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NAB Perspectives: Elemental Technologies Keith Wymbs on the 4K Boom and the Importance of HFR

April 14th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Jason Dachman

Elemental Technologies (SU2724) arrives on the NAB showfloor riding a wave of 4K HEVC momentum, having played key roles in several high-profile 4K UHD sports production over the past 12 months, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup by Globosat in Brazil and the ICC Cricket World Cup by TATA Sky in India. While 4K UHD is once again proving to be a resounding them at NAB, Elemental is one of a handful of companies who can claim legitimate revenue directly from the 4K UHD sector.

photoElemental looks to continue to ride the 4K UHD wave at NAB with the introduction of a new single-RU Real-time 10 bit 4Kp60 HEVC encoding appliance. In addition at Akamai’s NAB booth (SL3325), Red Bull Media House is using Elemental video processing to live stream 4K HEVC content originated in Salzburg, Austria from the single RU encoder and delivered via MPEG-DASH over Akamai’s CDN to Samsung Smart TV’s

SVG sat down with Elemental Technologies CMO Keith Wymbs to address the company’s 4K momentum, the importance of high-frame rate, and the explosion of rise of multiscreen sports distribution.

What is Elemental highlighting at the booth this year?
We have a lot going on [at the booth] this year, but I would say the no. 1 thing relevant to the sports market is that we have now collapsed our 4Kp60 HEVC encoding [platform] into a single RU. A lot of the competition we see are 4 to 7RU-sized systems. For us to get to 60p a little over a year ago, we had two units working in tandem as a bonded encoder. But now we have gotten to the point that we have centralized a 1RU system, which cuts down on the footprint required and eliminates the bonded scenario. We have sold that already, so it’s not something that we are just showcasing, it’s already out there. From a market standpoint, we are seeing 4K move forward and we believe this is a big step.

In addition, we have traditionally been known for multiscreen applications and are brought in to help clients reach new devices, but on the live side, we never had a solution for traditional broadcast environments. So we have launched Elemental StatMux, which is a statistical multiplexer that is multi-codec supporting MPEG2, H.264 and HEVC and multi-resolution to support HD, SD, and 4K. [Broadcasters] can mix and match different codecs and optimize bandwidth for [linear and OTT services] in a unified model. So we now have an answer for sports broadcast environments that are using statistical multiplexing technologies to gain bandwidth technologies. It’s paired with our live encoders to create bandwidth savings.

We also have received THX certification for Elemental Live and Elemental Server. THX certification is usually used for cinema encoding quality and file-transcoders, but we did it with Elemental Live, which was the first to be THX certified for live encoding.

Can you tell me a bit about the Red Bull Media House 4K HEVC demo at Akamai’s booth?
On Saturday, we announced Red Bull Media House has selected us for 4K HEVC. We are doing a demonstration located at Akamai’s booth that is sourced in Austria in Red Bull’s production facility. We are doing a live real time HEVCp60 10-bit encode wrapped in MPEG DASH, delivered over the Akamai network to the showfloor. It is a 15 MBps 4K HEVCp60 stream. We’re extremely proud to be presenting that here.

Is 4K a genuine revenue generator for Elemental Technologies right now?
Absolutely. Once we got from 60p, we started to generate revenue for 4K. A significant portion of our revenue last year was from 4K – both on the on-demand and live side. It’s typically HEVC encoding. This year, we have already surpassed our orders from last year. It was just under 10% of our business last year and if the trend continues we could potentially triple our revenue in the 4K area this year.

Why does Elemental believe delivering 4K content at 60 fps is so important to the format?
We were early jumping on p60 because we were able to deliver it first. It’s clear when you look at the content and the difference between p24, and p30 to p60, it’s a very big jump. p60 is required for sports because of fast motion and you would not have a pleasant experience without it. It’s clear from our perspective that deployments of 4K for sports are going to be p60 a minimum and that may evolve to even higher frame rates. We are not seeing that demand yet but our software-defined architecture can easily evolve to 120p for on-demand. Doing it in a live environment will be a little more difficult.

With the multiscreen content industry exploding, are you seeing your presence in that space expanding?
The best part right now in terms of our positioning in the [multiscreen] space is that we are seeing the need on the part of the consumer, particularly in sports, to blend the on-demand experience with the live event in a seamless fashion. So at IBC we launched our Elemental Delta just-in-time (JIT) video packaging and intelligent caching solution.

The other main point is the Maturation and monetization of ad-insertion. We are demoing customized the particular add to the profile of the user. WE do that insertion in a very seamless way that is enabled by Elemental Delta. Inserting ads and relevant content is key. If you are a teenage boy watching a live stream, you want to have the ads and recommended on0demand assets should be customized to you. If you are a mom, then you will have different live content and therefore should have different suggested on-demand content and ads.