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5 Technology Innovations in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

5 Technology Innovations in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup has always been the center of introducing new technologies when it comes to sports broadcasting. For example, 2014 saw technologies like vanishing spray, goal-line technology, and mind-controlled robotic suit in action.

As 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off, we look at the five technology innovations that will be used for the first time in the most significant soccer competition of the world.

1. Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

With the International Football Association Board approving VAR in March 2018, Russia is witnessing the first World Cup using video technology as an additional tool for referees. FIFA has deployed VAR at all the matches, where a dedicated team with a lead VAR and three assistant VARs is located at the Moscow International Broadcast Centre.

According to FIFA, VAR is used as an additional tool to “correct clear and obvious errors and missed incidents in clearly defined match-changing decisions.” 33 broadcast cameras and two dedicated offside cameras are transmitting feeds directly to the VOR using optical fiber – eight of which are in super-slow motion and four in ultra-slow motion. VARs can also speak to the referees on the ground using a fiber-based radio system.

2. Electronic Performance and Tracking System (EPTS)

In 2018 World Cup, the coaches of all the 32 playing teams have access to a tablet-based system to track the statistics and real-time video footage of the players. Based on wearable technology, EPTS is a camera-based system that captures data via two optical tracking cameras on the main stand and selected tactical cameras.

EPTS is considered as the second significant innovation for FIFA after VAR. Each team has three tablets – one each for the analyst on the bench, in the stand, and the medical team. The system will also provide statistics around player positioning, passing, speed, and tackles, and match footages with a maximum of 30-seconds delay.

3. Adidas Telstar Ball

For the first time in the history of FIFA, Adidas, the official manufacturer of the World Cup match ball since 1970, has introduced NFC chip in the ball. Telstar 18 – the ball used for World Cup 2018, includes a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip apart from a new carcass and panel design. The chip allows the ball to communicate with a smartphone. Adidas claims that the new model will dramatically improve the performance durability of the ball.

4. Virtual Reality (VR) and 4K UHD Video

4K UHD videos that were tested in 2014 Brazil World Cup is made available to the broadcasters in 2018 Russia World Cup. BBC has confirmed that 4K streams of the match are available on BBC iPlayer on a first-come-first-served basis.

BBC has also made a VR feed available via its VR application to give the viewers a feeling of watching the match from a private box at the stadium.

5. 5G Services

Though yet to be available commercially, the 2018 World Cup is a testing ground for the 5G services for the network providers. Ericsson and MTS have confirmed to install 5G-capable radio equipment covering cover fan zones, stadiums, transportation hubs, and famous landmarks across more than 40 sites in seven of the 11 host cities.

Additionally, Megafon and TMS – the official communications partner, is holding trials of the 5G network across cities during the event.

While the players play on the ground, sports broadcasters are busy competing for innovations off the field to make the experience more real-time and competition more transparent. But for now, enjoy the game!

 

What will 2018 hold for media broadcasters?

What will 2018 hold for media broadcasters?

2018 will see broadcasters streamline their content, technology, and operations for a new segment of customers who consume content on-demand. Driven by the changing content consumption, we foresee media organizations looking at following:

Dawn of the OTT Era

Industry reports reveal that an average Indian consumes 8.5 hours of video content every month on Facebook and YouTube, which accounts for 47 percent and 42 percent of market share. Add the popularity of Over the Top (OTT) platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Jio TV, and VOOT to that, and you’d realize that the way Indians consume digital content has changed over the years.

In India, the popularity can be attributed to access to faster and cheaper internet, affordable smartphones, and the wide range of content on offer. With over 460 million internet users, India is the second largest online market[1] whose smartphone penetration rate is expected to reach more than 28 percent by 2018.

While some broadcasters have already launched their platform like Ozee, others will pick this trend in 2018 and look at launching their platforms. Some may also look to optimize and produce their content on commercially successful OTT operators. Broadcasters will be seen investing in tools and technology to prepare their content and distribute it to CDNs.

