Dr. Hans Hoffmann of the EBU is an experienced technologist in the European TV market and recently wrote an article that highlights the problems that have been caused by the fragmentation of the broadcast and consumer electronics businesses, in developing the UltraHD TV technologies of the future.
Hoffmann said that consumers can get UltrHD via Blu-ray, via Pay TV or OTT providers, but that broadcasters are reluctant to invest, even though there is a consensus that HDR provides a lot of value. That’s because there is no clarity on how technology will be implemented. Hoffmann said that a lot of hope was placed on the Ultra HD Alliance and the Ultra HD Forum, and the EBU joined the Alliance, but ‘rested’ its membership in July 2017. Hoffmann pointed out that there are several different logos covering Ultra HD, but the requirements are all different.
In the article, he identifies HFR as a topic that is interesting (HFR On the Back Burner – for Now), but there are still a number of questions that remain to be unresolved. He would like to see the development of an adaptive system that selects the best resolution, dynamic range and frame rate, according to the content, but within the framework of Rec.2020. Alternatively, an HFR system might be the future.
When the transition to HD happened, Digital Europe did a lot of good for the industry with the HD Ready logo, although it was derided in some quarters. The group introduced a new logo for UltraHD, but it addresses only spatial resolution and we heard at IBC that ‘political issues’ between members was causing a delay in a next generation logo that might help clarify things. There was, apparently, hope that the logo would be finalised by IBC, but there is no sign yet.
Broadcasters don’t need much of an excuse to postpone investment, especially public broadcasters, and the technical uncertainty certainly is a good reason for holding off decisions. (BR