4K at NAB with Bob Pank


Bob Pank# TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

As we head once more to NAB you may wonder what this year’s big thing will be. I put my money on 4K. As I write there must be many exhibitors polishing up their ‘4K solution’ message, ready for their customers at the show. With the extraordinary situation of screens costing more than cameras, a viable business model clearly remains far off. But, to be fair, the technology has to start somewhere and screens and cameras seem to be the genesis. In between there has to be a production and post workflow, as well as a delivery system. Hopefully we will see a whole lot more of that in Las Vegas; otherwise 4K will not be flowing anywhere soon.

The talk is all about 4K for TV. Its image size of 2160x3840 sits midway between 1080x1920 HD and 4320x7680 originally called Ultra High Definition Television, and later Super Hi-Vision, by its inventors at NHK. In recent months both 4KTV and SHV have been bundled under the UHD banner, which seems unnecessary and will cause confusion. (For reference, in the digital cinema world its 4K is 4096x2160, a 2x2 version of its 2048x1080 (2K) – both slightly bigger than TV’s 2K and 4K.)

With 4KTV being in the mid-size between HD and 8K UHD, it could have a serious identity problem. What is it for? Is it TV – the thing we watch at home – or cinema with a huge screen and dedicated viewing area? With digital cinema making fantastic progress replacing film and bring much improved quality and reliability, just its with 2K-sized image, why should we want four times that picture detail to watch in our homes – most of which are smaller than cinemas? This is a matter of screen size, real estate and the way we watch TV and movies.

Many HDTV viewers find 42-inch screens work well for them. Logically, it follows that 4KTV, with four times the picture area, should be viewed on an 84-inch screen, and I’m sure there will be plenty of these to view at NAB. Sony showed a very well produced show reel at IBC where you could look, and then look closer and see more and more detail. You could look around the picture and study the detail; a rather different experience to SDTV where the camera selects the one object you are meant to look at. HDTV allows us a bit more freedom to look around. That freedom is dramatically multiplied in 4KTV – and even more so in 8KTV... on your 168-inch screen, perhaps?

It’s all very well admiring the huge screens in the vast halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center but think about it, how would it look in your sitting room, or wherever you watch your TV? Maybe you think you’ll manage with a smaller screen – and why not? The 84-inch LED models retail for around £20,000... and so are clearly not aimed at the mass market. I’m sure they will come down but it surely won’t ever get low enough to appeal to the wider consumer market.

Fortunately Harrods was showing a range of 4K screens. This was a rare opportunity to see many different brands side by side. Yes all the 84-inch models looked fantastic and the super rich were, reportedly, buying. However the screen that really stood out was hailed by LG, its maker, as ‘The World’s First 55-inch OLED TV’. Not only did it have beautiful blacks and very high contrast, but pretty much a 180-degree viewing angle. The screen was just 4mm thick, including its carbon fibre backing, and the whole thing cost just £10,000. This is a great improvement, not just for the better contrast and picture, but it did the job in a smaller package that many more people could accommodate at home.

To see all 8.2 million of 4KTV’s pixels you need to get sufficiently close to the screen, but not too close. A survey in the USA found that HD viewing distance was generally around 2.7 metres (9 feet). This may be more down to the furniture than TV technology! My web research threw up widely varying recommendations but the one I trust most is at videograndpa.com showing test results from NHK, and their graph indicates a 1.5 x screen height (H) is best. The 4K screen size calculator shows recommendations from NHK, SMPTE and THX that widely vary. For example, for viewing at 9 feet it indicates 146, 73 and 90-inch screens respectively. Of the three, NHK’s is based on actual experience and so I think is nearest to the best result. But even taking the smallest, a 73-inch screen is still a monster. Either we retain our 9-foot distance and endure the monster, and its costs, or we move in a lot closer. The probability is that we’ll buy an affordable size and sit 9 feet away and not see the full detail of 4K.

