Friday, April 20, 2012

Screenshot from YouTube 4K video, ((Secret World))

Image Credit: (( Secret World )) 4k Footage

Our recent post on the release of three new Canon 4k digital video cameras may have you wondering what 4k resolution is all about. Not to worry, The Indian Geek, is here to clear up your confusion. If you need the details of 4k resolutions in a short and quick article, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve broken down the details into sections to simplify the information. We’re waiting for you, right past that “Read more” button below.

What is 4k?

To understand this, you need to understand something about the various resolution formats currently in existence. Surely, you would have heard of the most-popular TV resolution today – 1080p, or what TV manufacturers like to advertise as “Full HD”. 1080p content has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. 480p content similarly has resolutions of either 640 x 480 or 854 x 480 pixels and 720p content has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Unlike these existing resolution formats, 4k resolution only defines the width of the resolution which should be around 4000 pixels.

Different resolutions for 4k

Since there is no specific universally agreed-upon 4k format resolution, there are varying resolutions used by different 4k video recorders and output monitors. We’ve listed some of the more popular 4k format resolutions below.

  • 4096 x 2160 (4k TV format)
  • 3626 x 2664, 3996 x 2160 (Cinema Academy formats)
  • 4096 x 1714 (Cinema anamorphic – widescreen – format)
  • 4096 x 3112
  • 3840 x 2160 (Quad Full High Definition)

Of these differing resolutions, the 4k TV format is the one that is most likely applicable to all of us who would be buying a 4k display in the years to come. The cinema formats would be the resolutions that you can expect home video media to be released in (similar to currently available DVD and Blu-Ray resolutions). Quad Full High Definition (QFHD) is nothing but four times the resolution of current full HD (1920 x 1080) by doubling the pixels horizontally and vertically.

When will a 4k display or video recorder be available for purchase?

Sony, Canon and other elitist video recorder manufacturers such as EPIC, either already sell 4k video recorders or have recently announced new 4k video recording products (like Canon’s EOS 1 D C or the EOS C500 or Sony’s NEX-FS700). With prices of these cameras starting from US$ 5,000/- (for the JVC GY-HMQ10, which is roughly about 2.60 lakh rupees), 4k video recording is not yet something that is easily accessible for every consumer.

There are also several 4k displays currently available, but again, cost is a deterrent. Canon announced a 30 inch professional 4k display for US$ 10,000/-

Are there cheaper options to experience 4k right now?

Of course. YouTube has a playlist comprising of 5 4k videos. It’s completely free to watch, but we doubt you’ll be able to experience all the improvements ushered in by 4k without a 4k display to watch these videos on – it would be like listening to five channel audio through a single speaker. The effect would be lost. Apart from YouTube, there should be other less-popular sources for 4k video on the web. However, if you’re looking to own a digital or a physical copy of your favourite film in 4k, you’re stuck – there’s no widely agreed-upon consumer 4k format yet to release such films.

What’s next, after 4k?

Apparently, a proof of concept demonstrated by researchers in 2003 is currently in proposal stage to become the next big video resolution format after 4k. Since it is only at the proposal stage, it is alternatively called Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) or 4320p or 8k. If the proposal is accepted, UHDTV or 4320p would have a resolution of 7680 x 4320, which is achieved by quadrupling the resolution of full HD (1920 x 1080) both vertically and horizontally. The video signal, in the currently proposed state, also carries 24 channels of audio.

Now that, we think, is mind-boggling. And makes our own home theater and HD TV setup seem quite insignificant. Either way, 4k is atleast a couple of years away from hitting mainstream video products with UHDTV several more years away. Right now, we can take comfort in retiring to our existing personal systems and watching a Hollywood film in full High-Definition, with 7.1 channel audio.

Source: Wikipedia (2), PC Magazine, YouTube 4k playlist

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