Television

Travelxp and Prashant Chothani's 4K drive

Prashant Chothani

MUMBAI: Prashant Chothani is a man on a mission. The veteran cable TV professional-turned-Zee TV-associate-turned TV broadcaster has marked two dates in his calendar – October 2016 and February 2017. The founder and CEO of Travelxp- the Indian travel lifestyle channel  - has set his sights on launching his channel in 4K globally in order  to engage even international viewers by one of those two dates.

Says Chothani:  “We have shot 100 hours of UHD (Ultra High Definition) 4K content and need another 50 hours of content to launch a full fledged 4K channel.”

It’s almost as if a race is on. And it’s a race he has ventured into by himself. Ever since he started dabbling in filming travel and lifestyle shows in 4K  and got pole-vaulted into an elite group of 4K content pioneers thanks to MipTV and Mipcom  in Cannes, the format has been coursing through his veins and keeping him awake night and day.

So much so that he has invested around $2 million in producing his shows in 4K over the past year or so.  That kind of investment – when the entire channel Travelxp is turning over an estimated $3 million in revenues (both advertising and subscription)  -  shows his commitment and optimism about the future of UHD  content and to be a pioneer.

“The process of 4K is long and time consuming and one needs a lot of investment and patience for this transition. We were amongst the first to begin the shift from Standard Definition to High Definition. And now we are all up for new age of 4k. As an Indian production company, we are setting the standards for 4K. We are very proud of that,” says  Chothani excitedly.

He and his Travelxp team have shot in about 10 countries including a series in India with a plan to produce more indigenous content.  4K TV productions cost about four times more than a HD shoot. Travel shows take about six to eight months to complete with a crew of six to eight once again.  

Chothani has invested a few million dollars in the 4K production pipeline. Travelxp owns Sony F5S cameras with Canon lenses. Colour grading is done on DaVinci Resolve machines. 4K requires terabytes of storage and processing the content requires high speed machines  for rendering. The in-house production team at Travelxp is using Apple Pro modified machines to process the heavy raw footage.

He reveals that he challenge lay in selecting the right equipment which would allow him to maintain image and video quality in natural light. He and his team have done what Indians are known for “juggad” or innovating to get things working in the Indian ecosystem.

“We are the first ones to attempt this, so the learning was on the job. We made our mistakes, but learned as we went along,” says Chothani “The HD to 4K transformation is not easy for anyone. It will take undoing what is done and unlearning what production houses already know. Old infrastructure is not compatible for such a change.”

The advantage of 4K is the color quality, picture depth and image sharpness it offers to viewers. The viewer feels like he is experiencing each frame live with his naked eyes. One can see every inch of detail from blossoming flowers to morning dew and each merging shade of rainbow on one’s screen. Sports and travel and lifestyle content come out best when viewed in 4K.

Chothani has been filming keeping in mind the evolution of UHD standards set by the UHD Alliance recently. These state that for a production to be labeled as High Dynamic Range (HDR) 4K, it has to be shot at a 10 bit rate at 50 frames per second (fps) and 2100 REC with the pixel set at 3,840 X 2,160 and 16:9 format. But he and his team have filmed their 100 hours of content at 4K SDR (standard dynamic range) with the bitrate at 16 and at 50 fps. This Chothani states will allow all the content to be upgraded to 4K HDR rather easily. Says he: “We have kept the shooting quality with both the SDR and HDR options being open to us.”

It’s not as if the 4K HDR road is going to be easy and paved with gold.  An estimated 30 million 4K TV sets or receivers have been purchased by TV viewers globally.  But these are SDR sets and most will have to be replaced or use Hybrid Log Gamma tech to allow viewers to enjoy the better picture quality that HDR yields. And brands like Sony and Videocon have started manufacturing TVs matching the new 4K HDR standards.

Then there is the question of distribution via satellite. Each 4K channel requires 25 Mbps of bandwidth on a transponder. That means expenses. Chothani is in talks with satellite capacity providers such as with SES, Eutelsat, Measat and Hispasat. He says 20 distribution platforms worldwide have already agreed to carry Travel Xp 4K once it begins telecasting.

