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UHD to the Home – Ultra HD over the Internet

As part of its presence at the Commonwealth Games, BBC Research & Development currently has a number of ultra high definition (UHD) television screens at both the Science Centre in Glasgow and New Broadcasting House in London showing live coverage of the games. These screens are open to the public for the duration of the Commonwealth Games and free to view for visitors between 10am and 5pm in Glasgow and 12 midday to 3.30pm in London.

The pictures and sound for these screens is being delivered over the internet – from capture, through the full production chain, and finally to decoders and displays in the demonstration areas. This entire process normally requires very specialised and expensive television broadcast equipment but in this case it is all being handled using normal IP networks and commercially available computing equipment. Below you can see a short video produced by R&D engineer Alia Sheikh which explains the work the department has been engaged with in this area and the reasons why BBC R&D thinks IP delivery is the future for TV delivery.

For the Commonwealth Games BBC R&D’s IP TV delivery infrastructure is spread over a number of different locations to demonstrate the flexibility that an IP based production system brings. While pictures and sound are being captured in the venues, the audio gallery providing the commentary is in London and the television production gallery is located in Glasgow. Below you can see how our IP based end to end infrastructure is spread across the UK to deliver UHD TV to our public demonstration areas.

While delivery of television by IP is on the increase, a lot of people still receive their television using traditional transmitters and receivers and will do so for some time to come. Not all of the UK has reliable high speed internet connections so alongside IP delivery, the department is also demonstrating the transmission of UHD content over the existing Digital Television Transmission (DTT) network. BBC R&D are working with the rest of the broadcasting industry to ensure that the standards exist to distribute UHD content to as many people as possible no matter the delivery method.

Motion Blur – The Challenges of UHD

Beyond the challenges of delivering UHD content to people’s homes there’s also the issue of how to get it working properly once it gets there. One challenge is that with higher visual definitions motion blur becomes more of a problem for video images, especially with fast moving subjects like the athletes at the Commonwealth Games.

One solution is to increase the frame rate of the television (the rate at which the image on screen is refreshed) from 50fps to 100fps. To sharpen motion, you can also shorten the camera shutter speed, but at conventional frame rates this leads to judder. A frame rate of 100 fps enables the eye to fuse motion in a realistic manner, even with a short shutter opening and is also high enough to avoid visible flicker. BBC R&D is involved in ongoing discussions with other European broadcasters to create standards for UHD frame rates. The image below shows a comparison of shutter speeds of 1/100 and 1/300 of a second.

Exciting New Opportunities

Along with the technical challenges IP-delivered UHD TV presents to the engineers at BBC R&D, it also provides a host of new production and editorial opportunities. One major advantage of building an IP based system is how configurable it is.

A television studio is a collection of very specialised pieces of equipment, very often with only one purpose each – a vision mixing desk for example or a preview monitor. Moving from a hardware to a software based system means that devices can be reconfigured to the needs of different production teams quickly and at little expense. The gallery production equipment in R&D’s experimental IP based television production gallery uses consumer computing hardware so a tablet can be a production schedule one day and a sound mixing desk the next. Or both. This reconfigurable nature of IP based production drastically reduces cost and increases working flexibility.

The BBC has always delivered high quality crafted television, first in black and white, then colour, using both analogue then digital delivery methods and most recently moving from standard definition to HD. UHD TV and IP based production are another evolution of the art form that provides the organisation with yet more exciting opportunities to make the best television we can and deliver it to audiences in increasingly cost effective ways. BBC Research & Development’s work ensures that when the UK is ready to switch to UHD, the BBC will be as well.

To take a look behind the scenes at a working IP television production gallery please visit us at the Glasgow Science Centre between 10am & 5pm for the duration of the Commonwealth Games. You can also watch live UHD coverage of the Commonwealth Games delivered both over IP and using digital television transmitters. Finally you can get hands on with some of the exciting new experiences that UHD video and IP delivered TV make possible including a chance to look around a 3D live video of the Hydro Stadium using the Oculus Rift headset.

 

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HD over IP – Cablesson HDelity HDMI over IP Gigabit

                                                      
The Technology

Standard HDMI devices transmit video and audio using a signaling method called TMDS (Transition Minimized Differential Signaling). TMDS was designed for short cable runs, like those necessary to connect a cable box to an HDTV in an entertainment center. Unfortunately, TMDS has some limitations. Very high frequencey signals like HDMI tend to “drop off” as cable runs get longer, ultimately reaching a point of failure when the destination device can no longer resolve the picture and audio data. Since differential pairs are used for each of the three colour channels and the separate clock channel, differences in individual wire lengths inside HDMI cables can cause timing errors and blank screens.

HDMI over IP technology taps into the benefits of Ethernet standards to overcome the inherent limitations of TMDS. Enabling totally reliable cable runs up to 75 metres long, easy splitting and distribution of signals, and robust signal integrity, Transmitting HDMI over IP networks redefines the possibilities for HDMI video distribution. Compliant with HDCP 2.0 specifications, this technology supports copy protection with 128-bit AES encryption and overcomes traditional key verification limitations, enabling very large system sizes while maintaining full HDCP compliance. And unlike first-generation Megabit implementations of IP technology, Cablesson HDelity HDMI over IP Gigabit infrastructure means picture quality that is virtually indistinguishable from the source, suitable for the most discerning viewer. Since the data looks like any other Ethernet traffic, a Managed Ethernet Switch can be used just the same by controlling the vLAN grouping settings on the network switch. Customers will be free and able to switch/change TVs with the receiver to acquire different video source video streaming easily. Multi-Casting groups will only be limited by the network switch, and will benefit customers that want to efficiently distribute multiple HDMI sources with High Quality Lossless 1080p video signal.

Affordability
When considering Home Automation, Smart Home, Multi-room Audio and Home Cinema, foremost in most peoples mind is the cost. Answering that question is very difficult as there are so many factors that influence cost, not least the size of the house and the number of rooms served. HDMI over IP has unlimited applications and it is easily integrated with different control systems. Despite having all the spectacular features you will be surprised when you check out its prices which are highly affordable. When you compare a HDMI Matrix switch with all of the devices needed to distribute the signal throughout the home, the HDMI over IP solution generally comes out as better value. Not to mention the frustration of wondering if the long HDMI cables or the finicky Baluns will work with the necessary cable distances. The HDMI over IP solution can extend a HDMI source much further than Baluns, and it is always reliable and consistent.
                                   
Flexibility
In our digital world, everyday we make new advancements in digital video compression making the audio and video signals to be carried over the typical network circuits such as the Internet, LAN and WAN. Any HDMI source can simultaneously be displayed on any number of display devices (if multiple displays are permitted by the HDMI source) using VLAN isolation on a Managed Ethernet Switch. The point to point or point to many projector enables you to send out an HDMI 1.3 signals to many LCD panels or one or more than one HDMI video projectors and return the source an IR control signal using cat 5/ cat 6/ or cat7 over a standard Ethernet infrastructure. HDMI over IP is used to distribute the high definition digital signals to hundred or more remote displays.
 
By using Cablesson HDelity HDMI over IP to distribute the high definition digital signals to one or hundred or more remote displays. The best part is that it maintains excellent quality of picture as well as sounds. These high speed connectors provide greater reliability and durability for a longer period of time. The functionality of an HDMI over IP is simple to understand. It simply encodes the digital data stream which is broadcasted. Afterwards it sends IP data packets and receives signals decoding them on 1080p. A usual HDMI over IP kit consists of a receiver and a transmitter. Each of such devices is allotted a specific IP address. You can get additional receivers for extra sum of money to distribute to additional displays.
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