8K Updates from NAB 2023

While I did not physically attend NAB this year, I was able to summarize some of the 8K-related news coming out of NAB. Maybe next year I will attend to provide the depth and details that remote reporting can’t provide. Overall, it seems rather impressive that there were several live 8K demos this year along with product upgrades to support the format.

DJI launched a new drone with a cinema-grade 8K camera called the Inspire 3. Key features include a FPV camera, nine visual sensors, and high-precision positioning technology. It can simulate the movements of a crane, cable cam, or dolly, while still offering epic aerial footage. It has a full-frame sensor that can record 8K 25fps in CinemaDNG, 8K/75fps in ProRes RAW or 4K/120fps in ProRes RAW. There is dual ISO support and 14 f-stops of dynamic range with recording to a 1TB solid state drive with a 1100 MB/sec write speed. The nine on-board sensors are important for detecting objects in all directions while the high-precision positioning technology is good to centimeter-level accuracy. The cost is $16,500.

Colorfront produced a live 8K demo at NAB. Using just hotel broadband, the set-up featured Colorfront Transkoder running in AWS, reading, de-Bayering and processing 8K Sony Venice 2 and Red RAW camera footage directly from AWS S3 cloud object storage, and streaming 8K video to Colorfront Streaming Player running on a Mac Mini with an HDMI 2.1 video connection used to display the results in HDR on an 8K LG 77-inch OLED TV.

Colorfront Streaming Player is a video receiver software for critical remote viewing, with support for professional video I/O devices from AJA and Blackmagic Design.  It can be implemented as a 1RU streaming server appliance or installed as software for Mac/PC workstations or laptops.  It was also recently deployed in Amazon’s Culver Theater, the first US theater to showcase a Samsung 8K HDR Micro LED IWA wall.

New at NAB 2023, Colorfront Transkoder, the company’s mastering, QC and deliverables solution, is being shown running a Mac Studio desktop with dual 32-inch Retina 6K Pro Display XDR monitors featuring Colorfront’s new second-head Analyzer. In this configuration, Colorfront Transkoder optimizes DCP/IMF mastering workflows, accelerated HEVC H264/H265 and ProRes read/write, and delivers rapid handling of all new RAW camera formats, like the ARRI Alexa 35 4.6K, with its ARRI Reveal color science and ARRI Textures, plus Sony Venice 2 8K, Red V-Raptor 8K, Blackmagic RAW and ProRes RAW.

Spin Digital and Intel teamed up to present 8K VVC Live Streaming in the 8K Association booth at NAB 2023. “8K live streaming at broadcast-grade quality and low bitrate requires the combination of the latest and most advanced video coding technologies including: VVC/H.266, Content Aware Encoding (CAE), Perceptually Optimized Encoding (POE), and optimized encoding algorithms for live operation. All these features put together will enable the ultimate live 8K visual experience to be streamed over the Internet”, noted Mauricio Alvarez Mesa, CEO, Spin Digital Video Technologies GmbH

Content Aware Encoding is an encoding technique that aims at using only the necessary bits to achieve the broadcast-grade visual quality according to the video complexity. Perceptually Optimized Encoding is a quality optimization mode that relies on a model of the human visual system to minimize the perceptibility of compression errors.

The 8K real-time encoding demo was facilitated using a CPU-based software implementation of the VVC standard optimized for Intel Xeon processors, allowing 8K 10-bit HDR live encoding. A software player was implemented on a compact PC based on the Intel NUC 13 Extreme Platform, which includes an Intel Core i9-13900K CPU and an Intel ARC A770 GPU, that can be connected directly to the 8K TV using an HDMI 2.1 interface to help enable a full 8K 60 fps 10-bit HDR experience.

A third 8K live streaming demo was organized by The Studio-B&H, in partnership with RED, HP and NVIDIA.  The RED Connect live 8K workflow starts by transferring a stream of 8K RAW files from the just-released RED Connect Module for V-RAPTOR cameras via a fiber connection to a high-performance HP Z8 Fury G5. An HP workstation then uses a state-of-the-art NVIDIA RTX 6000 Ada to decode the stream and send live 8K images to an 8K display. RED Connect can run in conjunction with an SNS/EVO storage server that will transcode R3D files to proxy codecs for direct access by any non-linear editing platform to the transcoded media. This eliminates the need for traditional computing platforms, creating an instant media networking environment and a one-of-a-kind workflow that is incredibly efficient on-set workflows.

A fourth 8K VR demo featuring stereoscopic 3D content was shown in the Microsoft booth.  This demo partnered RED’s Connect Module, Meta’s Open Video Pipeline (OVP) and Microsoft to enable the creation of an end-to-end live 8K/60p streaming system for Meta Quest users and provide live streaming content producers unparalleled image quality and ease of use. OVP, a free and open-source reference, eliminates the need to use third-party cloud video infrastructure platforms for processing and packaging that degrade the quality and provides a full end-to-end signal flow design for 8K/60p+ live video streaming. With Microsoft, OVP can leverage the scalability, security, and reliability of the cloud to deliver high-quality video streams to end-users.  This possibility was discussed at last year’s IBC event as described in this Video.

Meanwhile, codec developer MainConcept described how their VVC SDK, first released in beta last September at IBC, has now been updated to support live multicast encoding in 8K, 4K and FHD at 60 fps. This is probably the first time 8K/60p live encoding has been demonstrated with the VVC codec, including the integration of MPEG-H immersive audio. At NAB, MainConcept showed the fifth live 8K demo using their VVC SDK with their patented Smart Adaptive Bitrate Encoding Technology (SABET) to process and deliver 8K content via AWS live to their booth, dramatically demonstrating how up to 8K resolution can be delivered to broadcast and streaming devices.

Canon introduced new 8K flexible zoom lenses with different mount capabilities. New is a 35mm version that complements the full frame flex version. The 35mm version supports 14 to 35mm zooming while the full frame goes from 20 to 50mm zoom.

The R5C is an 8K camera that has had a firmware update to make it more useful in the live TV space. This means enhancements to the image quality in certain combinations of log settings and codecs. They also enhanced the firmware for the stereoscopic lens attachment used for VR capture. They can also extend the battery life.

InSync Technology has worked with FOR-A to deliver an 8K version of its motion compensated frame rate converter. The new appliance, the MCC-8K, provides realtime conversion between 8K Ultra HD streams at 50, 59.94 and 60 frames per second.

As well as converting the video between the various frame rates, the MCC-8K also supports 32 channels of embedded audio and timecode pass through, with an audio delay option to maintain lip sync. To simplify integration into existing 4k workflows, the 8K feeds were carried on four 12G SDI cables as Ultra HD or 2SI.

InSync had previously provided a 4k Ultra HD conversion platform, marketed by FOR-A as the MCC-4K-A and widely used throughout industry. FOR-A also offers a line of 8K products like a test signal generator, color converter, and up converter.

Sony announced the VENICE Extension System 2, which offers support for the 8K sensor of the VENICE 2 as well as greater mobility and compatibility with either a 3m or a 12m cable – without the need for a repeater. It has a tilt/roll sensor in the imaging block to support VFX and virtual production.

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