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Old 2014-01-10, 11:50 AM   #1
Wayne
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Default Ultra-high-definition (4K) OTA discussion

The other thing that could hurt OTA is if it doesn't keep up with the best quality. Currently OTA is the best quality that you can get for stations that broadcast OTA.

But will that be the case with 4K or other standards better than 1080i/720p? Have they even started talking about new OTA broadcast standards for 4K or beyond? How long will that take to implement?

It looks like the world of 4K is coming pretty quickly with Netflix starting to offer some content in 4K and apparently some or all of this years World Cup will be in 4K, but it is not clear how you will receive the signal.

Then again, maybe 4K will be a passing fad, just like 3D for TV. But I doubt it.
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Old 2014-01-10, 11:54 AM   #2
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FOX has been using 4K in-house for sports production for many years now. Once the 4K TVs start to hit the market I wouldn't be surprised if they started to air live sports events on an alternate channel in 4K.
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Old 2014-01-10, 12:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alebowgm View Post
FOX has been using 4K in-house for sports production for many years now. Once the 4K TVs start to hit the market I wouldn't be surprised if they started to air live sports events on an alternate channel in 4K.
On what kind of an alternate channel? OTA? Or cable/sat?

I thought that the best you can do with ATSC is 1080i? If that is the case then the only way to get this will be via cable, satellite or OTT internet video as you will need some kind of a STB to process the stream and output the 4K signal. And it turns out that you need HDMI 2.0 (or some other connector) to do 60fps at 4K resolutions.
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Old 2014-01-10, 01:05 PM   #4
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Hello Wayne,

I believe what alebowgm means by "in-house" is FoxSports films, edits and produces in 4k and then downgrades to 1080 or 720 to broadcast / transmit to BDUs

I had heard the same rumour too, that when they upgraded their equipment with the emergence of HD and the US digital transition they went as high def as possible

Just my interpretation; I'll let the OP confirm
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Old 2014-01-10, 01:19 PM   #5
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interdit_450 is correct
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Old 2014-01-10, 02:20 PM   #6
Wayne
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I am not disputing that at all, I am just skeptical that we will ever see 4K as an OTA standard, at least not for a long time. So FOX may start providing NFL games in 4K but this is likely to happen only via BDUs or OTT.

Do you guys know if anyone is even doing experiments with 4K OTA yet? Is the FCC talking about 4K OTA?

I bought my first HDTV 12 years ago in 2002 - the first thing I watched at home in HD was the NCAA Final Four in March/Apr of 2002. At the time there was no Canadian OTA DTV but Rogers did have US channels in HD and some parts of the US had OTA HD for years. We are nowhere near that stage yet when it comes to 4K.

The other thing working against OTA is the amount of spectrum required, even with more efficient compression algorithms. Will that spectrum be used for OTA TV or will it be used for other purposes?
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Old 2014-01-10, 02:48 PM   #7
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Hi Wayne,

yes they are addressing this with ATSC 3.0 (source) but no guarantee it's coming anytime soon.

Quote:
With ATSC 3.0, the committee seeks to increase that data rate by 30 percent, or roughly 25.2 Mbps. The overall intent of 3.0 is to enable seamless transmission of HD, 4K, 22.2 audio and other data streams to fixed, mobile and handheld devices in all types of terrain.
As for spectrum "real estate" efficiency, I'm not sure I understood your question 100% but I saw this a while back about something called "flexible use waivers" potentially coming also with ATSC 3.0. In any case, it seems that wireless demands will plateau in North America in the next few years (I sort of believe it given that with kids nowadays each owning a smartphone and an iPad, who will be left to get on board in 10-15 years? )
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Old 2014-01-10, 04:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne
The other thing working against OTA is the amount of spectrum required, even with more efficient compression algorithms.
I'm seeing a lot of OTA channels at ~18mbps, Netflix says that they're going to do 4K at ~15mbps. There is a big difference between MPEG2 and h.265, so I have no doubt that it could be done.

You're right to be skeptical about the rate of adoption though. Assembling a set of specs and calling it a "standard" is easy. Implementation is hard, especially when you've got to broadcast the signal in a format that everyone understands. Steaming video has the advantage is that the server and the client can do a handshake and determine what the ideal stream is for that client given what it supports as far as codecs go, what sort of display it's hooked up to, and how much bandwidth is available.

So, I don't think bandwidth is the issue, I think adoption will just take far too long and we'll all be moving to streaming video anyway.
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Old 2014-01-10, 04:32 PM   #9
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Note that the article said
Quote:
The goal is to produce a candidate standard by 2016.
How much longer until stations actually start broadcasting in that format? 2020?

I wonder how good that 15Mbps Netflix UHD stream will look? I imagine it may be fine for low motion content like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, but what about sports and action films. And what about a higher bit depth for colour as well? I would think that you would have to fit any new OTA standard into not much more than the current 19Mbps bitrate for OTA MPEG-2 1080i.

But you are probably right that bandwidth isn't an issue.
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Old 2014-01-15, 08:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Note that the article said
Quote:
The goal is to produce a candidate standard by 2016.
How much longer until stations actually start broadcasting in that format? 2020?

