Japan's NHK, the prime mover behind Super Hi-Vision, has completed its first successful test broadcasts of long distance digital terrestrial signals in the 8K format
Lest we forget, Super Hi-Vision is 7,680 pixels by 4,320 and thus moving it over anything apart from some very fat pipes is a bit of a major achievement. NHK and its partners, the BBC among them, have done various tests over satellite before and also managed a short range terrestrial test, but this is the first time that signals have been transmitted — from NHK's bureau in Hitoyoshi to a receiving station 27km away — over a decent distance using a single UHF channel.
How do you transmit a 24Gbps signal in a single broadcast channel? Well, you compress it mightily for a start, but NHK researchers are also using MIMO techniques (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) which use banks of antennae at both ends to increase data throughput.
”The success of this experiment is a big step forward toward the realisation of 8K Super Hi-Vision terrestrial broadcasting,” NHK Labs researcher Tomohiro Saito said. “We’re now working on overcoming one challenge at a time to implement it.”
Progress is time-consuming, the previous 4km record was set in May 2012, but there is the sense that this was a significant milestone to have reached along the stated path towards full 8K broadcasts from the 2020 Toyko Olympics. In the meantime, a NHK crew will capture some events in the format at Sochi (not for broadcast though) and probably the World Cup later this year, and there might well be a recreation of the London2012 live broadcast to select audiences at cinemas from the Rio Games in 2016.
IBC is traditionally where the very latest advances are presented, so it’ll be interesting to see exactly where we are come September. There should be plenty of sporting action to watch if nothing else.