back to article New MPEG format paves the way for UHDTV

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has outlined a new video compression standard that will enable the broadcast and digital distribution of ultra high definition TV (UHDTV). High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is said to offer compression around twice as high as for the current video standard of choice, H.264, and was …

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  1. John Sanders
    Linux

    HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    "The UHDTV standard, as signed off by the ITU, will operate at either 4K or 8K, requiring eight and 32 megapixels respectively."

    Dude, I just got a flat 1080p TV... I would like it to last me at least 5 years, the old telly lasted me 12...

  2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    My last TV was pulled out of a skip, worked for 5 years after (until I dropped it) and had been in a school since at least the 90's before that.

    For the HDTV replacement I bought, I would like (but don't really expect) the same sort of lifetime. Hell, I only bought HDTV because I *had* to as there was nothing else (I've been using "HD" monitor resolutions since Windows 3.1, but I don't need them unless I'm six-inches away from the screen, and I tend to stick the TV on the other side of the room).

    I can't "see" HDTV at those distances (whether you can or not, that's a matter for the person in question - I *can't*). I sure as hell won't see 4k or 8k unless I knock down a wall to make a personal cinema (which isn't likely to happen given how little TV I actually watch, and how 0% of it would benefit from 4k/8k resolution).

    As far as I can tell, the only people who'll use this are cinemas and movie studios. And I don't really care what they use to project the image, and I'm unlikely to notice if they had 32k, let alone 4k resolution, from the distance you watch a cinema screen from. Hell, I'd go back to old slightly-blurry film projectors if they offered a discounted ticket price for doing so.

    Looks like one of those technologies that will linger in the professional market anyway while everyone else just tweaks their H264 or whatever settings.

  3. Captain Hogwash

    Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    Dude, no need to worry. Broadcasters will compress content to such a degree that it will look no worse on your 1080p TV than on the UHDTV screens.

    Not sure whether to go for the joke icon or not here.

  4. Annihilator
    Happy

    Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    Dude, a new TV coming out doesn't mean your 1080p TV stops working, much in the same way you kept your last TV for 12 years and didn't bail out in 2008 for a 1080p TV then.

  5. Skoorb
    Happy

    Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    I saw an Olympics highlights package in this on Saturday at Broadcasting House. It's ridiculous! See http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/researchanddevelopment/2012/08/the-olympics-in-super-hi-visio.shtml for a really interesting read.

  6. Citizen Kaned

    Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    Lee Dowling - you are right. lets not improve anything as some people dont have good eyesight ;)

    why did we ever go stereo sound when some people are a bit deaf ;)

    i can see 1080p fine on my 42" screen and can easily spot the difference between 1080 and 720. im looking forward to 4k it will make things look almost lifelike :) it will be a while though.

  7. Ammaross Danan
    Coat

    Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

    1080p vs not, all I gotta say is my phone camera recording 720p (or worse), it's hard to make out gravel as anything more than a mixed-shade blur. 1080p, you can see rocks.

    That is all.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fahrenheit 451 / Coldcut

    Video walls, your spouse too engrossed with celebrities to notice you, the youth smashing stuff up for the hell of it. Mechanical hounds (thank, Sony AIBO). Rent a video from your way home from work. Don't use any drugs not approved by your boss or work supervisor. Shut up. Be happy. The greatest enemy of progress is questions.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Hmm...

    I can't think of any possible use for a home 4K (or 8K) system personally -- 1920x1080 is plenty for me. And imagine the movie company's fear at broadcasting movies at full theater resolution (movie theater digital projectors run at either 2048x1080 or 4096x2160).

    That said, I already love how much h.264 drops my storage requirements for tv shows and movies, compared to even the earlier-generation MPEG-4 formats. So I'll be happy to have HEVC files cut my storage requirements even further (as long as the HEVC decoding doesn't kick my CPU to the curb too much.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmm...

    I can see the point, once you get above a 50" screen, personally I would LOVE an 8K projector with screen for when I watch a movie, then my 55" HD screen for normal telly....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Increase in spatial, but what about temporal?

    This standard allows an increase in spatial resolution, but what about an increase in temporal resolution - from 30 to 60 Hz? Or, from 30Hz to 30Hz stereo? Personally, I'd rather have either of those before the higher spatial resolution - my current TV can do 1080p60, so with an external decoder I could get some benefit from the higher rate now.

    And will we see a BluRay that would support that? While many BluRay players likely cannot upgrade their video codecs, I know of at least ONE that should be able to do so (unless Sony decides that it would be more fun to piss off PS3 owners even more).

