MIPtv embraces 4K

This year’s MIPtv event (April 6-11) is also the 50th Anniversary of the programming and content market. It also represents the debut of 4K Ultra-HDTV at Cannes. The organisers are featuring the 4K logo throughout the Palais des Festivals, and looking to drum up interest in the emerging U-HD technology with heavyweight keynotes (on April 10th) from the likes of Sky Deutschland’s Gary Davey, and the BBC’s Natural History Unit head Mike Gunton.

The timing is spot on. Last year, according to recent NPD-DisplaySearch data, the flat-panel industry shipped 63,000 4K U-HD units. This year the number is expected to explode some 40-fold, to 2.6 million units. Next year’s numbers are still being speculated about, but some experts have predicted a significant upswing in sales from this year.  Of course, there’s precious little in the way of content other than 4K-converted movies.

The BBC is already producing documentary footage in 4K (in particular its ‘Survivors’ series) while Sky Germany (like its British counterpart) is also testing 4K, and hinting at a major announcement later this year. Europe’s two major satellite operators are also vigorously backing 4K with demo-channels on air, although freely admitting that the test transmissions are being viewed by only a handful of viewers. But the tests at least permit trade bodies and the likes of the EBU to continue their own evaluation and comparisons of display equipment as well as image quality – which is simply stunning.

Other expert speakers will also ‘wow’ MIPtv visitors with their latest 4K productions. Norbert Hoelzle, CCO, SES Astra Luxembourg, will update delegates with their latest news, and IHS Electronics & Media’s Research Director Tom Morrod will reveal Screen Digest’s brand-new research on the likely prospects for 4K viewing. Berti Kropac (MD, Kropac Media) has shot more than 40 tasks in 4K, using Sony’s latest F65 camera kit, and including the test footage of the recent Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund football match for Sky Deutschland.

Maryline Clare-Charrier from Orange TV, but who is also project leader of the France-backed ‘4EVER’ consortium (for Enhanced Video ExpeRience) which comprises some of France’s best-known broadcasting technology companies, and they are looking to define workflow and other back-office techniques that will be needed for efficient production.  David Wood, the EBUs deputy director of their Technology & Development department will also brief delegates on the EBU’s news, while Jerome Vieron, CEO at Ateme, which is also a member of 4EVER, but has seen its High Efficiency Video Codec compression equipment playing an early role for both telcos and broadcasters. Barry Basset, MD at equipment hire specialists will talk about the enthusiasm for renting 4K-ready equipment.

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