New Super HARP HDTV Handheld Camera


The age of Digital Hi-Vision (HDTV) broadcasting has come, and there is a strong demand for new equipment capable of advancing program diversification and production efficiency. We have therefore developed an ultra-high sensitivity, small, and highly mobile handheld HDTV camera that can acquire clear video images even of a subject in the dark.
Television camera sensitivity and picture quality relies on the performance of the imaging device, which shoulders the role of converting light into an electric signal. NHK was the first in the world to develop and apply to program production an ultra-high sensitivity and high picture quality imaging device called the HARP tube that utilizes the avalanche multiplication phenomenon.
Research and development were focused on improving the sensitivity and picture quality of HDTV imaging tubes*, in addition to the miniaturization of the camera signal processing section. Through these efforts, a new HDTV camera system with the following characteristics was realized:

  1. Ultra-high sensitivity (100 times to 200 times greater than an ordinary camera)
  2. Low noise (Approximately 1/2 that of conventional HDTV cameras with HARP tubes)
  3. Small size (Possible incorporation with a VCR)
  4. Low lag (Lower than measurable limits)
This camera is expected to become a powerful tool in the production of science programs featuring nocturnal animals or emergency reports where lighting is not available.
* by developing a New Super HARP tube with a 25m thick selenium layer film that improves quantum efficiency.


Guideline Compliance Analyzer for Programs

In 1997, the broadcasting industry experienced an accident that called attention to the fact that special visual effects such as those used for animated programs could cause severe health problems for viewers, especially children. In order to prevent a recurrence of this problem, the broadcasting industry established guidelines concerning such visual effects. Our Laboratories developed a "compliance analyzer" to judge program compliance with the guidelines by utilizing objective numerical measures. The device can automatically measure the frequency and duration of certain visual effects, including flashing images and fast scene changes.
The compliance analyzer has the following features:

Composition of the compliance analyzer
  1. It can automatically measure the frequency and duration of certain visual effects, including flashing images and fast scene changes, and compare these with the guideline figures.
  2. It can automatically detect regular patterns such as stripes.
  3. The analyzer can be connected to a VCR to display real-time results.
  4. A program can be inspected efficiently since a VCR can be operated at standard or double speed, and problematic program sections can be recorded along with their time of occurrence and contents.