Executive Director Column: A New Debate on the Letters H and D

2016 has yet to begin, but already many in our industry have a sense of what the big topics of discussion will be. And, once again, the industry is debating the merits of two acronyms that include the letters H and D.

It is amazing to think back to 2006, when SVG began, and consider that there was much debate over whether an event should be produced in HD or SD. There was also plenty of resistance to HD: the production gear was expensive, workflows were clunky, and there was no easy way to shoot for HD without compromising it in the interest of SD distribution.

Ken Kerschbaumer, Co-Executive Director, Editorial Services, Sports Video Group

Ken Kerschbaumer, Co-Executive Director, Editorial Services, Sports Video Group

Today’s two acronyms being debated are UHD and HDR. The interesting thing is how quickly HDR, or high dynamic range, has grown since NAB 2015 in April. At that show, HDR demonstrations were few and far between, the most noticeable ones being at the Canon, Sony, and Dolby booths.

Five months later, at IBC2015, it seemed that an attendee could not walk more than 50 ft. without experiencing the brighter, more colorful images that HDR allows. In addition, there were compelling demonstrations of how to deliver it, including Sony’s of MotoGP HDR content. Thanks to a new encoder developed by the BBC and NHK, MotoGP can distribute a single channel to a standard-dynamic-range set without the full stunning quality and to an HDR set with that quality. Couple the UHD and HDR production gear with a large number of UHD and HDR encoding and decoding gear, and the next leap in technology can be expected to make NAB 2016 a true UHD/HDR showcase.

And that brings the industry back to those debates of 2006. More than ever, there is a sense that the ability of TV channels and OTT services to fully engage with UHD and HDR will depend on what the consumer-electronics industry displays at its big confab in Las Vegas next January: UHD sets across the board need to make the move to HDR.

It was fairly clear during the five days of IBC (and at the SVG Europe Sport Production Summit a day earlier) that the industry is entering a fascinating time of possibilities with respect to capturing stunning images and delivering them to the home.

It will be a few years before over-the-air broadcast lays the foundation for UHD/HDR delivery to the home and, in that time, cable, satellite, and OTT services will step up to the task. That, in and of itself, will change the very nature of major trade shows like the NAB Show and IBC, bringing in a more diverse and less traditional audience, one that believes in changing the game.

And, by the time the game is changed, the industry will most likely find itself in a place where everything is possible from an acquisition standpoint, consumers have limitless content-consumption options, and the gates to becoming a part of the community, on either the creation side or the delivery side, are flung open for those who want to become part of the industry.

There is still plenty of work to be done with respect to standards and workflows, but, given what we have seen over the past year alone, it appears that the manufacturers and industry-standards bodies are ready to deliver solutions more quickly than ever. The end result is not only a quickening pace of change but a faster pace of developing opportunities ahead. And, as SVG has done for the past 10 years, we promise to help you capitalize on those opportunities and make the right decisions for your business and career.

Editor’s note: This column was originally published in the Fall Edition of the SVG SportsTech Journal.

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