FIFA World Cup will be broadcast in 4K live

Live Ultra HD broadcasts of the World Cup Final from Brazil have been confirmed by Sony, the technical production partner to FIFA and host broadcaster HBS. Until now Sony and FIFA messaging has been that the World Cup Final and two earlier matches will be recorded in 4K in order to produce a FIFA Films film for online distribution. Now it seems that not one but several broadcasters have signed to take the feed live.

This moves the 4K three-match production of the tournament from a high-profile technical test to a breakthrough commercial trial of Ultra HD’s value to audiences. While the number of Ultra HD sets needed to view the higher resolution content remains a fraction of the installed base of HD TVs, Sony will not be alone in hoping that a Ultra HD World Cup will translate into mass awareness and adoption.

“The final will be broadcast in 4K,” confirmed Sony’s World Cup 2014 Programme Manager, Mark Grinyer. “There is a list of interested broadcasters. More than one [rights holder] will broadcast the feed.” Analysts Futuresource forecasts that 4K TV sets will account for 5% of the global TV market this year, rising to 42% by 2018.

Three matches including a quarter-final and the final at Rio’s Maracanã stadium will be covered in 4K. Twelve Sony F55 cameras and a number of upconverted specialist cameras (such as a helicam and tunnel camera) will create the 4K live mix although the number is a third that of the 37 camera HD production.

“With fewer cameras one of the things we are working on is to make sure the footage shows off 4K and does tell the story of the match rather than becoming just a showreel for 4K,” said Grinyer. “It’s a delicate balance. We’re taking learnings from 3D [Sony and HBS produced 25 matches in South Africa in stereoscopic 3D] by starting off using wider, slightly lower down shots and then see where we can get to on close-ups without losing any of the central image.”

There are no plans to capture 3D at the tournament while difficulties in unravelling rights are blocking distribution to cinemas for the 4K feed but this remains a possibility. Sony also confirmed that it has contracted to work with Brazil’s Globosat (part of TV Globo Group) for the 4K production.

With Telegenic’s T25 unit – out of which the Confed Cup 4K live was produced — unvailable to travel to Brazil this summer, Sony hired a new 4K-ready Globocast truck which will be crewed by Telegenic.

“[Globosat] have a lot of experience in the Maracanã and were in the process of buiding a 4K truck (systems installed by Sony Brazil to a similar technical spec as T25),” said Grinyer. “We had to play truck availability against what we’d ideally like. Globosat made us a good offer around that truck and there’ll be a good mix of local knowledge and 4K expertise which should work well as both parties can learn from the other.”

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