Solving the Content Conundrum

OTT has changed the way content is created and consumed. As viewers consume content anytime, anywhere, and on any device, the demand for short-form, high quality ‘snackable’ content has been on the rise. Citizen journalism is gaining momentum, with viewers recording events and posting live on social media for the global audience.

Original, consistent, and addictive content is on demand. With players like Apple planning to invest over $1 billion in original content and Facebook spending a chunk of its marketing budget on content, fresh content production depending on current affairs, mood, and preference of the viewers is on the rise.

However, creating fresh consumable content is only one side of the story. To retain subscribers and provide a shared experience across devices, OTT providers also need to recreate the legacy content with proper archiving, metadata and tagging, and digitization. For this, broadcasters will need to dig into their archives to sort, organize, digitize, restore and optimize legacy content to enable easy search, access, and distribution of content across channels.

Embracing Virtualization

Newer digital broadcast avenues like OTT are creating pressure on traditional broadcasters to lower their Broadcast Operations and Engineering (BO&E) budgets. A survey by Devoncroft reveals that more than 40% M&E vendors have products that operate in a virtualized environment. While it is debatable if ‘virtualization’ refers to only IT infrastructure or the entire content supply chain, the fact is – new, small, and medium-sized broadcasters are gradually migrating their infrastructure to cloud-based solutions.

Moving to IP comes with the benefits of using a standardized connectivity and infrastructure to transport videos from locations to the central facilities and on to distribution. Therefore, broadcasters will continue digital transformation keeping content at the center of business to achieve faster time-to-market, scalability, and agility at a lower TCO.

Enhanced User Experience with 4K, HD Formats

A 2016-report by Chrome Data Analytics and Media[2] reveals that 8.34 million households in India have HD televisions, of which 89 percent have DTH HD connection and 11 percent have digital cable HD connection. However, only 9 percent or 91 channels out of 857 permitted private satellite television stations and more than 190 government channels in India are High Definitions (HD).

With the market share of OLEDs, 3D and 4K television increasing every day, viewers often forget to ask – does India have enough 4K and 3D channels? Wikipedia lists only five 4K channels and one 3D channel.

To address the change in viewership, media organizations will continue to upgrade their technical infrastructure to broadcast in HD or beyond (4K). With 2019 General Elections in sight, it is expected that news broadcasters will upgrade their technology, investing in workflows and solutions for presentation and analysis of election results in high definition.

To summarize, 2018 and 2019 will be the year of digital transformation and adoption of technology focusing on improving the viewer experience.

6 Key Broadcast Industry Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

6 Key Broadcast Industry Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

With seemingly disparate events like mobile operators providing seamless unlimited data access to its consumers, entertainment shifting from television to video on demand, and web series gaining popularity over traditional content – 2016 witnessed some major shifts in the broadcast and media industry.

A sudden increase in the popularity of streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix and the younger generation’s was observed, leading to movement of TV audience to digital platform.

Let’s take a look at the key trends to watch out for in 2017 that would aid this lateral shift.

  1. Big Data Analytics for Viewer Insights

Big data analytics will help broadcasters analyze viewer preference and develop content accordingly. By accessing the large amount of data sets already in store, organizations can perform behavioral analytics of the views to understand the nature of content consumption and deliver accordingly.

Organizations will increasingly use big data analytics to build 360-degree audience profiles based on geographic, demographic, economic and psychographic attributes to understand various touch points and have better insights, thereby improving the entertainment experience for the end user.

Big data analytics will not only help broadcasters develop appropriate content, it will also change the advertising principles in the industry. By measuring ‘binge watching content’ more accurately using data analytics, companies can help advertisers package the right kind of experience to cater to different types of binge viewers.

