NHK has a three-year plan designed to take the various R&D projects that are key to bringing SHV to a broadcasting reality.

In 2011 Japan will switch off all its analogue TV transmissions freeing up some test capacity for the initial experimental transmission stage to start.

With the US's National Association of Broadcasters, the BTF group is working on a combined approach to SHV which has already been recognised by standards body the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

“We estimate that it will take about 10 years to establish the technical foundations of SHV broadcasting for homes and an additional few years for the standardisation,” says NHK's executive research engineer, Dr Kenkichi Tanioka.

“In Japan, one of the national museums has already introduced an SHV system and is now showing visitors ultra-fine still pictures of SHV.”

Graceful compression
The BBC's main contribution to the technical side of the development of Super-Hi Vision is its Dirac advanced wavelet compression system which manages to handle ratios of a staggering 200:1 - and still produce startling images.

“NHK is looking to develop Dirac hardware for encoding SHV,” says Tim Borer, who heads the BBC R&I Dirac team.

“The native bitrate from the SHV camera is 8bit at 36gigabit a second and Dirac is one option for this since it provides a more graceful compression than MPEG. The quality of Dirac's compression continues to improve above 40Mbps whereas MPEG-4 quality begins to deteriorate at that point.”