Digital Stadium

NHK 2000

James Walker discovers that NHK is leading the pack in computer art.

When considering the cutting edge of Japanese technology, the name NHK doesn't usually spring to mind. However, this year, the public broadcasting giant has made a step in the right direction. "Digital Stadium" is a program shown roughly twice a month, that aims to be a showcase of innovative computer-generated (CG) imaging talent, screening what it considers to be the best in a constantly mutating art form.

The format is a brief thirty-minute program, with the CG videos between one and two minutes long. There is a panel of three presenters, and a guest judge, who has the deciding vote on that program's particular winning video. The judges are game designers, music producers, animation artists, and generally people who know what they're talking about.

"In the digital era, the computer has become an essential medium to express ourselves," says the program's main host Hide Nakaya, "It's a tool to manifest our thoughts and feelings. Perhaps what awaits us is a shining Utopia, or a dystopia, where our world is reigned over by machines."

The good news is that the application form is available in English, and can be found on the NHK website: In fact, a fair number of non-Japanese guest judges and contestants turn up on the program. There are two categories; one is to design the program's constantly changing opening titles, a fifteen-second sequence using the words "Digital Stadium." The second category is an original graphic work on any theme, in any genre, running to a maximum of three minutes. The work is of a consistently high standard, and so far, has run from surreal future-shocked scenarios to beautifully rendered traditional Japanese folk tales.

"Digital Stadium" is screened infrequently, however, and the schedule for this month is Nov 10-11 and Nov 18-19. It's shown on Friday nights on BS1 from 12-12:30am, and rerun on Saturdays from 11:15-11:45am. For more information, the email address is, and the telephone number for NHK inquiries is 03-3465-1111 (ask for Digital Stadium). The program is also available on the overseas channel "NHK World Premium," and the email address for information about that is  

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