The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is just a year away. NHK, a public broadcaster in Japan, already announced that the event will be broadcast in 8K. However, the country can already get a taste of what that would be like thanks to the launch of an 8K channel called BS8K.
The BS8K channel was launched on December 1, 2018. With an 8K broadcast, viewers are treated to an ultra HD format that has four times the resolution of 4K and a 22.2 multi-channel sound.
The sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first program broadcast on the channel. The film, which was originally released in 1968, had to be converted into the new format. NHK worked closely with Warner Brothers to make this showing a possibility.
It wasn’t just by random choice that A Space Odyssey was chosen for conversion. The film was specifically chosen because it was originally shot in 70mm. Another film that was shot in 70mm is My Fair Lady and that too is making its way to BS8K in March. Viewers can also expect much more converted 70mm programs to be broadcast.
Films such as A Space Odyssey and My Fair Lady aside, what other content are there to broadcast on such a channel? Footage from the Antarctic and the International Space Station were filmed in 8K and so those were part of the broadcast slate. In addition to those, some TV dramas will also be aired.
As mentioned, 8K broadcasts provide 22.2 multi-channel sound. It makes sense then to take advantage of such a feature, and NHK chose to air concerts from some of the best orchestras in the world.
While BS8K will indeed broadcast in 8K resolution, it will only do so for 12 hours a day. NHK, the public broadcaster responsible for launching the channel, also launched a separate channel called NHK BS4K, which – you guessed right – broadcasts programs in 4K.
There has been a call to offer 8K programming to viewers in preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020. However, questions linger over who is willing to consume 8K content.
An audience for 8K?
Truth be told, much of the world still has to catch up with 4K. In that sense, it can take a while before 8K truly catches on but many makers are already preparing for it to be big.
Television manufacturers such as Samsung and Sharp have already put out 8K TV screens. At this year’s CES, LG will unveil a new 88-inch OLED screen. Samsung will also showcase a TV that will blend better with the wall.
Camera makers like GoPro have also put out products that support 8K, like the Omni VR. Of course, there are the more expensive units like the RED Weapon 8K but the former is quite good for those interested in creating 8K videos.
While 8K broadcasts are now reality, who are their consumers? Many still find an 8K television set quite expensive. Plus, there’s not a lot of content to broadcast just yet. It may take years for 8K to become a thing, just like it took quite some time for 4K to gain a following.