Technology Trends I Saw at IBC 2013 (Part 2)
In Part 1, I gave a brief overview of the IBC and its current state. To continue, I would like to outline the main technological trends and the exhibits that caught my attention.
Let's start by looking at shooting and display systems first. Sony had on display XAVC-format 4K handicams and camcorders equipped with Super 35mm CMOS capable of 10-times high-speed imaging in full HD like the featured "F55." Additionally, Sony presented a system capable of extracting an HD image from footage taken from dual 4K cameras at any position and dimensions, a 4K/60p projector with high luminescence and contrast and reduced running costs, plus 56" and 30" 4K OELD picture monitors (Image 1) and 25" and 17" OELD and LCD models for master monitors.
Canon exhibited the "EOS C500" with improved performance and new features (Image 2). This new camcorder boasts increased sensitivity, making crisp color photography possible even in low-light environments, improved high color reproduction with a wider color gamut, and a 120fps high frame rate video output in 4K1K mode. In addition, Canon had on display inexpensive, compact, high-performance movie cameras that are useful in drama production recorded on CF cards in HD/SD compatible Mpeg LongG, as well as handheld cameras with 20x optical zoom, image stabilization, high sensitivity, and low noise perfect for use with event recording, education, or news coverage. A small room was set up next to Canon's booth where they demonstrated shooting in low-light conditions with the increased sensitivity I mentioned earlier. The 4K video was streamed to a 30" 4K reference monitor with faithful color reproduction, high resolution, and contrast.
Panasonic showed off its P2HD series, including AVC Ultra compatible camcorders equipped with microP2 card recording media, prototype handheld camcorders, the ultra-compact, thumb-sized HD-ready 3MOS camera, and shoulder-style AVC cameras. Of note was an ultra-wide-angle camera system that integrates four compact and light HD cameras and is well-suited for sports broadcasts with its ability to seamlessly take panorama shots at 180 degrees (64:9, 5120×720). Panasonic also unveiled the 4K Varicam prototype and 31" 4K LCD monitor boasting a wide field of view and color gamut with a full 4K, 10-bit processing IPS panel.
Ikegami Tsushinki had on display their "HDK ARRI" which, in addition to a wide dynamic range, superb sensitivity, high S/N and exceptional tone reproduction and image quality due to the Super 35mm CMOS sensor, also comes equipped with ARRI's proven PL mount lens that provides cinematic aesthetics. Also exhibited was the first appearance of the super high-sensitivity camera, the "HDL-4500." This miniature device can be used at a minimum illumination of lower than 0.001lx/F1.4 -- nearly the same as starry night conditions. The camera features both AVC and ATW, making the switch to daytime recording seamless. Video demos were displayed on 25" and 17" full HD OELD models for reference.
JVC Kenwood exhibited a 4K handheld that employs a back-illuminated 1/2" CMOS (8.3 million pixels) with a high-quality processing engine feeding into a 40" 4K monitor and a 4-set 84" multi-display. A handheld memory card camcorder with a three-panel 1/3" CMOS boasting a 23x wide zoom lens and optical image stabilization was also on display.
FOR-A had the full 4K high-speed camera "FT-one" to show off, which is capable of shooting from 60fps to 900fps and has 11-stop dynamic range and color reproduction (Image 3). A small, remotely operable control unit that records RAW data to memory at high speeds and allows immediate high-quality, slow motion video playback and real-time video calibration was also on display. Further, there was a prototype exhibit of a system that can output HD content of any area extracted from the 4K video shot by the control unit. Also at the exhibit was the latest development from world-renowned Vision Research, the "FLEX 4K" high-speed camera, which is capable of high-speed shooting at 2000fps in full HD and 1000fps in full 4K, boasts wide dynamic range and ultra-low noise, and comes equipped with the Super 35, 12-bit CMOS sensor. FOR-A also showed off the small and lightweight "Miro," which despite weighing only 1.4kg can shoot in full HD at 10-1500fps (50x speed).
In addition to the latest model of the world-acclaimed ALEXA series, "XT," ARRI also unveiled the new, one-person-operated "AMIRA." With a dynamic range of more than 14 stops, low noise levels, excellent color tones, and natural color rendering, AMIRA can shoot an image with beautiful and harmonious key tones. On display from Blackmagic was the "Production 4K Camera” with a super 35mm sensor, global shutter, EF lens mount, and built-in high-speed SSD recorder, as well as the ultra-compact "Pocket Cinema Camera" with a super 16mm sensor, 13-stop dynamic range, and full HD. Both of these cameras are making waves in the industry for combining low price with such high quality. Despite having only been established relatively recently, RED Digital Cinema has already built for itself a strong track record in the digital cinema field and received attention at IBC for their "RED Dragon" digital cinema camera equipped with a 6K sensor (about 19 million pixels) and capable of filming at 100fps.
Well-respected in the industry for their large displays, Christy provided DLP to the ceremony hall and booths of other companies. At their own booth, Christy had set up displays like a 4K projector and a Micro Tiles Multi-display. TV logic brought their 56" (QFHD) and 31" (full 4K) high-definition LCD monitors, 32" fully HD-compatible reference LCD monitors, various-sized multi-viewer displays, and the standout display at this year's IBC, a 47" 3D monitor.
