The EBU Technical Assembly started in earnest yesterday, in Tromsø, northern Norway, drawing the EBU community's focus to the future of production technologies.
EBU Technical senior engineer, Frans de Jong, reports from the Assembly, which explores new developments, future production and distribution prospects, broadcast and broadband delivery, spectrum management and all major strategic issues.
What is the next step in production technology for broadcasters? That was the underlying theme of the first day of the EBU Technical Assembly in Tromsø. The answer depends on where you start from of course, and where you want to go. And although it is a risky exercise trying to predict the future, several EBU Members and invited companies were happy to share their strategic views. Three of the directions forward looked like this.
A 4k future?
It may well be that the next step after current HDTV (720p/50 or 1080i/25) will lead to 4k (TV with about 2000 lines). But that currently seems to be the route taken by the movie industry. A 4x HDTV picture obviously looks very real, but it may be overkill for the typical living room. That is one of the main reasons why many in the broadcast industry seem to see 1080p/50 as a more realistic candidate, at least in the short term. But that does not mean EBU Members are not looking ahead; research on 8k TV (4 x 4k) systems is underway, and there EBU Associate Member NHK is leading the way.
The human element
Several speakers reported on problems broadcasters are having with implementing file-based production in their facilities. This is far from just a technical issue. Human aspects, especially how to manage workflow changes for the staff, are a major challenge for broadcast organisations to address. For example, Chief Director at Danish Member DR, Christian Rohde, gave a very clear inside look at how file-based news workflows, and multi-skilling, have impacted DR's organisation, and how IT backroom support has become a key organisational entity. However, he believes dependence on computers has already reached saturation point.
Alberto Morello (RAI) and Lieven Vermaele (EBU Technical Director) presented the results and future work plans for the EBU technical community. In production, work will centre on Audio & Radio, Quality Control, Infrastructure & Storage, TV Formats & Systems, and Media Information Management. In delivery, the focus will be on collaborative terrestrial networks, spectrum management, broadband networks, television and radio services and platforms. Observing the discussions during the sessions and in the corridors, there will be more than enough to tackle in these areas. Working together and with industry partners we can achieve our objectives, and the Technical Assembly has underlined the need to do exactly that.
The presentations from the first day are available here tech.ebu.ch/ta2011 (EBU Members only).