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Globo Makes 8K Olympics Content Available VOD

During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Globo, the largest mass media group in Latin America in partnership with Intel and Bitmovin, streamed 8K content to its subscribers as an experiment. Apparently, the experiment was a success as Globo is now making this content continuously available VOD in 8K resolution. Subscribers can now see an icon in their user interface that streams the 8K content to an 8K TV.

In previous articles we provided great detail on the Intel 8K live workflow and the demonstration it put on at the Skirball Center in LA (Intel Supports Live 8K Stream for 2020 Olympics). We also described what Globo did to support its customer base during the Olympics (Globo Streams 8K Olympics Content to Users). Now, we have been able to speak with Stefan Lederer, Co-Founder and CEO of Bitmovin to learn more about the encoding process used to support Globo’s 8K streaming effort.

Stefan Lederer, CEO of Bitmovin

Lederer explained that the encoding is done on a cloud-based platform which offers the processing power necessary to efficiently encode the 8K content for distribution to 8K TVs. Content was delivered from Intel in Japan in an HLG high-bit-rate contribution format. Bitmovin then created an 8K/60p HEVC encode including the bit-rate ladder versions and packaging in DASH and HLS formats.

“This was a multi-pass encode so not yet suitable for live 8K encoding, but we are working on that,” explained Lederer. “We typically do three passes through the video and use machine learning and AI to analyze the video on a scene-by-scene basis. This helps to determine the parameter sets that will optimize the quality and the bit rate simultaneously.”

“It is not really a constant quality setting as some encoders offer,” continued Lederer. “Such encodes can indeed create good constant quality but then the bit rate can vary widely, which can cause issues with some decoders.”

Lederer said they are also working on VVC encoding which should eventually be able to offer a 50% bit rate reduction compared to an HEVC encode at comparable quality. This advantage will come as the cost of additional compute complexity – something all industry players are working hard to reduce. “We believe VVC will come, but we also need to have hardware-based decoders in products before it makes sense to start encoding in VVC. I am sure the chip set companies are working on this now but it will take time to get into products and build a critical mass.”

AV1 in another codec that is for 8K encoding and distribution but its roll out of hardware decoders is well ahead of VVC.

Lederer said that they have encoding platforms for AV1 and VVC now and some customers are trying them out. 

Bitmovin‘s headquarters is in San Francisco, California with domestic offices in Denver and New York; and internationally in Vienna, Klagenfurt, London, Hong Kong, and Sao Paulo. The company has over 400 customers across the globe including BBC, ClassPass, DAZN, discovery+, fuboTV, Globo, and Hulu Japan.