Live 8K Still Needs More Development
While some parts of the live 8K ecosystem are well developed, like 8K cameras, what is still missing is “the glue and infrastructure to create a proper multi-8K-camera live production,” notes James Poole, Chief Operating Officer at Televideo. “However, we expect this need to be addressed in the coming year with announcements at NAB and IBC.”
Televideo is one of the larger broadcast service providers in the UK with several Outside Broadcast (OB) Vans, TV studios, graphics designers, and more to support the live production of sports, events, and performing arts. According to Poole, Televideo just specified a new OB Van centered around the ATEM Constellation switcher from Blackmagicdesign. The switcher has 40 12G SDI input ports and 24 12G output ports that can enable production at HD, 4K or 8K, depending on the need.
“We chose this switcher for this great flexibility,” says Poole. “While we don’t have a lot of pull for 8K events right now, this switcher can support the need if called for.”
For example, the switcher can support up to ten 8K signals using four 12G SDI ports on the input. If lower-resolution cameras or playback devices are used, the switcher can upscale them to deliver an 8k production signal on the output ports.
“We are seeing the popularity of large sensor, cinema-grade cameras being used in live productions grow and grow. It is basically a requirement now to be able to support these workflows – and this includes 8K resolution cameras,” continued Poole. “But we want to be able to support experimental multi-8K-camera productions as well, which is where it can get a bit tricky today.”
One of the main concerns for Poole with an 8K production is storage. You currently need vast amounts of local or network storage to stream 8K recordings, which significantly adds to the cost. Poole says they are looking at compression solutions like JPEG-XS, but he is not sure there are enough supporting devices, like storage and playback devices, that can robustly support 8K. This, plus support for high frame rate and instant replay, are issues he hopes the industry can address in the coming years. Such solutions must also work with minimal delay, which is currently hard to achieve within the confines of a mobile production truck.
“I think 8K can add value in live productions, especially from an experiential point of view, as it is so immersive as a viewing experience, but there will be a learning curve for how best to utilize it, especially for Directors. It may be similar to how we needed to adjust to shooting live 3D some ten years ago, but I think we will get there at some point.”