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NHK backs 4K for news

Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, is testing and trialling the use of Ultra-HD for newsgathering. The plans include 4K for current affairs and other news-based TV production.

Masashi Yoshino, NHK’s senior producer at its News Features Production Center, told delegates to MIPCOM’s UHD sessions devoted to 4K production that test broadcasts of its ‘Super Hi-Vision’ technology started in August, although news gathering in UHD had begun with President Obama’s visit to Japan and Hiroshima in May. Other on-the-spot news in UHD included the recent Democrat and Republic national conventions in the US.

Yoshino told delegates that NHK’s initial thoughts were not to include news coverage in UHD, as it was perhaps too complicated an operation. “We’d like to change that,” he said. “The tests had shown how we can better understand production.” He explained that the new techniques were put into use at the Rio Olympics where news footage and special interviews with Japan’s winning medallists were made, and 4 x 30 minutes and a 60 minutes ‘special’ was made in UHD for viewing in Japan.

All of Japan’s ‘Super Hi-Vision’ UHD broadcasts were viewed by the public in special areas at NHK offices and locations in Japan, and seen by tens of thousands of people.

He explained, however, that there currently doesn’t exist a method for sending extremely data-rich UHD footage around the world, or in this case from Rio to Tokyo. NHK’s solution was to secure a 100 Mb/s fibre link and break down the footage into XAVC segments, sending them as near-simultaneous batches, which would be received speedily over the fibre link, but could also then be viewed and edited as required. In total some 900 minutes of news footage was sent from Rio to Tokyo, and the editing process could be started even though the final segments of data were still being received.

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