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Super Hi-Vision: on target for 2015

12 September 2010
Super Hi-Vision: on target for 2015

The crowds are again standing in line to access NHK’s 8K Super Hi-Vision cinema (Hall 8), and what’s especially remarkable is the progress made since the last such demo in 2008.

This year’s display includes breathtaking live footage of central Amsterdam and fresh images captured at the Tokyo marathon, as well as sports and cultural events captured over the past few months.

Kenji Nagai, NHK’s executive director general of engineering, said that steady progress had been made behind the scenes in all the key technical areas. He confirmed that while it was still targeting 2020 for comprehensive Ka-band satellite transmission over Japan, he remained optimistic that by 2015 Japanese viewers would be seeing test transmissions of Super Hi-Vision terrestrially, and on Ku-band satellite.

Digital terrestrial broadcasting needed to see a compressed signal cope with – at most – a 60Mbps data-rate squeezed into a pair of 6MHz channels. NHK’s road map sees this task taking the next five years to achieve.

Meanwhile, Nagai was also talking to the BBC and the EBU in regard to test broadcasts of the 2012 London Olympic Games in Super Hi-Vision, for public display.

Two years ago Nagai and his team were showcasing a MkII camera that weighed in at 40kg. Today’s version weighs 20kg. “It is just about the size and weight that can be used in a mobile situation,” Nagai said. Further progress was being made in compressing the extremely fat signal, using H.264 compression algorithms. Moreover, the IBC demo shows that there’s much more flexibility in the way the cameras are being used.

Nagai said the current tests showed that camera operators and directors had to learn new techniques. Gentle camera pans were now manageable, but the 100 degree viewing angle, and sharp image, meant that fast zooms were not advisable. Sudden scene changes also needed careful thought.

Nagai stressed that there’s still a great deal of technical work to be done. This coming year would see more effort made on the displays, in conjunction with his colleagues at Sony, Panasonic and the other Japanese manufacturers. “We would like to bring flat screens to the home, and with 8K resolution, by 2011 or 2012.”

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