NHK Broadcasts 8K Signals Over the Air

Super Hi-Vision Test Performed

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

True to their word, on January 20th, Japanese broadcaster NHK beamed Super Hi-Vision test television signals over standard UHF bands with 16 times the resolution of standard high definition broadcasts with a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels.  The test was a follow-up to the 2012 broadcast and showcased advancements in the Super Hi-Vision broadcast spec. No word on if people accidentally walked into the TV sets they were watching.

“The success of this experiment is a big step forward toward the realization of 8K Super Hi-Vision terrestrial broadcasting. We’re now working on overcoming one challenge at a time to implement it.” – NHK Labs researcher Tomohiro Saito

Taking place from NHK’s broadcast bureau in southern Japan, the SHV broadcast went out to a measurable distance of nearly 17 miles, about 4 times as far as the previous 8K broadcast in May of 2012.  The test provided an uncompressed data image that amounted to a rate of 24 gigabytes per second (gbps).

NHK also claimed that the signal was capable of fitting into the standard megahertz broadcast channels through their image compression technologies, and were transmitted using an “ultra-multilevel orthogonal frequency division multiplexing” and “multiple-input multiple-output dual-polarization technologies.”

That’s a bunch of technobabble to be sure, but what it amounts to is that NHK has managed to compression the data stream to the point where it fits into the existing broadcast spectrum, thereby allowing for a quicker adopting of the Super Hi-Spectrum with little in the way of infrastructure investment or long suffering legal wrangling to free up the necessary broadcast frequencies.   So all that would be needed is an 8K capable tuner that can decode the compression and present it with no artifacting.

This isn’t the first time that 8K video has been shown over the air.  In addition to the 2012 test, 8K broadcasts of the 2012 Olympics in London were made at local movie theaters as a kind of oddity, and even then, they were upscaled from a 4K source as there was only one or two prototype 8K cameras.  But the NHK test is a pure 8K broadcast.

NHK hopes that adoption of 8K as a broadcast standard will happen in time for operations to begin in 2016, with full blown coverage of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.  With their home country hosting, it is would no doubt be a feather in the broadcaster’s cap to provide Super Hi-Vision broadcast access to portray the athletic competition in such a cutting edge manner.  It also harkens back to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, which was one of the very first broadcasts of any kind for this crazy new medium known as television.

But there’s a long way to go before we start talking about 8K as a standard.  And 4K is definitely standing in the way.  With prices of ultra high definition TV sets finally reaching a managable price point, television manufacturers expect up to a half million 4K sets to be sold in 2014 (more, if Apple gets in the game).  Meanwhile, NHK has been recording athletic and other events in 8K with the plan to archive them once the spec comes into play.

Hat Tip – News on Japan

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Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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