Get Ready for 8K and HDR Television

A warning : this post isn’t about the typical travel blogger stuff.  No street food, no temples, no culture shock.  It’s more about an experience to appease my inner geek.

I have seen the future, and it will be televised – in both 8K and HDR.

On Wednesday, I attended InterBEE – Asia’s biggest annual trade show catering to the broadcast and media production industries.   It was a little weird being (probably) the only travel blogger among a sea of TV and film professionals, but it was an awesome opportunity to geek out and see some of the newest technologies which are going to be going to market – including two big technologies which had everyone drooling.

First up – 8K (or UHD – ultra high definition) television. This is a video format that’ll make your current HDTV at home look like one of those grainy, blocky pictures you took with your first digital camera.

8K UHDTV (4320p) is 7680 pixels wide by 4320 pixels tall (33.18 megapixels), which is 16 times as many pixels and 4 times the spacial resolution of current 1080p HDTV, which brings it closer to the detail level of 15/70 mm IMAX. (Source : Wikipedia)
8K UHDTV (4320p) is 7680 pixels wide by 4320 pixels tall (33.18 megapixels), which is 16 times as many pixels and 4 times the spacial resolution of current 1080p HDTV, which brings it closer to the detail level of 15/70 mm IMAX. (Source : Wikipedia)

Simply put, 8K is the closest any video format has come to the quality of picture typically reserved for an IMAX screen.  The image quality is amazing on screens big and small.  In the sample footage I saw (and by playing with a couple of 8K studio cameras myself), I noticed how stunning the depth of field is in the images produced.  8K creates a texture and look that is akin to a 3D image, without the need for glasses or sitting in a “sweet spot” in front of the screen.

It was awesome getting hands-on with an 8K studio camera at the ikegami booth at InterBEE 2015. (Photo credit : Satoshi Toyoshima)
It was awesome getting hands-on with an 8K studio camera at the ikegami booth at InterBEE 2015. (Photo credit : Satoshi Toyoshima)

While North American TV broadcasters are still playing around with implementing high definition television (the local TV stations where I lived just upgraded their studios to HD in the last year or two), Japan is not fooling around when it comes to pushing forward with next-generation video technologies.

Having produced HD programming for more than a decade now, public broadcaster NHK has already started testing the transmission of 4K video via satellite.  Next year, they’ll start test broadcasts in 8K, with the intention that by the time the 2020 Olympics arrive in Tokyo, they’ll be broadcasting the games (and other programming) in the 8K format.  It’s no small technological feat considering the high data transmission rates needed to broadcast 8K.

It was a bit peculiar, but models posed on a number of studio sets around the InterBEE convention floor while performing mundane activities so people could experience using the cameras to film live action with real people.
It was a bit peculiar, but models posed on a number of studio sets around the InterBEE convention floor while performing mundane activities so people could experience using the cameras to shoot live action with real people.

The other technology which it seemed every equipment manufacturer was pimping this year was what they were calling high dynamic range (HDR) television.

In photography, HDR photos are created by snapping three images in quick succession at three different aperture settings to capture a range of luminance.  They’re then combined in a program like Photoshop to create images that either seem life-like or more-than-lifelike, and have been quite popular for landscape and cityscape photography.   HDR entered the mass lexicon a couple years ago when Apple introduced a one-button solution to help people take better photos.

HDR television is basically the same concept.  As anyone who has shot outdoors will tell you, it’s a challenge to shoot so that your subject stays well lit while the background isn’t washed out.  With 4K HDR, everything looks just like it does to the human eye.  The result is a more lifelike image, and more depth of field.  It’s very much like the 8K images I saw at the convention – but not as crisp.

Famous for its drones, manufacturer DJI unveiled its OSMO action camera at InterBEE. It features a 3-axis gimbal and the ability to record 4K video.
Famous for its drones, manufacturer DJI featured its OSMO action camera at InterBEE. OSMO has a 3-axis gimbal and the ability to record 4K video.  (Photo Credit : Satoshi Toyoshima)

There were many great innovations on display at InterBEE.  I fell in love with a very cool action camera from drone manufacturer DJI called the OSMO.  The handheld camera features a super-steady 3-axis gimbal, 4k video, and a really sweet design.  (I would gladly give up my GoPro for one.)

Also catching my attention was a company called ATOMOS, which makes a number of sweet products – including the Shogun, which improves the filmmaking process by combining a number of monitoring tools (not found in many cameras) along with on-board external video recording (in high end industry formats).

InterBEE was a great opportunity to peer in to the future and see what is coming down the pipeline for those of us who love to create content.  And while it’s not a typical travel adventure, I’m glad I had a chance to check out the conference while in Tokyo!

 

(Feature photo credit : Satoshi Toyoshima)

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