Beyond 4K: Japan doing 8K video shooting at Wimbledon with “Tommorowland” camera

by on July 14, 2015

Stephan Jukic – July 14, 2015

Japanese state broadcaster NHK remains busy with 8K video shooting and production in presumable preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which are supposed to be shot and broadcast to live audiences in both 4K ultra HD and the much bigger 8K.

The state media company of Japan is thus testing out its Super Hi-Vision 8K resolution system at current sports events around the world, with the Wimbledon tennis matches a major part of the filming list.

8K video, which produces a whopping 16 times the resolution of normal Full HD will be the medium in which the Wimbledon games are being filmed by NHK.

Oddly however, the camera being used for the shooting doesn’t actually output 8K video. Instead, the F65 4K camera, a model widely known for having been used in the Disney feature film “Tommrowland” and Warner Bros’ “Oblivion”, is being used by NHK to shoot 4K footage which will then be upconverted to 8K resolution through the use of specially designed Sony processing software.

The NHK effort at Wimbledon is being done in partnership with the All England Tennis Club and the Japanese broadcaster has plans to produce two matches per day from the No. 1 court at the Wimbledon event. The resulting 8K footage can then be viewed for demonstration purposes by broadcasters in a tent at the event’s Broadcast Center in their full 8K Super Hi-Vision resolution.

The NHK production team is using a multicamera system of four cameras, which consist of a FOR-A FT-1 with an astrodesign upconverter, two Ikegami SHV8000 Super Hi-Vision cameras and the already mentioned Sony F65.

The Sony F65 4K video production camera

The Sony F65 4K video production camera being used by NHK at Wimbledon

The government of Japan and NHK both are leading the wider effort to make 8K Super Hi-Vision resolution along with 22.2 surround sound and a 60 fps frame rate to commercial broadcasting in Japan. The extremely ambitious effort to do this involves plans for 8K satellite broadcasting as of June 2016, in time for the Rio Olympics, so that Super Hi-Vision can be fully ready for wide use by the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics roll around.

In addition to Wimbledon, NHK is also shooting several Major League Baseball matches at Yankee Stadium in the fall along with next year’s Super Bowl. Furthermore, the broadcasting giant is working on development of 8K content dramas and documentaries for eventual release.

Previous NHK Super Hi-Vision efforts have included live broadcasting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, with transmission to test viewing audiences in Los Angeles, New York and Japan.

All of this effort for the proliferation of 8K is not only impressive, it’s also quite specialized. NHK is one of only a few agencies putting active, heavy effort into the development of commercially practical 8K broadcasting. For most of the rest of the world, ultra HD is synonymous with 4K resolution and this is where the current major commercial focus by TV makers, content producers and content distributors is aimed.

In the U.S broadcasting environment, even 4K video isn’t yet supported let alone 8K resolution.

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