According to Chothani, it took some time and tedium for the industry and viewers to shift from standard definition to high definition viewing.  Around 50 channels in India out of the 800 odd are beaming in HD, making it an eight to 10 per cent  ratio.  Chothani predicts that 8-10 per cent of HD channels will also likely transition to 4K in the short run.  “The challenge is truly big, but change indeed is the only constant,” he says with a shrug of his shoulders.  “And I indeed want to be ahead of the curve.”

Spoken like a true pioneer.

Latest Reads

https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/10/aa.jpg?itok=nbnD7UoR
FTA channel Hare Krsna TV aims to specialise in motivational talks

Mumbai-based surgeon Dr Bimal Shah runs Hare Krsna TV, a free to air (FTA) satellite TV channel. Being a self-funded channel run for social service, several cable operators carry it without a carriage fee.

Television TV Channels Specialised and Niche
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/10/gandhi.jpg?itok=1cNZEP5X
Free patriotic films for cinema lovers, courtesy NFDC

This one is for film lovers of India’s independent cinema. The National Film Development Corp (NFDC) has decided to showcase some films from its wide catalogue free between 7 and 21 August 2020 as a celebration of India’s independence day.

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/08/zoom.jpg?itok=B6-BfMzW
International stars from 13 Reasons Why, 365 Days, Too Hot to Handle make their India Television chat show debut with zoOm’s Access Allowed

MUMBAI:  zoOm gears up to welcome the biggest International stars on its much talked about chat show Access Allowed.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/08/rohit.jpg?itok=D72FGTVX
SPNI's Rohit Gupta on The Venice TV Festival jury

NEW DELHI: A tribute to innovation and international recognition for quality creative and media content, The Venice TV Festival has announced Sony Pictures Network India president Rohit Gupta as a part of its extensive international jury for the upcoming festival scheduled in September. 

Television TV Channels GECs
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/08/radio-mirchi.jpg?itok=JjRNbC6u
ENIL income from outside India grows as other numbers plummet in first quarter

Indian private FM player Entertainment Network (India) Ltd (ENIL), which runs the Mirchi brand radio network in India, reported 71.7 percent fall in consolidated Total Income from Operations (TIO) for the quarter ended 30 June 2020.

Television TV Channels Specialised and Niche
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/08/tv-today.jpg?itok=gzM91a6r
TV Today numbers subdued but profitable for first quarter in Covid2019 period

Most corporates, and more so broadcasters, have reported red bottom-lines for the first full COVID2019 quarter and the first quarter of fiscal 2020-21 (quarter ended 30 June 2020, Q1 2021, quarter or period under review).

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/07/naggin.jpg?itok=86gUgUR-
Colors' Naagin 5 will premiere on 9 August

MUMBAI: COLORS brings the fifth season of the fantasy fiction franchise Naagin 5. It will be presented by Dabur Amla Hair Oil.An illuminating exploration of the world of Naagin, the series will be fueled by hatred, revenge and unrequited love as the Sarvashresth Adi Naagin will return to avenge her...

Television TV Channels GECs
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/07/prive.jpg?itok=Tx5whkNS
Korean action-comedy ‘Exit’ to premier on &PrivéHD

MUMBAI: When you feel you’re at an impasse in life, all it needs is the right drive and persistence to see it through the end. Exit,  Korean action-comedy film directed by Lee Sang-geun tells a story of how all things can momentarily change in the blink of an eye.

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
https://us.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/08/07/dil.jpg?itok=JP_VgXRV
Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film ‘Dil Bechara’ to be telecast on Star Plus

MUMBAI: After wooing the audience with super hits like Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior and Lion King, Star Plus is all set to offer its viewers one more Superhit Movie Dil Bechara on 9 August at 8 pm. The movie is an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars, it tells the story of...

Television TV Channels Movie Channels

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required