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Friday, April 28, 2006

HD on Steroids

From PC world:

So you think HDTV is cool? How about something with 16 times the resolution, accompanied by rich, 22.2-channel surround sound?Welcome to the world of Ultra High-Def. NAB convention goers got a sneak peek at the new technology in Las Vegas--only the second time it's been shown to anyone outside a lab (the first was last year, near Nagoya, Japan). Ultra HD boasts 4320 scanned lines and a resolution of 7680 by 4320. Take that, 1080p!NHK, a Japanese government-owned company which developed the technology, had an impressive 12-minute demo on a 400-inch screen at their booth. Images ranged from outdoors scenes (the field of sunflowers stretched back forever and the flowers were so detailed I felt like I could pick one), to various sports (I didn't really need to see the hair on the sumo wrestler's thigh, but I could), to animals at work and play (I could clearly see even the patterns on bees' wings as they walked over a honeycomb), to a Google Earth-style map of Las Vegas with super-crisp lines.There was also a side-by-side demo of Ultra HD and standard HD at the booth. The scenes were live shots from the roof of the Las Vegas convention center; Ultra HD video was shown on a 22.2-inch LCD at 3840 by 2160 and the HD one on a 17-inch LCD at 1920 by 1080. It was easy to see the difference: the Ultra HD sample gave me a broader, sharper view; for example, I saw individual strands on palm leaves where in the HD image I saw only the fronds.Nagamitsu Endo, producer for the company, told me there were only two prototype systems in the world that could produce the Ultra HD images, both of which were at NAB. The camera and tripod alone weigh over 100 pounds (see image below).
All the custom-built processing and recording equipment (see samples below) bring the total weight up to about a ton.
And it all needs about 7 megawatts of power. It takes 7 hours to process 18 minutes of video, which takes up 3.8 terrabytes of space, uncompressed.The camera captures a 100-degree viewing angle to give the viewer the sense of being immersed in the image (it worked). To get the full benefits of the technology, you'll need to see it on a screen at least 100-inches on the diagonal; 200-inches is preferred.Once they get the power, weight, and compression issues worked out, you could eventually see Ultra HD at sporting events or in museum displays. It is a TV system, though, so it will come to your living room, too--maybe by 2025, says Endo.

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