EBU conducts UHD HDR tests at European Championships 2018

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) led trials with several EBU members and industry partners to shoot, process, record, and distribute live Ultra High Definition (UHD) content, with High Frame Rates (HFR), High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Next Generation Audio (NGA), at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin.

EBU UHD tests (photo courtesy EBU)
EBU UHD tests (photo courtesy EBU)

The trials will enable all participants to build their understanding of the state of the art in immersive sports content production and its strategic potential. Some clips may also become available for public dissemination and for technical and scientific testing purposes. For the trials, Rohde & Schwarz supplied its R&S CLIPSTER servers for uncompressed recording.

Live distribution of UHD content

The trials involved the world’s first live distribution of UHD content with both HDR (HLG/BT.2100) and HFR (100 frames per second, 2160p100). Current state-of-the-art live broadcasts don’t exceed a field or frame rate of 50Hz in Europe, and HD interlaced (1080i25) is still the dominant broadcast emission format even though commercial encoders and TV sets manage up to 2160p50 resolution.

The event was part of the multi-sport European Championships taking place in Glasgow and Berlin (August 2-12). In Berlin, a 2160p100 HLG/BT.2020 production workflow was set up in collaboration with EBU members BBC, France Télévisions, IRT, RAI and ZDF, and a range of technology partners. The 2160p100 feed was used to derive two additional 1080p100 and 1080p50 signals. These three feeds were then encoded in HEVC and multiplexed for a live transmission via the Eurovision satellite network to RAI's experimental test bed in the Aosta Valley, Italy, and via the Eurovision Fibre infrastructure to the European Championships Broadcast Operations Centre (BOC) based at BBC Glasgow.

The 1080p100 programme included Next Generation Audio (NGA) sound in the form of 4+7+0 channel and scene-based beds, with four additional interactive mono object signals for two commentaries and two audio descriptions. NGA is commonly thought of as providing immersive experiences, but also enables additional features, such as personalization, accessibility and interactivity, by means of “objects”.

Posted by Chris Dickinson, technology journalist and editor of the Always On blog. August 8, 2018.