NHK to Launch 8K Channel Dec. 1 with '2001'

NHK has announced that it will launch its 8K channel in Japan with a broadcast of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The broadcaster, which announced the launch date last spring, has been testing 8K (what it calls “Super Hi Vision”) in anticipation of broadcasting the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games in the format.

NHK’s Executive Director of Broadcasting Yukinori Kida said the choice to launch the BS8K channel (which will coincide with the launch of the network’s 4K channel, BS4K) with “2001” was based on the film’s being shot in 70mm, a rarity when it was released to the public 50 years ago.

“Although many films were shot in 35mm, this film which was made half a century ago, was one of the few shot in 70mm, the highest quality available at the time,” he said. “Although the quality of 70mm films is comparable to 8K, there are a limited number of venues where they can be shown, so it was hard to enjoy them in the original quality.

“NHK was the first in the world to request this film be converted to 8K,” he continued. “Warner Bros., which owns the film, scanned the original film negatives, repairing scratches and restoring the color, to convert it into 8K. The result of that is the power and beauty of the 70mm original is fully captured in 8K, and the many famous scenes become even more vivid, with the attention to detail of director Stanley Kubrick expressed in the exquisite images, creating the feeling of really being on a trip in space, allowing the film to be enjoyed for the first time at home and in other venues. We would like viewers to thoroughly enjoy this masterpiece of film history.”

“My Fair Lady,” another film shot in 70mm during the 1960’s, will be shown on BS8K next March, according to Kida. 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.