. 3D audio is important, too; we need new standards. 3D and UHD will benefit from each other. Most important: content.


Viewer-Preference Statistics for Shadow, Diffuse, Specular, and Emissive Luminance Limits of High Dynamic Range Displays

Scott Daly (presenter), Timo Kunkel, Xing Sun, Suzanne Farrell, & Poppy Crum, all of Dolby

The usual design for an HDR display is to design what you can build. We want to build based on human visual system (HVS), instead:

Interested in viewer preference limits: important to entertainment viewing.

Diffuse reflectivity vs. highlights: speculars can be a thousand times brighter:

Emissives: light sources 3x to 10,000x brighter. Standard reproduction techniques: Print 1.1x for highlights, video 1.26x, cinema film 2x.

Functional human vision dominated by need to understand reflective objects; not as well adapted for speculars and emissives.

Lots of previous work on HDR displays, and lots of problems and side-effects: contrast changes, boosted black levels, clipping, tone scale changes, local-dimming artifacts, perceptual side-effects.

Most people see the right image as being sharper. It's just contrastier.

Most people see the right image as being sharper. It's just contrastier.

Brighter (contrastier) images also show contouring and compression artifacts more readily.

Goals of experiment: find out what viewers want in an HDR display, for black level, diffuse white max, etc. Results:

The visual system was the limit, not the display.

The visual system was the limit, not the display.

The visual system was the limit, not the display.

The visual system was the limit, not the display.

Highlights: average is 3980 cd/m^2, 13x the diffuse max of 400 cd/m^2.

How to use all this data? 12-bit Perceptual Quantizer, visually smooth, whereas a 12-bit gamma curve shows quantizing at low luminance levels.

How to avoid side effects? Many studies using varying code values vs. varying backlight brightness; variable dynamic range displays. Higher brightness yields higher satisfaction up until higher black levels become objectionable.

 

Next page: Mobile DTV Deployment at Fox Television Stations, ATSC 3.0, and more…


Mobile DTV Deployment at Fox Television Stations: Lessons Learned

Thomas Edwards, Fox

15 Fox O&O stations with Mobile DTV, RF channels 7-44.

Why mobile? Digital TV (ATSC A/53) developed around 1993, had to fit 19.36 Mbps into 6 MHz. Planning for antennas 30 feet high with 6-10 dB gain, static reception, no dynamic multipath. No concept of mobile reception with a small handheld antenna.

Mobile (ATSC A/153) fits in standard MPEG-TS with an otherwise-unused PID, which older DTV receivers ignore. Formatted as multicast RTP IP packets, h.264, HE-AAC audio coding, allows encryption, 4:1 coding overhead for smaller antennas (six-inch), transmitted in specific time slots so receivers only power up for those slots. Additional training sequences for reception at up to ~200mph.

Signals as used at KTTV Los Angeles

Signals as used at KTTV Los Angeles.

TS “slots” used by mobile DTV:

Example of a NoG 3 station embedded in the broadcast signal.

Example of a NoG 3 station embedded in the broadcast signal.

Legacy HD transport steam is fed to MUX and an h.264 mobile encoder. Output from the encoder is on Ethernet, which along with an NTP signal (Network Time Protocol signal derived from GPS data) and ESG gets re-sent to the MUX for inclusion in the broadcast stream. The h.264 encoder is basically a rackmount PC running a software codec.

“If you standardize it, will they come?” A/153 published in 2009, but only a handful of stations on air, very few consumer devices. Industry formed MCV (Mobile Content Venture), launched Dyle Mobile TV brand, handled legal framework for mobile broadcasting.

Fox lab set for RF testing consumer systems for sensitivity, multipath / co-channel interference issues in a TEM cell.

Mobile OTA monitoring checks both A/53 and A/153 PSIs, mobile IP stream validity, etc.

Gotchas: with A/53, you can record what you send to air and compare to original. Can't do it with A/153; can't close the loop, as mobile packets have nonsystematic encoding. Mobile data MUST be at precisely the right time, so mux and encoder need to be synchronized. ASI (used in stations to transport TS data) is a non-synchronous interface; needs conversion to SMPTE 310.

