Commercial Integrator caught up with Bob Caniglia, senior regional manager, Eastern North America, Blackmagic Design to get some insight.

Every integrator I speak with is either thinking about Ultra HD or has already installed it. This is not a future technology, it is here now as clients are expecting and asking for it.

Luckily, Ultra HD-ready products are available, and the change is not nearly as disruptive or costly as the SD to HD transition.

What has driven the need for Ultra HD?

New technology that has allowed Ultra HD media to be recorded, transferred and archived is a huge catalyst. But one of the main drivers is expectation by the general public.

As technology progresses, things are becoming smaller, faster and more powerful.

Not only can we talk, text, tweet and email on our smartphones, but we can take amazing high resolution photos and videos, watch television and stream our favorite movies. We also enjoy being able to do all this, and more, from a single device.

We live in a connected world where consumers have become so used to having access to content and seeing high quality images that they have now come to expect it everywhere they go, whether at a Sunday church service or watching a live stream of their kid’s high school football game.

High quality images keep viewers engaged no matter how the content is accessed, and quality has become equally as important as the content itself.

The move to Ultra HD is also inevitable, and it’s not a question of when it will happen, but what will happen to those who don’t get on board sooner rather than later.

It’s not just expected from major broadcasters, NFL stadiums or the massive screens in Times Square.

A/V everywhere now has to be more impressive than what people can see at home on their TV.

Handling the convergence of A/V and the move to Ultra HD may seem like a challenge. But there are certain factors integrators need to keep in mind to successfully navigate the convergence of A/V while concurrently transitioning to 4K or getting workflows Ultra HD ready. And by keeping these factors in mind, integrators can also avoid the biggest pitfalls that stand in their way.

Compatibility

Everything from capturing images to switching, recording, streaming and archiving needs to work together. Ultra HD does not favor proprietary products that don’t work across an entire network.

Fortunately, 12G-SDI, 6G-SDI and Thunderbolt technology have allowed companies to build products that work across an entire Ultra HD network.

12G-SDI and 6G-SDI products can handle multiple tasks as the lines between workflows become more and more blurred.

With so many options and potential workflows, integrators need to ensure that they invest in technologies with the right feature set. This not only includes professional features, but also flexibility and interoperability.

With 12G-SDI and 6G-SDI, SD, HD and Ultra HD video can be sent down a single BNC cable, and you can switch between different television rates all on the same BNC connector.

This means products with 12G-SDI running at 12 Gb/s can also run 270 Mb/s standard definition, 1.5 Gb/s regular HD-SDI or 3 Gb/s 3G-SDI.

The use of optical fiber augments the SDI infrastructure by accommodating longer runs, especially in large venues. Multi-standard equipment allows the use of SD, HD and Ultra HD when you need it now and in the future.

Integrators also need to consider bandwidth. Thunderbolt 2, which works on Mac and Windows, now has a 20Gb/s bi-directional channel and moves media along 10 times faster than USB 2.0. It is also dual port so you can work with a huge spectrum of PCI-e and Display Port computers and monitors.

Affordability

Like death and taxes, budget is inevitable. Cutting-edge technologies and professional features used to be reserved for the few who could afford them.

However, what used to be a major barrier for smaller markets, such as worship, education, government and certain sports, is becoming less of an issue as Ultra HD becomes more affordable. And affordability doesn’t mean a sacrifice in quality, as professional features will help deliver professional content.

Integrators need to do their research and invest in affordable products that have the features and flexibility that workflows demand and their clients need to stay competitive.

Integrators also need to realize that by prolonging A/V convergence, they could be doing more damage in the long run by running up extra costs trying to make outdated or disparate systems work.

Expandability

When investing in technology, after finding products that have the right feature set and that are affordable and within budget, the last thing you want is for them to become obsolete in a short period of time.

This is why integrators need to invest in products that are expandable through firmware updates, provide enough connections to grow workflows and that have future proof features, such as the ability to work in SD, HD and Ultra HD.

Firmware updates are the easiest way to expand a product’s capabilities without wasting an investment, and integrators should be aware if a product line or company has a history of regularly producing firmware updates.

It’s also important because it shows that products are being developed based on customer need and feedback, especially as workflows are constantly changing and evolving.

In the same vein, integrators should invest in products that have enough connections, inputs and outputs so that workflows have room to grow.

Why limit yourself from the outset? It’s also why integrators should look for products that have the ability to work in SD, HD and Ultra HD if their clients aren’t ready for a full on Ultra HD workflow at present.

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