  1. Virtual Reality Gets Mainstream

The recent announcement of Netflix to bring its programming to the VR realm, the popularity of Waze and PokemonGo are just the start. A report from Manatt Digital Media[1] projects that revenue from augmented reality and virtual reality will reach $150 billion by 2020. Going by the trend, in 2017, virtual or augmented reality will continue to reshape the face of the broadcast industry. By fostering shared moments and creating a shared space where people can share experience, virtual reality will gain momentum.

With programs like Proto-nominee Convrge that allow people to gather and watch YouTube videos together already in place, the broadcast industry will push this idea further to include streaming sites. While some genre of stories like science-fictions and fantasy are more suited for virtual reality that sitcoms and dramas, the industry is set to experiment more with different genres and take virtual reality to a new level.

  1. Increased Adoption of Over-the-top (OTT) Content

Industry reports[2] predict that by 2021, video will account for 70% of the mobile traffic. Forrester[3] forecasts that by 2025, 50% adults under the age of 32 will not pay for TV. Today, if we look around, the prediction seems believable. With viewers increasingly consuming content across devices anytime and anywhere, OTT seems the next big trend in the coming years.

More and more E&M companies are selling their content to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. With the streaming services gaining access to new originals as well as libraries of television shows and movies, OTT services are gaining a firmer grasp on the end-user relationship with their advertising free environments.

  1. Create Viewer-centric Content

As the broadcast industry opens up to more delivery options and devices, the packaging and distribution of the content will change significantly. With the viewers empowered to choose the content they want to consume, content curators need to find innovative ways to monetize content that not only attract eyeballs but create repeat viewers.

Creators will continue to move beyond traditional distribution channels and studios to create and retain consumers who are united by shared interests, ideas and experiences. Content creators/ curators will be more receptive of the likes and dislikes of viewers and create and distribute content to suit their needs and preferences, which will create loyal fans that are less likely to churn and have more spending capacity.

  1. Ultra HD/4K Production

2016 saw Netflix leading the 4K streaming with films like Ghostbusters and shows like Breaking Bad and the Blacklist. Amazon has also entered the league with its popular shows like Mad Dogs, Transparent, and Man in the High castle.  However, content selection now is limited with criteria for subscribers to access the content.

In 2017, Netflix and other streaming data broadcasters will continue to film or upgrade their new content in the 4K format. Content curators will create more 4K content and expects TV watchers make the jump to the higher-resolution standard.

  1. Internet of Things Gets Real

The broadcast industry is increasingly opening up to Internet of Things and beginning to see the benefits of connected broadcasting. Imagine your favorite program pausing by itself as your doorbell rings or you leave the room. Or taking cues from the surrounding like lighting and time of the day to choose program automatically based on your mood.

The future of IoT for broadcast industry looks promising. 2017 will see more crowdsourced and real-time content being generated, giving broadcasters more chance to know the audience and improve the viewing experience with more engaging and interactive programs.

Sources:

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/3052209/tech-forecast/vr-and-augmented-reality-will-soon-be-worth-150-billion-here-are-the-major-pla

[2] http://www.digitaltveurope.net/547432/ericsson-viewing-is-shifting-from-tv-as-mobile-video-soars/

[3] http://blogs.forrester.com/james_mcquivey/15-10-07-by_2025_50_of_adults_under_age_32_will_not_pay_for_tv

Film Restoration: From Pix to Pixels, Celebrating the Yesteryears in Reels

Film Restoration: From Pix to Pixels, Celebrating the Yesteryears in Reels

As King of Jazz (1930) made its world premiere last month at Universal Pictures: Restorations and Rediscoveries, film enthusiasts were introduced to a genre of films which they thought are lost in time. The event, which celebrated lesser known European works like Broadway (1929) and the Kiss before the Mirror (1933), highlighted the effort production houses are putting to bring Technicolor back to theaters in a new form.

Film curators all over the world are celebrating the yesteryear’s in reels. The recently held San Francisco Silent Film Festival (June 2- 5, 2016) brought five such gems from the silent era into life. Rob Byrne, board president of the Film Festival was quoted saying that he grew up watching Chaplin’s silent films like Modern Times (1936) and City Lights (1931) and wanted to bring them back to the theaters for a larger audience.

