Japan’s plans for the introduction of 4K and 8K transmissions were explained in detail at MIPTV’s dedicated UHD sessions in Cannes, April 4th.
There are already some 4K test transmissions on air, notably from SkyPerfecTV, but MIPTV delegates heard (from Yoshiharu Kashima, NHK’s senior manager/programming, that its transmissions would start on August 1st 2016, and in both 4K and 8K. One subtle, but important, change is that from now on there is no naming difference between its 4K and 8K ‘Super Hi-Vision’ broadcasting technologies. From now on both methods of transmission are referred to in Japan as ‘Super Hi-Vision’.
April 1st saw Japan combine its various Ultra HD ‘promotional’ arms into one combining the NextTV-Forum into the Association for Promotion of Advanced Broadcasting Services, or A-PAB. A-PAB will bring all of Japan’s assorted broadcasters under one operation and A-PAB transmissions will speedily follow on from the NHK tests starting on August 1st.
NHK will take care of 8K transmissions with A-PAB looking after 4K. NHK is also planning to showcase some of the upcoming Rio Olympics in 8K.
Test broadcasts will run for seven hours a day in 8K and be available at about 60 ‘public viewing sites’ around Japan.
To date, NHK has created about 80 different programmes in 8K, totalling some 66 hours and is now further ramping up production. The current plan includes drama, nature and other factual material, as well as culture/arts and music programming. NHK’s News division has carried out numerous tests on local news, including footage of the Fukushima nuclear plant that was damaged in the 2011 Tsunami.
NHK is also embracing High Dynamic Range and will be using the production technology for most new programmes created in 8K.
Kashima admitted that HDR created a new set of challenges for broadcasters, much as HD did when it was introduced. His main concerns were over make-up, set design and construction.