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August 16, 2023

The Editor’s Choice This Time – Recent 8K Developments – Part 1

When I joined the editorial team at the 8K Association in April 2022, I wanted to get fully up-to-date with what had been going on, so one of the first articles I wrote was a selection of stories that had appeared that seemed to me significant. That was some time ago, so I thought it was time to review progress again.

TV Market Developments

The world of TV has been going through a lot of change. For set and panel makers, while 2021 saw record sales and great business results as a result of the boost to business from Covid, 2022 saw consumers turning to spending outside the home again. The result of the weak market, together with new panel capacity coming on-stream saw oversupply in panels and prices falling to record lows and below cost in 2022. That situation is slowly coming under control, but weak demand, increasing panel prices and consumer pressure from inflation have hit the TV set market.

The premium TV market, where most of the profit for set makers is, has been hit and OLED TVs are down year on year. Despite the gloom, at the SID and DSCC Business Conference in May, renowned supply chain analysts DSCC forecast good growth for 8K TVs in the next few years. Of course, the 8K Association would have liked to have seen a higher starting point, but the growth is still very positive, when OLED, for example, will be constrained in growth because there are no current plans to boost supply capacity. (and we’ve written before about the challenges of making 8K OLEDs)

DSCC’s Forecast for 8K TV set shipments shows good growth mainly for miniLED LCD

Technology Changes

The world of content capture and cameras has really been significantly moved on in the last year and a half with a number of new and significant 8K cameras coming into the market from respected camera makers and at surprisingly affordable prices for state of the art equipment.

Sony Semiconductors has added two full frame 8K sensors to its product list and these will, no doubt appear in cameras later along with the Atomos Sapphire 8K global shutter sensor.

Just this week we reported on a new version of the Atomos Ninja recorder that can capture 8K ProRes RAW files.

The number of 8K smartphones goes up and up. GSMArena lists 158 smartphones 8K video cameras from Samsung, Xiaomi, Motorola,  OnePlus, Asus, ZTE, vivo, Sharp, Realme and Redmi among others.

Why Capture in 8K?

There are four compelling reasons to capture in 8K

  • The sense of realism and immersion that comes from 8K content
  • The capturing of video that can be later rendered at higher resolution for future-proofing
  • Capture of scenes that can be ‘pan-an-scanned’ to create top quality 4K crops. That is made simple in the latest ‘smart re-frame’ technology in NLEs such as Davinci Resolve
  • The use of sampled 8k to create better 4K than can be created with native 4K capture.

Editing and Production

Once you have your 8K content, you can then look at editing your content. Here, there have been plenty of developments. As NHK explained to us, editing in 8K is no longer a major challenge. Apple, Intel and AMD have all been developing dedicated video processing technology. Apple even boasted as long ago as March 2022 that its processors can process up to 18 streams of 8K video simultaneously! The latest M2 Max versions can support up to 10 streams even in a mezzanine codec such as ProRes, while the M2 Ultra supports 22 streams and the latest Mac models can support 8K displays over HDMI. NHK told us that it’s hardware requirement for 8K editing is just a suitable MacBook – nothing exotic at all in its editing suite!

Once you have your content edited, companies including Main Concept and Spin Digital can live encode it using the advanced VVC codec. Work by these companies means that 8K can be delivered in less than half the original 85Mbps that NHK initially used, at bitrates down to 40Mbps. At IBC, in September 2023, Spin Digital will show that it can encode live 8K with 60fps for the first time. Beamr has worked with Nvidia to develop its technology to exploit Nvidia GPUs for encoding up to 8K HDR content.

Work is going on in Spain to develop terrestrial broadcasting in 8K using the DVB-T2 broadcast system and in Brazil, work continues to develop using LCEVC multilayer encoding.  DVB, which develops international technical standards for broadcast and streamed media, has approved a new specification that covers the use of the VVC and AVS3 codecs up to 8K in DVB delivery systems including terrestrial, satellite, cable, IPTV and DVB-DASH.

In part 2 we’ll look at recent advances in interfaces, gaming and the display end of the 8K ecosystem

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