Film restoration is more of an archaeological expedition for curators. While finding an old film is like a treasure hunt, the effort that goes behind bringing back the movies to life is overwhelming. Byrne says that sometimes the curators need to go through exhibitor publications to understand the exhaustive details before reconstructing the missing shots.

The amount of effort that has already been put in film restoration is notable. From global film production houses to mid-size restoration agencies, the major players are putting all their efforts to digitally restore old classics – some even in 4K. And what makes the restoration effort noteworthy is some of these films have never even been released on DVD, leave alone Blu-ray.

Film curators hope that the digital restoration will introduce the old works to new eyes, apart from bringing back old favorites to life. From Kurosawa to Chaplin, old classics that were almost once lost has been digitally restored – some even in 4K. The list is varied – from classics of world cinema like The Third Man (1949), The Bicycle Thief (1948), and Notorious (1946) to cult hits like Dracula and Frankenstein. What makes the list more interesting is many among these have never been released for home viewing.

While some classics in the first half of the 20th century – the era of silent movies has been lost forever, curators are experimenting with classics that can be restored. Notable among the effort is John D. Lowry, a Canadian film restoration expert who developed his own technique called the Lowry Process to restore films. The technique reduces visual noise in motion pictures like dirt scratches and flicker, sharpening the quality of existing images, before making it possible to restore the complete film.

Lowry has restored more than five hundred classic films using this process, which includes some popular classics like Sunset Boulevard (1950), Casablanca (1942), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom(1984), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1965), and James Bond Film franchise to name a few.

Taking Lowry Process further, production houses has restored Hollywood classics like the original Star Wars trilogy, North by Northwest (1959) and Gone with the Wind (1939).

To cater to the diverse formats in which millennials consume content, curators are now restoring movies from celluloid to 4K digital where each frame is digitally polished to remove noise, colors and contrast are enhanced so that the film looks as good as new. For example, the Warner Bros Motion Pictures restored Citizen Kane (1941), which was recently premiered at the 68th Cannes Film Festival.

Who said you can’t relive yesteryear’s?

 

Watching the 70’s Top of the Chart Movies on a 4K OLED Television

Watching the 70’s Top of the Chart Movies on a 4K OLED Television

Watch your yesteryears come to life!

How would you feel if on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the great white shark from the Jaws (1975) suddenly comes to life in your living room? Or, if you could trade a session of Star Wars on PS4 with your child for the movie?
The movies we grew up on, which made us believe in another world from another time and space are threatened. Yes, just like the genetically engineered dinosaurs that we flock to watch in theaters, our next generation would perhaps never know the excitement of watching Star Wars on screen. To them, perhaps Star Wars would be synonymous to a game you play on the play station.

How would you feel if you can gift your childhood to your child?
With the age of digitization, it is possible. As film historians struggle to save a century of history, they believe that the current state of film restoration in high quality and clarity of 4K resolution is setting a new aesthetic standard.

The rise of digital restoration has been recent. Lee Kline, technical director for The Criterion Collection , says, “We can finally call these restorations. That’s because 4K digital scanning of source material, preferably but not always old film negatives, comes close to the same image quality as traditional 35-millimeter film prints. And it is twice that of the previous (and still prevalent) high standard for digital restorations, 2K.”
Interestingly, digital archiving comes at a time when people are willing to consume good content – be it old films or videos across devices, and are ready to pay for the experience.
4K Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) television gives the viewers that experience. With a resolution of around 8,294,400 pixels or 4K progressive, 4K OLED TVs accurately render colors and provides super sharp images that almost border on life like.

So while film historians restore and preserve the digital assets from various factors like moisture, heat, and natural calamities, go ahead, grab a tub of popcorn and watch your childhood come alive in a 4K OLED television.
You can thank the digital asset managers later!