ARLINGTON, VA; OCTOBER 21, 2016 – Today, PBS announced that its Advanced Format Center @ NPR, in cooperation with a few of the industry’s leading technology providers, successfully completed an end-to-end test of the next-generation live production, delivery and home reception of a program segment in Ultra High Definition (UHD), utilizing HDR (HLG10 per ITU-R BT.2100) and DTS:X Next Generation Audio (NGA). This is the first known trial using this combination of next-generation technologies. The major touch points of the end-to-end broadcast production and distribution chain were tested by PBS and a team of industry leaders to ensure the interoperability of key components that will make up the new UHDTV experience, including HDR and immersive audio.
PBS’ partners in this innovative demonstration were DPA, DTS, Ericsson, SES and ViXS, as well as PBS member stations, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) in Saint Paul, MN and Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) in Jackson, MS.
The broadcast test was hosted by the PBS Advanced Format Center @ NPR. Led by Renard Jenkins, Vice President, PBS Operations, Production & Media Distribution, the AFC is a collaborative venture between the two public media organizations as well as PBS member stations, vendors and manufacturers. The mission of the AFC is to explore and develop procedures for the creation, processing and worldwide distribution of 4K/UltraHD, high dynamic range content with immersive audio through traditional, as well as new and exciting, digital distribution platforms.
Working collaboratively, PBS, DPA Microphones, DTS and other partners used state-of-the-art production tools and techniques to record, time shift and feed a music performance segment to the local stations. The teams were led by Fadi Malak and Rob Tame (DTS), Tom Ford (Ericsson), Roy Davis (MPB), Bruce Jacobs and Don Heppelmann (TPT), and Jenkins (PBS). The time-shifted live production and real-time transmission test took place in September 2016. The feed was subsequently shown in Amsterdam during IBC and SCTE Cable-Tec 2016.
“Creating this content and successfully completing the transmission test with this unique combination of elements was a true collaboration and an exciting look into the future,” said Jenkins. “At PBS, we are committed to working with industry leaders across the nation and around the world to help define the future of media and ultimately bring it to the American public. This initiative allowed us to partner with some of the best companies working in this field, along with two outstanding public television stations, to prove this format’s feasibility and viability within this production-to-living room workflow test. It’s a significant step forward for bringing the next-gen audio/visual broadcast experience of UHDTV closer to reality.”
The satellite transmission portion of the test was handled by SES on its UHD platform located on the SES-3 satellite. PBS originated UHDTV test feed carried next-gen content (per DVB-UHDTV phase 2 / ATSC 3.0 / UHDF Guidelines) containing 4Kp60 + WCG + HDR per BT.2100 (backward compatible HLG10) + DTS:X NGA (7.1.4 Immersive Audio).
“This combination of technologies represents what the future of broadcasting may look like,” said Steve Corda, Vice President, Business Development, SES. “We were pleased to work with PBS and DTS and carry the transmission on our UHD satellite multiplex, which carries the largest bouquet of UHD channels in North America.”
The UHDTV experience is currently being developed globally by international SDOs such as ATSC, DVB, ITU, SMPTE, and helped by industry forums such as UHDA and UHDF. In this test, the real-time program assembly of 4K+HLG10-HDR video plus immersive audio mix fed the 4K linear broadcast encoder from Ericsson, which performed the real-time encoding of 4Kp60 HEVC and 11.1 DTS:X, DTS’ NGA solution for immersive and object-based audio delivery to the home.
At the reception end, coming off the satellite, the signal was routed to a set-top-box powered by a next-gen SoC from ViXS, which decoded and routed the video to the HDR capable consumer displays with appropriate CTA signaling for HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma). At the same time, the ViXS signal passed the DTS:X immersive bitstream over HDMI to a DTS:X enabled AVR with a 7.1.4 loudspeaker setup for the final immersive rendering. Different audio/visual setups were tested from the same live stream, including the backwards compatibility of the HLG-HDR video with SDR displays, and the immersive playback and rendering of the DTS:X bitstream over different immersive devices, including an impressive DTS:X powered sound-bar from Yamaha (YSP-5600).
To produce the content used in the transmission, performances featuring legendary drummer and DPA microphone artist, Dennis Chambers, along with other local musicians were recorded in Washington, DC and at Blue Room Music Studios in Herndon, VA. The sessions, which were overseen by Steve Remote of Aura-Sonic and Brandon Gass of DTS, employed state-of-the-art microphones provided by Gabriel Antonini of DPA Microphones. The DPA mics complemented the MDA live production tools that were used to mix, and produce an object-based audio mix, from which an immersive payload was rendered and then transmitted to the home.
Multidimensional Audio (MDA) is a cross-industry open object-based immersive audio production format that has been submitted for standardization in SMPTE, ITU and ETSI (ETSI TS 103 223).
Following this successful test, PBS is looking forward to continuing to push the boundaries of advanced format distribution to harness the power of innovative media for our member stations and the American public. We will be working to increase the frequency of experiments of this nature as we continue to develop the next generation of outstanding viewer experiences.
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Jan McNamara, PBS, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-739-5028