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Harmonic is not a company many consumers have heard of—it provides video-infrastructure services for the professional community. But its booth at NAB 2014 had several interesting demos related to UHD. Perhaps most important was a live UHD stream at 60 progressive frames per second. A playout server sent uncompressed UHD via multiple SDI connections to a real-time HEVC encoder provided by Altera, which sent the encoded bitstream at 20 Mbps to a ViXs prototype set-top box via IP. The STB decoded the stream and sent it to a Panasonic UHDTV via HDMI 2.0.

 



This was a demonstration of a live UHD stream at 60 frames per second on a Panasonic UHDTV. With an encoded bitrate of 20 Mbps, the image looked really good, even with some airplanes flying in relatively fast motion.

 

In another demo, 1080p was upscaled to UHD and compared with native UHD on a split-screen display. The 1080p/30 content was encoded in AVC at 5 Mbps, while the 2160p/60 was encoded in HEVC at 15 Mbps.

 



The upscaled 1080p on the left looked nearly as good as the native 2160p on the right, though the images were all slow-moving. I saw a slight color shift between the two, and the HD side looked ever so slightly darker than the UHD side.

 

Finally, there was a demo of "120 Hz" UHD—which turned out to be 2160p/60 with frame interpolation. The bitrate was 20 Mbps, and the imagery was all slo-mo.

 



The 120 Hz frame-interpolated content in this demo was all slow-motion, and it was shot at a frame rate of 60 Hz, so there was no "soap-opera effect" that I could see. The colors were pretty oversaturated; I asked if the display had been calibrated, but the Harmonic rep I spoke with didn't know. I have no idea what the color gamut of the original content or the display was.

 

 

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The upscaling of 1080p may be very relevant to our visual lives, since it will probably be a long time until we consumers see much 4k content.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregLee  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24614936


The upscaling of 1080p may be very relevant to our visual lives, since it will probably be a long time until we consumers see much 4k content.
This is exactly why evaluating the quality of upscaling is so important to the near-term success of UHD.
 

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Forget 4K, most of the TV shows I watch on my 1080p projector are in 720p h.264...really looking forward to everything getting encoded in Hevc so the bandwidth requirements for decent 1080p encoded video will drop, and adoption will increase. At the same file size in H.264, I think 720p looks better with a higher relative bitrate allocation per frame than the 1080p one.


Really hoping UHD Blurays come out this year, that will help adoption of UHD TVs and get the ball rolling (faster). But for downloads or streaming regular shows in 4K, no way. Aside from the occasional super awesome movie, but even then, I'd rather pay for it once and own it on disc permanently.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24614365

The 120 Hz frame-interpolated content in this demo was all slow-motion, and it was shot at a frame rate of 60 Hz, so there was no "soap-opera effect" that I could see. The colors were pretty oversaturated; I asked if the display had been calibrated, but the Harmonic rep I spoke with didn't know. I have no idea what the color gamut of the original content or the display was.
It seemed that displaying mismatched gamuts creating oversaturated images was more common than one might expect. While not accurate, it may display DCT block type artifacts better. Besides, the pictures look purty
Still photos of the displays may be misleading, but they look high in color temp.


I've been curious about what the meaning of "soap-opera effect" is. Other types of shows are shot with live video cameras with 60hz (& 50hz) motion update such as sports, talk shows, award shows etc. I don't recall this frame rate being referred to as the live camera look. Is it a term coined with a love of judder or because there is a lot of 24p drama content but little outside soaps in 60hz? My guess is a little of both. I've wondered how native high frame rate features would be accepted. Even the Hobbit at just 48 fps was jarring to some.


Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that in 2014 achieving proper upscaling could be a significant issue? I understand the requirements and the various filter techniques, but by now it would seem the hardware requirements would not be that difficult.


Once again, good choice of companies to report on. Harmonic is well known for professional encoding. A similar Harmonic backed video to the bottom picture is on YouTube in 4K - COSTA RICA IN 4K 60hz (ULTRA HD) w Freefly Movie - but I think it's encoded at 30 fps.



YouTube 4K JPEG cap - click pic then the Original button for full size
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregLee  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24614936


The upscaling of 1080p may be very relevant to our visual lives, since it will probably be a long time until we consumers see much 4k content.
4K @ 24p as a production standard has been around for some time, so material is there. It's a matter of distribution and HEVC is arriving just in time. 4K @ 60p is another story and perhaps won't be seen for a long long time - maybe even a year or two
Since Comcast owns NBC and is a service provider, they seem like ones who might delve into 4K sports - 4K NBCSN? I doubt Mark Cuban has ambitions to create UHD Net.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24766135



It seemed that displaying mismatched gamuts creating oversaturated images was more common than one might expect. While not accurate, it may display DCT block type artifacts better. Besides, the pictures look purty
Still photos of the displays may be misleading, but they look high in color temp.


