Japanese demo Ultra HDTV

4000 lines TV is a reality thanks to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, which has just demonstrated that bandwidth-hungry signals can be sent by satellite.

At IBC last year the general consensus was that this Ultra HDTV was probably 15-20 years away. Read on and be astounded.

NHK's test satellite transmissions used a massive bank of 16 synchronised encoders to compress each of the 7680 x 4320 pixel, 33 megapixel frames, the highest resolution ever in practical terms, down to a single standard uplink helped by MPEG4-H.264 compression rates. One minute of uncompressed video takes a mind-boggling 200GB of storage - or 10TB an hour!

NHK used Kyrion encoders from French technology company Ateme, and Ateme say they are working closely with NHK to help develop the evolving transmission standard. Global standards committee SMPTE is already working on a series of specifications for the new broadcast technology which brings cinema quality detail and flicker-free images. NHK say the plan is to see a robust standard agreed next year. The BBC and Italian pubcaster RAI are also working with NHK.

However, the real shock is in the now suggested timetable for commercial deployment. NHK, and the TV industry, has always said that a huge amount of work still needs to be done behind the scenes, not least in the amount of digital processing needed to compress the images (hence the racks of 16 synchronised decoders currently being used. Reducing this amount of computing power and technology to a bank of silicon chipsets in an affordable set-top box will take some time. As will improving display technology to handle 33 megapixels of transmission, and significantly over and above today's ‘true' HDTV of 1080 lines.

The Japanese now say they estimate these fresh developments will converge into equipment suitable for home use in the next 10-15 years.

4000 lines TV is a reality thanks to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, which has just demonstrated that bandwidth-hungry signals can be sent by satellite.

At IBC last year the general consensus was that this Ultra HDTV was probably 15-20 years away. Read on and be astounded.

NHK's test satellite transmissions used a massive bank of 16 synchronised encoders to compress each of the 7680 x 4320 pixel, 33 megapixel frames, the highest resolution ever in practical terms, down to a single standard uplink helped by MPEG4-H.264 compression rates. One minute of uncompressed video takes a mind-boggling 200GB of storage - or 10TB an hour!

NHK used Kyrion encoders from French technology company Ateme, and Ateme say they are working closely with NHK to help develop the evolving transmission standard. Global standards committee SMPTE is already working on a series of specifications for the new broadcast technology which brings cinema quality detail and flicker-free images. NHK say the plan is to see a robust standard agreed next year. The BBC and Italian pubcaster RAI are also working with NHK.

However, the real shock is in the now suggested timetable for commercial deployment. NHK, and the TV industry, has always said that a huge amount of work still needs to be done behind the scenes, not least in the amount of digital processing needed to compress the images (hence the racks of 16 synchronised decoders currently being used. Reducing this amount of computing power and technology to a bank of silicon chipsets in an affordable set-top box will take some time. As will improving display technology to handle 33 megapixels of transmission, and significantly over and above today's ‘true' HDTV of 1080 lines.

The Japanese now say they estimate these fresh developments will converge into equipment suitable for home use in the next 10-15 years.