HDMI Spec 2.1 Coming In 2Q 2017

HDMI Spec 2.1 Coming In 2Q 2017

bandwidth_2-1_wThe HDMI Forum, Inc. has announced that Version 2.1 of the HDMI® Specification is on track for release in the 2nd quarter of 2017. Just when you thought your high-speed 18 Gbps cables were good enough for 4K HDR, here comes this new spec which promises us 8K video with HDR at 60 fps and 4K video at 120 fps. Well, if you are not a gamer, then where’s our 120 fps software – er, TV programs? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of anyone – broadcast, cable or streaming – that has any 120 fps programs. (Except for some 3D titles. Remember 3D?) And unless you have a streaming subscription or a UHD Blu-ray player, there’s no readily available 4K content for your 4K TV.

This is just another case of the consumer electronics industry trying to obsolete our good ‘ole 1080i/1080p HDTVs so they can sell us a new 4K model. But buyer beware! At the present time, there are four (count ’em 4) versions of HDR designed for home use. If you buy a set today, it could be obsolete by Christmas 2018. (Still got that Betamax in your garage?)

(Thumbnail from CE Pro Magazine.)

We’ve Discovered 10-Bit Video!

We’ve Discovered 10-Bit Video!

8bit150

At home there are some 10-bit TVs and displays that can display HDR video.” – Mark Walton in Ars Techina

Well, my 1984 Zenith color TV could display 10-bit video quality. Not when watching an OTA broadcaster like the Almost Broadcasting Company, (who used 8-bit D-2 videotape,) but most likely when watching Discovery Channel (they used 10-bit Digital Betacam) and definitely when watching my 12 inch analog videodiscs. (I know because my post facility mastered some of those discs.)

Now I know that my Zenith had maybe 350 lines of resolution (if I was lucky), but it didn’t have just 256 steps (8 bits) of brightness. In fact, because it (and the whole transmission chain at the time) was analog, it had no steps at all. Brightness flowed smoothly from 0.339 volts (black) to exactly one volt (white). None of this stair-step stuff you see at the end of some commercials where the finely-graduated background color looks more like van Gogh’s “Starry Night“. So in this 4K and HDR world we now live in, its CRAZY to have newly produced specs (like the NABA-DPP Common Technical Specs) that call for delivery of 8-bit files instead of 10-bit files. What a rip-off for consumers who purchase HDR sets expecting to get better OTA and cable TV pictures.

Channel In A Pox

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Channel In A Pox

fart_150
So let’s say you want to buy some “Channel-In-a-Box” servers. Your network runs up to ten feeds – East, Central, Mountain, Pacific, a North regional feed (for snow tire commercials), a South regional feed (for the radial tire commercials) and three occasional feeds for those regional college games. You buy 15 Fast Allegro Real Time CiaB systems – a primary for each feed and a backup for every two channels. (Remember – no single point of failure!) Of course it’s 2016 (and you want to save some $$) – so you skip the HD-SDI outputs and order the 10Gb Ethernet IP only version.

Now your vendor has configured your system with at least two of everything so that you can sleep at night. So what are the chances that all of your primary FARTs will be non-airable all at the same time? Well if your vendor promised you “six nines” of uptime over the course of course of a year I hope you have that in writing ’cause I bet you’ll only get “two nines” (3.65 days of downtime) till your vendor exorcises all the software bugs from your system!

Now I know that your old “single function” equipment had downtime too. But you were always able to patch (or route) around a bad piece of baseband equipment. But what do you do when that new banner/bug/snipe that graphics just made takes your CIB off the air?

UHD: 8 Bits vs 10

UHD: 8 Bits vs 10

Simulation of 8-bit pictureFinally realizing that more pixels alone is not enough, the UHD Alliance has come out with specs for what they call “Ultra HD Premium.” Besides HDR and a wide color gamut, the performance metrics require that the video bit depth must be 10 bit. (I assume they are talking about the luminance channel here, as most video is encoded as luminance plus color difference signals.) However if you look inside almost any broadcast/cable/satellite transmission facility, you’ll see that most are using 8-bit mezzanine formats such as XDCAM HD 50 for server storage. Why is this so bad? Imagine paying $1K or more for a 4K monitor and seeing background colors like the thumbnail above. (Or at left depending on the screen size of your device.) And no, the graphic artist did not design it that way.

While the upcoming 4K Blu-ray Disc format (which requires a new 4K Blu-ray Disc player) and some streaming services (like Netflix) will be capable of delivering Ultra HD Premium content, don’t expect any from broadcast or cable services any time soon. The future over-the-air ATSC 3.0 standard will support Ultra HD Premium services, but you’ll need some future ‘to be announced’ converter box to make it work with today’s 4K displays. Gee, it’s fun being on the bleeding edge of technology, isn’t it?

You Can’t Just Swap Cables

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You Can’t Just Swap Cables

pp5In an IP Transport plant, if you have two sources reversed (like on your monitor wall) – swapping cables probably won’t work. More than likely, you have multiple signals muxed on that fiber or GigE cable and you have to open up a routing table to straighten it all out. Yes an IP-based plant gives you less wires, less weight and likely less cost but it also gives you new headaches.

Will TR-03 Stay In Sync?

Will TR-03 Stay In Sync?

BNC-to-RJ-45 ConnectorsLast week the Video Services Forum released its draft recommendation for “elementary stream” IP media (read that as non-embeded audio). While touted by some as a low latency, low payload transport protocol with video, audio, and ancillary data being transported separately, I think it once again opens the Pandora’s Box of “out of sync” audio and video. I know that Thomas Edwards of Fox Networks said: “…when every packet is time stamped accurately, we should have better synchronization between media streams than SDI solutions could provide.” I thought that audio & video packets in MPEG-2 transport streams were time stamped as well, but that hasn’t prevented them from becoming annoyingly out of sync.

