An audience 100 million strong tuned in to the 2020 North American football championship broadcast held in February 2020 on a range of platforms and device types. For the first time ever, a live broadcast of the event was made available in both UltraHD- and HD-High Dynamic Range (HDR), though a majority of the acquisition was in 1080p and most audiences viewed the game in HD-SDR. To help facilitate simultaneous live production across HD-HDR and HD-SDR formats, Bexel, an NEP Broadcast Services Company, a leading global provider of outsourced broadcast solutions and production equipment rentals, was brought in. The company arrived on site armed with more than 70 AJA FS-HDR converters and frame synchronizers to handle more than 200 conversions between multiple sources spanning live camera feeds, graphics, commercial content, historical footage and more.
Embracing a Single Master HDR workflow, Bexel set up the FS-HDRs to transform and combine a range of external SDR sources into one master 1080p HDR feed. While specialty footage captured in UltraHD was down-converted to 1080p in the CCU, the FS-HDR supported simultaneous conversion of the master 1080p HDR feed to HD-SDR for distribution to displays without HDR capabilities. Throughout the various HD-SDR to HD-HDR, HD-HDR to HD-SDR, and 720p HD to 1080p HD-SDR transforms required, the FS-HDRs ensured the image integrity of each source while reducing overall production complexity.
“FS-HDR bridges the gap between modern SDR and HDR live production workflows,” shared Johnny Pastor, Vice President, Technical Services, Bexel. “The flexibility it provides for the price point is truly unmatched and has made it our go-to for events like this. For all that it does, it’s also super compact; we can easily integrate it into our flypacks without driving up the weight, so we can save on shipping costs.”
Tom Dickinson, Vice President Technology, Bexel, added, “Producing a live HDR broadcast while working in an SDR external environment can be challenging to say the least, as you’re working with multiple different sources and have to be sure that quality is not compromised as signals are converted and moved throughout the chain. Our FS-HDRs make it easier to go between both worlds to meet the demands of SDR integrity, while also enticing audiences with an impressive HDR feed, and in the case of other client products UltraHD-HDR feeds.”
As Bexel continues to service high profile clients around the world, it expects AJA to remain a staple in its workflow, especially as the transitions from SDR to HDR and HD to UltraHD advance. Pastor concluded, “We looked at a number of HDR converters, but FS-HDR ultimately stood out and we’ve been impressed by its solid performance in the field. We also really enjoy working with the AJA team, who have been instrumental in bringing new features to the device that help us better support our clients as HDR continues to evolve.”