Live from FIFA World Cup: NHK 8K production expands to seven cameras including 240-fps
Since the 2012 London Olympics, NHK has used events like the Olympics and World Cup as an opportunity to refine and improve a next-generation broadcast experience that will begin hitting consumer homes in December.
The big advance at the 2018 World Cup compared with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is that each match is covered using seven 8K cameras versus five and that HDR is now part of the experience. Over the course of the World Cup NHK is producing eight matches in 8K HDR, including one of the semifinals and the final on July 15.
Each of the remaining matches will be shown live and rerun in NHK’s 8K theatre at the IBC in Moscow as well as in six viewing theaters in Japan and 53 broadcast stations across the country.
Tetsuya Itsuki, senior manager, NHK Broadcast Engineering Department for the News Technical Center, Outside Engineering Division, notes that HDR is essential for 8K. “8K was developed to re-create the feeling of being at the event and being more immersive,” he explains. “That is what we are aiming for, and HDR is something we need.”
Masahiro Yatagai, News Technical Center, Outside Broadcast Engineering Division, Broadcast Engineering Department, NHK, says the enhanced visual experience is matched by an enhanced audio experience provided by 22.2 channels of audio. The NHK team is making use of 80 microphones total, 40 provided by HBS and the rest placed around the venue by the NHK 8K team.
“It is essential to create sound that matches the 8K pictures and is three-dimensional and immersive,” he adds.
Another addition to the production since the Olympics is an 8K camera, co-developed by NHK’s Science and Technology Research Lab and Hitachi, that can operate at 240 frames per second for super-slow-motion replay.
The next big step for NHK is the launch of a real service to the public. Currently, the only way to experience 8K as a consumer in Japan is to visit one of six public World Cup 8K viewing theaters or NHK broadcast stations.