IBC 2006: Is HD Coming, or is it Already Here?

Their interest shouldn’t have been a surprise for streaming product manufacturers, for three reasons.

First, and especially for those product manufacturers who cater to broadcasters of all sizes and stripes, it’s a well-known fact to those who have been in the broadcast industry over the last few decades that broadcasters and studios tend to move through the product assessment-to-implementation cycle at almost half the pace of the typical enterprise customer. So, having tried the internet and found it appealing, broadcasters were essentially asking to begin assessing prototype HD streaming and transcoding products alongside prototype HD acquisition and transmission products. In essence, broadcasters were sending the overt message that they believed so firmly in streaming that they wanted to assess HD streaming solutions as part of their total HD workflow, and from the very inception of these HD workflows.

Second, it’s a well-known fact that broadcasters are being asked to shift from standard-definition transmission to digital and high-definition transmission. While the mandatory move has been delayed slightly by Congress, broadcasters seriously began to assess this move in early 2004, and began placing orders for products to implement this strategy less than a year later.

Third, bandwidth and storage capacities began increasing dramatically in mid-2005. With the average U.S. personal computer possessing an 80-100GB hard drive and 3MB transmission speeds available in most U.S. neighborhoods via cable modem, the consumer demand began increasing in late 2005. Apple saw this interest and responded with a gallery of H.264 HD content that has been ever increasing, to the point that almost half of its movie trailer library is now HD content.

Even storage capacities for digital media acquisition and playback are more than keeping pace. One pre-announcement for IBC 2006, following the pattern of introducing a prototype at either NAB or IBC and then shipping the product at the next show, notes that InPhase is releasing its holographic optical disc system, capable of storing 300GB per disc, which is being backed by Hitachi-Maxell.

Their press release noted that Turner Broadcasting, in October 2005, was the first to demonstrate play-out-to-air of a commercial from a holographic system, using the prototype of their product, which is being integrated into broadcast field cameras.

"The holographic storage era coincides with the all-HD universe that is finally starting to occur, and broadcasters are the beneficiaries of this unique technology," said Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with In-Stat.

Let’s hope the streaming media product manufacturers follows suit and offer compelling HD boardsets at IBC 2006, so that the HD revolution can move forward.

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