I would think that you would have to fit any new OTA standard into not much more than the current 19Mbps bitrate for OTA MPEG-2 1080i.
Hello Wayne,

seems that Samsung / Sinclair Broadcasting group did a test broadcast of UHD OTA TV at CES and used an OTA signal bitrate of 26Mbps.

Quote:
Samsung featured a display at this year’s CES with a poster proclaiming: “World's First UHD Broadcasting via Terrestrial Network Directly to TV with Integrated Tuner.”

The Samsung demo was performed in cooperation with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which transmitted the UHD video from atop Black Mountain, which is south of Las Vegas, to a rooftop antenna at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The UHD video was encoded using HEVC and transmitted at approximately 26 Mbps.

Sinclair did not use one of its Las Vegas full-power stations for the broadcast, as these were carrying ATSC-MH programs in addition to their normal ATSC programming.

Again, you are most probably correct that it will be a long time coming for regular OTA viewers (perhaps even longer in Canada) but it's still good to see that at least someone is trying to keep OTA broadcast TV up-to-date.
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Old 2014-01-16, 02:50 AM   #11
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With Genachowski out and Wheeler now in, the completely unfactual, unverifiable rumours I've heard from within the industry in the USA are that if the FCC was to mandate another "repack" of DTV channels to free up more space for wireless devices they'd simultaneously roll in either ATSC 2.0 or 3.0 to cut the number of major channels down to some amazingly small number from today's 14-51 with a huge number of HD-capable subchannels on shared towers, so that there would really be no net difference in DTV stations at the receiving end. Again, just talk.
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Old 2014-01-16, 07:51 AM   #12
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I am worried that the broadcast industry is much farther behind the curve with 4K than they were with HD. I got my first HDTV in March of 2002 and at that time there were no Canadian HD DTV channels but many (most?) US cities had DTV broadcasting.

If CES were any indication by the end of this year 4K TVs will be capturing a decent amount of market share, especially at the high end. What is the earliest that we can envision 4K DTV broadcasting? 2017 is probably even very aggressive. By then I have to think that 4K hardware will have a significant amount of market share and people will be clamouring for 4K content which presumably will be available from BDUs.
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Old 2014-01-16, 11:30 AM   #13
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It will be a very long time before BDUs will be able to offer 4k content. And it will be longer before OTA TV adopts it.

Honestly, I think that the whole idea of OTA TV will slowly die out in favor of streaming content via your internet connection. I could be wrong, and if "cord cutting" gets trendy then OTA could have a resurgence, but I think what is more likely is that all content would get delivered via streaming and OTA will be mostly ignored.

This is because OTA requires a antenna (which few devices have), and streaming video requires a internet connection (which most devices have).
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Old 2014-01-16, 11:54 AM   #14
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I bet that by the end of 2015 that there will be special events shown by BDUs in 4K, not unlike HD 15 years ago. It may even happen sooner - apparently the World Cup this summer will be shot in 4K, or at least some games will. Perhaps the entire 2015 Superbowl will be in 4K. Maybe some BDUs will start to think about providing this content, but I guess the first issue is that they have to give their customers STBs that can (1) receive a 4K stream from the head end and (2) output 4k resolution over HDMI.

Don't forget that there was an ESPN 3D channel that is now shut down. Before too long, and maybe even before all channels are in HD, we will start seeing 4K channels - TSN-4K.

But I really think that Broadcast is being left behind, it certainly is far different from the early days of HD 10-15 yrs ago.
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Old 2014-01-16, 05:10 PM   #15
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Default My View of 4K

The Netflix 4K programming that is supposed to start in Feb. (or is it Q2?) is an experiment. It reminds me of some early 3D programming on cable that really went nowhere fast (the dreadful Last Days of The Dinosaurs, anyone?). Hopefully in this case ultra-HD will have better luck.

But when it comes to bona fide 4K channels I think they're a long way off especially here in Canada. The major players here both cable/sat. and OTA have just "completed their transition to DTV/HDTV. Billions have been spent and the changeover is still not fully complete (e.g. look at the complaints at DHC about CTV Halifax's SD news coverage). Also here in Canada HDTV is still not in the majority as several installers who contribute regularly will testify. People who have just bought their first HD set are not about to upgrade at least for five years (and I'm being optimistic). The thing that the manufacturers don't seem to get is that TVs are not mobile phones. It costs relatively little to upgrade/change your phone every couple of years. It costs a lot more to change TVs.

I'd also like to point out that 4K is not the end. The end if there is one is 8K. It will blow your socks off as it is beyond the range of the best 35 mm film. What 4K is in fact a kind of intermediate step towards 8K. (Several manufacturers are said to have quietly admitted this to reporters at this year's CES). That alone makes its full adoption unlikely. Is it the new 3D? Perhaps, although I'd like to think that it will having more staying power. A better picture especially more with more accurate colour would win me over faster than view master cut outs and thrusting spears ever will. Was it just 4-5 years ago that 3D made its big "splash" at CES? I was told that it was almost invisible there this year. Only time will tell if that will also be 4K's fate.
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