  12. James Hughes 1

    Re: Increase in spatial, but what about temporal?

    The bandwidth is shared between temporal and spatial, so if you double the compression rate you can get twice the framerate for the same picture quality. Providing your decoder can work fast enough.

  13. Joseph Lord
    Boffin

    Re: Increase in spatial, but what about temporal?

    The BBC made a late (after receiver hardware had been designed) push to get 1080P50 into the Freeview HD spec. I think it was included in the end. It certainly caused a panic/scramble by manufacturers to check if the chips they had designed their 2010/2011 TVs around could support it.

    I think also contrary to some expectations the BBC HD encoders swap between 1080i and 1080p frequently depending on what is most efficient for each scene rather than just between programmes. This upsets my TV when using some picture settings so I get a flash to black on these transitions if set to particular modes.

  14. Tokoloshe

    Re: Increase in spatial, but what about temporal?

    Good point,

    I'd prefer to get 1080p rather than 'i' from Sky HD right now so I can 'sweat' my current set, rather than upgrading to a 4k set which is similiarly hobbled by Sky's technology (possibly) and desire to dial down the bandwidth to support more channels (definitely)

    Are Sky going to push a 4k signal for 3D at 1080P or another bunch of shopping channels?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Increase in spatial, but what about temporal?

    This evening, in the pub, my mechanic asked if I had heard the thing on the radio about frame rates in cinema. I said I hadn't, but mentioned that I had heard Peter Jackson's The Hobbit had been criticised by test audiences... it seems the increase in frame rate made the movie look like a tv show, for some strange psycho-something reason. Hmm, I'd better look at iPlayer...

  16. inopsology
    Boffin

    Re: Increase in spatial, but what about temporal?

    it's habituation. we're used to seeing motion blur quickly in film and much less in real-life. Reduce it and you feel like like you're viewing a monitor feed ie CCTV, or some other sort of live studio event.

    high frame rates are a must for ride-films for this reason - you get a visceral engagement., no this-is-a-film barrier.

    But that is likely to be the discomfort factor ie "why are we watching these people live?", that will take years to get acclimatised to, much like the editing shorthand of seeing people in different scenes, but not showing how they travelled from one to the other. Early film audiences had to learn that language.

  17. MyronC

    Rights and Licenses

    Are there going to be license problems with these new standards a la past MPEGs?

  18. ThomH Silver badge

    Re: Rights and Licenses

    It'll be commercially licensed, just like all the preceding MPEG standards such as MPEG-2 as on DVDs and MP3. Where you stand on that depends on where you stand on intellectual property, I guess.

  19. frank ly Silver badge

    Re: Rights and Licenses

    This leads to the question of who is/are the lucky companie/s that own the patents on this mathematical process? Will the people who pushed this through for acceptance and those who accepted it find that their Christmas presents are large and expensive for the next few years.

    Oh my goodness, I am so cynical.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Rights and Licenses

    Well if you can find a company willing to invest 10's of thousands of man hours for the good of the world, then good luck (don't mention Google, they don't give it away "free", they get paid for the adverts in the products either directly or indirectly, or use it as a method of crippling the opposition)

    This may come as a surprise, but some people do like to get paid for their work.

    Next week, after £10billion of investment, GlaxoSmithKiline decide to give their cure for the common cold away for free.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Rights and Licenses

    "Will the people who pushed this through for acceptance and those who accepted it find that their Christmas presents are large and expensive for the next few years."

    You'll find their christmas presents pretty regular i suspect. The license fees for these standards are pretty low (otherwise nobody would bother with the standard). And the money gets split between a *lot* of companies, many of which spent plenty of time to come up with the goods.

    Also, the value of these patents is set before the standard is agreed. If I invent some new way of efficiently storing pixels and patent it, that could get used. Problem is, there are about a million other ways of storing pixels, so my patent isn't worth a whole lot. I might get $0.0001 per device sold - enough to make a passable income long term, but far from massive.

    It's the patents that *don't* go into a standard that can be worth a lot, because the owners haven't agreed to give them away to anyone who wants them for a minimal price. But then, if they're not required by a standard you're not forced to use them.

  22. frank ly Silver badge

    @AC 07:50 Re: Rights and Licenses

    "... willing to invest 10's of thousands of man hours for the good of the world ..."

    Have you heard of FOSS, Linux, Ogg Vorbis?

    " ... GlaxoSmithKiline decide to give their cure for the common cold away for free."

    Not the right analogy. How about:-

    'WHO, UN, NHS, Medicare, etc; mandate that the only cure for the common cold that may be prescribed is that produced by GlaxoSmithKline.'

