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BBC captures incredible 600 frames-per-second fight scene in 4K Ultra HD test

BBC engineers have added another first to their collection with a one-minute fight scene filmed in 4K Ultra HD at 600 frames per second.

The broadcaster’s R&D team were loaned an experimental £58,000 For.A FT-One camera for the test, which could only shoot the scene in 14-second chunks because of the huge amount of data produced.

The scene – a fight over a sandwich in an engine house – had to be filmed quickly in fading daylight as the team raced to capture it at speeds from the standard 50fps all the way up to 600fps.

BBC technologist and film-maker Alia Sheikh blogged: “It is incredibly rare for anyone to to attempt to film entire sequences at high frame rates, with the intention of playing those sequences back at full-speed.

“As the video shows, every aspect of the production is affected – from the huge amount of data we have to be able to handle, the amount of light we have to throw onto the scene and even how the crew interact with each other.

The challenge was part of ongoing BBC research into making high frame video in Ultra HD and how people see it.

The engineers had to build a special portable storage system to quickly download each clip of the scene as they filmed the trained stunt fight actors.

But the 600fps video and other high frame rates then had to be slowed down to 200fps because current editing systems can’t cope with high speed 4K video.

The Beeb has experimented extensively with 4K UHD content, broadcasting some of the Commonwealth Games and three games from the Maracanã stadium during the World Cup using the technology.

However, the BBC doesn’t have any plans for public 4K test broadcasts just yet, if only because there are no 4K Freeview, Sky or Freesat boxes it could use – they’d have to build a 4K iPlayer and that would require about 20Mbps to watch.

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