8K on track

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The world might have seen examples of 8K video had the Tokyo Olympic Games happened on schedule. However, the 8K Association says that UHD development is on track and is echoing the 7-year transition timeframe suggested by Samsung as to when Standard Definition migrated to HD, and the 7-year transition for HD to Full HD, and Full HD to UHD (measured from a Display’s introduction to achieving 50 per cent of sales).

A webinar organised by the 8K Association argues that the 8K ecosystem is here, and asks whether it is time for the industry to embrace 8K? The webinar focused on a comprehensive report, commissioned by the association that assessed the state of the 8K ecosystem from Lens-to-Living room. On September 15th, the 8K Association’s Executive Director Chris Chinnock reviewed the findings of the report.

Chinnock explained that while there are now plenty of 8K TV sets available but there are no set-top boxes, or USB sticks for streaming services although the new console devices from PlayStation and Xbox are expected to support 8K.

“Twenty years ago, as the industry moved from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD), there was alignment between capture, production, broadcast, distribution and the display parts of the ecosystem. However, over this time we have seen different parts of this ecosystem adopting next-generation technologies at different rates. Displays and cameras have historically led the transition, and we see this trend continuing with 8K, although perhaps stretched out a year or so due to the Corona virus,” says the report.

Chinnock admits that Live broadcast production has followed a slower pace to higher resolution. “Live productions today offer a mix of SD, HD, FHD, 4K and 8K deliverables. However, most of the production remains HD or FHD twenty years after introduction. The huge cost of broadcast infrastructure and equipment upgrades with hard-to-define pay back has slowed adoption to these higher resolution standards. Also, live broadcast’s main value is live consumption, which implies live distribution, which remains an issue.”

“Streaming services have been instrumental in the expansion of the 4K ecosystem by encouraging more 4K production to feed SVoD providers. In fact, it is our understanding that all the major streaming platforms now require full 4K native capture and finishing on original content. Streaming is likely to also be a key driver in expanding the 8K ecosystem,” says the study.

“In the home, the trend has clearly been to make and adopt TVs with larger screen sizes and increased resolution. 8K TVs now represent the best products that TV brands offer. Maintaining pixel density and image quality as screen sizes grow is one very important reason why TV makers are moving to 8K resolution.”

Chinnock says the 8K Association sees a healthy initial 8K ecosystem in place today, although there are some pain points and technologies that need to be addressed and/or come on-line to really move 8K forward.

“The impact of Covid-19 pandemic remains an unknown as it has already delayed certain aspects of the 8K advancement. Ultimately, the adoption of 8K is often a business decision. 4K has been adopted at

different rates in different parts of the media market primarily because of business and/or competitive

reasons. We see a similar pattern emerging for the adoption of 8K. Despite the pandemic, progress has

continued below the radar, so we remain optimistic about growth prospects up and down the ecosystem.”


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