Setting The Timeframe For 4K Adoption
Just as high-def TV is achieving near universal acception, the TV and motion pictures industries are looking ahead to the next big thing in imaging resolution -- 4K.
“There is just no stopping it,” said Canon U.S.A.’s Laurence Thorpe. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Thorpe was one of four industry experts who this morning made their educated predictions about when broadcast will move into a 4K world as part of a panel at the Content and Communications World convention Wednesday in New York.
4K technologies enable broadcasters to air ultra high-definition TV, with four times the resolution of 1080p. Thorpe and his fellow panelist estimated that within five or so years the TV industry will be equipped with the necessities — cameras, editing tools and graphics equipment, among them — to implement the use of 4K technologies.
While 4K already is in use by feature filmmakers, a series of events — including the price of 4K cameras (which currently cost about $30,000) dropping and consumers embracing the idea — have to take place before broadcasters can fully get on board, panelists said.
Distributors such as cable and satellite operators also have to embrace 4K TV before it is widely adopted. There also is a lot of activity on the manufacturing side to create interfaces that will make it all feasible, said Sony Electronics’ Hugo Gaggioni.
“4K is not a camera,” said panelist David Leitner, a New York-based producer, director and director of photography. “It’s the camera; it’s the infrastructure; it’s the display.”
But the process of adopting 4K as a standard is not unlike previous challenges for broadcasters. Rather, panelists said they expect it to go a lot like the transition from standard- to high-def TV did, during which broadcasters wrestled with moving to HD TV before consumers even had the televisions to watch it, they said.
Gaggioni also expects 4K technologies will appeal to hobbyists who use consumer camcorders and the like. In fact, the new GoPro Hero3, a consumer favorite, records in 4K, Leitner said. There are four other professional-quality 4K cameras available from companies including Sony, JVC and Canon.
But with high-def TV only now becoming the norm, is it really worth making the investment on taking the idea to the next level?
Panelists said it is. “4K puts something more in the image and you can feel it,” Leitner said.
Thorpe agreed: “It’s pretty spectacular and it’s visible. There’s a greater sense of immersion, greater sense of reality. It is significantly different.
4K TV could also have an impact on 3D TV, which has not taken off in the U.S., panelists said. On one hand, there are rumblings about whether the two technologies could mesh to create 4K TV in 3D.
In reality, however, the 4K and 3D technologies actually have “a contentious relationship” at the moment, primarily because 4K is so superior that it challenges the very existence of 3D TV, Thorpe said.
“3D is just tough,” he added. “4K gives us a nice sense of immersion — without the glasses.”