High Definition and Ultra Definition

I went to the Video Forum 2005 exhibition yesterday, it was pretty boring but I did catch the BBC HD presentation which gave me a little to think about.

The first point which hit was the thought of using digital still cameras to create HDTV clips. Let me explain, my digital camera creates pictures of 4.33 megapixels which is about 2272 x 1704. Other resolutions bellow that are 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768 and of course 640 x 480. The first two (2272 x 1704 and 2048 x 1536) could easily beat the highest resolution of HDTV which is 1920 x 1200 progressive. So all you need to do is take 25 pictures or even 50 pictures of the scene at these resolutions and crop or reszie them to 1920 x 1200 then join them together at 25/50 frames a second to create the clip. Only 2 major problems, most digital cameras dont have native support for the 16:9 widescreen format we enjoy in the UK and also the biggest problem. Its going to be hell taking 25 or even 50 shots a second to create a short clip. At these resolutions a attached CF card would quickly fill up and you would need some way to get the information off quickly. Anyway this method is ideal for things that dont move much aka skies and landscapes (timelapse clips). Obviously this is not new to others
, who already do HDTV quality versions. The other thing I was thinking was that you could easily achive the lower quality HDTV resolutions (480p/i and 720p/i) on a digital camera and even on a good mobile phone! My Sanyo's 1.33mpx camera is able to do 1280 x 960. Yes the CCD and lens is bad but its possible with enough time and lots of editing.
By the way Andy King also stressed the need for real digital surround sound in HDTV recordings, which doesnt seem to bother alot of the boradcasters at the moment.

And I was also alerted to the successor to HDTV which is called UHDV. Here is the camera shot I took after the presentation by Andy King from BBC HD. Let me highlight the specs, if you dont want to look at the picture.
7680 x 4320 resolution, it will be 16 times higher than HDTV and creates a 32 mega pixel image for each frame! Its also meant to run at 60 frames a second! They also havent forgotten the surround sound. Shifting to a 22.2 Surround Sound setup. Which is 10 at ear level (suspect this will be the new rumoured Dolby 10.1 or 12.1 standard), 9 above and 3 below ear level plus 2 subs.

If you do the maths, all those sound channels and image pixels add up to a massive amount of data.

In test, an 18-minute UHDV video consumed 3.5TBs of storage (equivalent to about 750 DVD’s). The data was transmitted over 16 channels at a total rate of 24 Gb/s per second, thousands of times faster than a typical DSL connection.

By the way its been talked about on slashdot twice now.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.