What does UHD TV really do?

Just when high definition (HD) appeared to set the bar for broadcast quality, Ultra High Definition (UHD) displays began to hit the market. Marketed as “4K” because of its almost 4,000-pixel-wide image, UHD offers much higher resolution than HD. The format is making rapid inroads, but what does the emergence of UHD really mean for the consumer?

As the camera and smartphone market have proved, consumers are hungry for better image quality. UHD responds to this demand by offering eight megapixels to HD’s two. For this higher resolution to shine, though, higher contrast and a wider range of colour (known as gamut) are necessary. UHD standards in development address these factors, as well as the use of higher frame rates, the latest immersive audio formats, and 3D.

The media industry faces enormous challenges in supplying UHD content to consumers. While a similar 4K format is already available for cinema, groups such as the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) are working overtime to identify the infrastructure and standards needed to bring this technology to the consumer at home. A recent SMPTE report (www.smpte.org/uhd) defines the work required to deliver UHD experience in a way that takes full advantage of the technology.

Next-generation broadcast technologies such as UHD require rapid evolution of infrastructure and a shift towards IT architectures. SMPTE offers education designed to advance the industry in managing issues such as the shift to IP-based handling of media. The SMPTE Regional Seminar on this comes to London on February 11 and to Salford on Feburary 12. Complete details are at www.smpte.org/seminars.


Richard Welsh is SMPTE international governor and CEO at Sundog Media Toolkit
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