And if no one is watching, how can you tell if the standard has been properly implemented? Loudness issues: no dialnorm. Tested on iOS devices, found -14 LKFS wound up right in middle of iOS volume control levels, so ATSC will probably adopt it (by comparison, Fox DTV dialnorm is -24 LKFS).

Announced: Belkin plug-in iOS receiver; RCA Android tablet receiver; Audiovox in-car receiver, El Gato micro receiver for Android devices.

~116 Mobile TV stations on the air overall so far.


Current Status of ATSC 3.0, the Next Generation Broadcast Television System

Jim Kutzner, PBS & Skip Pizzi, NAB

ATSC developed DTV 1987-1996 (and continuing). Transition from analog 1997-2009. ATSC now working on ATSC 3.0, the next DTV standard.

DTV has layered on top of it mobile DTV, 3D TV, and ATSC 2.0 (collection of backward-compatible enhancements). The next gen will be ATSC 3.0, but will not be backwards-compatible. Must be better enough to warrant implementation of a non-backwards-compatible system.

Context: ATSC 1.0 developed 20 years ago, 21st stations 15 years ago (Internet in its infancy). Analog modems, analog mobile phones, pagers, CPU speeds in mere MHz!

Three areas of development for 3.0:
1. Increased transmission flexibility and efficiency.
2. Reconsider the physical layer
3. Integration with other delivery technologies.

New usage models:
– Most TVs will be 'net-connected.
– Personalization
– Targeting
– Immersive content (e.g. user selectable viewpoints)

How much better does it need to be? This will require “forklift upgrade” (rip out and replace) of codecs, transmission system, etc. Must keep broadcast viable, extent value proposition, include other distro systems like second screens. Future TV spectrum? Unknown.

Proposed four year schedule:

Those two lower rows on the chart:
– MPEG independently working on HEVC, and MMT Multi-Media Transport.
– Future of Broadcast TV (FOBTV) group also working (on use cases, worldwide standards).

Development of system requirements: constructed from highly granular use cases, full draft requirements expected end of Q1 2013. About 60 use cases shared with FOBTV.

Scenarios:

  • more flexible use of spectrum
  • better robustness
  • mobile
  • UltraHD
  • hybrid services (e.g., 'net connected as well as OTA)
  • multi-view/multi-screen
  • 3D video content
  • enhanced and immersive audio
  • accessibility
  • advanced emergency alerting
  • personalization / interactivity
  • advertising / monetization
  • common world standard (at least closer to one!)

PHY (physical) layer call for proposals coming soon, proposals due in Q3 2013, evaluation through mid-2014.

FOBTV vision: can we have one world standard? Participation by over 50 organizations on 5 continents, four research labs, directorate at NERC-TV in Shanghai.


Broadcasters Panel

Moderator: Matthew Goldman, Ericsson
Tony Cole, ABC
Anthony Caruso, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Bob Seidel, CBS
Clyde Smith, Fox
Skip Pizzi, National Association of Broadcasters
Glenn Reitmeier, NBC Universal
John McCoskey, PBS

The broadcaster panel participants.

The broadcaster panel participants.

Tony Cole, ABC: last year discussed disaster recovery network. NY & LA use different satellite channels, 220 affiliates can receive both. Built second origination site in LA. “Then came Sandy.” Saturday evening experienced loss of signal to satellite in NY; engineer saw the transmit dish move due to wind. Switched all affiliates to LA. Later the NY/LA fiber went out; vault flooded. Switched all orig to LA at 1:00am, then back to NY later, without anyone noticing a problem. Proved its worth!

Electronic program delivery (tapeless): moving this year to all file-based for program providers. 1 hour program arrives in about 48 minutes.

Tony Caruso, CBC: Evolution of CBC facilities. Ecosystem changing rapidly, CBC changing to be more agile, offer English & French engaging content on all platforms. Fragmented market, both in delivery platforms and in content providers. Must do more with same staffing. Web distro, mobile, tablets. Infrastructure: transform production islands to use tapeless transfer and bridge the gaps; change from a TV broadcaster to a multi-platform content provider.

