EBU to conduct UHD HDR High Frame Rate tests with NGA at European Championships
The European Broadcasting Union will be leading trials with EBU members and partners for the world’s first live distribution of UHD HDR and HFR at the European Championships.
The objective is to to test production workflows to shoot, process, record, and distribute live UHD content with High Frame Rates (HFR), High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Next Generation Audio (NGA) at the Championships in Berlin.
The event is part of the multi-sport European Championships taking place in Glasgow and Berlin (2-12 August). The trials involve the world’s first live distribution of UHD content with both HDR (HLG/BT.2100) and HFR (100 frames per second, 2160p100).
Current state-of-the-art live broadcasts don’t exceed a field or frame rate of 50Hz in Europe, and HD interlaced (1080i25) is still the dominant broadcast emission format even though commercial encoders and TV sets manage up to 2160p50 resolution.
In Berlin, a 2160p100 HLG/BT.2020 production workflow will be set up in collaboration with EBU Members BBC, France Télévisions, IRT, RAI and ZDF, and a range of technology partners. The 2160p100 feed will be used to derive two additional 1080p100 and 1080p50 signals.
These three feeds will then be encoded in HEVC and multiplexed for a live transmission via the Eurovision satellite network to RAI’s experimental test bed in the Aosta Valley, Italy, and via the Eurovision Fibre infrastructure to the European Championships Broadcast Operations Centre (BOC) based at BBC Glasgow.
The 1080p100 programme will also include Next Generation Audio (NGA) sound in the form of 4+7+0 channel and scene-based beds, with four additional interactive mono object signals for two commentaries and two audio descriptions. NGA is commonly thought of as providing immersive experiences, but also enables additional features, such as personalisation, accessibility and interactivity, by means of ‘objects’.
These trials would not be possible without the help and the support of several technology providers, in particular (in alphabetical order): ATEME encoding and remixing technologies for the 1080p100 feed with all NGA flavours; Dolby immersive and object-based audio technology (AC4); Ericsson contribution technology (HEVC, MPEG-H Audio) for 2160p50; EVS server for near real-time 2160p100 editing; Fraunhofer IIS immersive and object-based audio technology (MPEG-H Audio); Jünger Audio 3D audio monitoring and authoring units (MPEG-H Audio); KaiMedia encoding technology (HEVC, MPEG-H Audio) for 2160p50; Klang and Areitec 3D audio monitoring over headphones; LG prototype OLED TV sets capable of decoding the live UHD streams with HFR (2160p100Hz), HDR (HLG & PQ), and NGA (Dolby AC-4); NTT encoding technology for the 2160p100 signal; b<>com scene-based production tools and Qualcomm compression technology (MPEG-H Audio); Rohde & Schwarz servers for uncompressed recording; Schoeps and Areitec ORTF-3D microphone outdoor set; Sony XVS video switcher, PWS Live production server and storage solutions configured for a 2160p100 video production workflow and HDR acquisitions, plus one complete Sony UHD camera and 2160p50 picture monitoring; Solid State Logic System T S300-32 mixing console with 3D panning and Network I/O; TPC, the Swiss broadcaster’s operational subsidiary, will supply two other complete cameras, and a fourth camera will be provided by AMP Visual.
The trials will enable all participants to build their understanding of the state of the art in immersive Sports content production and its strategic potential. Some clips may also become available for public dissemination and for technical and scientific testing purposes.
The European Championships is a major new multisport event taking place every four years, which aggregates the existing senior continental championships of Athletics (European Athletics), Aquatics (LEN), Cycling (UEC), Gymnastics (UEG), Rowing (FISA), Triathlon (ETU), with a new Golf Team Championships (ET & LET) – all unified under a common brand. Athletics will take place in Berlin from 7-12 August, while athletes from the other sports will compete in Glasgow 2-12 August.
The EBU and Eurovision Media Services will act as both the broadcast partner (representing European public service media) and the Host Broadcaster (overseeing the overall production of the event). EMS will also distribute the event to media organisations for TV and online platforms.