Introducing 8K: The Final Frontier?

Filmmaker by Kaleem Aftab

Keeping apace with camera technology is like running a race where the finish line keeps on moving. Just as the next generation of games consoles go on sale boasting the ability to display 4K images (although for the moment only those with the salary of a pro-footballer can afford screens able to make use of all those pixels) Japanese broadcaster NHK has started to film and broadcast events in 8K. NHK are so excited about the technology that they have commissioned filmmakers to make short films showcasing 8K, which were screened at the recent Tokyo International Film Festival.

I went along to see The Chorus, which was billed as “an experimental 8K drama – a play of many characters situated in a sectioned apartment block that makes the most of ultra-high definition by showing all the rooms at once.” The Chorus written by Ryô Iwamatsu and with music by Shimizu that had actually been filmed on a sound stage, at the NHK production facility. On the stage was built an open set made from remnants of the now demolished Donjukai housing project. A three-story section of the apartment block was rebuilt, so that three rooms on each floor were left exposed for the camera to peer into. A staircase snaked in between the apartment doors, with each apartment inhabited by different fictional residents. The back of the sound stage was open, so through the windows one could see the outside world, especially the trees, behind the building.

What was immediately striking was that the image was so crisp that it was possible to distinguish the leaves on the trees in the background. Rather than making the image seem flat, the clarity gave the picture a depth hitherto unseen on digital projections. The colors were also magnificent. The whites and blacks were stunning. At one moment a white vest climbs from under a white duvet with zero blurring or merging. There was only one moment where I felt like I saw a white glow that didn’t look real (see questions below) – this came when a black-suited man walked in front of a window. But outside light seeping through windows is an issue that always seems to be problematic when shooting on digital cameras. read more...

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