NHK’s newest 8K mobile unit brings Super Bowl into 8K era

Kohei Tabata says the biggest challenge for 8K production is making it easy for camera people to maintain focus

Kohei Tabata says the biggest challenge for 8K production is making it easy for camera people to maintain focus

The World Cup and Olympics have both been broadcast in 8K and now, finally, America’s largest sporting event, the Super Bowl, has its chance to shine in 8K as Super Bowl 50 is the first ever to get the 8K treatment. NHK is on hand to shoot the game with a new 8K mobile unit and six 8K cameras, good news for tech geeks everywhere. The bad news? The only place to see the game live is in the compound at Levi’s Stadium or at NHK headquarters in Tokyo.

The new mobile production unit is the largest 8K mobile unit to date and includes all new equipment, including a Sony 8K production switcher and a Lawo audio console. That truck is taking six 8K camera signals (as well as CBS camera signals) to create a world first. Two Ikegami SHK-810 cameras, two Ikegami SHK-8000 cameras, and two For-A FT-1 cameras with on-board recording are being used along with a mix of Canon and Fujinon lenses.

The Ikegami SHK-810 cameras are the newest 8K cameras on the market, making use of a single 33 million-pixel Super 35 CMOS sensor. The colour filter on the sensor is matched with the dual-green SHV colour arrangement, and achieves a high level of modulation depth, according to Ikegami. In addition, the System Expander enables the use of large viewfinders and full studio lenses, converting the portable camera into a full facility studio/field camera.

Kohei Tabata of NHK’s engineering department within the Outside Broadcast Engineering Division, says that there are three SSD recorders on hand for replay recording. In addition, the FT-1 cameras have on-board recording, making it easy to bring slow-motion replays to the 8K broadcast that can be seen in Tokyo.

“It’s not for over-the-air broadcast yet but is being seen at a live public viewing on a huge 300-inch 8K screen at the NHK headquarters in Tokyo,” he said. “It is completely sold out and there will be a second viewing on Monday night.”

He says the goal of the production, like all 8K productions to date, is to continue to gain experience and improve the quality of the productions. One of the biggest challenges remains making it easy for camera people to maintain focus as the viewfinder monitors are too small to really tell if the image is in focus.

The efforts are the first major 8K production this year for NHK and plans for the 8K truck include using it in Rio for 8K coverage of the Summer Olympics in August.

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