K-Opticom, Elemental Team Up for Live 4K HEVC Transmission Test at Osaka Marathon

Japan’s push into the world of 4K will take a major step forward this Sunday when telco K-Opticom delivers the nation’s first-ever live 4K Ultra HD HEVC transmission, from the Osaka Marathon. K-Opticom is using Elemental Live systems to provide HEVC encoding of 4K/59.94p material acquired from Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K cameras located at the midpoint and finish line of the racecourse. Each camera will be mounted with an AJA Ki Pro Quad, which will send source content to Elemental systems via live 3G-SDI interfaces.

Elemental video-processing systems will encode live content in real-time HEVC at 4Kp30 and stream video over K-OPT optical-fiber networks to an NTT Docomo decoder with final rendering on an 84-in. Sony 4K Bravia TV. The public will be able to view 4K live coverage of the marathon in a special K-OPT exhibit located at the Intex (International Exhibition Center) Building 2 in Osaka.

“The Sony 4K camera’s feeds are going directly into an Elemental Live encoding system,” says Keith Wymbs, VP of marketing, Elemental Technologies. “We have 3G-SDI inputs into our system, and so each quadrant of the 4K input goes in over one 3G-SDI. It’s brought back to a full 4K image and then encoded in real time by Elemental Live with HEVC as the compression algorithm. Then it’s transmitted over K-Opticom’s network and is being decoded live by [the NTT Docomo decoder] and goes into the set to display the video. The latency is very minimal — in the hundreds of milliseconds — so people in the general public can see it happening in real time.”

The Marathon transmission promises to be a massive step forward in what has been a very busy year for Elemental’s 4K and HEVC efforts. At NAB2013 in April, the company demoed its HEVC/H.265 video-processing technology for 500K output to tablet devices and 1080p output to HD televisions. Then, in July, Elemental announced that its HEVC software codec implementation can support 4K, which the company demoed (in 10-bit HEVC, 4Kp60) at IBC in September. Now Elemental is ready to take its HEVC 4K technology into the real-time realm.

“It’s really a progression for us,” says Wymbs. “We’ve been applying the underlying power and performance of our systems over the past three years to the multiscreen challenge — creating all the different renditions of content for [multiple devices] — and now we are reapplying those same [technologies] to the challenge of HEVC, which requires up to 10 times the processing power to get that bit rate. Plus, there is the spatial complexity that comes with 4K and four times the amount of pixels, which also means additional processing power.”

With a full 4K production planned for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next summer, expect the Osaka Marathon to be just the first of many major 4K production and transmission advances over the next year.

“I think [live 4K tests are] going to become a more regular occurrence in 2014,” says Wymbs. “We are going into the World Cup and Olympics year. Sochi won’t necessarily have as much 4K, but I think, next summer, you will see a lot of 4K trials. I think, by then, announcements like this won’t be uncommon.

“The challenge is going to be how long is it going to take to get this really happening in the home?,” he continues. “Obviously, that is going to take a lot more time. But I think CES will give us a lot more determination in terms of price points of 4K TVs and the ability to deliver a true 4K in-home experience.”

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