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February 7, 2022

8K Debuts at 2022 Winter Olympics

According to a report from the China News Network, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics was broadcast live in 8K in the Opera House at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on February 4. The event was produced by Beijing Radio and Television Station and hosted by the Bank of China. Last week, we reported on the efforts of Beijing Radio and Television Station to establish their 8K production capability (China Makes Aggressive Moves to Showcase 8K at Winter Olympics).

 The event was open to the public – the first time the public had seen the Olympics in 8K. The 8K image was created with a 25K lumen 8K projector, most likely was supplied by Digital Projection, on an 800-inch screen. A 5.1 audio track was presented as well.

Credit: Niu Xiaobei

China Media Group (CMG) and NHK will collaborate to produce 8K coverage. While CMG and NHK are the known 8K rights holders in China and Japan, other rights holders are reportedly getting 8K feeds (from NHK or CMG) for private demos. NHK is fielding 3 OB vans with 10 8K cameras to produce the figure skating events, while CMG will cover the ceremonies (from the Bird’s Nest stadium), freestyle skiing/ snowboard big air, and speed skating in 8K.

Over 90 hours of 8K content is planned. The 8K feed will also reportedly be down-converted to 4K/HDR and 4K/SDR versions for distribution to additional rights holders.

The distribution signal coming from NHK and CMG (and their station CCTV) is most likely 8K/50p with HLG HDR (graded to 1000 nits and BT.2020 color primaries), encoded with China’s AVS3 codec at 50 Gbps. The Main Media Centre (MMC) will also feature a 15 x 8 meter 7,680 x 4,320 resolution display to show the results (it is not clear whether projection or LED is used).

On Chinese New Year’s Eve (January 31, 2022), the 8K version of the 2022 Spring Festival Gala of China Central Radio and Television Station (CCTV) was broadcast live at the same Opera House. From February 1 to the closing of the Winter Paralympics, the station will continue to broadcast the Winter Olympics 8K program.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts and Beijing Radio and Television also jointly launched the “Science and Technology Winter Olympics Music Beijing – 8K Stage Art Exhibition” to run from February 1 to the closing of the Winter Paralympics. This show includes five 8K concerts produced by the two parties. “Ice and Snow Bright Winter Olympics” and “Beijing Chorus” were broadcast through the Beijing TV 8K Test Channel for display on 20 large 8K screens and 200 8K TV demonstration sites in Beijing.

According to Sotiris Salamouris, OBS Chief Technology Officer, “Early Olympics trials of 8K were simplistic in that we were only using a few cameras and only one type of production unit. Now the whole live 8K production has matured, and the technology around it is rapidly moving so that it will eventually become an option for more and more broadcasters.”

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