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4K For Broadcast - Why is everyone talking about Ultra HD?

Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:00 AM


There has been a lot of talk about 4K for broadcast - Ultra HD - since NAB, and more again at IBC. With the disillusionment of the 3D craze of previous years, which seems to have rapidly fizzled out to a whisper, it’s hard to know if this 4K malarkey really is the future of broadcast or just the next marketing tool for technology manufacturers. We’ve also seen the relatively slow adoption of HD to our TV screens, with still very few channels actually broadcasting the no-longer-new format. So what are the drivers of Ultra HD? We’re glad you asked.

What are the drivers of Ultra HD? 

Audience - The most obvious thing, which was apparent at NAB this year, is having a screen to watch it on. Adoption of a new broadcast format depends on audience demand. While we are quickly becoming familiar with 4K on cinema screens, the transition of this vast resolution to the living-room, seems a big step.

Sony, however, appears to disagree. And after seeing their consumer 4K TV’s on display at NAB this year, so do many others. Described as ‘looking through a window’ – a totally immersive experience – the screens are not cheap, but could well be the next step in home-entertainment.

So how long until we're all upgrading our HD-ready telly’s to 4K-ready ones? Well, we might not need to. Times are changing. The way we consume media is changing, and many of us already own a device capable of showing higher-than-HD resolution. It may not be traditional broadcast, but it certainly provides a way for audiences to receive high-resolution content. (If I haven't made it completely obvious, I’m talking about tablets and computers here).

So, technically, as an audience, we’re ready. Now, what else do we need...

Michael Byrne is Technical Manager at WTS Broadcast 

Coming soon: How to Prepare for 4K Broadcasting

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