Interviews

The Grass is always green

Somu Patil, VP, sales, Asia, Grass Valley tells Pradeep Suvarna that while both UHD and HDR will become mainstream in India, broadcasters are drawn to HDR to quickly deliver better viewing experience

Better image resolution means better business – that is what broadcasters have come to realise. As viewers invest in UHD and HDR television sets, they expect that the content displayed on these sets is of high quality. As broadcasters and content creators get set to embrace HDR workflow process, Somu Patil, VP, sales, Asia, Grass Valley says that they are likely to encounter challenges when they integrate existing SDR content into newer HDR productions.

4K UHD or HDR – which will finally become mainstream in India, especially since many content producers are embracing both technologies, while early adopters are confused which one to opt for?
There is certainly interest in both technologies, and we are confident that both will eventually become mainstream in India. Initially, HDR is the easier one to implement because the existing infrastructure is able to handle most of the demands. More importantly, viewers can more readily see the visual improvement that HDR offers, so broadcasters and content producers are drawn to that technology as a way to quickly and affordably deliver a better viewing experience. 4K UHD is exciting, but will occur a bit slower for both broadcasters and consumers because of the investment required.

Why is HDR considered to be the next big thing in content delivery? What are some apparent advantages that it will offer a viewer?
Specifically, HDR delivers visibly brighter whites and darker blacks as well as more realistic colour and detail. Thanks to its contrast ratio, which is much closer to the conditions found in real life, HDR allows image reproduction that is much closer to reality.
Furthermore, HDR also allows more dependable results under difficult shooting conditions—such as irregular lighting or partial shade—found at many outside broadcast productions. An additional advantage of HDR is that it is fully format independent, and does not need any specific viewing condition to show its advantages.
Broadcasters and content creators find it challenging to adopt an HDR workflow process, especially when it comes to setting up a parallel SDR/HDR production workflow. How can they overcome these problems?
Embracing an HDR workflow process raises a number of questions and poses some challenges. Most notable is the need for a parallel SDR/HDR production workflow, one where the signal can be adapted with up/down mapping as required to mix and match incoming content formats and output signals without sacrificing any quality. A full parallel HDR and SDR workflow is the easiest way to produce both HDR and SDR at the same time, from a single camera system through the full production chain.
With Grass Valley’s portfolio of devices, broadcasters are able to produce native 10-bit HDR in either HD or 4K UHD and deliver that content in HDR and SDR simultaneously as necessary thanks to the high-quality conversion that can be done with either a dynamic or static down mapping process. Additionally, these solutions provide native support for worldwide HLG and PQ standards.

How does the ability to produce HDR content in HD help broadcasters in overcoming the constant bandwidth challenges that they face, especially in nations like India?
The process of producing and delivering HDR content in HD does not require any more bandwidth than SDR content in HD, so broadcasters are able to deliver improved image quality to a viewing audience over any of the different delivery platforms that exist today. For this reason, HDR in HD is very likely the best solution for any market or application where bandwidth—and the corresponding cost—need to be kept to today’s levels.

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