The rise of 4K TV: No matter where you look, it’s awesome.
There’s no doubt that the video industry loves buzzwords – those quick and catchy phrases that look great in headlines, posts and retweets. A few years ago “3D” was the newest trend everyone was buzzing about. But this year, we’ve moved up one number and down a few letters to land on “4K.” Unlike 3D which was, as we say in Texas all hat and no cattle, 4K is no gimmick. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. At the risk of hyperbole let’s sum it up in this way – 4K is eye-meltingly awesome.
For those who are still struggling to understand what 4K resolution is, it roughly means four thousand pixels wide. More specifically to television it is 3840 x 2160 (for film it is 4096 x 2160), which is double the standard HD format of 1920 x 1080.
We recently watched a demo of some 4K video presented on a ridiculously huge 85-inch television screen. We were curious to see whether or not we could tell a difference between 4K and traditional HD, especially after a recent upgrade from a 720p set to one that is 1080p-capable. The difference in picture quality and color is so radical it can only be compared to how audiences felt when seeing the first color movie after decades of viewing black and white films.
The color and saturation of the video on a 4K set is like nothing you have seen before and can only be described as a sort of hyper reality – as if you’ve over-clocked your eyes to take in more information than ever before. The demo video playing contained shots of brightly colored food being sliced, chopped, fried and grilled. The images were so clear, so bright and so real that just watching made us hungry.
The footage then moved onto images of red roses and women in flowing dresses. The detail was nearly overwhelming and sure to affect certain industries, like Hollywood makeup artists, who now have to face a reality where every spot, freckle, blemish and even individual pores on an actor’s face are not only visible, but practically highlighted in four thousand glorious lines of resolution.
For other industries though, 4K resolution could be a literal lifesaver. Imagine the application of 4K cameras in medical and surgical procedures. As the prevalence of video-assisted surgeries increases, that type of clarity could not only shorten procedures, but make surgeons more effective and successful.
Back in the entertainment world, there is still very little 4K programming available, which is understandable given the relative newness of the format (technically, 4K premiered in 2003 but wasn’t widely used until 2013). Considering that there are still more movies and TV series available in standard-def DVDs than high-def Blu-ray format, it’s not surprising that this will be another in a long line of slow, drawn-out format changes.
But as the availability of physical discs decreases and digital content increases, we believe the shift from HD to 4K will be a much quicker transition than SD to HD. The good news? We have yet another excuse to buy the Star Wars trilogy. Again.