NHK Open House in Tokyo

Open House at NHK STRL (Science & Technology Research Laboratory). To see information about each image in the slideshow, go to Full Screen Mode and turn on “show info” at top right.

NHK is a Japanese publicly-funded company. Every year, for one week at the end of May, they open their doors to the public to show what they have achieved recently.

NHK STRL is located West of Tokyo, about 1 hour travel from Shinjuku.  From May 24-27, 2012, it became a playground for the tech-minded as well as mothers with their early-adapting children — who enjoyed it very much. There were guided tours as well as a Stamp Rally (a very popular game in Japan, where the collector of stamps gets a present when all the stamps are collected).

The direction where NHK is heading is very clear: not 3D, not 4K, but straight to 8K for acquisition as well as a broadcast format (called Super Hi-Vision, UHDTV, or Ultra Hi Definition). Super Hi Vision has a resolution of  7680 x 4320 pixels — 4 times HD. UHDTV includes specs for audio (22.2 Tracks), broadcast equipment, recording media (the new 100 GB compact disk was shown the very first time to the public at this show) and… of course 3rd party panels to view the Super Hi-Vision as well. Data rate can be up to 51.2 Gbits/second, and frame rates of 24, 25, 50, 60 and 120 fps are part of the specs.

Their target is between 2015-2020 to begin broadcasting in full 8K. Other dates are in play: testing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and possible introduction in Japan by 2013-2014. What that means can only be visualized when visiting the open house of NHK!

It was very interesting to see that NHK showed no interest whatsoever to broadcast or capture in 3D. It was clear to me after the Broadcast Show INTERBEE last November that Japan appears to be the country where most 3D cameras and 3D panels are produced, but only for the foreign market, because nobody I know really gets excited over 3D here in Japan. (Except the demonstration of the 3D glassless monitor, which drew a big crowd.)

The Shoulder Mount Compact 8K Camera is incredibly small and compact for what it can do. The only thing they were secret about was the recorder. This was hidden and nobody was allowed to see it.

However, the recording of the 8K uncompressed data, which consists of 100 MB for each frame, is done on 16 SSD cards, each holding 128 GB, as I was told. The sensor size is 16 x 30 mm and can be covered with any full-frame 35 mm lens. The lens used on this camera was a Nikon 24-85 mm. However the flange focal depth is different, because as a test, we mounted my Nikon 17-35 lens, but could not get it in focus. The weight of the Compact 8K Camera is just 5 kg.

NHK converted their car park basement to a show ground. It was well organized with different booths each showing a different part of their new technology. And in every booth was 1 person working on that particular project and therefore very knowledgeable and helpful about answering most questions.

It was a great, informative show, and I am looking forward to go there again next year to see how they have progressed from this year’s show.

Dorian Weber
Tokyo, Japan

Dorian Weber owns high-end equipment, including the latest 4K and 5K digital cinematography cameras. An accomplished producer, director, cinematographer, and all-around  filmmaker (equally famous for his one-man-band productions as well as full production services), he is based in Tokyo, and shoots around Asia and the world.

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