« Previous | Main | Next »

Super Hi Vision (and 3D, and Stereoscopic, and DSLRS) in TC0

Post categories:

Ant Miller Ant Miller | 18:00 UK time, Wednesday, 29 September 2010


the shv camera

The Super Hi-vision camera

After years of being mothballed Television Centre's TC0 burst back to life with a bang today as R&D brought together one of the biggest experimental broadcasts in years.  BBC Sport asked us to help them demonstrate a selection of the latest broadcast technologies that will be available for the 2012 games, so we have brought in the NHK Super Hi Vision system, stereoscopic 3D, a couple of our own 3D projects, and 6music were using their own rig (plus a few cheekily sited Flips) to capture content for their website.  At the height of activity this morning, when our own 'making of' crew, plus BBC Click were on set, there were probably in excess of 25 cameras trained on the band!



Shooting Stars

The main camera, the biggest in the pictures, and the key reason for this demo, was an NHK Super Hi-vision camera, which records an image of mind blowingly high resolution, 33Mega pixels per frame.  These images were displayed around the studio on 4k (4000 horizontal lines resolution) monitors- even though these are the highest definition monitors in the BBC, the image is actually being down converted from its raw form!

Alongside the Super Hi-vision we had another pair of cameras, aligned to give a fixed stereo pair to be merged with the Super Hi-vision in post production to create 3D with extremely fine texture, as part of the i3DLive project.


Dual camera stereoscopic mirror rig for capturing 3d images

Dual camera stereoscopic mirror rig for capturing 3d images

To one side of this set was the 3D Stereoscopic mirror rig hired in by BBC Studio Resources .  This method of mounting 2 cameras allows the separation to be managed down to less than the width of the camera bodies would usually allow.  Down at the back of the studio we set up an HD screen with alternating circularly polarised scan lines so the image could be watched in real time with glasses, and it was also recorded for future use.

6 music has also brought along their usual, but far from dull, video set up for band sessions- they use 3 large sensor cameras, one on a shoulder rig, one on a track dolly and one on a tripod, each with small add on monitors.  With this set up, plus a few lightweight Flip cameras taped to various areas of the set, the 6music team will be putting together a very striking webcast of the session.


6music shooting on DSLR

6 music shooting on rail dolly mounted DSLR. CC Ella Chambers


Oliver Grau calibrates the 3d sensors

Oliver Grau calibrates the perimeter cameras.

Above and around the whole of TC0 is a fixed ring of a dozen cameras, each with a ring of chroma key blue LEDs, that allows us to shoot the action from all angles at once.  This is the BBC R&D 3D capture rig- and it's true 3D, in that we capture a complete 3 dimensional model of the scene, not just a view that looks 3D from a certain angle, as stereoscopic techniques do.  With a little bit of last minute calibration, Oliver Grau and team from the 3D4you project were able to grab a good content set for later processing.



Sound and Fury

The complex soundscape produced for the on site demonstration of the technology was a product of both R&D's own engineers, including Andrew Mason and David Marston, and also our colleagues from Radio Outside Broadcasts, who brought along their brand new truck to take the live sound feed and turn it into beautifully balanced 5.1 surround near instantaneously.


Global Network

The demonstration also included a live internet supported stream of the data from the SHV all the way to Tokyo, using elements from JANET, and NTT amongst other carriers.  BBC R&D provided network test and monitoring equipment and skills, and NTT managed the stream, including an integrated 2-way video-conferencing link.

Launch Day

Charlatans rocking in TC0

The band rock out in 3d, super hi-vision etc! CC Ella Chambers

It was brilliant to have a great band like the Charlatans in to christen the rebirth of TC0, and great to share the occasion with so many talented colleagues from across Sport, Television, Resources and from across the world.  We're really flattered that journalists from BBC Click, BBC News Online, Ariel, BBC Sport online all took time out to come and see what we're doing.  With a studio holding perhaps 30 people, another 20 in the gallery and 15 in the demo room, this was a fantastic event, full of the buzz and excitement that great performance and ground breaking technology can bring together.

Tremendous credit to Tim Plyming in Sport for pulling the whole exercise together, to 6music, Radio OBs, Studio Resources, and to John Z, Oliver, Stephen, Chris, Andrew and everyone in R&D who is making this such a vibrant new facility.

Tomorrow we will be hosting the Taekwondo Scotland National Team demonstration, again over a live link to Japan, and then, who knows!  TC0 is back, with a bang, and the future is ours to make.


monitor showing the hacked TC0 logo

We're back!




  • Comment number 1.

    What is the point of the BBC playing with Super Hi Vision when they can't even produce a decent quality HD service. At the moment BBC transmits a sub standard 1440x1080 picture at very low bitrate. The BBC has no plans to deliver 3D let alone Super Hi Vision to licence payers. This just seems to me to be a publicity stunt to try and steal the thunder from Sky who will be starting the first 3D in the UK tommorow.

