For reasons that really are difficult to fathom, Japanese Broadcaster NHK has announced breakthroughs in what used to be called Ultra High Definition Video. Now Super Hi-Vision is expected to be the “broadcast” standard in Japan by 2015.
Never mind that the human eye actually has a hard time seeing the difference between 1080p and 720p at the normal home viewing distances from today’s screens. Never mind that 4k from camera to screen isn’t yet a reality, even in theatres. Somehow, they see the need to replace our 2 megapixel images with 33 megapixel images.
As much as I would love to see such production on the screen, there’s a couple factors that really indicate that these research monies could be better spent elsewhere. Not only would it be nearly impossible for us to see the increased resolution unless we were incredibly close to a SHV display, but it’s nearly impossible to push around today’s HD without compressing it to such a point that it can hardly be called HDTV at all.
With SHV set to be about 16 TIMES the resolution of today’s HDTV, and about four times the size of 4k, the amount of bandwidth, and computer processing power required to pull it off would need to be substantial. Very substantial. And to what end?
According to PC World:
NHK and Fujitsu Ltd. are working on the problem and have at least solved the real-time part. By linking 16 encoders in parallel an SHV signal can be compressed to around 1/200th of its size using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression. The result is a Super Hi-Vision image of 128M bps, which is still about six times the bandwidth of today’s high-definition broadcasting in Japan but within the realms of possibility for future broadcasting systems.
35mm film has proven to be more than enough for our eyes and screens around the world for on about a century now. Movies that require effects work are now scanned into the computer, changed, and then laid back out to film. Each of these scans is at a 2k to 4k resolution per frame.
According to FilmLight, makers of the NorthLight film scanner a 4k scan is capable of resolving 83 line pairs … per millimeter. Can you imagine how big the screen would have to be for us to be able to see 83 line pairs in one millimeter? Really, really big.
So chalk this one up with a big heaping of “not going to see the light of day.”