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Speaking of 4K Broadcast, Japan is Flying off the Handle: TV is 4K in 2014. Plus, an 8K Future?

01.29.13 @ 7:46PM Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Several recent developments are helping to bring more 4K (or “more-K“) to your television screen than many of us might have anticipated, even a year ago. RED has big ideas for your home theater (pictured left), consumer electronics companies are starting to roll out some screens with very high pixel densities, media mega-vendors YouTube and Netflix will (or already do) support 4K, and to bring just about everything together, H.265 will be dilating streaming efficiency on 1 billion devices near you. 4K will likely find its way to you via the web a lot sooner than it will through your cable subscription — unless, of course, you live in Japan. To reinvigorate the country’s (somehow) floundering consumer electronics economy, its ministry of communications will be making 2014 the year of 4K in Japan. And perhaps beyond, not long after that.

This comes as a surprise to me, especially with (or despite?) the news of H.265′s acceptance as the next great encoding standard still hot off the presses. Here’s CNET’s Crave Asia reporting the story, which originally broke on the Asahi Shimbun:

Having been one of the pioneers of 4K technology, Japan is set to become the first country in the world to broadcast in 4K resolution come July 2014. This is almost 2 years ahead of the original plan in a bid to revive its ailing domestic consumer electronics industry, according to the Japan communication ministry. The launch of this 4K broadcast service is timed to coincide with the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup 2014 football tournament.

To mitigate the bandwidth limitation of existing digital broadcasting systems, dedicated communication satellites will be used initially. However, the 4K transmission will eventually encompass both commercial broadcasting satellites and terrestrial channels in the future. This TV service is unlikely to be free for viewers, although the Japanese government is said to be funding the overall running cost.

Dedicated communications satellites? Wait, did they not hear about H.265, which halves the bandwidth strain necessary to achieve a given level of quality as compared to H.264? Or maybe, they don’t even want to wait for universal support for the codec to begin rolling out? Given that some kind of standard is going to be necessary to implement anyway, something’s a little strange about all this — if not kind of exciting. Just as art can imitate life of the reverse, so too can spec drive tech, and vice-versa — and there’s a lot to be said for the changes a 4K transition could bring to Japan’s TV media, not to mention the world over.

But wait, there’s more. And it gets better:

As if this is not enough, the ministry might also be bringing forward Japan’s experimental 8K broadcasts to 2016, just in time for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Could this be a hint for the arrival of 8K TVs in about three years time?

Compare with the text from the source story (just to make sure we’re all reading this right):

Work is also in progress on 8K technology, which would have 16 times the resolution of the current high-definition TV broadcasting. Ministry officials are also considering pushing up the start of experimental 8K broadcasting by two years to 2016 when the Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

I realize that spec can drive tech and all that, but 8K? In 2016? 8K in any time-frame is simply amazing, there’s nothing else to say about it — but in just three years? Pretty unbelievable stuff, even if it doesn’t materialize: the push alone is going to make waves. Of course, 4K TVs may be (well actually, they pretty much are) pointless at certain distances / screen sizes, but apparently that isn’t stopping Japan, nor does the fairly considerable lack of 8K content in existence seem to be affecting their disposition on all of this res-upping business.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Do you think 4K by 2014 is reasonable, likely, or worthwhile? What about 8K, how could this affect the industry if it moves forward? Can you imagine what the 8K “RED fish” would look like to swallow those below it?

Link: Ministry eying world’s first broadcasting of next-generation TV technology — The Asahi Shimbun

[via CNET via Crave Asia]


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Description image 45 COMMENTS

  • Alan Nogueira on 01.29.13 @ 8:00PM

    Now I am full of doubts. What about my Blu Ray and DVD collection, will I have to rebuild my collection with the next generation of whatever come?

  • Japan does need a boost in its economy and it seems a move to 4k is it … at least for media. Who knows what is up their sleeves! Would this mean a quicker implementation of H265 … or a new approach to backend broadcast downsizing?

  • 8K!? Can we not do this right now ? I JUST got to 2.5k. It’s getting a little frustrating.

  • Anyone watch Japanese television lately? It has bigger problems than lack of resolution.

    • What problems? Sucky content? Seems like USA TV has a similar snafu. It’s a pandemic! 8k is not the cure!!!!?>???

    • ahah i hear you! have been living in Japan the last 10 years and am still amazed ;)

      Just yesterday, i had lunch with a group of NHK producers i used to work with couple years ago.
      They told me that most of TV broadcast companies (including NHK) are still using a lot of aging post-production technology and are planning to update their whole park.
      Also, there are way too many different formats in use by smaller ENG productions, i often see 8-10 years old DV cameras in line with the latest Sony or JVC monsters.