Bob Seidel, CBS: Two years ago CBS announced acceptance of file-based delivery; one year ago required it; now let's look at an SR tape!

Clyde Smith, Fox: The past: a single signal. Now, a plethora of signals, a variety of workflows, 8.6 billion mobile devices by 2017. Now the user decides time, location, and device for viewing. Most new program proposals include second screen / transmedia elements. The not quite so neat future: shared screens, the killer app for 4K/8K?

Challenges: AFD, curation of social media objects, synchronization of programs and apps, persistent IDs for improved automation, etc.

Skip Pizzi, NAB: Spectrum auctions: NPRM last Sept 28. Comments due Jan 25. Reply comments March 12. FCC wants complete rulemaking in 2013, auctions in 2014. NAB, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Intel, and Qualcomm filed joint letter proposing “core set of principles”. Incentive auction design: get incumbents to voluntarily give up spectrum. 1st, reverse auction tells FCC how much they'd take to move or give up spectrum, then FCC forward actions spectrum to wireless companies, then FCC repacks the remaining / reallocated spectrum.

No one really likes this. Concern with variable plan: guard bands only work in adjacent markets, etc. Fragmented uplink / downlink bands.

Glenn Reitmeier, NBC Universal: TV everywhere, multiple screens, both on-demand and linear (when aired) basis. Clearing rights for new platforms is the big obstacle, but it's getting worked out. Next-gen compression: HEVC, DASH (adaptive bitrate streaming), content transfer across / between screens (e.g., start watching on TV, finish on tablet).

London Olympics: over 5500 hours of coverage, 219 million viewers. Web up, mobile viewers up (iPads, etc), 64 million live streams. Big event; multi-platform users reinforced this, spent more time watching TV than TV-only viewers did.

Zeebox as a second screen experience for iPad (try it). Mobile TV / Dyle; this is the year of consumer launch.

Future: ATSC 3.0… mobile? Ultra HD? Second digital transition? FCC? Global Standard?

John McCoskey, PBS: 90% households watch PBS, 120 million viewers/month. MPEG-4 transition and DVBS-2 with carrier ID. Media/workflow automation. Non-realtime distro. Ops facility renovation at Springfield VA. Disaster recovery site in Lincoln, NE. WARN and M-EAS: PBS must carry FEMA messages to mobile operators. Mobile EAS for emergency alerting, with rich media; ATSC standard out for ballot.

Beyond broadcast: 190 million streams, mostly full shows @ 16.5 min/video, 70% to mobile, mostly iOS devices.

Challenges: the sequester, station capital refresh, spectrum auction/repack, archive preservation (lots of quad and 1″ tape).

Opportunities: FOBTV, ATSC 3.0, Ultra-HD, cloud infrastructure.

Panel:

If we repack spectrum, what does Canada do? Canada hasn't even finished their digital transition. Cross-border issues the most challenging bit, subject to a lot of discussion but no solution yet.

As a stepping stone to UltraHD, anyone considering 1080/60P? Nope. Maybe for ATSC 3.0.

Has everyone implemented AFD (active format descriptor; metadata for aspect ratio signaling and conversion) and dialnorm (dialog normalization; audio level control)? Requiring 16×9 delivery? Dialnorm is mandatory, but aspect ratio is still at programmer's option. Everyone except CBS uses AFD; CBS has rules for delivery. Only 29% of US has true OTA HD. So much intermediate infrastructure is 4×3 SD. How come Europe solved this 10 years ago? Europeans had long used widescreen SD and AFD, so HD transition was easy.

How is QC managed in file-based workflow? Cheaper? When we ingest commercials at CBS (85%-90% file-based) we QC it once. From thereon it's in the system as a digital clone. Programs, same, 50 Mbps 4:2:2 delivery, we QC, add captioning, push to NYC, saves a ton of money. At CBC we QC on ingest, looking for automated QC elsewhere in b'cast chain.

