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Keith Walters

What Broadcast type 4K TV cameras and systems are available today?

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There were a couple of articles in The Australian this morning about Foxtel's new 4K cable service. The first one was about live coverage of the Bathurst 1000 (car race). They invited reader comments, but when I tried to ask where they were getting the cameras from and how exactly is the operator going to go about focussing a high speed event like that and so on, comments were abruptly closed!
Now there is another, similar item about them televising Australian Rules football (AFL) in 4K.
Is that actually being done anywhere else? And if so, do viewers actually get 4K in their homes?
The only "broadcast" 4K cameras I can find don't look very capable. Is live 4K actually a thing?

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Most OB's are kitting out with Sony- HDC4300's they look pretty decent and guess 4K is doable on a 2/3" camera if your using 3 RGB sensors rather then bayer.

 

I don't see that much point in domestic 4K broadcast yet, until they up the bit rate. Take Netflix 4K it does look way better then their HD streams. But thats because the HD is about 5.5Mbs and the 4K about 15Mbs.

 

The 4K images don't look as 4K as they could since they are so compressed. Neflix 4k dosen't look as good as professional HD. I used to QC HDCAM-SR movie masters and I've yet to see a 4k image on Netflix that matches say the HDCAM-SR of Alien in terms of visual quality.

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Interesting that they're still prism 3-chip systems for 4K despite all the hoo-ha about single-chip sensors and the years of various clueless "theories" (from the Red-eratti in particular) about why the silly broadcast camera manufacturers still use that system :rolleyes:
The simple answer is that the dichroic prism separation system yields Red, Green and Blue images ready for transmission with minimal processing, and minimal latency, which is vital for live sporting events. (With the average single-chip 4K camera, the commentators would have to sit in a soundproofed tent in the Video Village, only commenting on what they see on the screen....)

And when you look at all the trouble people go to to get accurate focus on just 2K for feature film production, what's operator focus-on-the-fly going to look like on a huge 4K screen?
Plus, there is vastly more to an Outside Broadcast than just the cameras; is all the other equipment 4K capable?
This all sounds like B.S. to me, rather like 3-D TV actually....

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Keith.. the simple answer is that Bayer type sensors are massively cheaper to make.. and they knock out a very decent image.. certainly well beyond "good enough ".. for TV or cinema .. tricky focus is not a 4K thing.. the same rules apply as HD /or 16/35 mm film.." you cane change the rules of physics Captain .."

 

Pretty sure alot /all ? of sports is broadcast 4K in Japan now.. focus not being an issue..

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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I guess 4k focus is doable on small chip cameras. Studio broadcast work is usually lit to a deep enough stop, same with sports.

 

The kits getting pretty cheap, so when upgrading no reason not too, Black magic do a perfectly good 4k switcher for less then 10k. It may ore may not be needed. But since you can't even buy large HD TV's these day's, more and more people will have 4k screens and will be looking for content, even if they can't usually tell the difference.

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Keith.. the simple answer is that Bayer type sensors are massively cheaper to make.. and they knock out a very decent image.. certainly well beyond "good enough ".. for TV or cinema .. tricky focus is not a 4K thing.. the same rules apply as HD /or 16/35 mm film.." you cane change the rules of physics Captain .."

 

Yes, I know all that. Long before there were even silicon sensors, there were camera tubes filled with colour stripe filters to make "single tube" colour cameras. However, it wasn't until well into the 21st century that portable computing technology got both powerful and cheap enough to handle all the processing required to get your "very decent image" Before that, single-sensor colour cameras were always the "poor relation."

The only reason for developing high quality Bayer sensors for "digital cinematography" was simply that it allowed cinematographers to use the same lenses as they had been used to using for 35mm film cameras, since making a 3-Chip 35mm-sized prism colour separation system was not practical.

I just thought it's ironic that after all that "prism-is-dead" waffle from the desperate-and-clueless wannabe element, for 2K cameras, Sony have still seen fit to use 3-chip prism optics for their 4K cameras. Maybe, just maybe, Sony know a bit more about it than they do.....

"Pretty sure a lot /all ? of sports is broadcast 4K in Japan now.."

Pretty sure you're wrong. There has been some 4K, but from what I can glean from Japanese news sources, it hasn't exactly set the world on fire. One major problem is that most everybody in Japan who wanted an HDTV has now got one, and is seeing little reason to upgrade to a 4K model. Plus a lot of the TVs with 4K panels don't actually have tuners that can receive the 4K broadcasts.

But anyway, my question has been answered more-or-less. 4K OB systems are available, but it would appear that by the time it hits the customer's 4K screen, it's going to be something rather less than that.

 

 

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Agree re the 4K tv,s.. it was flagging tv sales that pushed the whole 4K thing in the first place !.. certainly here now you cant buy a HD TV anymore.. everything is 4K and quite a few 8K sets now..always been NHK,s dream .. !.. I worked with an NHK cameraman who told me its a big NHK ego trip wanting to be world leaders in 8K.. they initially even refused to go 4K.. !! but had to do a huge U turn on that great directive from the above..

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Off topic, sorry, yet sort of related, but couldn't help but comment that perhaps 4K and 'higher' digital development is a more promising development for film origination. Okay, so in TV land it's an irrelevant point mostly, but I'm thinking of feature movies. Greater digital capability favours the best aspects of film (as some see it) such as grain and warmth, where as, technologically speaking at least, digital cameras have "gone about as fer as they kin go..." to quote Mr Hammerstein. They can't get much better than they already are. They're already incredibly excellent. Is going 4K or 8K really going to materially improve digital photography and distribution? Or is this really for another thread?

 

Edit: yes, completely irrelevant to the topic of live broadcast. I don't think even the latest improvements in efficient film processing could compete.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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There are a few experimental prism 3-CMOS 8K cameras kicking around from Hitachi and a couple of others, but details are extremely scarce.
It's the same issue: There are plenty of single-chip designs around, but only 3-chip cameras can deliver the short image latency needed for live broadcasts.
I really don't think over the air broadcasting is ever going to be up to the task though. It's more likely to be delivered by 5G wireless.

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