      Since they do that kind of renewal rarely, I guess they plan it to be as future-proof as possible.

  • I can’t wait to watch my TV shopping channel in 4K shot on Red Dragon downsized from 8k, amazing experience.

  • You can surely see a difference with 4k. Text looks incredibly smooth with no jaggies. 8k must look similar to IMAX but you will need a big ass screen to take advantage of it ;)

    • mikko löppönen on 01.30.13 @ 3:54AM

      Actually, IMAX resolution plateaus at about 3k way before getting to 4k.

      The reason text looks smooth with a higher resolution monitor is because we sit quite close to them.

  • Europe will go 8k.

  • if the quality of TV shows will increase by factor 2 as well, then I will be glad to purchase a 4k TV : D

  • Film is the equivalent of approx 5k.
    So what is the point of going above that?

    As someone says, the only material that will be available in 8k will be shopping channels.

  • I reckon anything beyond 4K will be primarily projected rather than displayed on a flat panel screen (LCD or PDP). Mainly because of picture size, cost and power consumption. A projected 200inch image is definately easier to achieve than a 200inch panel.

    I went to the 8K Super Hi-Vision experimental broadcast of 2012 London Olympics in Bradford National Media Museum, they used a JVC projector with e-shift technology to project a 8K image onto a standard cinema screen. it looks amazingly vivid (8K@50fps).

  • They should be upping the frame rate, not the pixel resolution. The BBC wrote a paper concerning this

    8K is almost redundant if you don’t shoot for a higher frame rate first.

    • UHD indeed has higher framerate, 50P/60P default for PAL or NTSC, there are plans for 100P/120P.

      The world’s first UHD TV channel in Europe is broadcasting in 3840×2160@50P

    • Christian Anderson on 01.30.13 @ 11:55AM

      I thought we all learned how untrue ‘more fps = better’ was when we saw The Hobbit in 48fps…

      • We’re discussing television here, not cinema. 50p and 60p are already put to use in live sports broadcasts because of how higher frame rates handle motion. If not the Olympics in HFR 4K, then I’m sure these formats will find use in other contexts where the image needs to have a live and immediate feeling (eg, the news or even perhaps Sitcoms, who knows?).

        Plus, you’re looking at an example of a single film from a specific genre, story, director, dop, etc. that is the first of it’s kind in terms of mass distribution. I’m sure it can be done better in the future… especially if television moves on to HFR broadcasts and we become used to it.

  • Anthony Marino on 01.30.13 @ 7:43AM

    I surmise resolution is lost when the image is broadcasted. I’ve noticed SD looks decent in the edit suite but as soon as its broadcasted it looks pretty bad compared to HD. Even the HD channels suffers from this though looks way better than SD. Transmitting 4k I can only think will resolve even better than HD giving us a cleaner image. I’m not sure we need bigger and badder cameras at this point more so then we need leaner and meaner codecs…I guess H.265 is a step in the right direction.

  • You guys are thinking small. it all about 8k on your iPhone.

  • 8K, lol… Now this is just getting to be a joke.. People still cant broadcast HD properly and now this… hahah it will be the next 3D and fall flat on its face…

  • ruben huizenga on 01.30.13 @ 2:31PM

    Damn! I can only see in SD and hear up to 10 khz!


    US Broadcasters and their opinion on 4k broadcasting.

  • 4k is very much real and coming to the US sooner than later. Cable companies see this as a major feather in their cap against DirecTV and Dish which currently don’t have the bandwidth to support a lot of 4k channels. Broadcast cable does.

    Laugh all you want about 8k, but it’s already here. Three cameras were on display at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas last month and we expect a lot more to be there next year. 4k cameras and monitors were everywhere at the show and 4k production has been happening in the US and the world for years now. Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN have been using 4k cameras during live sporting events about the past two years, generally calling the camera their “super zoom” because the image size is so large they can “zoom” into the picture.

    Prevailing wisdom at the convention is that 4k will come very quickly to US Broadcast and television production. 8k will come in the next few years to Cinema production and scale down easily to 4k broadcast production.

    The other wisdom at the show is that 3D TV is all but dead, thankfully.

  • james braselton on 06.6.13 @ 8:25PM

    hi there yeah 3d 4k 8k 16k 32k 64k 128k 256k 512k 1m and 2d unlimted d more options the better every one can be differant me like 3d watching espn 3d xbox one ps4 both suport 4k thats when i upgrade soo new game console new tv