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NAB: Speakers Discuss Early 8K Activity

"We have to get to a point where there are display technologies and a compelling reason to deliver 8K,” argues one exec.

LAS VEGAS -- 4K is a pervasive topic this week at the NAB Show, but hang on: The 8K flavor of Ultra HD -- representing a whopping 16 times the picture resolution as today’s HD -- is also generating discussion on some panels.

Jim Houston, principal of Starwatcher Digital and AMPAS Scitech Council member, even predicted that it would be as easy to accommodate 8K 120 frames per second in a decade as it is do 2K today. “Manufacturers are working toward that goal,” he said during a session at the NAB Technology Summit on Cinema.

To illustrate the difference in file sizes, he related that today dailies can account for roughly 2.5 TB of data per day, while 8K at 120 fps could bring that number to 187TB.

But Fotokem’s chief strategy officer, Mike Brodersen, pointed out that today, the challenges of even handling 4K are not insignificant. “We are involved in a couple shows in 4K, uncompressed, with Canon media and Sony media," he reported, noting that the company is also doing an 8K test.

Noting that this is “much more complex with 4K,” he added, “8K? The question maybe is why would we be dealing with 8K? We have to get to a point where there are display technologies and a compelling reason to deliver 8K.”

Japanese public broadcaster NHK is bullish about 8K and is developing an 8K “Super Hi Vision” format.

During an NAB panel, NHK’s Takayuki Yamashita reported that in 2014, NHK aims to begin testing 4K broadcasting, and in 2016, it plans to begin offering a 4K service, while the same year beginning to test an 8K service. NHK is working toward launching the 8K service by 2020.

Yamashita said NHK is working toward making a practical 8K camera system for wide use, with a small form factor and cost-effective pricing. NHK is already developing an 8K/60fps single-chip camera and 8K/120fps three-chip camera system and plans to show its latest camera technology at NAB.

Sony, meanwhile, has developed an 8K software upgrade for its F65 4K camera that is scheduled to be available this summer.

Said Houston: “There will be a director who will decide to be first [to use 8K for a feature]. I don't know who that is yet.”