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Why Faux-K Is Going To Win Out Over Full 4K

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Faux-k-digital.jpgI recently wrote an article entitled "The Next Video Format War Coming to a Home Theater Near You: 4K vs FauxK"; in that article I lobbied for the adoption of the theatrical 4K standard (as set by DCi) in the consumer or home markets. I also rallied against so-called 4K products from the likes of JVC and Onkyo/Integra saying that their 4K or 4K-like capabilities create nothing but confusion for consumers -confusion we don't need for the transition to 4K is already going to be difficult enough we don't need fakes clouding the issue. In that article I also state that I don't believe that the resolution QFHD (Quad Full HD) should be labeled as true 4K, since it does not conform to the DCi standard, which states 4K as being 4,096 x 2,160. My stance against QFHD is a personal one for in an ideal world (again, in my opinion) we would have one unified standard, both in broadcast and cinema, which would be DCi 4K. That is obviously easier said than done for as I explained in my article there is a lot more to 4K than just native resolution.

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Since there is no real 4K source, format or even viable consumer grade display -minus the Sony VPL-VW1000ES of course - a lot of what I'm talking about is up for debate, which is good because that means the powers that be have time to get it right. This also means that inevitably we're all going to have to buy new products, be it a new display, player etc. Knowing that, many who are attempting to crack the 4K nut seem to be at a loss for 4K doesn't exactly fit into our current 16:9 world. 16:9 or 1.78:1 is arguably the standard aspect ratio we enjoy and use everyday. It is an aspect ratio that encompasses everything from 1080p HD (1.78:1) to 4:3 (1.33:1). It even has room, albeit with black bars, to work with 2.35:1 or anamorphic source material. It's simple, clean, and effective. This is no doubt why QFHD has a shot at being our 4K solution within the consumer realm for it too fits within our 16:9 lifestyle -it's merely four times larger at 3,840 x 2,160 (1.78:1).

But where does that put 4K or at least the DCi standard we've come to know as 4K? Sadly, 4K does not play nice with 16:9, at least not without trimming a bit here and there. In reality, in order to be displayed properly, 4K should be presented on a 1.90:1 or a roughly 17:9 aspect ratio display. Of course I'm talking about full frame 4K; anamorphic 4K would still have bars top and bottom and/or require the use of an anamoprhic lens attachment, such as those made by Panamorph, not to mention a special screen. 17:9, huh? Doesn't quite have the same ring to it though it's not outside the realm of possibility seeing as how we're all going to have to buy new displays, whether those displays are flat panel TVs or projectors, when the time to switch to 4K ultimately comes. While 17:9 may be great for native DCi 4K it's not awesome for legacy source material for everything HD or later will be presented with black bars top and bottom, i.e. letter boxing -unless of course you zoom in and or manipulate the image. Yuck.

So what are we talking about then, how different is QFHD from true 4K? It's about a six and a half percent difference in pixel quantity. Is six and a half percent enough to change what we've come to know and accept in the 16:9 aspect ratio? It appears those claiming QFHD as 4K don't think so and while it may bug me to no end I can see their point. But if we adopt QFHD as our consumer 4K standard where does that leave theatrical or cinema 4K? In truth, the conversion between theatrical 4K and QFHD would be akin to going from theatrical 2K to Blu-ray, a loss in pixels few would probably notice and or lose sleep over. As a filmmaker, I want to see true 4K adopted for the home markets for it's cleaner and more pure, however as a consumer I see and even understand a lot of the argument behind QFHD.

That doesn't mean I have to like it though.

Additional Resources
• Read more original commentary like this in our Feature News Stories section.
• Explore reviews in our Video Projector Review section.
• See related stories in our Video Projector News section.

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