Back in 1995, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK was the first to start research and development of 4320p resolution. It was called Super Hi-Vision at the time (High Definition was originally called Hi-Vision in Japan).
At about the same time, Japan also adopted a 22.2 surround system invented by Professor Hamasaki, which was later dubbed The Hamasaki System. The format was even standardized by the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE) in October 2007. I had the luxury of being able to experience the 8K showcase with the Hamasaki sound in Aichi, Japan way back in 2005.
So when 1,080p HD was upgraded to 4K UHD resolution, I was surprised. Even more so because in 2007, the original 65mm negative of the 1992 film Baraka was re-scanned at 8K with a film scanner built specifically for the job at FotoKem Laboratories. It was then used to remaster the 2008 Blu-ray release with a “Mastered in 8K” banner emblazoned across the Blu-ray cover.
Now here we are in 2019. Samsung just released its 8K TV in Canada a few weeks ago. And several major brands, including Samsung, LG, and Sony, showcased 8K TVs at various trade events late last year and early this year, including CES in Las Vegas this past January. Until 8K content is readily available, the TV will be simply upscaling content up to 4K to the panel’s native 8K resolution.
8K resolution is found in any screen or display with around an 8,000 pixel width. 8K UHD, also known as Full UHD, FUHD, or Full Ultra HD, is the current highest ultra high definition television (UHDTV) resolution in digital television, digital cinematography, and digital signage. 8K in 8K UHD refers to the horizontal resolution of 7,680 pixels, forming the total image dimensions of 7,680×4,320, also known as 4,320p. This refers to the vertical resolution that brings an approximately 33MP resolution (UHD carries 2,160p of vertical resolution and approximately 8MP of resolution).
But the real question is: is there any real advantage in going 8K?
Many ophthalmologists and video engineers have said that 8K is an approximation of human 20/20 visual acuity. But quite honestly, the part you will see the most improvement in is with motion resolution. Most people don’t realize that their 1080p TVs only have around 480p-800p motion resolution, and 4K TVs have around 1080p to 2K motion resolution. Given this, I would presume (but can’t say for sure) that 8K resolution would have 4K motion resolution (at best). As for our perception of motion resolution, we have at least 4K equivalent.
Beyond that, when you are watching any display from a foot away per 10″ viewing distance ratio (one foot viewing distance for every 10″ display diagonal, eight feet away from an 82″ display, or, in my case, watching my 113″ equivalent screen from nine feet away, for example), you will see a more solid colour and solid looking image as the pixel structure becomes that much more dense. On a good quality display, being that close to the display will also not create motion sickness as the motion blur will be reduced (no, this has nothing to do with frame interpolation and its soap opera effect).
Of course, at the time being, I can’t comment on 8K content because there is none. Also, when 8K content becomes available, quality will largely depend on the delivery system. As you know, 4K streaming can only yield between 20% to 25% of 4K physical media’s quality since 4K streaming runs at 25Mbps at best whereas physical media runs at 100Mbps. To make things worse, 4K streaming audio is lossy whereas physical media is lossless. But at the same time, currently an 8K two-hour movie, mathematically, requires at least 240GB of storage space and at least a constant 80Mbps of streaming speed.
All of that taken into consideration, 8K content on an 8K TV is bound to be a sight to behold. And even without 8K content, an 8K display with serious upscaling capability like Samsung’s can and will look stunning. So why go 8K? Why not?