The Rio Olympics go for resolution gold, will film in 8K (and VR too)

However, the 8K footage will only be available in Japan

Rio 2016 concept art

Think 4K displays are impressive? Well, the next big step up - 8K, or 7,680 x 4,320 pixels - isn't too far out on the horizon, and this summer's Olympics will be the biggest testbed to date for the Super Hi-Vision resolution.

The Olympic Broadcasting Services has confirmed that a portion of the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be filmed in 8K resolution, although it's a relatively small chunk of the overall schedule. Some 7,000 hours of footage will reportedly be filmed across all events, with just 130 hours shot in 8K resolution.

Still, that's a significant amount of footage for the nascent format, and it will offer stunning 22.2 channel surround sound as well. Both the opening and closing ceremonies will be available in 8K, along with events like swimming, basketball, football, and judo. However, you probably won't be able to watch (or hear) this footage.

It's only planned to air in Japan, as the country is working ahead towards a broader rollout of 8K filming of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. They'll also downscale some of the footage this year into 4K resolution, but that likely won't air anywhere: it will simply be for evaluation purposes for future events. The same is planned for experiments with high dynamic range and wider colour gamuts, too.

Elsewhere in the world, the standard TV broadcasts will come in 1080p resolution with 5.1 surround sound, but at least there's one other big perk that we might be able to partake in: virtual reality footage.

The Olympic Broadcasting Service will offer both live and pre-recorded footage of the Rio games for VR headsets, with the opening and closing ceremonies and one major event per day all viewable in immersive VR. And it sounds like they'll make that footage available as 360-degree videos for viewing on the web, as well. The Rio 2016 games officially begin on 3 August with football, although the opening ceremony doesn't take place until 5 August.

[Sources: Advanced Television, CNET via Engadget]