EngadgetHD recently reported that ESPN is in the process of tricking out a new studio that will be capable of 1080p 60 video production. That’s the 1080p HD format at 60 frames per second, a resolution far beyond what any of us see on TV today. Of course image quality is dependent on a lot more than just broadcast format, and the comments section over on the EngadgetHD post is filled with skepticism from people who cite bandwidth issues and compression woes as likely detractors to ESPN’s plans. Luckily, there are positive signs on the horizon beyond just ESPN’s new broadcasting capabilities. Specifically, encoding technology is getting better along with production equipment.
Earlier this month, Motorola (my employer) showed off a new MPEG-4 encoder specifically geared at the 1080p 60 format. Interestingly, one of the major benefits touted was the ability to use 1080p 60 for 3D TV, with 30 frames per second geared at the left and right eye each. Even more interesting, in a conversation I had with a Motorola executive several months ago, I learned that ultimately this type of TV delivery using MPEG-4 encoding won’t be any more onerous from a bandwidth perspective than typical HDTV delivery is today. That plus the bandwidth gains being driven by the switch to all-digital television gives me hope that TV service providers will make the move toward higher resolution HDTV in the near term. All the better for keeping up with ESPN.