'Historic' broadcast of super HD from UK to Japan

Click's Spencer Kelly watched the BBC's Super Hi Vision broadcast to Tokyo from behind the scenes.

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A gig by The Charlatans has been sent to Japan in a first-of-its-kind broadcast of Super Hi-Vision TV.

The technology, 16 times sharper than HDTV, has been developed by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

The standard could be used on giant public viewing screens, some of which may be in place for the 2012 Olympics.

NHK hope to broadcast in Super Hi-Vision by 2020, although no television currently exists that can fully show off the 7680-by-4320 pixel signal.

The "full HD" currently available means a display of 1920 by 1080 pixels - a quarter the number of pixels both vertically and a quarter horizontally.

Dr Keiichi Kubota, head of research and development at NHK, described the transmission as a "historic moment".

A trial run of the technology was shown off at a conference in 2008, beaming a live image from City Hall in London to a conference centre in Amsterdam.

NHK has since been working to make the cameras significantly smaller and in partnership with the BBC's Research and Development division has developed methods of compressing the video signals.

At full resolution, those signals are transmitted at a staggering 24Gb/s, and the Super Hi-Vision camera was made possible by NHK's development of an optical data transmitter inside that can handle the stream.

In Wednesday's demonstration, a camera - one of just three of its kind in the world - captured a live set by the group The Charlatans.

In an adjacent room, spectators watched the performance on a 103-inch plasma television, also developed by NHK.

A prototype that represents the leading edge of television technology, it is still just one-fourth the resolution that the Super Hi-Vision signal contains.

An audience in Tokyo watched the gig on a significantly larger screen, thanks in part to Janet, the UK's 40Gbit/s education and research network that was used to stream the broadcast.

for fans in the UK eager to hear the set, it will be rebroadcast on Thursday 30 September and can be viewed on the 6Music website.

Olympic vision

NHK is also working to develop the "vision mixer" that will allow the mixing of signals from more than one camera, as well as a recording standard that can take in the mountains of data.

Takahiro Izumoto, a senior engineer for NHK, told BBC News the firm was aiming to be broadcasting in Super Hi-Vision by 2020.

Audience in Tokyo watching Super Hi-Vision broadcast A monitor at Television Centre showed the Tokyo audience watching the gig

"This is the experiment showing we can broadcast from the UK to Japan," he said.

"In a year, we'll have a vision mixer and the superimposer [a means to add subtitles], so it will be easy to do a whole production as live coverage."

BBC R&D also used the broadcast to carry out experiments on 3D coverage, hoping to create shots that give the impression of movement but making use only of a single, fixed Super Hi-Vision camera.

While the Super Hi-Vision technology is still at the experimental stages and no formal agreements have been drawn up, there is some hope it will make an appearance at the 2012 Olympics, both for public displays and to form part of the BBC's archive footage.

The director of the BBC's 2012 Olympics coverage Roger Mosey was present at Wednesday's broadcast.

He told BBC News: "You're not going to have it in your living room in 2012, but we think it's so good we really want people to see it.

"We'd love to capture some of the 2012 Olympics in Super Hi-Vision and also have some test screens where people can go and watch it."

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