How is CBS's Pitch Blue file-based distro system working? Programs from LTO to NetApp storage, then feed to 900 Pitch Blue boxes at stations, four nines of reliability, no one needed in master control.

(http://cwd.cbs.com/serv_list/pitch-blue-distribution/)

How many years before US TV broadcasting is using next-gen TV? 7.5. Who knows? Won't even hazard a guess. Agreed; too complex to say. Look at cell phones: LTE, a major change every year. B'casting too over-regulated to change quickly (applause). 2*pi. Agree with Bob and Clyde; too hard to say.

What happens if QC fails at CBS? Commercial sent back, programs fixed in house.

A true final format that doesn't need transcoding? Mezzanine file formats is a big and important topic. We all are at fault, if we could only unify this…


The FCC Does NOT Require This Session to be Closed Captioned and Video Described

Drew Lanham, Nexidia & Ken Brady, Turner Studios

What Turner has done to make FCC happy with closed captions.

Why? Answer: We were told to by FCC! CC required on pre-produced programming last September, live programs March this year, substantially edited this September, library backfill March next year. TBS and TNT need compliance, across multiple channels, cable systems, end devices, stores (Google Play, etc.). How to handle this on millions of feeds, when live shows and current production tools do a poor/fair job of dealing with captions?

Nexidia CC automates caption and video description QC at each workflow step.  Nexidia speech-to-text used to check captions, check for mismatches between captions and speech, detect missing captions, language mismatch. Video description QC compares descriptive track to program audio track, looks for substantial similarity except where description is added (gives a percentage difference; if it's 100% different it's probably the wrong track). 12-core box can process hundreds of hours of content per hour of realtime. At Turner since last July.

Nexidia CC Director repurposes on-air captions for IP distro. Also retimes caption to reposition live captions (which tend to be delayed, typically 5-11 seconds, while being typed) to line up better with the spoken track (eliminates truncation of final caption in a segment at commercial break, which tends to make FCC unhappy). Generates searchable index of captions. Uncaptioned media can be analyzed, “sound signature” used to search caption database and retrieve caption from storage for re-use. Designed for news; time from submission to return of captions is about 30 seconds. Available July 2013.

Retrieved captions work not only for CC but for search, metadata, transcripts for journalists, etc.

Qs: Are you looking at using the system to fix captioning errors? No. Using 708-compliant tools, not just wrapping 608 captions? Not at present, using 608 tools.

 

Next page: CBS proof-of-performance testing, 8K, and more…


 


Ensuring “Broadcast-Quality” Remains the Highest Metric: CBS Proof-of-Performance Testing

Bob Seidel, CBS

Last summer CBS started early-Thursday-morning proof-of-performance testing, a 60-second test. Color bars, resolution test, PSNR, lip-sync, audio down-mix, channel ID, channel group phase, 608 and 708 captions, SAP and video description tracks. Lip-sync +/- 4 msec, less than 1/4 field, because errors accumulate. Downmix testing needed because sometimes downmix metadata not used downstream.

What we find: Color bars, peak white tent and black PLUGE get clipped. Colorspace conversion errors on down conversion (709 to 601). Resolution loss; some equipment vendors will put low-pass filters in the path to make compression easier (30 MHz burst roughly equals 800 TVl/ph).

One off-the-shelf HD encoder at its defaults. You really want all those bursts at the same amplitude.

One off-the-shelf HD encoder at its defaults. You really want all those bursts at the same amplitude.

Lip-sync checked with a dual-trace Tek oscilloscope. Be careful with LCDs, which have their own delays; don't correct for display offsets.

Phase offset between channels 1-4 and 5-8: checked with an X-Y scope or an audio phase meter, channel 1 vs channel 5. Offsets can happen randomly with Nielsen converter with older firmware; routers; all sorts of gear.

Downmix check: Left & Right downmix should be 7 dB down if all is set up correctly.

Periodic checks: use $130 HD HomeRun DVR to capture transport stream signal.

