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World's First International Real-time Streaming Of Super High-definition Digital Video Over Gigabit IP Networks

October 1, 2005
University of California - San Diego
Japanese and U.S. institutions participated in the world's first real-time international collaboration over optical networks in 4K -- with four times the resolution of high-definition TV.

Virtual 'class photo' of Japanese officials in Tokyo and iGrid organizers at Calit2 in San Diego -- linked via real-time, 4K streaming video that was four times the resolution of HD-TV.
Credit: Image courtesy of UCSD / California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology

San Diego, CA and Tokyo, Japan, September 26, 2005 –– In ademonstration that could foretell the future of videoconferencing,scientific visualization and digital cinema deployment, scientists fromaround the world meeting at iGrid 2005 in San Diego were treated to theworld’s first real-time, international transmission of superhigh-definition (SHD) 4K digital video. 4K images have roughly 4,000horizontal pixels – offering approximately four times the resolution ofthe most widely-used HD television format, and 24 times that of astandard broadcast TV signal.

The 4K transmission linked theUniversity of California, San Diego and Keio University in Tokyo via15,000 kilometers (roughly 9,000 miles) of gigabit Internet Protocol(IP) optical-fiber networks, and allowed organizers to show attendeesthe most varied 4K content ever presented at a single event anywhere inthe world to date.

Using 4K technology, Keio president YuichiroAnzai and UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox opened iGrid 2005, a workshopand symposium that brings together the world’s leading experts in gridcomputing and high-bandwidth networking every two years. The week-longevent runs Sept. 26-29 at the California Institute forTelecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) on the UCSDcampus in San Diego, CA.

In their remarks, the two leadersemphasized the benefits of networked collaboration between theirrespective institutions, and called for further cooperation betweenCalit2 and Keio’s Research Institute for Digital Media and Content(DMC).

“This demonstration of trans-Pacific, real-time 4Kstreaming media pushes the envelope of today’s advanced researchnetworks,” said Keio president Anzai. “We now know that these networkscan reliably carry the world’s newest and highest-quality digitalmedia, even over long distances, both live and pre-recorded.”

“Seeingsuch dramatic examples of networked 4K media for science, medicine,education, culture, art and entertainment inspires the imaginationabout what can be done with advanced visualization and communicationstechnology,” said UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

At 8 megapixelsper frame, uncompressed streaming of 4K video requires a data rategreater than 6 Gigabits per second (Gbps). In many places though, thesignal must be carried over 1 Gbps circuits. To do so efficiently, theiGrid demonstration utilized prototype JPEG 2000 codecs from NTTNetwork Innovation Labs, designed to compress and decompress 4K digitalvideo in real time to 200-400 Mbps for direct connection to gigabit IPnetworks. NTT Labs also provided prototype Flexcast systems that enablemulticast delivery of 4K video and audio over traditional unicastnetworks by just adding functions to existing networks.

4K is aparticularly significant new image format because it will be widelyused for future digital cinema theatrical distribution under newspecifications proposed by Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC, aconsortium of the seven major Hollywood studios.

“These iGrid2005 demonstrations prove, for the first time, that networkeddistribution of 4K digital cinema internationally is not onlytechnically feasible, but the same infrastructure can also be used todistribute what Hollywood calls ‘other digital stuff’, or ODS,” saidKazuo Hagimoto, director of NTT Network Innovation Laboratories. “ODSincludes live music concerts, sports and various content genres beyondtraditional theatrical-release feature movies. In networking terms,‘live’ requires more reliable throughput and low-latencyresponsiveness. In many ways, iGrid 2005 confirms that even these mostdemanding types of streaming media distribution can be done overgigabit IP networks today.”

In addition to Keio’s DMC, NTTNetwork Innovation Labs and Calit2 at UCSD, organizers of theground-breaking 4K demonstration at iGrid 2005 are: the University ofIllinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL), and PacificInterface of Oakland, CA.

Nearly six hours of live andpre-recorded 4K content will be streamed in real time via 1 Gbps IPnetworks from Tokyo to San Diego, where the video will be displayed onone of Sony ’s Electronics’ prototype SXRD 4K projectors installed inCalit2’s new 200-seat auditorium. The content streamed from Keio/DMC toCalit2 includes pre-rendered computer animations, materials shot with4K digital motion picture cameras and digital still cameras, real-timecomputer-generated visualizations, and digitally scanned 35mm and 65mmmotion picture film.

