Archives: September 2008

25/09 High Frame-Rate Television

My colleagues and I from BBC Research had a fantastically successful time a couple of weeks ago at IBC, Europe's huge annual convention and conference for the broadcast community. We went there to shake things up a bit, feeling that proposals for improving the quality of television (including High Definition television itself, frankly) had concentrated too much on improving the spatial resolution (the number of pixels) while completely ignoring the temporal resolution (the number of frames per second). Television is, after all, about moving pictures.

By the end of the week, we'd shown our demonstration of the benefits of higher frame rates to hundreds of people, who almost without exception agreed that the improvements were very clear. Our criterion for success was that we'd get higher frame rates on the agenda for consideration in future TV standards, and I think we certainly achieved that. We're looking into what to do next, including finding a way to display images at frame rates higher than 120fps (the upper limit of all the contemporary displays we're aware of* - we've been using projectors designed for alternating-frame stereoscopic 3D so far), investigating how increasing the frame rate of video improves the efficiency of video codecs, experimenting with changing the temporal shape of camera shutters (simulated by down-conversion from high frame rates to conventional ones), and verifying our assertion that shooting at higher frame rates doesn't increase the visible noise in the video signal. Problem is, we really want to do some more work on 3D television, too...

We've published a White Paper on our initial work, available here. It's quite short, contains no maths, and would interest (I hope) technically-minded people from both inside and outside broadcasting. Similarities between the historical section and this post need not be pointed out. :-)

*we have CRT monitors that can go up to 200fps, but not at any kind of sensible resolution.

EDIT: We made it into the "press"! Woo! :-)