Testing 4K and 1080p HDR technology in a live environment

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Gearhouse Broadcast Group recently helped ATP Media carry out a 4K v 1080p HDR test in a live tennis environment. Staged at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals in London, the test was designed to see the two production formats perform side-by-side, and incorporated the new Sapphire HEVC ultra-low-delay 4K camera link, enabling true 4K wireless cameras to be inter-cut with cabled cameras for the first time. 

Key to the test was combining the Sapphire HEVC system seamlessly with the main production, so all the outputs came from one desk and one Director’s cut. This allowed us to compare existing 1080i output with 4K SDR, 4K HDR and 1080p HDR. 

The test not only demonstrated ATP Media’s commitment to trialling the latest broadcast technologies, but it also presented an opportunity to pitch Dolby Atmos against Dolby Digital 5.1. With ATP Media travelling to a wide variety of stadia across the globe, the test was designed to highlight the challenges of producing in Atmos, and to allow us to experiment with what a ‘tennis Atmos soundscape’ might sound like.

The trial was an important step forward for ATP Media, and the results showed that 1080p HDR could be a very attractive format for tennis broadcasters and viewers alike. We’re now looking at how best to manage delivery, and starting to talk to broadcasters around the world about embracing the technology. 

That’s not without its challenges: broadcasting a one-off football or cricket match in 4K is one thing, but covering an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event with up to four main televised courts has big implications when it comes to producing in 4K. As host broadcasters, we have to find the right balance between creating the best possible product with realistic production and delivery budgets, as well as be mindful of the capabilities and requirements of our rights-holders. 

This experience has been a real game-changer for Gearhouse, as we’re now able to offer our clients world class 4K productions including wireless video with low-latency UHD. We look forward to working closely with the team at Broadcast Wireless Systems to roll out this new technology into future productions.

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