Brazil’s TV 3.0 used Ateme’s Titan to Prove the Viability of its Live 8K Use Case
TV 3.0 by Brazil’s SBTVD Forum has already created a lot of industry buzz as a leader in adopting new broadcast/broadband technologies, including 8K. We initially covered their proposal a year ago here, then more recently here for the adoption of LCEVC. This article explores the link between VVC and 8K in our conversation with Mickaël Raulet, CTO of Ateme.
Ateme is a video compression and delivery provider. Founded in Paris in 1991, the company currently has almost 500 employees and a 2021 turnover of over 80M€ – up over 10% from the previous year. Ateme has been active in Latam for many years, and despite some complex import rules, the region represents about 15% of the French company’s turnover.
The Hottest 8K Markets
With Japan actively pushing 8K through its national broadcaster’s satellite offering since 2018, Raulet sees Brazil as the second most proactive market. This time, unlike Japan, Brazil has chosen a new encoding technology to address the 8K opportunity. Mickaël pointed out that Japan was unfortunate in timing as their 8K push was supposed to get global visibility during the 2020 games, but the pandemic saw otherwise.
Titan & VVC
VVC is the ONLY codec chosen by SBTVD, and the codec’s readiness was proven using the Titan Live distribution encoder. Titan is the product name for all of Ateme’s encoding offerings, including those for live environments.
The Commercial Requirement for 8K
As with most standards, Brazil’s TV 3.0 selection process starts with commercial requirements. Fo VVC to be accepted, it had to encode on-demand content with a 50% bandwidth reduction compared to HEVC. Titan satisfied that requirement with its commercial products.
However, for live content, commercial products are not yet ready with VVC, and the associated bandwidth reductions are not yet mandatory.
As a result, Ateme demonstrated an end-to-end UHD live streaming environment including ad-insertion with a 10% to 15% reduction from the best live HEVC currently available – and HEVC is still improving. For UHD (4K) content, this means bringing down the total bandwidth requirement from the 15 Mbps to 18 Mbps range to the 13 Mbps to 15 Mbps range. These savings are achieved at equivalent density – i.e. with the same processing power, which is impressive, bearing in mind that standard implementations of VVC can require up to ten times the encode time in an on-demand context.
VVC is the Only Way
Raulet told me that “as 8K is part of TV3.0, VVC was the only way to achieve SBTVD’s goals, in a context where physical broadcast channels are usually within the 35 to 40 Mbps range”. Raulet mused, “One day, such pipes will even carry two 8K streams.”
For Ateme’s CTO, the 8K use case is the main reason why VVC was chosen for Brazil’s TV 3.0. He noted that the Brazilian standard is based on ATSC 3.0, which uses broadcasted DASH/ROUTE with enhancement layers delivered through another network such as OTT.
VVC is Everywhere
The recent addition of VVC to the DVB toolbox (see our in-depth coverage here) in the same time frame as SBTVD’s VVC adoption is part of a global acceptance of VVC.
A critical difference between the two is that for SBTVD, VVC is the only codec of choice. SBTVD does include options for dynamic resolution encoding contributed by Harmonic and preprocessing using MPEG5 Part 2, also known as Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding (LCEVC) contributed by V-Nova. The latter is used as an enhancement layer independent of the codec – in this case, it’s still VVC.
As an alternative to the V-Nova solution, VVC also natively supports scalable encoding. An 8K video could be broken into a 4K broadcast component and an enhancement layer delivered over a broadband network. That would allow a 4K TV to receive the over-the-air 4K signal while an 8K TV could receive an 8K signal using both transport schemes.
In preparation for future articles we’re working on at the 8K Monitor, I asked Raulet about the relative power consumption at the decoding side and how that might impact rising sustainability concerns. His first reaction was that the need for new equipment has a more significant environmental impact, but when pressed, he told me that the decoding power needed for VVC vs HEVC is about 1,5 times higher with software-based solutions. We’ll investigate whether that is also the case for 8K in a follow-up to our 8K and sustainability Op-Ed. Mickaël expects the difference in decoding power to be smaller in the new hardware-based solutions hitting the market right now.