Video: Solving the 8K distribution Challenge

With the Tokyo Olympics less than 2 weeks away, 8K is back in focus. NHK have famously been key innovators and promoters of 8K for many years, have launched an 8K channel on satellite and will be broadcasting the games in 8K. That’s all very well, but is 8K a viable broadcast format for other public and commercial broadcasters? One problem for 8K is how to get it to people. Whilst there are plenty of bandwidth problems to contend with during production, all of that will be for nought if we can’t get it to the customer.

This panel, run by the 8K Association in conjunction with SMPTE, looks to new codecs to help reduce the burden on connectivity whether RF or networks. The feeling is that HEVC just can’t deliver practical bandwidths, so what are the options? The video starts with Bill Mandel from Samsung introducing the topics of HDR display using HDR10+, streaming with CMAF and bandwidth. Bill discusses future connectivity improvements which should come into play and then looks at codec options.



Bill and Stephan Wenger give their view on the codecs which were explained in detail in this SMPTE deep dive video so do take a look at the article for more context. AV1 is the first candidate for 8K distribution that many think of since it is known to have better compression than HEVC and is even seeing some hardware support in TVs and is being trialled by YouTube. However, the trailer is 50Mbps and therefore not suitable for many connections. Looking at better performance, MPEG’s EVC is a potential candidate which offers continued improvement over AV1 and a better licensing model than HEVC. Stephan’s view on codecs is that users really don’t care what the codec is, they just need the service to work. He points towards VVC, the direct successor to HEVC, as a way forward for 8K since it delivers 40 to 50% bandwidth reduction opening up the possibility of a 25Mbps video channel. Noa published MPEG standard, the market awaits patent information and vendor implementations.

Stephan talks about MPEG’s LCEVC standard which has similarities to Samsung’s Scalenet which Bill introduced. The idea is to encode at a lower resolution and use upscaling to get the desired resolution using AI/machine learning to make the scaling look good and, certainly in the case of LCEVC, a low-bandwidth stream of enhancement data which adds in key parts of video, such as edges, which would otherwise be lost. Stephan says that he awaits implementations in the market to see how well this works. Certainly, taking into account LCEVC’s ability to produce compression using less computation, it may be an important way to bring 8K to some devices and STBs.

The discussion is rounded off by Mickael Raulet, CTO of ATEME who talks us through an end-to-end test broadcast done using VVC. This was delivered by satellite to set top boxes and over streaming with a UHD channel at 15Mbps. His take-away from the experience is that VVC is a viable option for broadcasters and 8K and may be possible with using EVC’s main profile. The video finishes with a Q&A covering:

  • Codecs for live video
  • The pros and cons of scaling in codecs
  • Codec licensing
  • Multiple generational encoding degeneration


    Watch now!

    Bill Mandel Bill Mandel
    VP, Industry Relations,
    Samsung Research America
    Mickaël Raulet Mickaël Raulet
    Chris Chinnock
    Executive Director,
    8K Association
    Stephan Wenger Stephan Wenger
    Senior Director, IP & Standards,
  • Video: The Status of 8K and Light Field / Holographic Development

    8K is the next step in the evolution of resolution but as we saw with 4K, it’s about HDR, wide colour gamut and higher frame rates, too. This video looks at the real-world motivations to use 8K and glimpses the work happening now to take imaging even further into light field and holography.

    Broadcast has always been about capturing the best quality video, using that quality to process the video and then deliver to the viewer. Initially, this was used to improve green-screen/chromakey effects and sharp, quality video is still important in any special effects/video processing. But with 8K you can deliver a single camera feed which could be cut up into two, three or more HD feeds looking like 3 different cameras. Pan-and-scan isn’t new, but it has more flexibility taken from an 8K raster. But perhaps the main ‘day 1’ benefit to 8K is for future-proofing – acquiring the highest fidelity content for as-yet-unknown uses later down the line.

    Chris Chinnock from the 8K association explains that 8K is in active use in Japan both at the upcoming Olympics but also in a permanent channel, BS8K which transmits on satellite at 80Mb/s. Dealing with such massive bitrates, Chris explains, puts 8K finding the same pain points at 4K did seven years ago. For file-based workflows, he continues, these have largely been solved though on the broadcast side, challenges remain. The world of codecs has moved on a lot since then with the addition of LCEVC, VVC, EVC, AVS3 and others which promise to help bring 8K distribution to the home down to a more manageable 25Mb/s or below.



    Originating 8K material is not hard in as much as the cameras exist and the workflows are possible. Many high budget films are being acquired at this resolution but the fact is that getting enough 8K for a whole channel is not practical and so upscaling content to 8K is a must. Recent advances in machine learning-based upscaling have revolutionised the quality you can expect over traditional techniques.

