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2001: The 8K television program of a Space Odyssey does not go beyond the infinite



At a time when it's still difficult to get a lot of 4K content to monitor the air, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK has launched its regular 8K channel service this weekend, making it the first broadcaster the world that does this. As you'd expect, I do not have an 8K TV, 8K receiver or the right satellite dish to watch at home – in Japan, that's hardly anyone at the moment. But NHK set up theaters and demo stations in a new Tokyo shopping mall, Shibuya Stream, and I witnessed the ultra-HDTV future for myself.

Much of what NHK sends falls into the world Typical TV showroom video footage category ̵

1; beautifully detailed slow-panning footage of the Louvre, the Sagrada Familia and the Yellowstone. However, the station managed to gain legitimate, impressive content for its first day: an exclusive 8K version of Stanley Kubrick's Eternal Classic 2001: A Space Odyssey .

A better demonstration is hardly conceivable material in theory. Most digitally filmed Hollywood movies are not even recorded in 4K, not to mention 8K, while with a 35mm film scan you normally achieve a resolution of about 4K. 2001 was recorded in the much larger Super Panavision 70 format, making it an ideal candidate for 70mm prints and now for the 8K restoration. It helps that, despite its 50th anniversary, it is still one of the most impressive films ever made. I saw an IMAX show a few months ago and was amazed at how well it worked.

A representative of the NHK told me that the 8K version of Warner Bros. was scanned in the US in what seemed to be the only studio in the US capable of sending it to NHK for color correction and conversion to broadcast format. I saw it broadcast live on Saturday at 1:10 pm and I'll say it looked a lot better than I ever expected to watch 2001 on TV. But I was not blown away.


Part of this was undoubtedly due to the viewing situation. I stood just a few feet in front of an approximately 85-inch Sharp LED 8K TV, in a large room with undressed curtains and a TV at my side, which emitted the music of a co-broadcast 4K Hatsune Miku concert , This is not the best environment to go through, for example, the infamous "Dawn of Man" opening sequence that I like but would normally prefer to watch with a comfortable armchair. In addition, the TV inexplicably had the motion smoothing enabled, and I'm really glad Kubrick never witnessed it.

But more importantly, I did not get much out of the extra resolution. Granted, I really stood close to the screen, but when we talk about normal living room distances, it's hard to imagine that 8K for most people in this situation can be perceived at over 4K, even if the broadcast lacks compression. Some scenes in 2001 are definitely sharper than others, something that struck me when watching the IMAX version, and there were moments when the 8K resolution came to mind. But there were others who barely noticed. After watching the 8K program, I compared it to the 4K iTunes version at home.

At normal viewing distance on my 55-inch 4K TV, the Apple TV 4K version essentially triggers my (good) eyesight. There are several scenes with text on computer monitors that I need to bring closer to the TV to read. I am not convinced that the NHK version detail jump, if any, is sufficient to outweigh the effect of stretching the image on such a large 8K TV. If you take the bitrate into account, I would not be surprised if the 4K Blu-ray looks much better overall. (Side note, which is probably self-evident: I would love to see this 8K scan playing local media.)

good mainstream thing, and it's hard to see many developers switching to an 8K production pipeline in the near future. This does not mean, however, that the 8K broadcast is not impressive or meaningful. A future in which TV channels can display 4K quality movies, even after compression, is an advantage for anyone with a 4K TV. This is essentially true of anyone who has bought a television in recent years and beyond. It's not as if current HD broadcasts would come close to the quality of a normal Blu-ray Disc. In light of that, I think that this is a really cool and important evolution in broadcast technology, whether 8K televisions ever stand out. I think it's something you can look forward to, even if you've just spent thousands of dollars on it have lost a 4K TV. Around the corner of the Sharp 8K LED set was a smaller Sony 4K OLED TV connected to an 8K receiver, which also featured 2001 . And you know what? I thought it looked much better than the 8K Sharp, and it was a much more practical and "affordable" solution for almost all living spaces.

NHK has not yet commented on the case that I should or even want to buy an 8K TV. However, it has been shown that TV shows on the 4K TV can look incredibly good, which everyone can look forward to. It's also true that if you're interested in image quality, the panel quality will outperform the resolution for all but the most gigantic home theaters.


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