50 Years of NHK Television

20 Years of Hi-Vision

A new vision of civilization

Previous page
Right pageNext page

Hi-Vision Highlights  

The early stages of Hi-Vision production
The development of Hi-Vision TV equipment made location work possible, but the size of the equipment posed a considerable problem. The camera alone weighed 40 kg, while the additional weight of lenses and tripod brought the total up to 100 kg. Nevertheless Okazaki Sakae, a drama director, and Hara Kenichi, a technical director, loaded this cumbersome equipment onto an old TV relay van and traveled throughout Japan, shooting images of local scenery, festivals, traditional performing arts, and the All-Japan High School Baseball Championship Tournament. In 1982, this material was edited under the title Images for Hi-Vision and won recognition as a fitting commemoration of the early days of HDTV.

Spotting the individual
The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were taped in Hi-Vision, and a subsequent screening drew gasps of amazement from the assembled broadcasting experts. The pictures were so clear that it was possible to make out the individual facial features of every single spectator on the large screen. As the equipment was improved in quality and reduced in size, commercial broadcasters also sought to produce Hi-Vision TV programs of their own. In 1988, NHK produced an electronic movie, Departure, consisting only of electronic images—this at a time when most movies were still shot on film.



Impetus from sports
The 1988 Seoul Olympics provided NHK with an opportunity to conduct test broadcasting in Hi-Vision over 17 consecutive days. The equipment later underwent extensive refinement, allowing large-scale coverage of the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and other major sports events.
On November 25, 1994, NHK and seven commercial TV companies began test broadcasting to prepare for the full-scale use of Hi-Vision. NHK was responsible for 60% of the output and production, and launched Weekly Hi-Vision News.
NHK also used Hi-Vision to cover and broadcast the devastation wrought by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995.

Lift-off to space
In October 1998, after 10 years of negotiations, NHK put Hi-Vision cameras on the U.S. space shuttle. Japanese astronaut Mukai Chiaki and her colleagues successfully shot Hi-Vision images of the earth and the inside of the spacecraft.
In 1999, Hi-Vision cameras were introduced in news coverage. In August 2000, Hi-Vision was used to cover the Democratic and Republican national conventions for the American presidential election. Since that year, NHK's Annual Historical Drama serials have all been shot and broadcast in Hi-Vision, The first such all-Hi-Vision presentation was Aoi: The Three Tokugawa Generations.

NHK, the Hi-Vision pioneer
NHK has installed Hi-Vision cameras throughout Japan and is gradually shifting all TV broadcast equipment to the Hi-Vision format, not only in Japan but at NHK facilities around the world.

Hi-Vision reality
Viewers were stunned by the raw clarity of Hi-Vision images showing the devastated World Trade Center in New York, while Hi-Vision coverage of the subsequent U.S. air campaign in Afghanistan gave viewers a greater sense of immediacy than had ever been possible before. U.S. Major League Baseball matches featuring Suzuki Ichiro introduced viewers to a different dimension of television quality.
TV on a large Hi-Vision screen is so clear that the experience has been compared to an abrupt and significant improvement in eyesight. This new standard of image clarity is giving viewers a sharper-than-ever perception of current affairs and events in Japan and the rest of the world, bringing everything closer to home. The development of TV programs that make the most of digital Hi-Vision technology is one of NHK's most important goals in the 21st century.

Previous page
Right pageNext page