    Finishing off on 8K, Chris points out that a typical 8K video format takes 30Gbps uncompressed which is catered for easily by HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4a and Thunderbolt. 8K TVs are already available and current investment into Chinese G10.5 fabs shows that more 65″ and 75″ will be on the market.

    Changing topic, Chris looks at generating immersive content for either light field displays or holographic displays. There are a number of ways to capture a real-life scene but all of them involve using many cameras and a lot of data. You can avoid the real world and using a games engine such as Unity or Unreal but these have the same limitations as they do in computer games; they can look simultaneously amazing and unrealistic. Whatever you do, getting the data from A to B is a difficult task and a simple video encoder won’t cut it. There’s a lot of metadata involved in immersive experiences and, in the case of point fields, there is no conventional video involved. This is why Chris is part of an MPEG group working on future capabilities of MPEG-I aiming to identify requirements for MPEG and other standards bodies, recommending distribution architectures and getting a standard representation for immersive media.

    The ITMF, Immersive Technology Media Format, is a suggested container that can hold computer graphics, volumetric information, light field arrays and AI/computational photography. This feeds into a decoder that only takes what it needs out of the file/stream depending on whether it’s a full holographic display or something simpler.

    Chris finishes his presentation explaining the current state of immersive displays, the different types and who’s making them today.

    Watch now!

    Chris Chinnock
    Executive Director,
    8K Association

    Video: 8K Use Cases

    Is there really a reason to move to 8K? UHD/4K within the industry is continuing to gain traction but is far from widespread having started to move out of the ‘trails’ phase and into some limited productions such as high profile sports events and early some early adopters. Given we’re at such an early phase, what are the drivers for 8K technology and who’s supporting 8K adoption?

    Chris Chinnock from the 8K Association is here to explain these use cases. But in order to encourage the technology and help broadcasters and vendors as they test 8K workflows, Chris explains that they are working from several angles such as documenting encoders and decoders, creating 8K content as well as supporting AI approaches. All these activities fall under the association’s umbrella of educating both professionals and consumers about 8K, encouraging the use of the 8K ecosystem, creating a consumer-facing certification system and promoting 8K in a wide number of ways.

    It’s important that AI is part of the approach as this, whether as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or Neural Networks, is an increasingly key part of codecs’ approach to compression. Super Resolution has shown that machine learning does a better job of up- and down-conversion than standard mathematical approaches. So whether using ML for pre- and post-processing or to replace a traditional algorithm, pretty much every stage in video manipulation is being considered for enhancement or replacement with AI/ML at the moment. Thus the 8K association is supporting this work as it may be that these approaches are essential for creating 8K distribution platforms that are feasible with the available technology.



    This brings us back to why we even want 8K and taking a step back from each of Chris’s slides we see the overall picture which we were reminded of in 2020 with MPEG’s recent batch of three new codecs: Not everyone has the same use case in and out of the media & entertainment industry. Chris mentions LCEVC as a good codec available in the near term that can help compress 8K. LCEVC was built not only to deliver great video for broadcast & streaming, but also with a view to keeping complexity low so it could go into old set-top boxes or, for example, body cameras. It allows devices with not much processing power to processes higher resolution video than ever anticipated which can be useful within media and entertainment but can also be very useful in many other industries.

    Chris takes us through the medical applications, applications for large-format displays in AV, simulation uses and general corporate use cases for boardrooms and impactful displays within the building which all make use of 8K video with bespoke displays meaning they don’t have the problem M&E has with mass distribution of high resolution.

    The use cases for film & TV are customer facing such as improved picture quality (particularly when paired with high frame rate, HDR and other technologies) but also behind the scenes where capturing in 8K allows selecting a UHD/HD part of the picture, higher zoom and promises a reduction in the number of camera positions. This is best leveraged in major sporting events and will see a lot of use in the Japanese Olympics.

    Chris is good enough to acknowledge there are many challenges at the moment with enabling 8K workflows and also looks at the difficulties of distribution. Without significant investment in codecs, he says that satellite and OTA are not obvious candidates for delivering 8K with no current path to delivery over DVB or ATSC 3.0 without use of the internet. The internet, whether as part of hybrid broadcast or pure streaming is seen as the best vehicle for 8K but 5G, Chris explains, is no silver bullet to enabling wide-spread 8K availability. As we’ve seen in other videos 5G is on its way but covers a massive range of frequencies only the highest of which, known as millimetre-wave will actually deliver gigabit bandwidths. The initial 5G offerings are on existing frequencies and some new ones up to 6GHz which do provide higher bandwidth but which could easily come down per user when adoption matures. Chris concludes 8K delivery to the home may still be best, for the masses, using fibre delivery to the home.

    The complementary element to bandwidth provision is codec availability where we’re already seeing LCEVC, AV1 or China’s AVS3 being able to be applied to 8K distribution with codecs like VVC and EVC becoming available as the vendors complete their implementations and bring them to market.

    Watch now!

    Chris Chinnock
    Executive Director,
    8K Association