IBC 2013: New Levels of Real in Content Capture

Posted By Tom Coughlin on September 17, 2013 06:45 am | Permalink
At the 2013 IBC conference in Amsterdam the introduction of advanced cameras and digital storage for cameras gave some insights into the shape of things to come for the digital capture market.  These included a new flash-based digital storage format for ARRI cameras, cameras supporting up to 200 fps, a prototype motion scene camera, as well as a prototype of a mobile 8K cameras by NHK.

According to a Coughlin Associates survey of media and entertainment professionals, many members of SMPTE or the HPA, flash memory camera storage is the storage media most used in modern cameras (59% of the survey participants used flash memory for camera recording media).  Various formats for flash memory are used in professional cameras made by companies such as Sony, Panasonic, Ikigami and ARRI.  At the 2013 IBC ARRI and SanDisk introduced a new flash memory format for digital cameras, the CFast 2.0 recording media. 

CFast 2.0 has flash storage capacities of 60 GB and 120 GB with write speeds up to 350 MB/s.  This write speed supports recording with high quality codecs at high frame rates.  In fact the new Amira documentary-style shoulder mount digital camera that ARRI announced at the IBC uses the CFast to record up to 200 fps. Most common professional video cameras and flash storage media today only support up to 120 fps on full resolution formats.

ARRI also showed a prototype Motion SCENE Camera at the 2013 IBC.  SCENE is a European research project to create advanced imaging technology.  SCENE has a goal of developing novel representations and tools for digital media beyond sample-based (conventional video) and model-based (CGI graphics) based systems.

In the IBC Future Zone the Alexa SCENE prototype showed an RGB+Z camera that couples an Alexa Studio camera with a time-of-flight camera.  By including the time-of-flight camera with the conventional camera, imagining through the same visual portal, this camera prototype can capture RGB images combined with depth information.  This allows the resulting images to be manipulated like CGI images and provides inherently 3D spatiotemporally consistent captured content. Combining CGI animation with video will be more seamless with this approach, creating new possibilities for visual effects and more efficient video workflows. 

Also on display were several other interesting camera arrangements using several cameras at one.  Hitachi was showing a 16 small camera array while the Fraunhofer Institute had a camera system that can captures an entire 360 degree view at one time.

For several years NHK has been championing 8K X 4K video.  In the Future Zone at the 2013 IBC NHK was showing 8K video from the 2012 Summer Olympics and other sources on the large format Sharp 8K video display.  In the same exhibit they had their mobile camera prototype for 8K content capture on display.  NHK has been vigorously pushing 8K video and plans to have initial 8K broadcast trials within a few years.  At the 2013 IBC there was a clear push to implement HEVC (H.265) compression for video content.  On display were many examples on the encoding and decoding of HEVC content for 4K video.  

The used of an advanced compressed content delivery codec will also enable future 8K content.  With the advances of content capture combined with advanced content delivery and display technology consumers will be able to experience whole new levels of realism in future video displays.