How would you prove FCC compliance? Use this sort of proof-of-concept test. “Trust, but verify.”

Q: How you you verify with DirecTV? Record on DirecTV STB, compare with OTA test.


CES Review: More Pixels, Fewer Wires, Hands Off

Peter Putman, ROAM Consulting, HDTVexpert.com

Whirlwind tour of CES. Single most important thing he came back from Vegas with was the flu! A couple of product categories. Remember 3-tube projectors? $12,000 in 2000, now 1.4 lbs, $450 (same resolution, same brightness). Canon 5D, $3300, Nikon Coolpix same res but $200.

Revelation: hardware is cheap. Anyone cam make it.

How much TV can you buy for $1000? 32″ 720P for $199, Westinghouse 55″ plasma $549, Samsung 60″ 1080p plasma for $999. 80″ 1080p LCD $3799. If you can buy an 80″ $4000 HD set, why would you install a projector and screen? Big LCDs are Cheap!

CES 2013: The Chinese Electronic Show? 150K attendees. Not enough time to see anything. Japanese emphasized TVs, Koreans mobile devices, Chinese show they are players. 4K TVs, tablets, Windows 8 (no one in HPA audience runs Windows 8!). No 3D. Gesture recognition, curved OLEDs, the Cloud, wireless connectivity. Pretty much the entire rear south hall was Chinese.

Four LCD 110″ TVs. All quadHD. Samsung / TCL / Shenzhen joint venture makes the panels. Everyone had “4K” including the Chinese. 32″ to 110″. 50″ quadHD set for $2500. Sony Triluminous LCD quantum dot TVs: blue LED backlight, energized R and G Quantom Dots, for wider, more stable color gamut.

LCDs so cheap perfectly good projectors are being torn out and replaced with flat panels.

55″ curved OLEDs from LG and Samsung. 3″ flexible OLEDs from Sharp. IGZO backplane, 720p. Sharp is VERY good at LCD TVs, IGZO. Even if they are going bankrupt.

Sony and Panasonic 46″ OLED 4K TVs.

Sharp has “moth eye” surface structure to minimize reflections.

Touchless touchscreens (University of Haifa). Captures 22 points on fingers and wrist (like “Minority Report” interface but with subtle motions).

DisplayPort can do 3840×2160 @ 60P 10-bits, 18Gbps. DisplayStream allows >25 Gbps with light compression.

Apple's Lightning connector the wave of the future. Belkin thunderbolt breakout boxes, $299.

Wireless HDMI WiHD from Silicon Image. Full HD to LCD TV, 57-62 GHz band.

WaterBlock coating (Samsung tablet shown in aquarium).

Panasonic 4K 20″ tablet, multitouch, core i5, Windows 8. RCA Android tablet with DTV tuners, $400.

Phablet = phone/tablet = phone with >5″ screen. Asus docks a phone in the back of a tablet to provide the computing power.

Garmin showed GPS watches as personal fitness / location devices.

Vuzix M100 smart glasses 800×600, shoots 720p video, 4 GB memory.

Voice recognition: demos of voice rec screening out extraneous sounds.

Projectors: 3-laser 4K-lumen projector, 20,000 hour life.

Lots of transparent LCD demos. Flexible glass from Corning. Super-thin OLEDs (30% yield rate on OLEDs at best).

All the Japanese are losing money in electronics. Who will collapse first? The chap who runs Hon Hai (Foxconn) wants to buy Sharp. How long until viable OLED TVs? How big can tablets get? Is 5″ the sweet spot for a phone. Will TVs capture more from projectors? Will DisplayPort finally capture the HDMI market (not yet) Will the cloud kill desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones? Are still/video cameras endangered species? Is DTV on a tablet something anyone wants? Is the future of touchscreens touchless? Is 60 GHz the new frontier for wireless connectivity? How rapid is the shift to a do-it-all connector on your devices? Have the lines between pro and consumer vanished?

Qs: no 4K content, but won't 2K look better on a 4K screen? Sure, but even more so will 4K look good on a 2K screen.


