Next Generation Broadcast TV
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have their year meeting in Las Vegas in the Spring every year. When we worked for Sony Pictures we would get excited about going and demonstrating the gear we were developing as well as seeing what other companies were showing off. It was not quite as hectic as CES but it was still a great time. Nowadays we are a little more focused on what we take away from the NAB show. In particular of interest this year is the ATSC 3.0 specification. This year there will be some demos of the technology.
Layered Division Multiplexing
This technology will cram more data into a single channel. Think of this as a bus traveling down the road where the road is the channel on your tuner. You can only get one lane of busses through that road. But what if now you had a double decker bus. On that same road you have doubled the data coming through to you. Its not as simple as just adding levels to the bus. Imaging a three level bus trying to go under an over pass. The main takeaway is that this technology will enable you to get UHD over the air while using only one channel.
Compression is key to getting UHD content to you. Right now ATSC uses mpeg 2 and Blu-ray uses mpeg 4. With mp4 you get about a doubling of the data as you do with mp2. If you look at the current ATSC spec, television stations are transmitting streams of anywhere between 10 and 18 Mbps in mp2. You can get the same quality mp4 picture with streams of about 5 to 9 Mbps. And if you are using H.265 that drops to about 2.5 to 4.5 Mbps. But rather than give us current quality in less space, the goal is to give us better than Blu-ray quality picture and sound in the same spectrum (channel). The National Engineering Center for DTV from Shanghai, China will be demonstrating a full-chain Ultra HD TV system, which includes a UHD TV presentation system, as well as realtime UHD TV encoding, broadcasting, receiving and decoding.
Targeted Ads, Better EPG, and Interactivity
A US company will be showing off interactivity and rich media that won’t require a second screen like a tablet or phone. Broadcasters will be able to insert local ads more easily and the EPG gets a makeover. Broadcasters will be able to transmit HTML 5 applications that will support voting and polling. Now you’ll be able to vote for your favorite performer on whatever talent show you are watching right from your TVs remote.
Object Based Surround
We’re quite happy that its not too late to add this to the ATSC 3.0 spec. There are three competing standards to bring three dimensional sound into your living room. Of course you would expect Dolby’s Atmos and DTS’s DTS:X. But there is also one from Qualcomm and Technicolor. They are testing 60 sound tracks with each of the three systems.
When is it all going to Happen?
There is still plenty of time to enjoy your ATSC 2.0 TV. The specification won’t be finalized until 2016 and then it will take years before the broadcasters and manufacturers have equipment ready to accept OTA UHD. Look for there to be a brief period where you will be able to buy an external UHD tuner. We wonder if they will provide vouchers to buy UHD to HDTV converters.
Posted by The HT Guys, April 9, 2015 11:54 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.