Live 8K Capture Considerations
From an artistic point of view, 8K brings a wider field of view compared to 4K, so sports events offer a spectator’s perspective. The second benefit is the resolution that can be perceived on fixed shots. This benefit should be validated on 8K and 4K TVs for both still and moving images to determine where 8K offers the most value. Higher frame rates are likely to be desired for 8K capture, for example.
Camera prep is of highest importance when shooting 8K, especially with a multi-camera setup. There is no cutting corners at this resolution, because an image captured and delivered in 8K doesn’t lie. Any flaws in the sensor or limitations in the frame rate will be instantly noticeable. For this reason, it is highly recommended that a full day of camera prep is set aside before the shoot itself.
Capturing test patterns and ideally reproducing them on an actual 8K screen for analysis will help detect flaws and variations before they are discovered after the fact. Many cameras shoot 8K but only at 29.97 fps. This is where it is important to double check that the camera is actually capable of shooting full 8K at a minimum of 59.94 fps—or ideally at 120/100 fps.
Key 8K camera makers include:
The same camera prep and testing that is required for the cameras themselves should also apply to all lenses being used in the production. Any flaws and focus issues in the optics that might have been acceptable in a 4K image may render the footage useless in an 8K environment. At this level of resolution, it is preferable to use a high-quality prime lens that has perfect focus over a convenient zoom lens that might lose focus slightly when the focal length is changed. Any aesthetic considerations that might change the sharpness of the image intentionally can be done after the capture step. In otherwords, err on the side of sharpness and focus.
On-site Infrastructure Considerations
An 8K production is very similar to a 4K production: multiple cameras have to be installed at the venue with fiber connections to carry uncompressed 48G/s signal to the OB Van where it needs to have the broadcast production capability to mix all the sources and create a program. We see a trend to move from SDI-based productions to IP-based productions with SMPTE standard ST 2110 as a natural candidate to carry 8K over IP. The use of JPEG-XS may also become more common which will allow lossless compression to reduce data rates.
Live capture is not the only problem to solve; you also must offer slow motion and editing that needs to be available at close to real time. Just as it was with the initial introduction of 4K, it is possible to conceive an intermediate period when non-essential cameras, as well as complex systems, would be in 8K.
For sports, one of the questions the industry will have to resolve is if it is more attractive to produce in 4K100p/120p vs 8K60p/50p, knowing that it was proven by EBU researchers that 1080/100p was performing better than 2160/50p on fast motions. See report for details.