Wimbledon Tennis 2015: 8K, not 4K, trials to be run by NHK, IMG and the AELTC
There won’t be any 4K UHD test shoots at Wimbledon end of June, but NHK will be there for the latest in its trials of 8K Super Hi-Vision. The test will feature recordings from Court One, and is being conducted by NHK with IMG and the All England Lawn Tennis Club. It will not be transmitted, but demonstrated locally to interested parties.
“We will be watching the demo with interest,” said Alan Bright, Director of Engineering at IMG. “Clearly 8K is in the experimentation stage and the Japanese are pushing it with 2020 in mind.
“While the rest of the industry is looking for simpler solutions to 4K, none of us are really saying let’s future proof for 8K. But it looks stunning and it opens up creative options in terms of how you view TV, for example, possibly replacing a wall or window in your living room.”
In terms of 8K’s practical application in sports, Bright believes that 4K cut-outs — in the same way that HD views are being extracted today from 4K images — is a possibility but remains some way off due to bandwidth restrictions.
Wimbledon host broadcaster BBC has a track record of working with NHK on Super Hi-Vision, including organising tests which were transmitted to Washington and Japan during London 2012.
lMG’s Wimbledon activity includes production of the ready-to-air Wimbledon World Feed and overseeing the European Satellite Service, a continuous feed of raw television coverage with graphics from multiple courts.
Led by Japan’s ambition, several camera manufacturers are prepping 8K kit. Among them is Ikegami which has worked with NHK over a decade to develop an 8K studio camera. The latest version is a tenth the size of the 2002 debut model. Meanwhile Red is lining up a 8K sensor for Weapon by the end of 2016.
“8K broadcasting is on the verge of becoming a reality, and it will undoubtedly become the mainstream past 2020,” predicted Hitachi’s COO Sean Moran. Hitachi has also developed a 8K camera with NHK.
“NHK are doing a lot of testing around a 8K solution and Sony is not stepping away from that,” said Mark Grinyer, Sony Head of Business Development, 4K and Sports. “We are looking at it. But the timing is going to take a while and and there are lots of things to sort. For example, there are discussions similar to 4K about what glass you use to capture and there is a whole tool-set [for 8K] which needs developing. I think you’ll see some movies start to shoot 8K for certain scenes long before 8K is a broadcast application.”