I say if you have to implement IP transport now, plan to use SMPTE ST 2022-6. (‘Cause it’s nice when audio and video arrive together.) And let’s see what actually happens when someone else actually implements TR-03 in a control room near you.

SDI vs IP: Tale of the Switch

SDI vs IP: Tale of the Switch

tapemeasureIn the continuing battle between those newfangled “I only know IP” computer type people and us ole-time TV engineers, former ABC/FOX/Olympic/ATTC engineer Jim DeFilippis warns in an opinion piece in TV Technology that we should be skeptical of claims that IP transport is better/cheaper/faster than SDI. In the first part of the article, Jim points out that if you measure the total aggregate bandwidth (TAB) of both a comparably sized HD-SDI switch and a 10 GbE IP-based switch, you might find that the SDI switch is a better value in terms of TAB, power and size.

Also, let’s say you’re a company who has been asked to build a file-based multichannel playout facility for a major international video programming distributor. You wisely connect your IP-based equipment with fiber rather than with copper. Unfortunately “… UDP/IP … is not a reliable protocol. There is no built-in mechanism to guarantee arrival in the correct order, or even arrival of the packet at all. The order of packets can be restored through sequence numbering in the RTP layer, but packet loss remains a problem.” (EBU Technical Review – 2012 Q4) You may claim to have a managed network where packet loss does not occur, but that only holds true as long as you do not approach the available bandwidth limit.

And then gremlins might just strike and your program stream might be fine along one route, while in the air path you’re droppin’ packets left and right. Just sayin’.

Thorpe To Be Honored by ATAS

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Thorpe To Be Honored by ATAS

thorpeLaurence J. Thorpe is this year’s recipient of the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors a living individual whose on-going contributions have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering.

Larry Thorpe is a renowned industry expert in the field of video acquisition and is generally considered to be one of the leaders of HDTV development.

He has held the position of the head of HDTV market development at Sony Electronics as well as Senior Fellow at Canon U.S.A.

A Fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), he has published numerous papers on camera technology and the topic of HDTV while serving as an advisor to the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the Federal Communications Commission and SMPTE. A graduate of the College of Technology in Dublin, he began his career with the BBC in London.

For complete details on the 66th Primetime Emmy® Engineering Awards click here.

Laurence J. Thorpe is this year’s recipient of the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors a living individual whose on-going contributions have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering

Larry Thorpe is a renowned industry expert in the field of video acquisition and is generally considered to be one of the leaders of HDTV development.

He has held the position of the head of HDTV market development at Sony Electronics as well as Senior Fellow at Canon U.S.A.

A Fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), he has published numerous papers on camera technology and the topic of HDTV while serving as an advisor to the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the Federal Communications Commission and SMPTE.  A graduate of the College of Technology in Dublin, he began his career with the BBC in London.

 

– See more at: http://www.emmys.com/news/awards-news/smpte-among-66th-engineering-emmy-honorees#sthash.TKq64jbP.dpuf

Must SDI Die?

Must SDI Die?

 Ad: SDI Must Die

… or can it just retire in Florida? Recent moves by SMPTE to standardize IEEE-1588 for timing and sync may help the move to an IP-based plant. And the Joint Task Force for Networked Media is studying best practices for audio and video switching. Al Kovalick has written a comprehensive article titled SMPTE Looks at All-IT Media Facilities on page 26 of the December 18th, 2013 issue of TV Technology. He discusses some of the papers presented at SMPTE’s Annual Technical Conference in October 2013 and how they can make an all-IT based facility possible in the near future.

[With no apologies to Cinegy. SDI is not dead yet and neither am I.]

UPDATE – Feb. 2016: Mr. Kovalick updates us on PTP with “Time Transfer in Networked Systems”.

(Note to me: SMPTE 2059-1 and -2 are SMPTE’s version of IEEE-1588 V2 – PTP)

Add “Dyle” to Your Vocabulary

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Add “Dyle” to Your Vocabulary

The folks at the Mobile Content Venture have branded their digital-access ATSC Mobile DTV services with the name “Dyle“. John Merli wrote about it in the August 24th edition of TV Technology.

What does this mean for the consumer? Well most vendors will not have smartphones, tablets or portable TV’s capable of mobile reception for sale until late 2012. So forget about buying a TV set for your car this Christmas. It will still be a portable DVD player under the tree, more than two years & three months after the analog TV shutdown.

Steve Rutt, Video Pioneer, Dead At 66

Steve Rutt, Video Pioneer, Dead At 66

Steve Rutt

From the New York Times:

“Steve Rutt, an engineer, inventor and artist whose early video animation system made images expand and contract and leap and dance, and in so doing helped propel the video-art revolution of the 1970s, died on May 20th in Manhattan.”

READ THE COMPLETE NY TIMES OBIT HERE.

Steve, who I knew through renting editing equipment from his company, was a respected member of the New York post-production community.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RUTT/ETRA Video Synthesizer CLICK HERE.

Parkervision Lives at ABC News

Parkervision Lives at ABC News

It looks like this morning’s America This Morning was the first “broadcast” network news show to be aired using an “automated control room”, in this case a Ross OverDrive system. More details as they become available.

UPDATE: World News Tonight officially began using the ACR on Wednesday, July 20th. Former ABC News Senior Broadcast Producer Stu Schwartz said “From my experience, the humans are usually better than the machines…but we’ll see. Too bad technology has trumped the human factor.”

I can’t wait to see what happens 15 years down the road. Will there be anyone left that could direct, switch or mix a major live breaking news special report? Maybe ABC will have to hire Joel Almeida !