The Japanese public broadcaster, Nippon Hoso Kyokai, will launch a channel on December 1 that only shows images in 8k resolution. In their own words, this is the world’s first official 8k channel.
The NHK BS8K channel will be positioned as the flagship in Japan, with the best picture quality and support for up to 22.2 audio channels, although not all content will be broadcast there. For example, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey is broadcast in 8k resolution, but the support for the film’s sound does not go beyond 5.1 surround and there is no HDR. In contrast, a broadcast from the Vienna Philharmonic, an Austrian symphony orchestra, has 22.2 audio and there is also support for HDR. This is probably the HDR standard hybrid log gamma suitable for television broadcasts, since NHK has developed 8k cameras that are suitable for Hlg.
2001: A Space Odyssey will air as an 8k movie on December 1. The Japanese public broadcaster has owner Warner Bros. asked to provide this modernized version. The film company scanned the original film negatives, removed scratches, restored the colors and eventually made an 8k version of it. According to the broadcaster, this film classic comes to life even more. NHK reports that this 1968 film is one of the few that was shot not on 35mm, but on 70mm at the time. This was the highest quality at the time.
In addition to films and music, the channel will also show TV dramas, nature programs and NASA broadcasts. The NASA broadcasts are images of Earth taken from the ISS. The station only broadcasts programs and content between 10 a.m. and 10.10 p.m. In addition, the Japanese public broadcaster will introduce NHK BS4K, a channel with 4k content, which broadcasts not only native 4k footage, but also programs that have been scaled up from 2k resolution to 4k. Certain footage from the archives will also be digitally remastered, making it available in 4k including HDR support.
NHK can be regarded as a pioneer in the field of television technology. In 2014, NHK technicians managed to transmit Super Hi-Vision 8k images over the air over a distance of 27 kilometers. This milestone at the time and the current NHK BS8K channel are all steps that the NHK is taking to achieve the big goal: to broadcast the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 in 8k. In 2016, the broadcaster was also the first party in the world to open a test channel with 8k footage.
The NHK BS8K channel uses a video format in which 8k images are combined at sixty frames per second. Sharp and Samsung, among others, have already released 8k televisions, but they do not go beyond thirty frames per second. From next year, TVs will be released with HDMI 2.1 and only then will it be possible to send 8k images at 60fps. NHK even wants to eventually switch to 8k images at 120fps.