The most prominent new technology being addressed nearly everywhere at NAB was 4K. The 4K vision had its beginnings at a company that was on few people’s radar in 2005, called RED. It was founded by Jim Jannard, who also founded Oakley Inc, maker of Oakley sunglasses. He sold Oakley in 2007, reportedly for more than $2 billion. That was, probably not coincidently, also the year the first RED One cameras were shown at NAB and delivered later that year.
In less than a decade, the 4K format has grown from zero and is headed to 8K and beyond. Nearly every manufacturer parenthetically mentioned 8K as the next natural step. If you are like me, you may question the viability of 4K for home viewing. At Sony, its full speed ahead as it recently introduced two 4K home TVs, a 65in version for $6999 and a 55in for $4999. They also introduced a 4K media player for $600, which includes 10 4K movies. That’s almost a bargain compared to the prices of plasma screens a decade ago.
There are two sides to the 4K story. One is that of home use, which remains to be seen. Is it the next HDTV or the next 3-D? On the production side, 4K is full of promise. It’s exciting and in many instances, it makes perfect sense.
Think of 4K as four HDTV screens, 2 x 2. Think of pan and zoom, where you can use the entire 4K area and convert it to HDTV, or use it to zoom in and move around on any one-fourth of the raster, still producing full-resolution HDTV. Now, think of a sports camera shot where the 4K camera wasn’t centered on the action, which happened to occur in the corner of the screen. The replay could pan and zoom to center the action on the HDTV feed.
As technology progresses, nearly everyone agrees 8K is virtually around the corner. Think of 8K as four 4K screens, 2 x 2. If 4K clicks with consumers and the format becomes common, the same effects can be accomplished in 8K as it is now with 4K and HDTV.
4K UHDTV has a resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is 8.3 megapixels. 8K UHDTV resolution is 7680 x 4320, equal to 33.2 megapixels. Standard 1920x1080 HDTV contains 2.1 megapixels. 8K is said to have the detail of 70mm IMAX film.
I happened to be watching the "House of Cards" series on Netflix the other day. The credits say the show was shot in RED 4K. The time lapse shots in the opening all are slowly panned and zoomed, clearly a 4K to HDTV effect. Impressive yet simple.
Was the 2013 NAB Show a success? The answer depends on you, me, our friends and our families. We’re all in control of the industry now.