    There are 48 HD channels available in the UK and all the BBC contributes is a one part time channel. Mark Thompsons recent speach has pages of discusion on technology in the BBC with not a single mention of HD.

    For the Olympics it seems that the BBC is planning to produce 3D and Super Hi Vision to deliver to foreign stations. This means that viewers in other countries will be able to watch in 3D and Super Hi Vision but licence payers will have to put up with sub-standard HD.

  • Comment number 2.

    Beat me to it Trevor. Learn to crawl before you can walk, BBC HD need to sort out broadcasting in proper 1920x1080 and have decent high bit rates before even attempting to move towards 3D and supervision. Please stop wasting the license payers money, and sort out the current BBC HD output first!

  • Comment number 3.

    Let them experiment.
    If something develops then, as long as they haven't been privatised, perhaps the UK licence-payer might benefit.

    mr trevorjharris has a point or two, but remember how much HD material does SKY actually produce themselves?
    They sell it on as a package. OK they do sport in HD, but some of the crews making the programmes are ex-BBC recently privatised. Possibly even (although I do not know this as a fact) using ex-BBC facilities!

    Anyone can package someone else's material and sell it on and make you pay for the privilege.
    Movies? HD- easy.
    Sport? HD- easy.

    To home-produce programmes using British actors, British artists, British musicians, British crews, British facilities from British Studios is a little more difficult, expensive, and takes a little more time to achieve.

    As regards a sub-standard HD TV picture.... that's not what most experts think. It depends which 'blog' you read. Have you seen the German Version of their main two channels HD on their satellite channels?

  • Comment number 4.

    If the BBC run to form we can expect to see Super Hi Vision being rolled out to an enthusiastic response in about 2020, and then by 2022 it will have been reduced in resolution, squeezed, starved of bandwidth, put on to DTT with even further degredation, all whilst the BBC maintain it is still as good as day one and the changes have made no impact on PQ...

    As trevorharris points out in #1, the timing of this can only have been motivated by Sky's launch of 3DTV today.

    Unfortunately, it is more than likely nowadays that Sky would be first to launch a commercial Super Hi vision service anyway, long before the BBC...

  • Comment number 5.

    #1-4, comments noted guys but I'm not going to knock this experiment (as I know you're not really doing either). It is just the kind of thing I think that BBC R&D should be tinkering with, to show the management just what is achievable given the will. Like you I'm disappointed that on current showing the management, and its overseers the BBC Trust, don't seem to share these guys vision of what the public wants, or yearns for. But for my part I'm saying thank you Ant, thanks BBC R&D, keep up the good work and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the future that you're trying to make becomes a reality!

  • Comment number 6.

    I hear what you are saying Paul. I have alot of respect for BBC R&D they certainly have done some very good work. One issue is that the BBC have been cutting back on R&D. The problem is the BBC Management which has little respect for technical exellence and has differerent priorities. The fact that they have made Danielle Nagler head of BBC 3D confirms this. Judging by what Dannielle has done with BBC HD we can expect very little from BBC 3D.

    I still think this was a bit of a stunt as there is nothing new in what they have done. 8k cameras have been commercially available for ages as have high speed internet connections. In any case this was a cut down version of Super HD Vision as they only used 5.1 surround sound and not the full 22.2 required.

    I still believe the reason for this stunt was to take away some of thunder from Sky who started thier 3D service yesterday. The difference between the BBC and Sky is that the BBC only talk about quality and Sky actually deliver it.

  • Comment number 7.

    I hear what you're saying too trevorj; at this very moment I've got the BBC HD Preview loop showing (a hangover from last night's very very late golf) - the Proms is showing and my room is filled with the most glorious surround sound, for 90 secs, abruptly cut-off to preview Him & Her and then some kiddies thing about Raggles & Rosie (for 90 secs each).

    If only there was a choice of BBC HD channels where I could choose what I prefer to watch, when I prefer to watch it, and then see the whole programme, from beginning to end - I wonder does $KY deliver that? If so, perhaps I need to rethink my options, and maybe start campaigning for an abolition of the licence fee.

  • Comment number 8.

    Congratulations to BBC R&D. well done on your achievement.
    -I'd love to see the SuperHI Vision picture, it must look fantastic.
    Come to that- I'd love to see a standard 1920x1080 HD picture on BBC HD.
    So, it is hard to imagine how good a picture 16 times more detailed than standard HD will look.
    roll on the next generation of HD

  • Comment number 9.

    When will we get the 7.6K Super HiVision the BBC is taping on our TVs/displays? Will the BBC be making this format available at full resolution in a consumer format (displays, and media format)? Does it need much less camera movement? Can you tell us more about the "full 3D" (ie. better than stereoscopic) recording you are doing?

    Is 50p a high enough frame rate for Super-Hivision, or does it need a lot more really (since for HD it was said that a lot more than 50Hz is needed, and SHV is a lot more than normal HD)?.

