The Land of the Rising Sun began the world’s first regular 8K television broadcasts this week, five days ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games so that you will be able to watch people being infected with a Zita virus in super high res.
8K are broadcasts with a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. That’s 16 times the resolution of today’s full high-definition (FHD) broadcasts and four times that of the 4K standard, which is only just emerging in many other countries.
NHK is broadcasting what it calls “Super Hi-Vision,” also features 22.2-channel surround sound across a satellite channel that will broadcast a mix of 8K and 4K content as it prepares to launch full-scale 8K transmissions in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The channel will be on air daily from 10am until 5pm, with extended hours during the Rio Olympics.
A look at Monday’s schedule reveals programming focused on the arts, sports, music and documentaries — not dissimilar to early HDTV channels. Highlights of this year’s Rio Carnival, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, and Japan’s Aomori Nebuta festival were among the 8K programs. A J-pop concert and program on Japanese botanical drawings was also broadcast.
NHK was the broadcaster behind the development of high-definition TV, starting broadcasts in an early analogue format in 1989. It has been working on 8K for two decades. It showed off its 8K in 2002, when many homes hadn’t even transitioned to high-def TV.
It is pretty hard work. Cameras, mixers, recording equipment, monitors and other studio gear must be built to handle uncompressed 8K video in real time, at data rates that can easily reach 100Gbps.
Compression equipment then needs to take that signal and encode it into more efficient streams for broadcast, again in real time. The satellite signal is several tens of megabits per second, and consumer receivers and televisions are required to decode it.