By Stuart Boorn, Head of Portfolio Management, Ericsson Media Solutions
Ultra-High Definition (UHD) has been ‘emerging’ for a long time – but its impact is now starting to be felt across the entire industry landscape. Originally seen as a higher resolution standard, in more recent years we have seen the influence of enhanced color gamut, higher dynamic range and more immersive audio solutions. These have combined to help persuade broadcasters and content producers of the need to invest and release the premium content required to accelerate consumer demand.
The investment in UHD delivery now makes complete sense as a significant number of global consumers now own 4K/UHD and High Dynamic Range (HDR)-ready TV sets. Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research shows that higher picture quality is valued by consumers; in 2017 ownership of HD TVs grew to almost 85 percent (up from 75 percent in 2012), while a fifth of all homes now feature a 4K/UHD TV.
The challenges within the UHD space
With HD content so prevalent, the expectation is that even higher quality UHD content will be made available across every device the consumer uses, from the tablet through to the main television screen. Each generation of portable device is pushing the limits of screen resolution further, which introduces a number of challenges.
On the acquisition side, there is increased expectation for more camera angles (and therefore more UHD signals) to enable a ‘close to live’ experience. For operators and broadcasters, the business of moving live higher resolution video also comes with bandwidth and cost implications.
In recent years, we have seen a number of broadcasters look for new ways to enhance UHD delivery, such as the inclusion of HDR 1080p displays delivering a clearly visible jump in picture quality. Yet we can now go further; end-to-end UHD encoding and processing technology is in place to achieve the true reality of UHD.
Ericsson Media Solutions launches MediaFirst End-to-End UHD solution
At NAB Show 2018, we launched the industry’s first end-to-end media processing, encoding, storage and experience solution – MediaFirst End-to-End UHD. This software-based, multi-application media processing and encoding platform delivers UHD and HDR content from camera to the consumer, across the entire media delivery landscape. With this solution, we are helping operators to unlock the potential of UHD content, enabling them to differentiate and monetize their offering by efficiently delivering more immersive and higher quality viewing experiences that are available everywhere, for everyone.
The MediaFirst End-to-End UHD solution combines our award-winning MediaFirst Video Processing platform, which provides greater flexibility, superior low latency and the ability to repurpose processing functions in order to efficiently deliver new and increasingly immersive UHD experiences. With the freedom to use HDR technology to deliver a more natural and immersive consumer experience, as well as a cloud-agnostic choice of private, public or hybrid clouds, the MediaFirst End-to-End UHD solution provides the ultimate flexibility for both formats and deployment.
Our solution also includes:
- AVP System Encoder to provide a future-proof modular architecture that allows on-site upgrades with no hassle or interruption. Powered by Ericsson Media Solutions’ in-house programmable video chip, the AVP encoders deliver MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC and HEVC efficient compression, with a smooth upgrade path to 4K UHDTV.
- MediaFirst Content Processing delivers ‘no compromise’ UHD TV decoder with high bitrate, superior low latency 4K HEVC decoding and future proofing flexibility for current and evolving HDR standards.
- MediaFirst Video Processing packaging and encoding for on-demand and live, enabling the distribution, personalization and monetization of multiscreen high-quality UHD HDR video services, and supporting tone mapping conversion required for SDR displays.
- The solution can be further enhanced when combined with Video Storage Processing Platform (VSPP), which powers a unified solution for both cloud DVR and on-demand time/place TV services, supporting all media and screens up to UHD resolution.
When delivering the UHD experience to the consumer, there is only one choice – MediaFirst and MediaRoom – the flagship platforms for premium TV.
This is a hugely exciting development for our industry, and a further example of how we are transforming television by envisioning unique experiences that can be delivered everywhere for everyone.