Long reads

The Euro50 Q&A: David Wood, EBU

In addition to his principal job as deputy director, EBU Technology and Development, broadcasting technology expert David Wood finds time to be chairman of the European High Definition Forum, chairman of the DVB CM-3DTV, chairman of the ITU-R WP6C (Baseband formats and quality evaluation), chairman of the European Digital Radio Forum, and chairman of the World Broadcasting Unions Technical Committee. A renowned broadcast industry technology expert, he has worked tirelessly to promote standards for 3D TV and the new 4K and 8K UHDTV systems.

Age 63

Education BSc (Hons) Electronics, University of Southampton, UK; MSc and PhD  (Thesis in television quality evaluation), Popov Institute, Ukraine; AMP (Advanced Management Programme) Harvard Business School, US.

Previous positions Engineer, BBC Research Department; senior engineer, BBC Capital Projects Department; principal engineering information officer, Independent Broadcasting Authority; head of new technology EBU; head of new media EBU; head of emerging media EBU; deputy directory, EBU Technology and Development.

Last year’s highlights The agreement on the DVB 3DTV Phase 1 (Frame compatible) broadcast standard. The agreement on the requirements for the DVB 3DTV Phase 2a (Service Compatible). The worldwide agreement in the ITU-R WP6C on most of the parameter values (all except colour equations) for the 4K and 8K UHDTV systems. The award of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting’. The award of merit by the SMPTE for the paper ‘Understanding Stereoscopic television’.  Being elected chairman of the WBU-TC. The Emmy award to ITU-R Study Group 6 for the Loudness work.

Most significant industry development I was fortunate enough to lead the standardisation group on Ultra High Definition Television.  I believe UHDTV will shape the next 40 years of media, and come sooner that we think.  3DTV will be an important niche system, but will be overshadowed by UHDTV in the long term.  The growth of ‘catch-up’ TV throughout the world suggests this will the most important element affecting ‘audience time’ in future.

Goals for next year Many issues in the ITU-R, including worldwide finalization all the parameter values for the 4K and 8K UHDTV formats. Completion of requirements for the DVB Phase 2b system (legacy 3DTV compatible). Make progress with ITU-R Recommendation sound systems for UHDTV. A number of issues in the WBU-TC such as preparing guidelines for ‘green broadcasting’. Making an exciting SMPTE/EBU summit next May on the next five, 10, and 15 years of the media work well – as chair of the Programme Committee.

Industry challenges and opportunities Across the world there are very many standards and systems emerging for ‘hybrid broadcasting’. There must be some rationalisation of systems if hybrid broadcasting is to achieve its potential.   There is growing pressure from network operators to take ever more of the terrestrial broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband. A balance must be found that takes into account the future needs of terrestrial broadcasting

Alternative career choice My original hopes were (a) journalist (not eloquent enough); (b) actor (not talented enough), or (c) musician (as with actor).

TV character most identified with Maybe the captain of the Welsh rugby team for non-fiction? For a fictional character, I always wanted to be Captain Kirk. If I was, I could use my Phaser to blast the Mr Silly of Sci-Fi, Doctor Who.

Most admired personality I would begin with Barack Obama, though his failure to deliver on his promises is disappointing. Europe has few great politicians at the moment.

Life outside work I have been a fanatical 3D photographer for many years (I believe 3D works better in stills than in movies).  I love reading science fiction, family, light sports…and I admit I watch a lot of movies and TV (as Homer says “TV is my best friend –it is never judgmental!”).