During the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the R&D team of the BBC decided to trial ultra-high definition (UHD) and high-frame-rate (HFR) streams of the tournament, as part of an experiment to develop innovative new ways of broadcasting. Two Barco F85 projectors running at 100fps and 50fps were used successfully in the test.
Visualizing HFR images
"One of the factors affecting UHD TV is that as the resolution increases, the rate at which the image refreshes on the screen (the frame rate) also has to increase to avoid flicker and maintain the resolution of moving images," the BBC explained on its website. So after testing UHD streams during the World Cup earlier this year, the R&D team tested the impact of higher frame rate coverage during this summer's Commonwealth Games. An HFR camera (4k resolution) was used to record the shots. Two ceiling-mounted Barco F85 projectors, set up to run at HD 100fps and 50fps respectively and driven via a PC, visualized the HFR images.
As the technical infrastructure to deliver HFR images to people's homes doesn't exist yet, the team ran the experimental broadcast in parallel and showed the images at the Glasgow Science Centre. The showcase was probably the world's first large-scale public demonstration of high frame rate television. The feedback? Most of the audience said they could see the benefits of higher frame rate straight away and were very impressed.
More than HD and HFR content, the BBC also unveiled innovations in the way audiences experience live events. The 'augmented video player' showcased in Glasgow can overlay interesting data about the athlete or sport directly on screen. Another new product is the 'venue explorer which, as the R&D team explains, "allows you to watch live video feeds on your tablet and then zoom into the images and pan around".