    What BBC and EBU productions will be shot and made available in a consumer format in SHV format (or better)? Will the SHV, "full 3D" and surround vision be combined to one system?

  • Comment number 10.

    Come on HD1080 you know this stunt was just a hoax. In fact I had to check it wasn't April 1st. Danielle has made it perfectly clear that the BBC has no plans to deliver 3D let alone Super HD Vision or even 1080p50. The BBC will be the last public service broadcaster to provide an HD version of it's main channel. Infact ITV2 HD will be on air before BBC1 HD.

  • Comment number 11.

    I fear this is playing with technology for technology's sake and is not for any practical domestic purpose. Great if you work in the BBC's R&D department though.

    There is clearly not enough bandwidth at present to transmit 'full HD' via satellite or terrestrial systems without impacting received quality. Unless there is some advance knowledge that significant additional bandwidth is going to become available in the medium term for TV transmissions (fibre optic links to everyone's home maybe?), or video compression technology is going to advance at unprecedented rates, this technology may never reach the consumer. Given that, I have to question whether this is acceptable use of the TV licence fee income.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Various folk:

    I don't think it's very fair to lump a long-term research project (one which, I think, has been going on for the past couple of years, with loads of planning leading up to this event) together with issues in the current production HD delivery system.

    More to the point, should R&D not keep appraised of and be involved in next-generation broadcasting technology research? Would you rather they ignored it until it hit the shelves?

    And, do you not think that work on efficiently shifting the massive amounts of data required to sling SHV halfway around the world might actually help in improving HD delivery in the shorter term?

  • Comment number 14.

    Oh, and if this was just a smokescreen, it was exceptionally well-planned (my understanding of the timings might be wrong, but I remember hearing about BBC SHV research before any of the BBC HD picture quality debates kicked off), and it probably should have been publicised a little bit wider than the R&D blog if it's to distract people...

  • Comment number 15.


    I don't have any problem with BBC R&D doing long term research. Sticking a single camera infront of a group singing a couple of songs and tranmiting it around the world has very little research value. Also the BBC did publicised this on the News media but made no mention of Skys historic achievement.

    As I said earler I have alot of respect for the BBC R&D as they have done some very good work and contributed greatly to the development of broadcasting. The problem lies with the current BBC management who seem to have little or no technical knowledge. The lack of commitment to HD does make one question if there is a future for the BBC. The BBC R&D have been doing research into 3D but the BBC has stated that it has no plans to introduce a 3D service at all.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hope to see a recording of this at IBC next year.

    Personally I think the future of HDTV lies in high frame rate rather than absurdly high resolution, some DCinema types I've worked with claim that the difference between 2k & 4k is only detectable in their very largest Cinemas, never mind higher resolution still. The difference between 30fps, 60fps and 120fps is immediately apparent at SD resolutions and contributes more to the experience than super hi vision in my opinion. Yes I have seen SHV in the flesh.

    I hope the very promising p300 and p600 BBC research is still progressing, the glut of pseudo 200hz and above TVs suggests that real 1080p300 has a very promising future much nearer than super hi vision. Thanks to the stereo 3D fad 100hz and 120hz TV's are now readily available.

    Would also like to know more about the BBC's own 3D projects, especially if as hinted they go beyond stereo vision 3D. How about a blog about it?

  • Comment number 17.

    Nice to hear from you Paul G. Trust you are well.
    Agree with Post 19, BBC R&D come up with some amazing stuff. But how much of it will ever be implemented to us is another question. Yes, the current BBC Management are on deaf ears on the technical side, hence why HD is suffering at their hands.

  • Comment number 18.


    The chance of the BBC producing anything above 1080i50 is zero. The Freeview HD specification does not even alow 1080p50 let alone anything higher. They seem to have problems producing anything in HD even the studio shots in the Commonwealth Games are upscalled SD.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well they did try to get 1080p50 into the Freeview HD spec but too late I understand.

    A great shame that there is such a gulf between what R&D are experimenting with and what we get to see at home. Everyone in the industry (who knows anything) agrees that 1080i is legacy HD and should be scrapped yet BBC are about to launch another 1080i channel, I know they have no real choice but...

    That said unless R&D keep up the pressure we will never move forward, so keep at it guys.

  • Comment number 20.

    Another technology R&D developed but was ignored by the BBC management was MIMO. This could have doubled the bitrate capacity of a multiplex. It does require a new aerial but I think this is a small price to pay. We also have the example of DAB radio. BBC R&D wanted to use a bitrate of 250kb/s but the BBC management thought they knew better and reduced some stations to 64kb/s in mono!. Actually it does seem that R&D did under estimate the ammount of error correction that would be required. BBC management is still waisting hundreds of millions on DAB when it has been rejected by the rest of the world including the UK public.

    I believe the real reason for the BBC's interest in the new technologes is not for the benifit of UK licence payers but to be able to sell these services to foreign broadcasters.


More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.