Now let's take a look at the trends demonstrated at this year’s IBC in regards to editing and production systems. FOR-A exhibited a wide variety of production system equipment, such as their streamlined archive system with enhanced functionality that can manage multiple LTO tapes and allows the user to freely search and browse archived video via web browser, a recorder capable of recording up to 50 hours in broadcast quality to a single LTO tape, HD/SD compatible 2M/E-3M/E video switcher with added functionality, a video processor that can handle 10 lines of multi-channel signal despite its small size, low-cost and high-end model HD/SD-compatible frame rate converters, and a high-definition multi-view that can handle mixed 3G/HD/SD/analog/PC signals.
Recently celebrating their 40th anniversary, Quantel has announced their introduction into the 4K/8K ultra high-definition era in response to the current media landscape. Their high-end color and finishing system that runs on a PC, the Pablo Rio, now uses AJA's "Corvid Ultra" input and output system and the high-speed architecture of NVIDIA for image processing in order to support 4K/60p. 4K 60p full-resolution color grading, composition, and finishing can be processed in real time with simple operations just as before. Further, Quantel demonstrated the color grading capabilities using an 8K/24p shot scanned from film for a 65mm IMAX movie (Image 4). 8K content production has become more active as SHV broadcasting will start ahead of the schedule set to meet the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. I look forward to the development of video editing and processing systems for full-fledged 8K 60p.
GrassValley, a top brand in the world broadcasting industry, showed off a variety of solutions supporting the broadcasting business. Some of these included the "GV Director," a live production system that integrates switcher, server, graphics, and IP streaming; "GV STRATUS," a next-generation asset management system that more efficiently manages video production workflow and material management; "EDIUS," which can edit 4K video in real time thanks to its 4K processing engine; "Karrera," a medium-sized production center capable of producing 3G-SDI-compatible 1080/60p at a lower price while inheriting traditional features; the "K2 Edge," a comprehensive transmission system with multi-channel support; and the "K2 Dyno," a replay system that is used to replay sports highlights in slow motion.
On display from Blackmagic Design was a wide variety of evolutionary and cost-effective equipment. Some of the most interesting picks included an ATEM switch used for SD, HD, and 4K live productions equipped with many features, including motion graphics and DVE-compatible with 10 6G-SDI sources; the "Hyper Deck" disk recorder with a new level of increased features; a mini-converter that supports 6G-SDI with a focus on the transition to Ultra HD workflow; and the color correction "DaVinci Resolve" with new functional advancement.
Finally, there was a wealth of new encoding and transmission technology that supports the base of the digital age on display at this year's IBC. Some of the many systems on display included NTT Group's software development kit equipped with a high-performance H.265/HEVC encoding engine; a high-quality, high-performance, high-stability, low-latency, and low-bitrate H.264 HD/SDTV encoder; a high-quality, high-performance H.264/Mpeg 2 decoder supporting 10-bit4:2:2,1080/60p; a compact IP codec suited for SNG; and a real-time AVC encoding solution for VOD services.
NEC showed off their HEVC 4K Encoder with H.265 video encoding that supports QFHD, 59.94p/60p/50p input and MPEG2-TS output to a bitrate of 40Mbps, as well as an ultra-resolution server that improves the definition of news video used in the field and inter-field. Compared to HDD devices, the "On Air Max Flash" server Toshiba had at IBE is superior in terms of speed and lifespan. Toshiba also demoed their large-capacity content streaming that supports 4K HEVC and MPEG DASH using the “EXA Edge” high-speed video streaming server.
In addition to low-latency 4K and 8K codecs via JPEG2000, SMPTE 2022 Video over IP, and others, intoPix, a provider of compression technology to equipment manufacturers, caught attention with their innovative and light compression technology known as Tico, which presents visually lossless quality between 1:2 and 1:4 and indistinguishable image loss over multiple generations with a latency of only a few microseconds. Tico can be implemented easily in the ultra-compact FPGA chip, requires no external memory, is compatible with a variety of resolutions from mobile to 4K/8K, and supports 4:2:2/4:4:4. There will be significant advantages if this codec is used in cameras, video servers, displays, recording devices, and mobile devices.
Digital Rapid, a brand known to fulfill the needs of digital production and distribution environments, displayed their transcoding system manager that supports a variety of formats, including MPEG, HEVC, and 4K, and automates and increases the efficiency of workflow. They also introduced their broadcast and multi-screen transmission encoder that flexibly supports multi-format without quality loss. Digimetrics exhibited their high-speed determination processing no-reference file-based automated quality control system compatible with formats important in content delivery, such as MPEG2, H.264, and JPEG2000.
Encoding technology was a major theme of this year's IBC. Harmonic brought their HEVC encoder and U HDTV transmission system, NVIDIA brought an uncompressed 4K solution, and ATEM brought an image quality evaluation of their codecs in both QFHD and full 4K. Broadcast equipment manufacturer Harris screened a 4K video using their 4K Ready panel designed to fulfill the needs of the current trends in the industry, and Nevion announced media distribution technology that works on any network, as well as Delivery and signal processing core technology. A number of other companies such as Texas Instruments, Eyvis, Elementary Technology, Samsung, rovi, Vtec, and others also exhibited a wide variety of coding technology this year.
Video Technology Journalist (Ph.D) Takehisa Ishida