    Note: Analogies usually fall over if you push them too far and this one is no exception.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: @AC 07:50 Rights and Licenses

    The huge, glaring problem with that is that FOSS software often recreates stuff that has already been done and is patented. Ogg Vorbis treads on a lot of patented stuff from MPEG from what I hear, for example. And look at the number of Android OEMs paying license fees to MS because android uses patented features. (And the android/MS situation shows what happens - when it gets popular and people are making money from it, the people who own the patents turn up and ask for their cut - don't confuse "FOSS but not popular enough" with "patent -free").

    Whether that's right or not? Depends on how you look at it. If MS invented FAT or whatever, they have some right to tell people not to copy it or to pay them if they do. Android could have used EXT instead of FAT. But then maybe FAT should really be an open standard now.

    And the healthcare analogy falls flat too. There's no need for a standard cure for colds, and no point in having one. TV transmissions, on the other hand, need a standard. TV makers need to know what the TV will receive and how to decode it, or you end up with a TV that will work with one channel but can't view others because they all use different codecs. So we have a standard, and force everyone to use it, and we have TVs that can view any channel.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Rights and Licenses

    @frank ly

    No, you're not cynical, you're a monkey-cock with an overactive entitlement gland.

    If you want a Free video compression standard, step right up. But remember that just 'cos it's Free doesn't mean you can freeload off other people's (paid-for) work...

  25. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Linux

    Re: @AC 07:50 Rights and Licenses

    Ogg Vorbis treads on a lot of patented stuff from MPEG from what I hear, for example

    Citation definitely needed on that one. I think it was Apple and Microsoft spreading FUD about Vorbis infringing on unspecified patents simply because they wanted to ensure that H.264 got enshrined into the HTML5 spec rather than it becoming an open and royalty-free standard. The Ogg guys have always striven to avoid using any potentially patented technique no matter how stupid or obvious the patent might be.

    I've got no problem with your comments about Android and FAT (evidently true), but you'll have to give us something more concrete than just rumours if you want to claim that Ogg Vorbis "treads on a lot of patented stuff from MPEG".

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @AC 07:50 Rights and Licenses

    .".. H.264 got enshrined into the HTML5 spec rather than it becoming an open and royalty-free standard"

    Funny, didn't think HTML5 actually covered video codecs.

  27. frank ly Silver badge

    @AC 11:28 Re: Rights and Licenses

    Well done with the childish insult. I'm sure it made you feel good in some strange way.

    I don't mind paying for things I choose to use. (I've paid for seven MS Windows OS licenses so far over the years, even though I have the ability to bypass that payment process). This choice of codec is being mandated by an international authority, which is a different situation. Whatever the cost is, I'll still end up paying for it since I'll be an end-consumer of the products that are distributed using it.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @AC 11:28 Rights and Licenses

    This choice of codec is being mandated by an international authority, which is a different situation.

    Such as CD's, MP3's, DVD's,Telecoms, Networking, electrical equipment, in fact most things that require a standard.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Frumious Bandersnatch Rights and Licenses

    So you call for citations from AC, in the very same sentence as you say "I think it was Apple and Microsoft spreading FUD about Vorbis infringing on unspecified patents"? Where are your citations?

    Why the double standard?

  30. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Re: @Frumious Bandersnatch Rights and Licenses

    So you call for citations from AC, in the very same sentence as you say "I think it was Apple and Microsoft spreading FUD about Vorbis infringing on unspecified patents"? Where are your citations?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/30/steve_jobs_claims_ogg_theora_attack/

    There. Happy now?

    And by the way, if you go back and read what I said again, maybe you'll understand it in the way I intended: there indeed have been rumours of Ogg violating patents. I [thought] it was Apple and Microsoft making those [foundless--hence "FUD"] allegations.

    Have a nice day, Mr. AC.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re codec licenses

    If your business model is selling pastry, it might make sense to spend money on researching better ways of collecting blackberries and then releasing your findings for all to share.

  32. Jolyon Smith
    Pint

    Moving in Cycles?

    I think he meant steps or possibly waves.

    - Steps and waves move forward.

    - Cycles go round and round.

    Or rather the WHEELS on a cycle go round and round. So perhaps he meant that compression moves ON a cycle, rather than IN a cycle ?

    Or perhaps he was just trying to sound impressively knowledgable and insightful whilst merely stating the bleeding obvious.

  33. quartzie

    Re: Moving in Cycles?

    or perhaps he was thinking about developmental cycles

    as in

    proposal-draft-implementation-deployment => new version proposal-draft..... etc.

