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Sunday, March 13, 2011

4K coming soon, 8K isn't far off

What will you see at this year's NAB ? well Sony’s theme at NAB 2011 will be life beyond HD. More than 5,000 screens of 30,000 in the USA are now using Sony 4K digital projectors. Shoot, edit, distribute and view 4K. Its coming 4X faster then HD. In 4-5 years there will be affordable 4K consumer sets. 

Sony gets it. Now the questions - most NLE's barely chug through a couple streams of 1080, never mind effects. Just as 720p is 4X more pixels then SD, and 1080 is 6X more, 4K is 4X more then 1080, and 16X more then SD. Got it ? So your fast bad machine that edits a couple streams of 1080 right now will struggle with one stream of 4K. If you work with RED based material, you'll know what I mean. Good thing machines will get even faster. Its just a continuing game of catch up. 

4K will bring about even more need for universal open standards cross platform NLE that ANY vendor can implement for their hardware or software. ProRes plus gamma shifting and apples lack of creating consistent  correct handling of images in QT is a joke. MXF and its multi file format without consistent cross vendor implementation is another mess. Mpeg2 ? too old. H264 ? patent landmines. We need something that works !

However, the real end game is 8K. Sony's clear about it. I've seen 8K, its amazing. Until you've seen it, you won't understand. Its like 320X240 web video next to 1080. 8K makes 1080 look low res and lame, really it does. 

Right now there are a handful of prototype 8K cameras. In 10 years they'll be top of the food chain. 4K will be standard gear, and 1080 will be web video consumer came stuff. The last part already almost is in many places. RED cameras will be low end to be sure at 4K. I'm sure RED will probably have a 6 or 8K camera in a few years, but they won't be the only game in town. I'd expect Canon and Panasonic to also be in the game to. Its going to be a wild ride. The only thing I'm happy about is that my current cameras were paid for so quickly. My T2i is gone already, it lasted 6 months before I upgraded to the 60D. Hopefully the next wave of cameras will be equally affordable while making even better images.