We now face the prospect of inexpensive and small cameras mounted on large and very expensive lenses. The laws of physics that apply to electronics sadly don’t apply to glass!
The speed with which higher
resolution formats have been adopted is clearly linked to file- based environments, which offer a degree of flexibility not present in the former world of VTRs and realtime interconnects. Also, ongoing video compression improvements currently underway by MPEG show the promise of achieving 4K coding at 2K (or HD) bit rates.
On the show floor… So after a strong dose of theory the day before the exhibition opened, confirmation that beyond HD is with us became quickly apparent. Several companies including newcomers were sporting cameras capable of higher than HD resolution. Among them was Canon with an inaugural digital cinema entry (EOS C500) sporting a 4K output, 12 bit depth and up to 120p frame rate. To the surprise of some, Blackmagic also demonstrated a new camera apparently priced at less than $3,000, contributing to an increasingly crowded marketplace. Of course companies such as Sony, Red and even JVC displayed progress. As the cost of acquisition goes down and resolution goes up, this is a trend that will have a significant impact on the industry. Low cost 4K cameras and higher
resolution displays indicate a higher resolution future. So we now face the prospect of inexpensive and small cameras mounted on large and very expensive lenses. The laws of physics that apply to electronics sadly don’t apply to glass! Arguably, 4K production can
have an impact on HD programming and distribution. It has long been well understood that acquiring at a higher resolution and then down-sampling to the target format produces better images. So even if the delivery format is HD (2K), acquiring at 4K — with a bigger bit budget and higher frame rates — may produce visible benefits for consumers. Sony demonstrated an alternative
use for high res capture by selecting a part of the image, effectively reframing live output for HD — offering more creative flexibility and perhaps fewer cameras for events. Back in history, a similar ‘pan and scan’ technique was used to reframe widescreen movies for 4:3 television aspect ratios. It proved at that time to be labour intensive and therefore fell out of favour, but new technology and different applications may revive the concept. In conclusion, NAB proved that
every parameter associated with HD; resolution — bit depth, colour space and frame rate — are the subject of further development and
improvement. Sadly, there is no compelling case to pay more when transmission capability and income is constrained. However history indicates when new innovations are introduced, at some stage, they hit a price point that makes the
investment compelling or even unavoidable. For 3D, it seems movie-makers must carry the torch for the next few years. As one broadcaster observed; “at NAB, beyond HD higher resolution was the new 3D”.
Blackmagic showed a new camera
apparently priced at less than $3,000, contributing to an increasingly crowded marketplace
TVBEurope 37 NAB Wrap-Up
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