  34. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Re: Moving in Cycles?

    Exactly. He's saying the process is iterative rather than incremental. I know we're all geeks here, and literalism is our weak point, but it's a simple metaphor.

  35. Lunatik

    At least it looks like they're choosing a more human/search friendly name than H.264/AVC this time round.

  36. Russ Tarbox

    I just experienced Super Hi-Vision with some Olympics footage...

    ...to all those that say "oh, HD is enough", seriously, this was like BEING there. Sure, it helped it was in a small theatre, with an awesome sound system, but it really was astonishing.

    Of course, it's good to be happy with what we have, absolutely. But don't underestimate how awesome a new technology can be!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Re: I just experienced Super Hi-Vision with some Olympics footage...

    Well, I'm one of the many who think even HD is pretty pointless. I don't watch TV much, don't have a massive set dominating my living room, and really struggle to see the difference between HD and SD (I can see it, but in my case it's not so amazing that i'd pay extra).

    But I'm also forward-looking enough to see the potential. I'd like to get rid of that TV altogether really, a big black square is an ugly thing. I'd also like a bigger screen for watching movies. So give me say a 100" screen that's either transparent / projected onto a wall (without a big chunk of plastic on the ceiling) or can show a nice picture when it's turned off.

    At that size I'd definitely want it to be 4k or 8k. And perhaps by the time these standards happen, we'll have the tech to make a non-ugly telly? We're looking at something that's years away here, remember :)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I just experienced Super Hi-Vision with some Olympics footage...

    I really like HD, and wish that all channels would switch to it, but the problem I find is normal shows are not even broadcast in good quality SD sometimes! the compression used on some channels makes the show really look bad.

  39. Christian Berger Silver badge

    First use will be in computing

    Just like with regular HDTV, the first time we'll get such resolutions, it'll be for computing. and 4k for a 30+ inch computer monitor makes sense.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: First use will be in computing

    My wallet when looking at the price of graphics cards to handle modern games at 1920x1080 disagrees.

  41. ThomH Silver badge

    Re: First use will be in computing

    If I dare cite that particular company, the 15" MacBook Pro is already available with a 2880x1800 pixel resolution. So it's safe to assume we'll be at 4k resolution with, say, 30" monitors, within a year or two.

  42. wowfood

    why?

    The vast majority of TV doesn't even use HD yet. And they're talking about UHDTV?

    Get all channels on HD first, and then think about UHDTV.

  43. Matt_payne666

    Re: why?

    with more efficent encoding, more channels will be able to broadcast HD for less wedge...

  44. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    The critical measure here is the bit rate

    Last time I looked, SD video was broadcast (BBC) at about 3Mb/s for the video and another meg for audio and ancillary data. HD was considered to be reasonable at 20Mb/s but is broadcast at about 8-10Mb/s.

    Where are you going to find space for 90Mb/s, or even 25Mb/s, signals without returning the UK to a three channel country? I can't immediately see a way of doing this as broadcast, and I think it's unlikely that there's the fibre capacity to deliver it online.

    Which restricts its use rather more than somewhat - sports venues, cinemas, and that's about it.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The critical measure here is the bit rate

    "Returning the UK to a 3 channel country".

    Fine by me, about 80% of freeview is dross, and I imagine Sky is mostly worse, bar the odd channel like Sky Atlantic or Sky Arts. We could drop all the shopping channels and adult chat crap without most of the population noticing. In fact I already deleted them from my EPG.

    Ok maybe not 3, but say 10 channels would actually be plenty, unless you're a complete couch potato. Bear in mind the telly is now competing with streaming movies, youtube and, dare I say, going outside and getting a life.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The critical measure here is the bit rate

    Indeeed. There can't be more than about 3 channels' worth of NEW content coming along at any moment in time (edited programmes, not live stuff like rolling news) on average, so that would suit me to get the best of new material. Channels which are jukeboxes of repeats could be dealt with as online services.

  47. Sandtreader
    Boffin

    Re: The critical measure here is the bit rate

    >> Where are you going to find space for 90Mb/s, or even 25Mb/s, signals without returning the UK to a three channel country?

    Multicast IPTV over GPON Fibre

  48. TWB

    Re: The critical measure here is the bit rate

    'Where are you going to find space for 90Mb/s, or even 25Mb/s, signals without returning the UK to a three channel country?' - oooh I like the solution there at the end!

  49. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Re: The critical measure here is the bit rate

    "Multicast IPTV over GPON Fibre"

    Bless you. Hope you get well soon.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3DTV

    "you will simply move your head to the left or the right to give you a stereo impression of an object"

    Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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