Consumer Forecast: Cloudy but Clearing

Moderator: Seth Hallen, Testronic Labs
Chris Carey, Product and Portfolio Solutions, Verizon Digital Media Services
Steven Chester, VP Global Media and Entertainment, Akamai
John Crosier, SVP Digital Architecture & Delivery, Cinram
Ellen Goodridge, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Jim Taylor, UltraViolet/DECE

Fascinating field of consumer content delivery, with multiple big name players: not just studios, but Amazon, Google, etc. Lots of cloud questions: what is it? Profitable? How is it better? What goes away?

What is the cloud in this context? The cloud is the Internet, but “cloud” sounds better. What did we have before? Physical media. Business models: rental/VOD (easy to do in cloud), sell-through (easier with physical media), subscription (easy in cloud; Netflix), ad-supported (works as long as there are enough eyeballs; works in cloud). Streaming vs download: significant shift to streaming recently. But for sell-through, 50%/50% stream/download. Ubiquitous streaming requires ubiquitous Internet. Download allows offline viewing, uninterrupted playback, but requires local storage. SD to HD to 4K makes downloading more viable (“fat” data hard to stream in realtime).

Customers expect all their content to be available all the time on all their devices.

With physical media, studios sold to retailer, retailer sold to consumer. Worked well, scaled. Now asking digital distributor to handle packaging, too (apps, etc.); what pieces do we want to move into cloud to enable this? 2/3 of mobile traffic by 2017 will be video. Taking advantage of existing cloud infrastructure will be very important here.

Making money with the cloud? What's the update with UltraViolet?

UV can piggyback on phones, Blu-Ray players, etc.; don't need all new hardware, so uptake is faster than with DVD or Blu-Ray. (Maybe 20% of Tech Retreat audience has a UV account.) Three main ways to acquire UV media. Buy disc with a sticker, go to website to sign up. Or go straight to UV retailer, sign up. You already have DVDs / Blu-rays, so disc-to-digital conversion (obtain UV rights to media you already have on disc).

Physical discs have all sorts of bonus material. How to get that on UV? Looking for ways to put bonus content in sell-through cloud media, too, to encourage buying instead of renting. Maybe adding even more features only available electronically. Satisfying the collectors. Soon those added-value items will be available on multiple platforms, not just a few (like Apple iTunes extras).

Stability / reliability? Netflix blackout last year… Akamai keeps adding capacity / redundancy; it's what a content delivery network (CDN) does. The two mantras are “protect” and “perform”. 2 second rule: if it takes more than 2 seconds to pull up a file, the viewer (especially the younger viewer) will move on. You have to have a broadband network for this to work.

Long-term availability? Biggest consumer fear; it may go away.

It comes down to consumer offering: availability, performance, selection. We work with a lot of partners who connect to Akamai, rely on partners to innovate on top of what we offer. The ideas that are coming out from the smaller companies, their approach isn't build it all themselves, but find partners. UV is like that; let UV partners provide a lot of the services and innovate on top of that.

What's better about cloud-based distro for me as a consumer? Anytime, anywhere, anyplace. Now we have smartphones everywhere, a lot more opportunities to spend time on games, broadcast; having shows ubiquitous is the advantage. But it has to work: once you lose the consumer, he won't come back. Flexibility and customizability, something we didn't have with physical formats. Who knows what our playback devices will be in ten years? But they will be Internet-connected. What normally drives new formats is Hollywood [not porn? -AJW], and then other things follow, like education. Nine-year-old kids have to have iPads at some schools; it's just the way they're taught.

What's going away as a result? The physical disc is going away. You already see the selection at stores falling, space is at a premium. That's the consensus: discs will vanish.

Quality management: the ability the stream clean audio and video. Who owns that experience, what ensures it's a good experience? Studio relies on distribution partner to ensure it (streaming a movie over 3G doesn't look so good). UV Common File Format will help as it assures the quality of the basic delivered asset.

