Japanese National Broadcasting Corporations Tests 4K’s Larger Cousin 8K

by on September 1, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – September 1st, 2014

Nippon Hoso Kyokai, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Japan’s largest news and media entity, is advancing further with tests of 8K display resolution for its future public broadcasting transmissions that the company expects to have up and running in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

So far, NHK has successfully managed to broadcast long distance DTT signal feeds of its Super Hi-Vision 8K display format. Naturally, this has involved sending huge streams of data over the UHF airwaves but regardless of the test’s success, there is still an absence of clarity as to whether much of the Japanese population will actually get to enjoy full 8K Olympic broadcasts in time for the games in 2020.

4K looks a lot more plausible, since it’s already being transmitted in Japan itself along with many other countries, and live international broadcasts of sporting events filmed in 4K resolution have been successfully completed by Sony and a number of other international media providers.

8K however, is a much different story. The science and technology laboratories of the NHK public broadcasting giant have so far managed to conduct 8K transmission tests in which video content signals were transmitted to a receiving station 27 kilometers away on a single UHF channels. And while this successful test is a milestone for the realization of consumer ready 8K Super Hi-Vision terrestrial broadcasting of video content, the challenges are still enormous for this massive resolution format.

The NHK Trial has demonstrated the technical feasibility of sending 8K signals via broadband and now the highly capable media broadcasting company is working step by step to overcome the challenges that lie in the way of widespread broadcasting to the public itself.

Nonetheless, those remaining challenges truly are daunting. Unlike 4K, 8K contains over 16 million pixels and would require some truly enormous improvements in broadband connectivity as well as screen displays to really catch on eventually.

According to some experts in Japan, the real implementation of 8K broadcasting won’t be rolling around until the mid-2020’s at the very earliest, if it’s implemented at all.

In addition to the technical challenges of rolling out 8K that’s ready for transmission, there is the simple question of whether or not such an enormous pixel count is even necessary for most situations.  Speaking in purely resolution related terms, most people absolutely won’t be able to tell the difference between a 4K video feed and an 8K version if watching from any kind of normal viewing distance.

Thus, even if 8K becomes a major development for the next 10 to 15 years of video transmission and display resolution, it may still only be something that’s used for the largest screens, such as those used in theaters or giant public video display screens.

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If anything, the biggest reasons why 8K could eventually possibly be pushed on a wider consumer audience are those of the improvements in other components of picture quality such as frame rates, color spectrum and dynamic range that will surely also advance as migration from 4K and beyond takes place. However, even with these advances, as they occur, they can just as easily be applied to 4K screens with even more positive gains in the video entertainment industry.

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