The era of 8K, the resolution we’ve all been waiting for, is right around the corner. As we speak, the home entertainment space is being revolutionized with the launches of devices that offer richer, more immersive 8K viewing experiences. But just how much closer has the industry come to introducing those experiences to living rooms around the world?
To answer eight common questions about 8K, Samsung Newsroom reached out to Bill Mandel, President of the 8K Association and Vice President at Samsung Research America and Chris Chinnock, Executive Director of 8K Association. Read on to learn more about topics like the state of the 8K ecosystem, market prospects, leading industry players, 8K content production methods and what users can expect for the future of the technology.
Q: Who’s leading the creation of the 8K ecosystem?
In 2018, Samsung and a handful of other TV and panel makers planned the organization of a trade group focused on the evangelization and development of the 8K ecosystem. They approached Insight Media’s Chris Chinnock to discuss the future development of products and content. They also took concrete steps to establish the 8K Association (8KA) by developing the 8K Association Certified logo for 8K TVs and establishing consumer and industry-facing educational materials.
This was how the 8K Association was created in 2019 to benefit users, content creators and technology developers alike. Since then, the 8KA has put out a variety of materials to teach people about 8K technology, including a detailed “State of the 8K Ecosystem” report, educational seminars and webinars, and a weekly news service called The 8K Monitor. The Association also has a number of committees involved in developing new 8K TV specs and testing methods, along with encoding and decoding activities, content creation, marketing and promotion and more, with the goal of expanding the 8K ecosystem. Moreover, the 8KA continues to work with several standards development organizations to help create 8K specifications and support the technology’s certification.
Q: What kinds of companies have joined the 8KA?
When the 8K Association was created in 2019, it featured just five member companies. Having focused its efforts on expanding the 8K ecosystem over the last three years, the Association now features 30 members in all, which include not just TV brands but also panel makers, chip makers, content creators, streaming service providers and equipment providers, among others. Global companies like Google, IMAX, and Intel are some of the leading brands that have joined the 8K Association and are helping to bring consumers the best 8K experiences across as many devices as possible. (See the 8KA’s full list of partners.)
Q: What makes 8K-enabled devices different from others?
In addition to announcing Test Specifications at IFA 2019 and CES 2020, the 8K Association has established common industry standards, including an 8K certification program, to enable consumers to enjoy consistent, high-quality 8K experiences.
The certification program is enhanced each year through the addition of specific criteria, and strict evaluations are conducted based on various requirements. The program is composed of elements that provide users with more three-dimensional, highly immersive experiences. These include video decoding and multi-channel surround sound that supports a wide variety of 8K streaming content, as well as resolution, brightness, color and connectivity, which ensure high performance on large screens.
Q: How many 8K-enabled devices are currently on the market?
The number of 8KA Certified TV models is increasing each year. With the launch of its 2019 QLED 8K displays, Samsung became the first manufacturer in the industry to feature a complete lineup of 8KA Certified TVs. As of August 2021, 47 Samsung 8K TVs have received the 8KA Certified logo. Today, Samsung, Hisense and TCL have introduced more than 70 8KA Certified TVs to the market.
Q: How is 8K content typically produced and distributed?
A great deal of 8K content is captured using cinema-grade 8K HDR cameras. However, most of this content is finished in 4K or HDR resolution before being distributed to consumers.
That said, it is clear that the amount of 8K content available continues to expand. Content platforms YouTube and Vimeo also feature a great deal of short-form 8K content, which is mostly focused on nature and travel. This is quite similar to the way that 4K content was introduced to the market. The 8K Association is working to put the pieces in place to enable more 8K movies and shows to become available to consumers.
Q: Will 8K TV users be able to freely enjoy high-quality video even if native 8K content is not widely available yet?
8K devices’ AI-assisted upscaling technology allows users to overcome the issue of not having enough native 8K content. Samsung’s 8K TVs in particular are capable of improving resolution and picture quality using deep learning AI technology. The technology precisely analyzes various elements of every frame of content, including lines, details and noise levels, in order to upscale low-quality images to 8K.
Q: Will we be able to game in 8K?
Major gaming consoles are expected to support 8K playback through the HDMI 2.1 interface, and 8K gaming will also be possible with 8K TVs’ upscaling technology. On the PC gaming side, high-end graphics cards from manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD may include support for 8K output, even with features like ray tracing and upscaling enabled on the GPU. Although the 8KA has not yet introduced an 8K certification program for games, it is closely monitoring this area and exploring various options.
Q: What is the outlook for 8K’s adoption and expansion?
8K’s expansion is centered around users who long to test out and adopt the latest display technology. If this trend continues among these users who have historically led the widespread adoption and acceptance of new technologies, over time, this will lead to both reductions in cost and the establishment of a larger content experience ecosystem. This was the path for HD’s adoption, and 4K followed a similar route. We are seeing a similar pattern when it comes to 8K’s adoption, which has been aided by the work of organizations like the 8K Association.