Qs: Lots of talks of owning/collecting motion pictures… do you own it? Can you give it away, or transfer in a will? For UV, rights don't expire, accounts are shared (up to six members). You can drop someone from account and add another person, so nothing in UV prevents serial ownership of that sort. If you have the DRM license for that file, it'll play forever without ever connecting to the 'Net. Some UV members already have 3000 titles in their locker; if they can download 'em all, they can play 'em forever with no 'Net connection.

If UV goes away, how do I convince an insurance company that I've lost my content? The download is guaranteed, a one-year window minimum to be able to download content. Once you have it, it's yours, even for making copies (they're encrypted, so they're still tied to your account).

Region coding? If I bought in the US, and I travel to the UK, can I access the UV media even though I'm in the wrong territory? UV is designed to let you take your content anywhere in the world.

What happens when ISPs / mobile providers go to pay-per-bit? Akamai is just a CND; no control.

Chris Carey arrives late (flat tire), asked to talk: We at Verizon launched digital media services supply chain. Sorry I wasn't here for the discussion, but it's a very interesting time in our business. We look forward to the coming years as things get interesting in digital distro.

Q: Not sure the UV folks are getting the message out that the UV media won't just disappear on you? UV is designed to supply both: physical media if you want it, media in the cloud that can be downloaded. Any sort of long-lived digital media can outlive physical format obsolescence (box of VHS tapes, anyone?).


Operational Experience of Providing 8K-UHDTV Coverage of the London Olympics

Masayuki Sugawara, NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories

Super Hi-Vision (SHV): 16x pixel count of HD, studied since 1995. 22.2 multichannel sound.

Olympics July 27 – August 12 2012. Live and edited feeds. Venues: 3 in Japan, 3 in UK, 1 on USA; International Broadcasting Center had 145″ SHV display.

(Video clips downconverted TO HD!)

Production: fewer cuts, wider shots, slower camera moves. Immersive 3D sound with no commentary. OB van: two cameras plus one additional camera at ceremonies. Upconverter from 2K to 8K [for inserts? -AJW], switcher,with slo-mo and supers, two SHV recorders. Monitored in 4K as no small 8K monitors. How to QC 8K? 28″ 4K monitors for engineers at CCUs.

1.25″ 4-CMOS camera with 5x, 10x zooms and prime lenses.

22.2 audio: 22.2 channel one-point mike array. Input into mixer where a 3D panner is used to build 3D sound field.

Transmitted to BBC over fiber as DWDM uncompressed signals. Live and two edited versions: Japan-specific and world-oriented feeds. P2 recorders with AVC-Intra 100:

P2 recorder for SHV, basically 16 HD P2 recorders ganged!

P2 recorder for SHV, basically 16 HD P2 recorders ganged!

Preview room had 84″ 8K LCD display, vital for QC. Playout using PC-controlled P2 recorder. Distribution converted TS packets to IP packets, then back again on far end; main distro over IP networks (h.264 compression).

UK display sizes 145″, 250″, 300″, 350″ (mostly projected). In Washington DC, 85″ LCD. In Japan, displays from 300″ to 520″.

What we learned: sense of reality; home viewing use case with 85″ screen. Produced programming every day, with same workflow as HD. Feasibility has been demonstrated. People liked long, wide shot with no commentary.

Crew size? 30-40 people.


All screenshots are copyrighted by their owners. Some have been cropped / enhanced to improve readability at 640-pixel width.


Disclaimer: I'm attending the Tech Retreat on a press pass, but aside from that I'm paying my way (hotel, travel, food).


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Adam Wilt

Adam Wilt

Adam Wilt has been working off and on in film and video for the past thirty years, while paying the bills writing software for animation, automation, broadcast graphics, and real-time control for companies including Abekas, Pinnacle, Omneon, CBS, and ABC. Since 1997 his website, adamwilt.com, has been a popular reference for information on the DV formats. He has reviewed cameras for DV Magazine and written its “Technical Difficulties” column, and taught classes and led panels at NAB, IBC, and DV Expo. He co-authored the book,”Optimizing Your Final Cut Pro System”, part of the Apple Pro Training series.