Representatives and engineers from Japanese network NHK have been in London this week to assist with capturing highlights from the 2012 Olympic Games. The group is showing footage from the opening ceremony at three locations in the United Kingdom: Bradford, Glasgow, and London. They will also show the footage in Tokyo, Fukushima, and Washington DC. The screenings will run until August 12th. (You can apply for UK screenings at the BBC Ticketing Site. For Bradford, use this site.)
UHDTV sports a 7,680 x 4,320 resolution, which is 16 times the resolution used in current HDTV formats, and twice the resolution of digital cinema. The system also uses 22.2 channel surround sound (a bit more than your average 5.1?).
Dr. Keiichi Kubota, NHK’s Executive Director for Engineering said that they have been “investing a lot of time and passion in making Super Hi-Vision as close to reality as possible.”
New UHDTV Prototype
NHK also announced a new prototype Super Hi-Vision camera. It is significantly smaller than the current cameras. In 2002, the camera weighed in at 176lbs. By 2010, it was down to 44lbs. Now, Hitachi has reduced the weight to about 9lbs, weighing “about the same as a newborn baby,” said Dr. Kubota.
The new camera uses only a single chip sensor, and utilizes a normal lens mount, with no need for unusual lenses. Such a design allows users more flexibility in their production environments with existing hardware. The camera includes a microphone capable of capturing 22.2 channel sound.
Such advancements in technology have potentially shifted the launch date much closer than originally speculated. NHK originally thought 2020 was the goal, but according to Dr. Kubota, they are “already talking about moving the target date forward as soon as possible.”
Dr. Kubota confirmed to technology site TrustedReviews, that “The speed of technological innovation is very fast now. I would be very happy if we could make it around 2016.”
While other broadcasters continue to develop Ultra High Definition Television, it is expected that there will not be a delay from the Japanese launch and other countries. Such development requires huge bandwidth resources. Super Hi-Vision has been successfully transmitted via land, satellite, and air. Limitations to full-time broadcasts include compression algorithms, for which NHK is considering a HEVC system, which is based around the current H.264 system used today.
As manufacturers — like Sharp, Panasonic, and LG — continue to develop UHDTV displays, it will take some time before such products become affordable for consumers, as was the case with HDTV. Still, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Andrew Michael is the Founder of Ultra HDTV Magazine. His interest in the technology began in 2008, before the term "Ultra HD" became mainstream. Andrew has contributed numerous articles, and continues to evolve Ultra HDTV into the ultimate Ultra High Definition resource.