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Digital media industry ramps up support for 4K at broadcasters show

Digital media industry ramps up support for 4K at broadcasters show

Vendors such as Cisco, Sony, Red Digital Cinema and Panasonic are opening the door for live broadcasts

Products for creating and distributing 4K content, including cameras that will open the door for live sports and music events, are a hot trend at this week's National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas.

With the broadcast industry on board, wider distribution of 4K content, which has a 3840 by 2160 pixel resolution, is much closer to reality.

The first step is to record high-resolution content, so at NAB, Panasonic showed the new VariCam 35, which can shoot movies, commercials, TV series and live events in 4K, according to the company.

The camera has a new 35-millimeter sensor for 4096 x 2160 pixels image capture and stores content on up to four memory card slots, including two that are compatible with the ExpressP2 cards. It allows for recording and storing 4K video at up to 120 frames per second. The camera will ship by the end of the year, with pricing to be announced.

The ability to capture live content is also important to open the door for 4K sports content. Sony and Cisco Systems are demonstrating live streaming at the show, using the Sony F55 camera and Cisco's Videoscape AnyRes platform.

Meanwhile, Red Digital Cinema announced its 4K Broadcast Module for streaming live and uncompressed footage at 60 frames per second. The module is compatible with Red's Epic Dragon and Scarlet Dragon cameras. It too will ship later this year, priced at US$6,950.

Red Digital Cinema also announced a development kit that will let programmers create applications for smartphones, tablets and laptops that can start and stop a recording, with control features such as shutter speed and white balance on the company's cameras. It also launched the Redlink Bridge module to enable communications between devices and the company's cameras.

Sony also unveiled the Alpha 7S camera with interchangeable lenses and a 12.2-megapixel sensor. What sets the product apart from the competition is its ability to use the entire width of a full-frame image sensor when shooting in 4K, according to Sony. Pricing and availability will be announced at a future date.

But the growing support for 4K is about much more than cameras. Adobe Systems is previewing a compatible version of its Primetime that will be available this year. The platform can be used to deliver live and on-demand video content to smartphones, tablets, TVs, media players and game consoles.

Vendors such as G-Technology, Huawei's enterprise unit and Promise Technology announced storage systems, while Tektronix is demonstrating products for monitoring quality.

HEVC, or H.265, video-compression algorithm is a key part of making 4K file sizes and bandwidth use more manageable. To help accelerate the development and adoption of the technology, Canadian company Vantrix announced the creation of an open-source version of the H.265 encoder, calling it the F265 project.

The company is already seeing impressive compression results, but there is plenty of room for improving real-time performance and expanding the feature set, it said. The project site is in the process of being finalized and those interested can sign up to be notified when it goes live.

The NAB Show is expected to attract 93,000 attendees from 156 countries.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Tags promise technologyAdobe SystemsRed Digital CinemaTVsG-TechnologyHuawei Enterprisesonydigital camerasCisco Systemsconsumer electronicsDigital camcordersPanasonic

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