The continued spur in 4K TV manufacturing and sales is slowly but surely leading up to increased consumer demand for 4K media. However, content creators have yet to adopt it. There are significant challenges that affect every step in the media production workflow from ingestion to post-production. Delivery is especially burdened in getting content to broadcasters and to consumers because of the larger file sizes.
ATSC 3.0, the next gen broadcast transmission, is going to change everything. Broadcasters will be able to reliably deliver 4K content to consumers while also providing targeted advertising. It has been live for more than month now. If there ever was a time to be 4K ready, now’s the time to start.
What makes 4K so difficult to work with?
Simply, it’s the sheer size of the digital files. They’re factors bigger than what content creators are used to working with. It is 4 times the resolution of a 1080p display, and about 23 times the resolution of SD television. Since the resolution is higher, the file sizes are also much bigger.
You can literally see the difference here:
Post-production challenges of 4K content
Consumers are becoming more attracted towards the modern and advance technologies which in turn, has resulted in the rise in the demand for 4K services. Whether it is cinema or at home.
For a post production industry that suddenly has to manipulate and process images 70x what they were a scant couple of decades ago, the problems that the forthcoming massive leap in resolution about to engulf us brings are probably greater than most. As they always have to consider upgrading the services as per the demand of the market. The challenges faced by them are listed below:
- More work to clean up shots – Problems caused by 4K which is 4 times sharper than HD are beginning to shop up with 4K team force, affected actors, casting directors, make-up artists, directors of photography and lighting directors. With 4K every detail like every wrinkle, every ounce of makeup and shadow is clearly visible, more so than with panoramic film. This has created more work and rules for everyone so that every detail is clear and perfect.
- Computing Power & speed issues – With 4k extra time is required for processing as the footage takes wise as long to read, view and render. One also needs to makes sure if your double, triple, or quadruple the shot, you need to check it before it is render. Otherwise you need to redo the job till it’s perfect. 4K footage requires much more computer power to edit and render. 4K is still very expensive. So astronomical, that outside of a few high-end private post-production/screening facilities, there isn’t any place you can actually see 4K resolution onscreen.
- Storage – With 4K, in every frame there is a lot of data, and the performance needs of your infrastructure are higher. This makes it important that you have the right storage ready to support your workflow. Storing all of this extra data on expensive fast storage can be cost-prohibitive.
- Camera equipment cost upgrades – Post facilities always have to decide whether to spend money on upgrading to accommodate new “standards” – in which case they’ll be more expensive to use, or to stay with the current tech and charge less. I would guess that a large part of the business skill in running a successful post house is managing this balance.
4K video has continued to become more and more prevalent in cinematography. And camera being the prerequisite of the process, in order to manage rapid growth in resolution of the footage one needs to invest in correct camera equipments. Cameras and sensors used to capture content have to support very high frame rates, while image file formats must be suited to processing and integration into post-production workflows. These images can generate huge amounts of data which needs to be accessed, manipulated and stored, in real time. There are also costly 4K upgrades for broadcasters to consider in order to handle live broadcasts in 4K—encoding, switching, and other hardware.
Delivery challenges of 4K content
- Getting content to partners and broadcasters – As the 4K content comprises of higher resolution, streaming/ delivering the content requires gobs of bandwidth. As companies still reply on the oldest method of content delivery i.e. FTP, which is really on a reliable and efficient solution in order to manage and deliver the content. As this method had couple of drawbacks we build our content delivery service eSecureSend in order to streamline the content delivery workflow. With eSS you can easily deliver your 4K data reliably, accurately and securely. It is a boon to companies who would like to deliver their data to its partners & broadcasters or vice versa.
- Broadcast bandwidth requirement – One of the specific challenges facing the video broadcasting world is to deliver high-quality video content in 4K from point A to B at significant distances. As the transmission bandwidth of a certain link is fixed, say cable or cellular network, it is required to push more and better quality video data to consumption devices like TV, tablet and smartphones. While full HD demands less than 5 Gbit/s, 4K requirements jump to 10 Gbit/s, as 4K video is delivered uncompressed to ensure high picture quality with very low latency. That means that traditional cabling options are not capable of delivering 4K signals over distances of more than a meter, an unrealistic proposition in most commercial projects and some consumer applications.
- Because of ATSC 3.0, these challenges are overcome and Fiber optic cables are increasingly being laid across the country –Know more
Finally, making the transformation to 4K technology will raise questions about technology capabilities, workflow considerations and where the industry is headed in the future. Adopting 4K production capability can be done in stages to minimize the impact to already existing HD production workflows, develop familiarity and best practices, and ultimately scale to meet the largest needs and future challenges of 4K production and beyond.
If delivery issues are overcome with accelerated file transfer services like eSecureSend and next gen transmission standards such as ATSC 3.0, what’s holding content creators from upgrading to 4K today?
Why the Cloud gives you flexibility in solving 4K challenges
The Cloud gives us tremendous capabilities and efficiencies that are like nothing we have seen before.Government, businesses, academic and all other organizations which embrace cloud technology are achieving competitive advantages from the better utilization of IT resources and faster service for their customers. Most of the challenges faced by adopting 4K technology are solved through cloud.
- Flexibility to scale and pay for what you need as you use it – Cloud service can save companies costs on hardware,software and maintenance. Users can purchase the ability to access and use the application or service which is hosted on the cloud. Hence there is a flexibility for them to pay only for the amount time they have used the service.
- Integrate with services that take the burden of upgrading equipment – Cloud service enables companies to deliver applications more efficiently by removing the complexities involved with the managing their own infrastructure. It enables fast deployment of applications and improves the agility of the IT services by instantly adding computing processing power and storage capacity when needed.
Vendors and integration platforms with proven track records which are providing cost-effective, reliable and simple delivery of 4K, a future-proof format for the delivery of ultra-high definition can help you to avoid all the pitfalls. Such partnerships can help you adapt to the latest 4K technology and would prove to be a painless affair.
When the telecommunications industry moved from a circuit-switched model to a packet-switched model 30 years ago, it was absolutely revolutionary. It paved the way for the telcos to become what they are today — they moved away from a capital-intensive, technology-focused business model to a more user-focused, service-centric business model. Television broadcasters are doing something similar right now with ATSC 3.0.
ATSC has geo targeting and personalization. It has interactivity. It has a targeted multicast function that is, theoretically, supposed to be for emergency uses such as 911 services. With ATSC 3.0 standard the Consumer Technology Association, is expected to drive sales of 4K TVs whose higher-resolution pictures can be delivered by the new standard, and give broadcasters a competitive foothold in the interactive, targeted advertising, IP world.
Content creators are beginning to respond with new content that takes advantage of all the new features UHD TV sets have to offer and they’re moving fast too. So the impasse is starting to look more like a virtuous cycle with content availability driving interest in upgrades from last-generation flat panels and premium display features showing-off just how great that content can look.