We recently wrote about 4K, or Ultra HD, coming sooner than expected. Actually, the service is coming A LOT sooner as Elemental Technologies, which provides HEVC solution for delivery of 4K, works with several programmers and distributors involved with the Sochi Winter Olympics, Keith Wymbs, vp of marketing told us. The company isn’t disclosing its Olympics partners yet, but Elemental’s existing clients include Comcast, whose NBCU unit is the Winter Olympics’ official broadcast partner.
The HEVC vendor recently demonstrated encoding a 4K sports event at a bit rate of 60 frames per second in London, following its showcase of the 4K broadcast of the Osaka Marathon earlier this year with a bit rate of 30 frames. "Sportscasters simply don’t consider 4K at anything less than 50 frames per second good enough and look to higher frame rates to help mitigate blurring and judder issues," Wymbs said. Elemental has the capacity to go higher than 60 frames per second for fiber-based processing, though not necessarily in real-time today, he noted. If there were content and display devices available, the company can encode VOD at a 120 frames per second rate, he said. "Advancing beyond 60 fps for real-time compression in small footprints will require another evolution in processing chipsets," he said.
Beyond the Olympics, 4K programming tiers are expected in the 2nd half of 2014, with initial services coming from satellite TV providers and some OTT providers, Wymbs said. In addition to Netflix, which is planning 4K programming next year, Amazon Studio, Amazon’ s production unit, said on Mon that it plans to produce original series scheduled for ’14 in 4K. The company launched a 4K Ultra HDTV Guide, featuring links to its selected 4K TV models and other 4K devices. And live sports will likely drive adoption next year. At IBC 2013 in Sept , Sony and FIFA confirmed that the World Cup final will be filmed and broadcast in 4K following a successful trial at the FIFA Confederations Cup last summer. Japan accelerated its 4K broadcast timeline to coincide with the tournament, and is expected to provide the world’s 1st 4K TV broadcast in July. The US may see the 1st 4K channel launch as soon as the 1st half, Wymbs said.