Japan’s NHK public broadcaster says its planning for the December 1st start of 8K transmissions is proceeding well. Senior executives from NHK, speaking at MIPTV’s dedicated UHD sessions, said that production of science, drama, natural history and even arts and culture segments were being added to at the rate of about 300 productions this year in either 4K or 8K.
“I don’t expect to see any colour bars on screen which could indicate we have nothing to show,” joked Yukari Haysahi, NHK’s senior producer at its Global Content Division. “We are moving ahead rapidly with 4K programming and have now added 8K into the mix.”
Some 300 shows are now in the pipeline to be ready for December 1st, and because the 8K service will be its ‘flagship’ channel, it will also include some specially-prepared some elements from the News division (in 4K initially). NHK is also making content for younger viewers and the intention is eventually to include more routine ‘everyday’ programming.
NHK’s planning does not ignore its commitment to 4K/UHD, and the broadcaster showcased a dramatic ‘fantasy adventure’ for teenagers (Koujin, 110 minutes) complete with the most evil CGI multi-bug-eyed monster, which proved so popular with viewers that it had to be repeated a month after its first screening.
Also appealing to youth viewers was an 8K recording of Japanese pop-sensation Sakanaction, in a huge arena show and filmed in 8K with 22.2 channel audio. Atsushi Murayama (Deputy Director/secretariat for 8K at NHK) explained that the 89-minute show used eight 8K cameras and five 4K cameras and was candid in admitted that this had never been done before on such a scale. “It wasn’t cheap, but the musicians were extremely enthusiastic about the end result.”
Remarkably, and as part of how NHK is thinking outside the usual broadcast box, it invited more than 50 Japanese creative artists – of whom five were chosen – to suggest ideas as to how 8K could be used creatively. NHK showed four very different interpretations which might now be combined into a dedicated programme, or even used as short-form ‘gap fillers’ in the schedules.