Although high-definition formats HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc are the
bleeding edge of technology in the current consumer market, a new technology
from Japan makes the latest HD movies specifications look simply archaic. Last week,
engineers at NHK's (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) Science and Technical Research
Laboratories demonstrated Super Hi-Vision technology capable of a 7680x4320
resolution, reports IDG.
At 7680x4320, over 33 million pixels make up the image –
this represents 16 times the resolution of a 1080p image. To get a picture of
the bump in resolution, a Super Hi-Vision image could be approximated by tiling
16 of today’s best HDTVs together. In comparison, a 1080p picture represents a
six-fold jump in resolution over standard-definition television.
Unlike current HD cameras, which are hitting the hands of
consumers, the Super Hi-Vision camera sensors are not yet able to capture a
full color picture. The latest prototype Super Hi-Vision sensor is monochrome, but
NHK plans to incorporate three sensors – one for each primary color – in order
to capture color images. The prototype is super-fast too, able to capture data
at a rate of 4,000 frames per second.
NHK is also working on a sound system to complement the
improved image. While today’s best home theaters have 7.1 setups, the audio
component paired with Super Hi-Vision is 22.2.
However, it may be quite some time before such an
image is delivered on media, let alone broadcasted, as an uncompressed signal requires a
bit-rate of 24Gbps. A single minute of Super Hi-Vision footage would require
194 GB of storage.
To help ease that burden, NHK is enlisting the help of ATEME,
a provider of MPEG-4 and H.264 solutions, to compress the 7680 x 4320 "Ultra
HD" video – creating a new video standard. ATEME says that it is currently
cooperating closely with NHK Labs in the design and development of this
next-generation standard using existing MPEG-4 AVC compression technology.
"We are very excited to be partnered with NHK - the
leading broadcaster in the world for advanced technology implementation - for
Ultra HD," said Benoit Fouchard, Vice President of Sales, Broadcast and
Broadband for ATEME. "ATEME's MPEG-4 AVC encoding has always been accepted
as the world's best, and NHK's sole reliance on our technology proves we are
fully capable of scaling to the ultimate in bandwidth and quality requirements
for HD. We are very proud to be working with them and look forward to a
continued partnership with NHK."
Super Hi-Vision cameras, recorders, encoders and projectors
are under development and the introduction of a new Ultra HD standard is
planned for 2009. NHK estimates that satellite transmission tests will begin in
2011, and by 2020, Ultra HD will be ready for broadcast to households.