8K Cameras Viable for Sports with Some More Work

By Chris Chinnock

One of the potential uses of an 8K camera for sports is a full field/arena view that can be used to create multiple 4K or HD feeds that can go directly to air. While that is possible today, direct-to-air is not the real need: it is instant replay, says Rob Willox, Director of Marketing at Sony Electronics. “What we need is a better server and software solution that can manipulate the software-defined virtual cameras much faster and with better user control than we have today. With some of the news lenses, the image quality of these 8K cameras is superb, but it must serve the story-telling scenarios in sports to be utilized.”

This appears to be a market opportunity that could be addressed by the right company. It is not just about zooming and moving a virtual window in an 8K canvas, there are ways that operators use instant replay along with interfaces to robotics that need to be considered in developing an 8K replay solution.  Could this be an opportunity for AI to be used to learn from operators how to construct an 8K solution?

Willox also noted that infrastructure issues need to be considered when installing an 8K camera at an event. An IP infrastructure is going to be central to bringing 8K cameras to sporting venues, thinks Willox.  To that end, Sony just announced a new IP interface for its 8K broadcast camera, the UHC-8300. And, it is working with CCTV to outfit an Outside Broadcast van with the ability to handle 8K feeds. Will this be used for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022?  We will see.

Willox also pointed to the use of large single-sensor cameras in sporting events as a trend that looks to continue. Such cameras give a very cinematic look and have been used to get close-ups of the latest hero in the game. The use of 8K cameras here is another opportunity, but a robust wireless solution will be needed.  That’s where mmWave 5G capabilities will come in handy – and sports venues will be early adopters of this technology.

Capture, production, and distribution of sporting, entertainment, or other live events are technically possible today, but there needs to be a clear value proposition for doing so. In sports, it now seems reasonable to start to use 8K cameras for certain parts of the game even if production and distribution are done at lower resolution.