IBC Reflections: NTT Electronics’ Fabi and Yoshida discuss HEVC and remote production
NTT Electronics showcased a variety of encoding/decoding technologies at IBC2017, and much of the focus was on 4K, HDR and HEVC. Among the offerings was the HC1100 Series 4:2:2 10-bit H.265/HEVC real-time encoder, which has the capacity to transmit high-quality video images at low bitrate, low latency and low power consumption. Scalable, it handles SD to HD and up to 4K/60P.
Also on display was NTT Group’s Smart Contribution solution for at-home production, which provides multiple video-stream transmissions from venue to broadcasting centre with a cost-effective, secure and managed mechanism. At the show, SVG Europe sat down with NTT Electronics Europe Business Development Manager Marco Fabi and NTT Electronics Senior Sales Manager, Overseas Digital Video Sales Department Daisuke (Dice-K) Yoshida to discuss the key trends they are seeing in the sports production sector.
Marco Fabi: “We are showing here an evolution of our HEVC platform. We introduced the platform two years ago. After 24 months of development we have a very solid and powerful solution.
“Here at IBC we are introducing multichannel functionality, so we are able to encode more HD channels in one box. Our system was already able to have very low delay end to end – 120 milliseconds in 4K UHD and just one frame in HD.
“We are also showing high frame rate functionality as a prototype: we strongly believe that high frame rate will be a key factor for the future, especially for sport production. High frame rate will provide a real benefit to picture quality.
“We have also improved, again, the picture quality of our 4K images – which we do every time there is new software for the encoder and decoder. Obviously our customers are using our platform mainly for contribution, so they are focused on specific bit rates and we continually try to improve the quality; this has been our mission since the beginning. Picture quality is extremely important for us.”
Sports broadcasters like BT Sport and Sky Sports are moving strongly into UHD production. This presumably has placed NTT Electronics in a favourable position, as you have been able to offer a stable HEVC platform for big sports events like Formula One coverage?
Marco Fabi: “Yes we’ve met in the middle. Our platform was one of the first mature offerings to come to the market that was also rock solid. For instance Formula One have used our equipment since the beginning of this season, and we are pretty happy about that.”
Daisuke Yoshida: “We also had good relationships with broadcasters from our H.264 MPEG-4 solutions. So when we came out with an HEVC product I would like to think they knew us well and they knew our capability and it has worked out well for all of us. Especially in 4:2:2 4K, there were not many solutions around at that time, and especially in hardware. We were ready to go.”
What trends are you hearing here at IBC, in conversation with the sports production community?
Marco Fabi: Of course the 4K market is going to increase, even if it has been a slow process so far. We are also receiving a lot of enquiries about remote production; that’s one of the key trends around the show in my opinion.
“We always had very low latency, but this year we have introduced another software solution specifically designed for remote production and we have had very good feedback from our visitors here. It’s called Smart Contribution for remote production.
“It’s a software solution that’s capable of taking all the feeds from the field to the broadcasting centre very efficiently. At this show we’re also doing an initiative with BT Media around live Premiership rugby, with their OB van here at the RAI.”
Daisuke Yoshida: “Being able to have a physical unit ready, with low latency, high picture quality and stability here at the show – we’re receiving a lot of demands to test the equipment. It’s a joint promotion with BT Media and Garland, our UK partner. The market recognises us for live sports contribution encoding and decoding manufacture, and remote production is something new for us. We’re doing it jointly with our sister company NTT-TX. Being in the same group I think we have a strong solution, working together.”
Marco Fabi: “We’re recognised as one of the biggest players for contribution. People appreciate our reliability and picture quality. But they are also trying to save space and save consumption. We have a very good roadmap for our product, through 2018 and later, continuing to meet the demands of the customers. We have started the HEVC roadmap with the HC11000 platform, and we will continue with different models in the future.”