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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Just Busy But Getting Ready For NAB

Usually by this time I"ve had another post or two out, but things have just been busy. With local elections going on I've been out working, which is great. That last lens review also took a LOT of time, and there is more I'm working on if I can ever get back to it. Here's proof I've really been working ! Photo courtesy of Chris Hibben.

Newt Gingrich remote

I've also been watching all the news coming from pre NAB which has been interesting. Thankfully 3D is maybe not quite dead, but just a little blip on the radar now as I had pretty much expected it would be. While cool, it just didn't get consumers to go on a buying spree replacing their new and perfectly good screens with 3D ones. Lets face it, if your viewers don't have 3D screens whats the point...

So 4K is this year's NAB gear theme. Thats cool, but 4K is gonna just be a very slow adoption. However, unlike 3D I expect it will gain traction. The difference will be that the gearheads who always have to have the latest and greatest will start the adoption. The rest will slowly follow. While an $8k Sony FS700 is amazing and cool, its still a bit expensive for a lot of shooters out there. The difference these days is that a LOT of content is being shot on cheap cameras, not the $25K-$50K+ cameras we all used to use. I'm no per se complaining about the price at all.  

If consumer demand fuels production lets consider this : in the 90's when HD first became a standardize spec, and production gear first started to become available, it was a big step up in quality. The average consumer could see the difference even if they couldn't afford it yet. It wasn't until there were sub $2000 and eventually sub $1000 HD screens that mass adoption took off. To the average consumer the price point to quality ratio was finally hit. Its easy to see the HD picture quality difference, never mind a 42" screen sure looks pretty all on its own. So prices had to fall into line with consumer demand , which really only happened in the late 2000's.

4K is incremental to the consumer but there is also reality. There are almost NO panels at any price with 4K native screens, never mind consumer priced ones. There is also no distribution - not youtube or netflix, no transmision standards, nothing. In fact the video card in your computer in DVI / HDMI is limited to someting like 2550X1600 or so.

The visual difference between 4K and 1080 is also going to be another it depends thing. If you are far enough back you'll never see the difference. This will be especially true if the image is heavily compressed in effect pretty much turning it into a 1080 image anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I think 4K will become standard for SOME productions. It already is for large budget entertainment projects. However lots of big budget projects have been shooting in 1080 / 2K. Thats probably a mistake. Mass consumer adoption of 4K isn't going to happen anytime soon unless some LCD panel maker has a way to make them in mass and affordable. There will be use for projection in movie houses, but that is just such a small amount of work that winds up there. However if you go 5 to more like 10 years out consumers with 4K and more likely 8K res screens will be the norm. Lets also consider, 4K may be the stepping stone incremental format to get to 8K. Yes I've seen 8K and its AMAZING. It makes 1080 look like ratty VHS in comparison. 

So should you rush out to start shooting 4K ? maybe. It all depends on if your work REALLY has future value or you are shooting a lot of green screen where the extra res is very helpful. After that, I still know people just making their move to HD 10 years into the era. Evaluate your needs carefully, then decide.