As broadcasters, production houses, and content conglomerates are trying to keep pace with the magnifying consumer appetite for sharp storytelling and captivating, immersive viewing experiences, higher resolutions are proving to be the holy-grail to bring consumers closer to the action. Content producers are embracing UHD (Ultra High Definition) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) to deliver stunning images and strong storytelling to provide an immersive experience. UHD is a type of display resolution which includes 4K UHD and 8K UHD, which are two digital video formats giving higher pixels as compared to traditional HD.
Klaus Weber, principal, Camera Solutions and Technology, Grass Valley, said, “We are seeing a growing demand for 4K/UHD and HDR cameras and lenses, but this differs from region to region, and from customer to customer, depending on their budgets. While consumers take up of 4K television sets is rising, the majority of viewers worldwide are watching their content on HD sets – so we still have many customers asking for HD camera systems.”
Creative control and colour grading is a significant part of content production, and is gaining precedence, since consumers demand uncompromised viewing experiences. Traditionally, making adjustments to images involves a multi-step process. Grass Valley’s Creative Grading (GVCG) solution delivers creative control to camera shaders in an easier and intuitive way. The system is comprised of a control panel and a companion touchscreen application, and bundles multiple technical operations into packages. Using GVCG, camera shaders can manage adjustments – such as transitions from indoor to outdoor lighting. The ultra-fast connection between panel and control and the dynamic adaptation to any format (HDR, WCG, 4K UHD, etc.) in real-time means shaders can seamlessly manipulate images.
“With consumers now expecting richer, more captivating content, broadcasters are being more ambitious than ever with live production, giving audiences an up-close experience that is as good – if not better – than being there,” said Weber.
In a live production environment, this is possible if the camera equipment that is UHD HDR enabled, or equipment that is enabled to change the pixel size between native 4K and native HD inside CMOS imagers. As 4K UHD continues to propel further, there is a growing demand for camera equipment enabled with higher resolutions and native IP support. “As a result, for broadcasters and production companies, embracing UHD HDR content delivery means that even the most basic equipment package is actually much less basic than a few years ago,” explained Weber.
Grass Valley’s partnership with Net Insight and Swedish broadcaster, Sveriges Televison (SVT), to cover the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, is a key example of how cameras in the field can be deployed to capture and deliver high quality content. The production setup for the championships boasted the largest number of cameras deployed and the highest volume of remote signals – video, audio and data – transmitted to date from a live location to SVT’s headquarters in Stockholm, over 600 km away. 80 LDX 86 series cameras from Grass Valley, located along the ski course, delivered uncompressed HD signals over two 100 Gbps fibre circuits from Telia, to three control rooms at SVT’s Stockholm facility.
Today, cameras offer a plethora of options for remote and at-home production, and are field-proven at longer-than-usual distances. Cameras and base stations can be seamlessly connected over IP infrastructures and COTS IP-switches, with the base station located in an OB truck, a remote studio or at the broadcaster’s home facility. They support extended bandwidth requirements ensuring minimal lag.
“We are expecting a rise in 4K UHD and HDR uptake across sports and entertainment production. As broadcasters and content providers address consumer demand for captivating viewing experiences, camera equipment must deliver the highest possible resolution. In a live production setting, as IP continues to offer flexible and agile workflows, camera equipment will need to be upgraded to keep up,” said Weber. This can be seconded by the significant rise in investment from broadcasters and production companies, in both IP and UHD HDR-enabled camera equipment to offer best-in-class services.