Sea Technology

DEC 2017

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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www.sea-technology.com December 2017 / st 17 (Top) Broadcast video resolution comparison. (Image Credit: Libron, Wikipedia). (Bottom) The EagleRay 4K camera. A s modern camera technology accelerates, the need for a compact, cinema-quality 4K ultra- high-definition (UHD) deep-sea camera for manned submersibles and ROVs has become more and more apparent. In this article, we discuss UHD broadcast video standards and introduce a new deep-sea mini-camera that combines cinema-qual- ity 4K video imaging, with interchangeable lenses, manual remote control, fiber-optic or coax telem- etry and other essential features in an ultracompact, lightweight package. This new system has been re- cently field-proven down to 1,000 m in Antarctica, on documentaries including the BBC's "Blue Planet II" and NHK's "Deep Ocean" series. Innovations in modern video camera technol- ogy are changing at a blistering pace. For decades, stan- dard definition (SD) interlaced composite video ruled the world, with only slightly varying standards (NTSC & PAL being the prime examples). Then, in only a few short years, high-definition (HD or 2K) digital video took the world by storm. HD televisions and cameras flooded the market, and the underwater industry slowly began to catch up, offering products that could support the new HD standards. Our industry has only begun to catch its breath, and al- ready all of this HD stuff is, frankly, old news. Granted, even archaic SD composite video cameras still suffice for many simple ROV work tasks, but broadcast and film outlets won't even touch HD footage anymore for new productions. You might as well be working with a Kinetoscope. Nope, we are now full-throttle into the era of UHD video. Ever More Resolution So, what does all of this mean, and why should anyone care? Do we really need all of that resolution in underwater cameras, or is this just some sort of tech fad? First, let's do a quick overview of what all of these broad- cast TV video resolution numbers actually mean. Without getting into too much detail on the range of resolutions and aspect ratios, here are the basics. SD: This is anything less than 720 horizontal lines of reso- lution. In practice, the dominant standards are NTSC (480 i) and PAL/SECAM (576 i), both of which are interlaced video signals. Interlaced video is a holdover from the days of lim- ited broadcast bandwidth, where a single frame had to be sent in the form of two separate "fields" consisting of alter- nating odd and even lines. The fields were then "interlaced" to form a single image frame. Modern digital video has all but abandoned this scheme in favor of "progressive scan," which allows the sending of complete frames. Most legacy cameras and CCTV systems still use these SD formats. HD: This is interlaced or progressive-scan video, from 720 to 1,080 lines. However, once HD digital video stan- dards emerged, it became more appropriate to refer to these resolutions by pixel count. For example, 720 p = 1,280 by 720 pixels, and 1,080 p = 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. To add to the confusion, the shorthand for these standards in the broadcast world is based on the number of vertical lines (horizontal resolution), for example, 2K for 1,080 p HD. 4K Mini-Camera Enables Deep-Sea Documentaries UHD Captures Undersea Scapes in Extreme Environments By Lee Frey • Dirk Fieberg • Lawrence Borne

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