I've been curious about what the meaning of "soap-opera effect" is. Other types of shows are shot with live video cameras with 60hz (& 50hz) motion update such as sports, talk shows, award shows etc. I don't recall this frame rate being referred to as the live camera look. Is it a term coined with a love of judder or because there is a lot of 24p drama content but little outside soaps in 60hz? My guess is a little of both. I've wondered how native high frame rate features would be accepted. Even the Hobbit at just 48 fps was jarring to some.


Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that in 2014 achieving proper upscaling could be a significant issue? I understand the requirements and the various filter techniques, but by now it would seem the hardware requirements would not be that difficult.


Once again, good choice of companies to report on. Harmonic is well known for professional encoding. A similar Harmonic backed video to the bottom picture is on YouTube in 4K - COSTA RICA IN 4K 60hz (ULTRA HD) w Freefly Movie - but I think it's encoded at 30 fps.



YouTube 4K JPEG cap - click pic then the Original button for full size
 

There's more than one way to scale, and some of them are incredibly computationally expensive. There's this one neural network based scaler (NNEDI3) that scales amazing well, like a night and day improvement over any scaler I've ever seen, without any artifacts....and scaling a 1080p image to 4K brings my $400 graphics cards to it's knees, burning hundreds of watts in the process.  But damn, it looks so good.

 

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24769698


There's more than one way to scale, and some of them are incredibly computationally expensive. There's this one neural network based scaler (NNEDI3) that scales amazing well, like a night and day improvement over any scaler I've ever seen, without any artifacts....and scaling a 1080p image to 4K brings my $400 graphics cards to it's knees, burning hundreds of watts in the process.  But damn, it looks so good.
Thanks for the demo. Isn't that a soft solution, albeit using GPU acceleration?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...-interpolation-at-nab-2014/0_50#post_24771489


Thanks for the demo. Isn't that a soft solution, albeit using GPU acceleration?

Yep. I dunno how expensive neural network ASICs are, but I bet they're prohibitively expensive. It's too bad it's extremely difficult to use right now with blurays (you'd have to rip them and play them in a media player that supports madVR). I recall someone doing a scaling quality comparison by taking a source image, downscaling it, then upscaling it back to the original size using various techniques and mathematically measuring how close each scaled image was to the source, and it was the clear winner.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24771604


I dunno how expensive neural network ASICs are, but I bet they're prohibitively expensive.
As (dreaded by many) frame interpolation has become common in displays, I would speculate a hardware solution for such scaling wouldn't be that impractical. Frame interpolation hardware for standards conversion was in the six figures when it came out professionally (PhC). I really don't know what is being shipped now for scaling in displays. I'm rather surprised how well a little Bay Trail tablet will play 4K h.264 files natively (source for the cap) and scale them down to a 1280x800 display with good quality. That $400 power eater video card might well be replaceable for video processing with integrated graphics soon. Blasphemous!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24773287



As (dreaded by many) frame interpolation has become common in displays, I would speculate a hardware solution for such scaling wouldn't be that impractical. Frame interpolation hardware for standards conversion was in the six figures when it came out professionally (PhC). I really don't know what is being shipped now for scaling in displays. I'm rather surprised how well a little Bay Trail tablet will play 4K h.264 files natively (source for the cap) and scale them down to a 1280x800 display with good quality. That $400 power eater video card might well be replaceable for video processing with integrated graphics soon. Blasphemous!
 

I'm sure it will be. Today's $300 GPU is tomorrows $50 GPU anyway. All I really mean to say is that upscaling isn't necessarily a solved problem. Just like video compression, they're continually finding ways to do it better as processors get more powerful. 
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003  /t/1527651/harmonic-live-uhd-60p-uh...frame-interpolation-at-nab-2014#post_24773397


All I really mean to say is that upscaling isn't necessarily a solved problem. Just like video compression, they're continually finding ways to do it better as processors get more powerful. 
Thanks very much! What might be interesting is to compare two displays, one HD with HD material and a second UHD with the same HD material upscaled with NNEDI3.
 

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You can try it for yourself on your PC, it's free software. Download media player classic and madVR, and pop a DVD in (or any SD media file). Pixels are pixels, scaling from SD to HD is basically the same as scaling from HD to UHD.


Honestly though, from a normal sitting distance I doubt you could tell the difference between mediocre scaling and great scaling. But 4K is all about overkill anyway, so might as well go all the way.
 
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