Video image compression apparatus and method provides full color, wide field of view, real time imagery having high central resolution. Compression ratios of 1600:1 are achieved thus reducing a required data transmission bandwidth sufficiently to abolish line-of-sight restrictions. Data compression apparatus and method (a) uses a log polar mapper to match the image display to human perceptual resolution to achieve a 25:1 compression ratio with no loss of perceived cues, (b) separates perceptual channels into low resolution, high discrimination level color and high resolution, low discrimination level contrast edges to yield an additional 8:1 compression ratio and (c) applies a data compression technique to yield an additional 8:1 compression ratio. A Gaussian filter is employed in generating a display of the imagery from the compressed data. An operator is provided a capability to rapidly move the high resolution window to any point of interest within the display.