The first satellite broadcast in Ultra HD — with 16 times the resolution of high-definition television — has been demonstrated in Tokyo by the Japanese public service broadcaster NHK. The BBC in Britain and RAI in Italy have signed an agreement with NHK to support development of the proposed next generation standard.

Capturing over 4,000 lines per frame, the prototype Ultra HD cameras provide cinema quality pictures with virtually invisible scan line structure.

Each 7680×4320 or 33 megapixel Ultra HD frame is equivalent to 16 frames of the highest resolution high-definition format currently commercially available. One minute of uncompressed footage requires nearly 200GB of storage, or over 10TB an hour.

The first satellite demonstration used 16 synchronised encoders to compress the video into an MPEG-4 H.264 bitstream, allowing the broadcast to operate over a standard uplink. Kyrion encoders from French company Ateme were used for the first demonstration of Ultra HD satellite broadcast. The company says it is cooperating closely with NHK labs in the design and development of the standard.

The plan is to introduce the full specification for Ultra HD in 2009. NHK estimates that compatible televisions will be ready to receive broadcasts in the home within 10-15 years.

The BBC and RAI have agreed to cooperate with NHK in the development of the next generation standard.