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Japan’s NHK Partners With Eutelsat To Broadcast World’s First 8K Channel

The NHK Broadcasting Centre in Shibuya, Tokyo. Photograph courtesy of NHK.

NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, has partnered with Eutelsat Communications to launch the world’s first 8K network; BS8K. The live broadcast took place on 2 December 2018 from the Vatican where images were transmitted to Tokyo via EUTELSAT 12 West B satellite with a mobile uplink provided by M-three Satcom. This momentous event by NHK has broken new ground for 8K contribution via satellite.

To achieve the technologically challenging feat, NHK relied on DVB-S2X modulation, in 16APSK, and HEVC encoding. The images (7680 pixels over 4320 lines, an astounding 33.3 million pixels per image) were shot at 60 frames per second in BT2020 colour space, with 10 bits of colour depth (1 billion colours) and high dynamic range HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), combined with 22.2 channel audio.

Airing in Japan, BS8K features 8K Ultra HD footage of major cultural and sporting events, museums and natural landscapes, providing viewers with a fully immersive experience which will be broadcast 12 hours a day. The channel will allow for further experimentation with 8K prior to the large-scale deployment of the format for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics games in 2020.

Gerry O’Sullivan, Executive Vice President, Global TV and Video of Eutelsat: “Eutelsat has been a pioneer in delivering HD and Ultra HD formats since their inception, and this broadcast confirms satellite’s unique position as one of the vital technologies capable of broadcasting 8K signals. We look forward to working hand in hand with customers such as NHK as they continue to raise the bar higher for the broadcasting industry, to deliver the best possible video experience to viewers.”

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