2016 Rio Olympics will be getting VR, limited 4K and even 8K but with a catch

by on March 8, 2016

Stephan Jukic – March 08, 2016

Despite recent announcements that there would be no public 4K UHD broadcasting of the upcoming 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Brazil, ultra HD resolution in both its 4K and 8K forms certainly won’t be absent from the events as they unfold.

At least some of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will indeed be covered by both 4K UHD recording equipment and the far more powerful 8K “Super HI Vision” cameras of Japan’s state broadcaster NHK. 4K video will be created from actual 4K recordings and from downscaled 8K footage for testing and comparison purposes. Furthermore, the Japanese broadcasts will also include immersive audio through the use of technology described as “3D 22.2 channel audio surround sound” by Olympic Broadcast Services, the broadcasting arm of the IOC.

Overall, about 130 hours of 8K “Super Hi Vision” footage will be beamed by NHK from Brazil to their own testing studios in Japan and part of this footage will include live coverage of both the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as several swimming, Judo, Athletics, Basketball and other sports events. There will also be an ENG camera crew on hand to capture certain sports events and venues for the sake of “including the Olympic Spirit and atmosphere” for down-the-road replay.

NHK's Super Hi Vision 8K in comparison to 4K Ultra HD

NHK’s Super Hi Vision 8K in comparison to 4K Ultra HD

While these 130 hours of footage seem like quite a bit, they amount to only a small fraction of the total of more than 7,000 hours of live TV coverage in normal resolutions which will be the case for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

OBS itself is also planning on capturing a number of 4K UHD shoots of select events. These will come from down-converted 8K signals and will also be made available to client broadcasters of the Olympic Broadcast Committee for testing and evaluation of 4K broadcast feasibility.

What’s both disappointing and odd about all of these assorted broadcasts is the simple fact that neither NHK or OBS have plans for any of the video recorded to be broadcast to any public audiences, at least as far as they state for now. All of the above is purely test related, despite the fact that live 4K sports broadcasting by major cable and broadcast service providers is already happening in the consumer market.

OBS has also stated that it hopes to perform experiments with Wider Color Gamut and High Dynamic Range during the more basic 4K broadcasting experiments.

Finally, OBS will also be taking advantage of this year’s Rio Olympic Games to test out Virtual Reality footage through the use of compatible headsets, letting viewers then be “virtually transported to the heart of the Olympic action with VR coverage including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and one key event per day”, according to representatives of the Olympic broadcaster.

As for the rest of the 7000 hours of Olympic TV coverage, it will be shot in Full HD and with 5.1 Surround Sound, with the signals beamed to more than 220 countries and territories.

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