UHD: Execs Debate Production, Distribution, Adoption at CES

As expected, Ultra HD was a hot topic at the 2014 International CES, with plenty of support as well as debate. While some have asserted that UHD is inevitable at this point, others have suggested that success will be reliant upon the right combination of multiple factors including 4K set penetration, an efficient delivery infrastructure and the availability of content. Industry leaders addressed these topics and more during compelling panel discussions in Las Vegas.

Our friend Carolyn Giardina of The Hollywood Reporter forwarded her article on one of several panels produced by the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society. We’ve posted some of the panelist quotes below.

Stephan Heimbecher, head of innovation and standards at Sky Deutschland, explained that his company started early on with testing 4K broadcasting, noting that work has been productive but challenges remain. He said that compared to the HD transition, this time with the Internet, “everything seems like its transparent and everyone is watching us along the way.”

“The success of 4K is going to be dependent on how successful we are in delivering the highest quality to consumers,” said Henry Derovanessian, SVP of engineering at DirecTV. “There are different delivery paths, and there’s difference in quality. The bandwidth is not there to support all of it… We have fat pipes; we can deliver to [the] home.”

Sam Blackman, CEO of video processing software provider Elemental Technologies, predicted that HEVC (a 4K-supported compression scheme) will soon be widespread. “But what is happening behind the scenes is that hardware is transitioning to software, and so if 4K or high dynamic range is a requirement, service providers will be able to evolve to do that and they don’t have to swap out their infrastructure like they used to. That’s a significant shift and a completely different paradigm than we have had in the past.”

In regards to producing content, 3net CEO Tom Cosgrove added, “4K production gear is getting cheaper and smaller. Post production will take a little while to get there because there’s so much data.”

“People are already drowning in data,” warned Grant Andersonexecutive director at Sony’s 3D Technology Center. “Not just the studio content but from user generated content. The workflow needs to be worked out to deal with these huge data streams.”

Dan Schinasi, senior marketing manager at Samsung, discussed his company’s investment in educating consumers: “There will be Ultra HD demonstrations in every major retailer. There will also be Web materials. And CES is doing a great job of driving buyers to see the new technology.”

Schinasi noted the advantage of displays that can upscale HD, although the goal remains to be true 4K. Peter Lude, past president of SMPTE, warned that options may confuse consumers: “People will see Ultra HD, but vastly differently quality. If the quality isn’t there, that will turn consumers off.”