SVGE FutureSport: 4K shoots viable, but more action on consumer experience required

The current state of 4K production, the elements needed for the next generation of devices, and the viewer’s engagement with Ultra-HD were among the topics under discussion during the final session of the SVG Europe-organised FutureSport event, which took place at The Kia Oval, London, on 3 December.

Moderated by SVG Europe Editorial Director Ken Kerschbaumer, the session featured input from some notable industry leaders, namely: Mark Grinyer, Sony, Head of Business Development, Sports; Dr. Peter Siebert, DVB Project Officer, Executive Director; and Peter Yabsley, Canon Europe, Professional Products Marketing Team Leader, Professional Imaging Group.

Kicking things off with an overview of 4K sports production, Grinyer remarked that “we can do a 4K production… we have been doing a variety of tests. It is possible to do various frame-rates, because of the cameras available, [and there is movement towards] large single sensor cameras. Potentially broadcasters could do simulcasts: and SD cut, shoot 4K for HD cutout, and use the extra resolution to create panning cameras. It [will be] prevalent to do 4K and HD shoots at the same time – not like 3D, where you need two separate crews.” A 4K production, he suggested, “could be five or six cameras vs 30 HD cameras. Standard cameras running HD 60p can mix happily on [existing] switchers. As long as you are sensitive to the shots you are doing and what those cameras are doing…you can make it work.”

However, away from the production frontline, he called for a general awareness of the “viewer experience. We do need to be aware of the viewer and understand what they want to see. Also, there is the fact that houses are getting smaller, but people want bigger and bigger screens.”

Yabsley said that Canon was preoccupied with “glass and what’s on the front of the camera. People know it’s a challenge so there is a lot of conversation taking place about what is possible, what is practical, and so forth. If your lens is the size of a truck, it might not be practical in the first place. So we [at Canon] are looking at 4K as a particular part of the sports environment and what we might need to do as a lens manufacturer [to assist 4K viability.]”

The advent of Ultra-HD, continued Yabsley, “does give rise to lots of technological possibilities, but you are also coming up against commercial reality.” There is need for plenty of thought, then, about “what kinds of products constitute a worthwhile investment.”

Siebert took a particularly long-view of the new format, reaching beyond 2014 (“how do we see the evolution of the Sony product line regarding the Federations Cup, the World Cup?” he pondered) to the redesigning of OB vehicles and the need to accommodate high frame-rates. “2016, 2017, we are talking about a second level of the DVB UHD standard, expanding the colour gamut among other developments,” he said.

The outlook for 4K remains fluid, but Siebert was among those who expected the roadmap to become significantly more defined during the course of 2014.

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