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SMPTE Launches UK UHD Ecosystem Seminars

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SMPTE Section Seminars are regarded by the media technology industry worldwide as valuable educational opportunities to gain highly practical knowledge in a single day, which you can implement straightaway. By Richard Welsh, SMPTE Governor for EMEA and Central & South America Region and CEO at Sundog Media Toolkit.

The topic of the 2015 seminar series is 'Navigating the Ultra High Definition (UHD) Ecosystem' and will be hosted for the first time by the SMPTE UK Section.

The first seminar takes place on Monday 9 February at EEF's Broadway House in London. For those in the Manchester cluster, this seminar will be held at BBC MediaCity Quay House in Salford on Wednesday 11 February. The Salford seminar is sponsored locally by the BBC Academy and is offered free to SMPTE members.

The SMPTE UK Section was re-established in 2012 and has seen a high degree of interest and support from across the creative, manufacturing, and service companies in the UK's thriving media landscape. Widespread support for the Section and its work is evident with rapidly increasing membership from all parts of the industries; this has allowed the SMPTE UK Section to grow from 100 members to 400 members at the close of 2014. Having the great support of the BBC Academy for the third year running, the Section Seminar in Salford is yet another testament to the UK Section's success.

The seminar will touch on the potential impact of new and emerging UHD standards – from SMPTE and other organisations.

Attendees will learn about UHD related technology and the impact it is beginning to have on the professional content creation facility. Experts will lead this daylong interactive experience designed to give participants an overview of today's vision of the UHD ecosystem, the ways implementation will affect both the broadcasting and cinema industries, as well as the potential impact on viewer engagement.

The formal session will begin by describing the landscape of UHD – the basic definitions, challenges that must be overcome, the areas in which standardisation work is under way and how UHD will impact motion imaging content creation in the future. Addressing the critically important subject of the viewer experience, the discussion will include associated parameters such as bit depth, higher frame rates (HFR), colour gamut, pixel density, high dynamic range (HDR), and peak brightness.

While audio is often overlooked, UHD is capable of supporting immersive sound formats to fully convey the artistic intent to the audience. Techniques such as object-based audio as well as supporting traditional multichannel sound will be addressed.

As some of these formats will see entry into consumer market in 2015, it will be essential for those handling UHD to understand the impact of next-generation audio.

The High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) compression standard is gaining traction as it develops. It is considered by some to be essential to the practical distribution of UHD. This is the case for both over-the-air (OTA) as well as over internet protocol (IP) networks. The features and methodologies used by HEVC compression will also be explained, including how it can manage greater volume of data and how HFR and static resolution may require more efficient coding that can result in a lower bit rate.   
Having defined the ways in which UHD content is being delivered to the viewer – the wide scope of production systems necessary will be discussed in terms of content distribution. Similarly to distribution, the challenge for production/post is dealing with the very large files that a UHD source generates. The discussion will focus on how mezzanine compression is currently used to reduce the impact on existing infrastructure and the improvements that are necessary in the production workflow. UHD interface standards and the need for faster and increased storage capacity will be explored.

Finally, the seminar will address how this UHD related technology might be shaped into workflows that deliver quality imaging and audio to the creators and distributors in a way that is cost effective. A case study on practical experience in live UHD production will be examined, utilising the reference architecture from camera to post-production to storage and archive found in a recent SMPTE Study Group Report.

The seminar concludes by examining exploring the possible timescales for solving the implementation challenges, the rollout to different parts of our industries, and discussing the strategies that may be implemented worldwide.

SMPTE Sections Seminars are presented in a friendly collaborative atmosphere – with the experts and leaders of our industries. The seminar is a must-attend for engineers and technicians that will deploy and use UHD systems, as well as those involved with content creation, distribution, and deliveries. Professionals with an interest in UHD technology such as editors, manufacturers, and equipment suppliers will benefit as well. Space for each seminar is limited.

The article is also available via BFV online.

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