“Like many at iGrid, I am excited to seewith my own eyes for the first time 4K scientific visualizations of thehighest caliber streaming in real time onto the big screen with digitalcinema quality,” said Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, professor ofcomputer science in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, and host ofiGrid 2005. “All universities should be interested in this pioneeringcombination of optical IP networking, distributed Grid computing and 4Kmedia technology. For scientists working with very large data sets incollaborations that can span the globe, this technology offers adramatic new remote visualization capability.”

One particularlychallenging part of these demonstrations will be the Soundscape liveaudio mix in the Calit2 auditorium, using professional-quality,multi-channel digital music and sound effects originating fromSkywalker Sound audio servers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The audiois synchronized over IP networks with the 4K motion pictures streamingfrom NTT servers located at Keio/DMC in Tokyo. This Soundscapedemonstration was organized with additional collaboration fromSkywalker Sound, UCSD’s Center for Research in Computing and the Arts(CRCA), Youth Radio, the Institute for Next Generation Internet at SanFrancisco State University, and the University of California Office ofthe President (UCOP).

The iGrid 2005 demonstration ofinternational 4K real-time streaming delivery required configuration ofan end-to-end 4K system capable of live capture, pre-recorded playback,real-time JPEG 2000 compression/decompression, real-time multicaststreaming, large screen projection and, of course, connecting all thesecomponents together via a combination of video, audio and networkingtechnologies.

The demonstration was only possible through thegenerous support of leading laboratories and hardware vendors. Asalready noted, NTT provided 4K JPEG 2000 codecs and 4K Flexcastsystems, and Sony Electronics provided its SXRD 4K projection system.Olympus Corporation loaned two of its SH-880TM prototype 4K digitalmotion picture cameras to Keio/DMC to give iGrid 2005 thehighest-resolution live video conferencing system in the world. SGIloaned its new Silicon Graphics Prism™ visualization system capable ofplaying back uncompressed 4K digital cinema clips in real time from theSGI® InfiniteStorage RM660 system using The Pixel Farm PFPlayapplication, all located at Keio/DMC in Tokyo. SGI also made itpossible to remotely control the Prism system in Tokyo via the networkfrom San Diego to demonstrate both “4K digital dailies” using Dalsacamera content, and 4K GeoFusion visualizations of Hurricane Katrinadata in conjunction with San Diego State University.

“It hasnever before been possible to do an international 4K-over-IP livestreaming demonstration on this scale before. It is only feasible atiGrid 2005 because of the emerging Global Lambda Integrated Facility(GLIF), a new generation of cyberinfrastructure featuring multiple 10gigabit and 1 gigabit lightpaths over optical fiber,” said Tom DeFanti,co-chair of iGrid. “Our long-term goal is to enable 4K deploymentreaching from the science lab to the film lab, from the Hollywoodpost-house to the Japanese schoolhouse.”

The 4K transmissionsfrom Tokyo to San Diego during iGrid 2005 travel through a network ofhigh-performance optical fiber links inter-operating at the Ethernet(L2) layer. The signals cross the Pacific on the JGN 2/NICT network.This, in turn, connects through the optical switching hubs at StarLightin Chicago and the Pacific Northwest GigaPOP in Seattle to key American‘LambdaGrids’ – CAVEwave, part of the U.S. National LambdaRail, andPacific Wave.

“The GLIF approach being pioneered at iGrid 2005 isgoing to be central to commercial implementation of collaborativeproduction, post-production and distribution of all types of digitalmedia,” said Laurin Herr, president of Pacific Interface and one of theorganizers of the 4K demonstration at iGrid. “The lessons learned fromthese first international 4K real-time streaming demonstrations willhelp researchers in America and Japan already working on the CineGridproject to better understand how to support 4K for digital cinema, ODSdelivered to digital theaters, and many other scientific, medical andeducational visualization applications.”

Silicon Graphics andSGI are registered trademarks and Silicon Graphics Prism is a trademarkof Silicon Graphics, Inc., in the United States and/or other countriesworldwide. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property oftheir respective owners.

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University of California - San Diego. "World's First International Real-time Streaming Of Super High-definition Digital Video Over Gigabit IP Networks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2005. <>.
University of California - San Diego. (2005, October 1). World's First International Real-time Streaming Of Super High-definition Digital Video Over Gigabit IP Networks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from
University of California - San Diego. "World's First International Real-time Streaming Of Super High-definition Digital Video Over Gigabit IP Networks." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 23, 2017).