Ultra High Definition Television Development Continues

UHDTV accommodates up to 16 times the resolution of HDTV.

A television format that can accommodate up to 16 times the resolution of HDTV is getting closer to becoming a reality, according to David Wood, deputy director of technology for the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva.

A technical specification for Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) — a digital video format proposed by Japan’s NHK that supports up to 8K resolution — could be in place as early as next April, according to Wood, who chairs the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Working Party, which leading this effort. A technical recommendation is an important step on the roap to implementation of new technology.

While in Los Angeles this week for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) annual conference, Wood discussed the format with The Hollywood Reporter, noting “4K (resolution) displays are not far away and we are probably 10 years away from the 8K system.”

He urges all stakeholders to provide input to the ITU while it is in this process of developing the technical specification. Said Wood: “This is the time to say if you don’t think the parameters are right, or want to contribute to the discussion.”

The exec suggested that UHDTV might also be something for those in the 3D market to watch. “When you get to an 8K system, there is a greater perceived depth in the picture,” he explained. “One of the interesting questions is, is an 8K system a substitute for 3DTV? And could it be a 3DTV system without glasses?”

Wood also related that his studies have found that there might be a correlation between image quality and time spent viewing content; his findings suggest that audiences viewing HDTV watched roughly 25 percent longer than those watching standard definition pictures. He asked what that might mean for UHDTV. “I think it is a subliminal effect," he said. "The higher quality serves to calm us, lower our pulse rate, and because of that we don’t notice the time passing so much.”

BBC, in partnership with NHK, plans to test UHDTV at the 2012 London Olympics.