Since winning the so-called format war, Blu-ray hasn't exploded quite the way many thought it would. Don't get me wrong, it's currently the HD format of choice when it comes to audio/video quality, but it took a while for players to become affordable and for quality titles to hit store shelves. This holiday season will, no doubt, solidify many things for the budding format, but as we approach 2009 and beyond, my mind isn't on 1080p or Blu-ray. It's on the next frontier and something called 4K.
• Learn more about 4K video resolution from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read a review of the Meridian 810 video projector here.
4K, for the uninitiated, refers to a digital cinema format (filmed or scanned) with a resolution of approximately 4,000 horizontal pixels. I say filmed or scanned because you can effectively digitize a 35mm or 70mm print in 4K for post-production, editing or even final output, just as you can film an entire movie in the digital realm at 4K resolution. However, when it comes to digitizing traditional film, it's usually done at the 2K (2,000 horizontal pixels) level, since it's more of a visual match. Therefore, if Blu-ray is claiming to bring the big screen experience home to you, the consumer, and it's not even in the 2K space, what can one reasonably expect from a format four times the resolution of 35mm film? A very bright future filled with good and bad. Allow me to explain.
I am a filmmaker, having just finished the first feature-length film in the world shot digitally and finished entirely at the 4K level, a project called April Showers staring Tom Arnold and Kelly Blatz, which should be in theaters mid-2009. There has been a fair amount of press and speculation surrounding cinema 4K as of late, no doubt helped by the release of the now-infamous RED ONE camera designed and developed by the former heads of Oakley sunglasses. While the RED ONE is technically a 4K camera capable of capturing images at 4K level, it is far from the best camera on the market. While the RED's price tag and slick marketing campaigns have made it an instant hit among independent filmmakers, its chipset leaves a lot to be desired in terms of color uniformity, dynamic range and reliability. For these reasons, among others, I turned to Dalsa Digital and their large but rock-solid Origin II camera package to shoot my second feature-length effort. There are a few other 4K cameras and companies, but Dalsa Digital has been an innovator in the field for over 25 years, designing and building true 4K-capable sensors for clients as high up on the food chain as NASA. The Mars Rover, the one that didn't imbed itself on the face of the Red Planet, was equipped with Dalsa's 4K sensor, providing stunning stills with unprecedented detail of the Martian landscape. Frankly, if the sensor could survive the rigors of space flight and the extremes of the Martian atmosphere, then it should do just fine on set in Omaha, Nebraska.
To learn more about 4K, please read our other articles, including YouTube Offers 4K Video Streaming and JVC Adds $150,000 4K Video Projector To Its Lineup. You can also get more information by visiting our 4K page.