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December 13, 2021

Highlights of Our Live 8K Production Webinar

If you don’t have the one hour+ to watch the excellent webinar where Mauricio Alvarez-Mesa, CEO of Spin Digital Video Technologies GmbH, presented state-of-the-art live 8K production, here are the highlights recorded by Chris Chinnock. Note that we have a dedicated page on our website for live 8K production here, and if you change your mind the webinar is here.

  • Focus was on codecs, encoders and decoders/players for live 8K
  • Broadcast standards exist (ARIB, DVB) with others in development (SBTVB, AVS workgroup)
  • Requirements for live 8K encoding/decoding more demanding (low latency, single pass) than off-line VOD (multi-pass optimization without latency concern)
  • Be careful comparing codecs. Many tests use reference implementations, not commercially available encoders which may offer vastly different results.
  • Objective encoding quality metrics (PSNR, VMAF, etc.) are not perfect either, while subjective testing is expensive. Results are also very content dependent.
  • Any encoding bitrate savings comes at the expense of added compute complexity (time and money), so finding the right balance is key.
  • Today, HEVC is the best codec for live 8K as optimization of AV1 or VVC for live has not yet been done. It will take time for compute power to advance as well as encoding optimization with these alternative codecs.
  • The good news is that over a dozen commercial encoders are available for live 8K using HEVC. 
  • 50-80Mbps is needed today for 8K video but many households can already support that data rate with their broadband connections.
  • 8K decoders/players are mostly HEVC based but AV1 and VVC coming.
  • Decoders support TS over IP or HLS/DASH inputs.
  • Over 100 industry participants registered for the webinar with half in encoding/decoding or live/TV production. In an audience poll, 41% said they were considering an 8K live event in the near term – a surprisingly high response rate.
  • A second audience poll suggested HEVC would remain the dominant distribution encoding codec in 2024, with VVC in second place. Mauricio agreed thinking trials of VVC and AV1 could happen in 2024 as well.
  • A third poll found that both live 8K and file-based 8K content will be need to drive consumer adoption of 8K.
  • Encoding and decoding can be implemented in various combinations of hardware and software platforms. Mauricio thinks this diversity will continue based on the various needs of different platforms and applications.
  • Many manufacturers offer cinema-grade and broadcast-grade 8K cameras with many offering live 8K outputs via SDI.
  • 8K VR is another application that has similar requirements as live 2D 8K video from the encoder/decoder perspective.
  • Mauricio says most 8K distribution encoding is done on-premises near the production. Sending an 8K contribution signal to a production facility or to the cloud is more challenging as it is a higher bit rate. But the trend is in this direction so it will probably come. Plus a mezzanine codec like JPEG-XS may be helpful here.
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