Delivering on the 4k Promise


Lorna Garrett TV-Bay Magazine
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It’s happened. Consumers are demanding 4K UHD content. They have the TVs, smartphones, tablets and other devices they need, and with much of Netflix and Amazon original content in 4K, as well as sports coverage from BT and Sky, consumers have tasted the future of content quality and are hungry for more. But broadcasters need not worry if their customers have enough bandwidth to receive 4K content - the solutions are ready to make 4K distribution a reality. New viewers are waiting if you’re ready to get to them first.

Providing the hugely improved viewing experience offered by 4K UHD is now the aim of most broadcasters, with the resolution provided by 4K UHD being highly desirable for premium content viewing on all devices, not simply televisions. Events such as this year’s Royal Wedding and World Cup will continue to set the standard for viewers’ expectation. FIFA will be producing all 64 matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia in 4K UHD. So with all of this content, how is it going to get to the viewers?

To make this work, broadcasters are looking for a solution that lets them add 4K HEVC to their existing HD H264 workflows to maximise reach. The distribution works as follows:

An inbound 4K HEVC contribution feed is received in IP (60-100Mbps) or SDI (Quad-3G or 12G SDI). For example, it could come from an NTT Electronics HC11000 4K UHD HEVC encoder, which offers superior quality and performance, including HDR and Dolby-E audio.

The received feed then needs to be re-encoded to a lower bitrate of around 10 to 12Mbps 4K HEVC feed, suitable for distribution to viewers with the minimum possible quality loss. However, to satisfy the needs of all viewers, you’ll need a solution that also encodes to adaptive bitrate H264 in HD and lower resolutions for customers still using legacy devices, or those on lower bandwidth legacy connections, or who haven’t yet subscribed to the 4K service.

Our transcoding partner Media Excel has developed such a hybrid workflow - hybrid 4K UHD and HD/SD with HEVC and H264/AVC output streams - that works extremely well. At Garland, our work with a leading European broadcaster provides proof that the workflow works in live environments. We’re working with other European broadcasters who are also actively testing out this 4K UHD workflow ahead of deployment, with many preparing to show large-scale events, such as the World Cup, in 4K UHD for the first time. Â

Media Excel's 4K UHD HEVC encoder allows broadcasters to get to the next level of premium content video experience for their customers. Their HERO 4K encoder exceeds the rigorous demands required for UHD/HEVC, with elevated processing power and reduced bandwidth transport capacity while providing superior 4K video quality, up to 60fps motion fluency and 10-bit colour depth. For both live and file workflows - at the datacentre or in the cloud - HERO 4K provides production-ready 4K UHD HEVC that is standards compliant and field proven.

Media Excel offers extra engaging features, including:

  • the ability to have either IP or SDI ingest capability;
  • an agnostic approach to delivering into origin servers/environments such as Unified Streaming, Microsoft Azure, AWS and other platforms due to Media Excel's standards compliance based approach;
  • multi-language support (up to sixteen languages);
  • DVB-subtitles managed at the player side (using OCR conversion); and,
  • ad insertion and ad replacement support.

If you’re considering the move to 4K distribution, the time really is now. We understand the financial commitment you will want to make will vary with your need, so talk to us about our commercial options ranging from purchase to finance leasing, and the opportunity of short term rental. We’re here to provide the support you’ll need with the hybrid workflow.

Whatever path you choose to take, it’s important to remember that every prediction for 2018 was that this was the year for 4K and HEVC — and it is happening. But it’s not too late to get on board before viewers satisfy their hunger elsewhere.


Tags: iss131 | garland | 4k | uhd | hevc | hc11000 | media excel | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett

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