To keep our readers informed, WaveLengths Magazine gathers news and information from a variety of industry sources. One of those sources is Valerie Sitler, CEO of FIS Blue. Val’s company provides fiber optic cabling and equipment that can withstand harsh environment conditions, including military and broadcast applications.
WaveLengths - Val, I see that 4K TV’s are now in stores, which provide viewers with much higher image resolution and sharpness. How does 4K video impact TV viewers, production studios and the broadcast industry at large?
Val - Let me answer that with a little history. In 2009,
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
mandated that all U.S. TV signals be transmitted
digitally. These High Definition TV (HDTV) images
would be far sharper than anything TV viewers had
ever seen before with analog broadcast technology.
Because of the higher quality of digital images,
the broadcast industry had to take steps to ensure
that no visible artifacts or glitches were introduced
into TV productions by the broadcast cabling that
transported the images. At that time, copper cabling
was still in wide use and subject to interference
caused by electrical equipment and other sources of
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).
The solution adopted by production studios was to convert from copper cabling to fiber optic cabling, which is immune to EMI.
The 4K video standard that was recently introduced boosts image quality even more. Fortunately, fiber optic cabling is already in place in most production studios, so the problems associated with copper cabling are no longer an issue. Fiber optic cable is also better able to preserve video quality over distance - hence the move to singlemode fiber in SMPTE 311M cabling. The signal can travel a tremendous distance without degrading the image.
Today, I think that most quality control takes place on the set. If set design, period costumes and even actor makeup are not top quality, the viewer who is watching the show in high, 4K resolution will be more likely to notice it.
WaveLengths - Do consumers require highbandwidth connectivity in order to receive 4K video broadcasts at home?
Val - 4K video requires a lot more bandwidth than the previous TV standard. As a result, 4K video will be a major incentive for carriers to bring Fiber to the Home to those communities that don’t already have it. Not to mention that 8K video is on the horizon, which will further increase screen resolution and bandwidth requirements. 8K video is slated for introduction in 2020.
WaveLengths - Thanks for providing your insights regarding the new video standards. What’s happening at FIS Blue in terms of innovative new products?
Val - We are very excited about our new Slim-Tac cable. Essentially, we’ve taken rugged tactical cable used by the military and slimmed it down for use in the broadcast environment. While extremely rugged, the new cable is light enough for field technicians and camera crews to carry around on cable reels, even on their shoulders as they often do. Slim-Tac Cables are available in 12 and 24 fiber configurations, in 5 and 6.2 millimeters respectively. A 7 millimeter SMPTE version is available as well.
WaveLengths - Val, do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?
Val - Yes. In the early 90’s fiber optic technology was maturing and we used to ask ourselves the question, “Now that we have this tremendous broadband capacity, how is it going to be used? Cable TV? Video conferencing?” In those days, we didn’t have Internet yet and we were still communicating by fax and telephone. Today, the answer to that question is evident. In fact, I can’t think of a way that we don’t use broadband and fiber optics in our daily lives. The speed of technological growth that we have witnessed feels faster than the speed of light. Very incredible!
WaveLengths - Val, your excitement over fiber optics is contagious! I’ll look forward to touching bases with you again in an upcoming issue of WaveLengths Magazine.
Val - Thank you Charlie, I’m looking forward to it!
The company’s product line includes cable assemblies that can withstand rough handling and harsh outdoor environments, which are typical of both broadcasting and military applications. Products include hybrid fiber/copper cable assemblies, expanded beam connectors, TFOCA® -style military connectors and termini-style cable assemblies.
FIS Blue is headquartered at the FIS Research Park in the town of Oriskany in Central New York State.