Viewing at NHK’s recommended distance to the screen creates a wide viewing angle, somewhere about 50-degrees, and means you cannot concentrate on all the screen at once, you start to look around – like real life! This is a different experience to HD. But the big question is will the public actually buy at least a 55-inch screen, re-arrange the furniture and view as closely as recommended? I think that’s unlikely. Use in home cinema is much more appropriate while keeping our SD / HD set to glance at across the room. While at NAB, visit NHK (booth: N231) and anyone else showing 8K. Ignore the crowd standing 9 feet back and watch at the recommended distance of 0.75 x screen height. They usually have an 85-inch screen so try viewing from about 31 inches (0.8m) away, creating a 100-degree viewing angle. My feeling is this is a bit too close, but 4 feet (1.2m) is fine.

Both 4K and 8K UHTV require a great deal of further development to provide a complete scene-to-screen workflow. On the face of it the benefits of higher resolution are easy to understand and they can provide clear sharp pictures at a wider viewing angle, and so deliver a more absorbing experience – but not at a nine-foot range. But will 4K deliver a sufficiently enhanced domestic experience over HD to make it worth the engineering effort and customers’ money? There are also other possible directions for development, such as higher frame rates, which could enhance viewers’ experience without having to buy a bigger screen. We can see for ourselves in Las Vegas!


Tags: iss076 | 4K NAB | cinema | solution | conference | streaming | 4K | files | Bob Pank#
Contributing Author Bob Pank#

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    Thomson Video Networks at IBC 2015

  • Lynx Technik at IBC 2015

    Lynx Technik at IBC 2015

  • JVC at BVE 2015

    JVC at BVE 2015

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2015

    Grass Valley at BVE 2015

  • Gearhouse Broadcast at BVE 2015

    Gearhouse Broadcast at BVE 2015

  • KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

    KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

  • Cooke Optics technology at IBC 2014

    Cooke Optics technology at IBC 2014

  • Cooke Optics talk anamorphic at IBC 2014

    Cooke Optics talk anamorphic at IBC 2014

  • MultiDyne SilverBACK at IBC 2014

    MultiDyne SilverBACK at IBC 2014

  • BBright at IBC 2014

    BBright at IBC 2014

  • Hitachi at IBC 2014

    Hitachi at IBC 2014

  • Guntermann and Drunck DP-HR range at IBC 2014

    Guntermann and Drunck DP-HR range at IBC 2014

  • Ateme at IBC 2014

    Ateme at IBC 2014

  • Quantel LiveTouch at IBC 2014

    Quantel LiveTouch at IBC 2014

  • Quantel deal with AFP at IBC 2014

    Quantel deal with AFP at IBC 2014

  • Snell Kahuna Production Switcher at IBC 2014

    Snell Kahuna Production Switcher at IBC 2014

  • Elemental Technologies Software-Defined Video at NAB 2014

    Elemental Technologies Software-Defined Video at NAB 2014

  • Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2014

    Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2014

  • Guntermann and Drunck at BVE 2014

    Guntermann and Drunck at BVE 2014

  • Philip Bloom on Tour in Belfast

    Philip Bloom on Tour in Belfast

  • JVC GY-HM600 series camera updates at IBC 2013

    JVC GY-HM600 series camera updates at IBC 2013

  • ATEME at IBC 2013

    ATEME at IBC 2013

  • Multidyne SilverBack, BullDog and Spider at IBC 2013

    Multidyne SilverBack, BullDog and Spider at IBC 2013

  • Cinegy at IBC 2013

    Cinegy at IBC 2013

  • Facilis at IBC 2013

    Facilis at IBC 2013

  • Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

    Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

  • MultiDyne: SilverBACK at NAB 2013

    MultiDyne: SilverBACK at NAB 2013

  • Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2013

    Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2013

  • Facilis at NAB 2013

    Facilis at NAB 2013

  • AJA at BVE 2013

    AJA at BVE 2013

  • JVC at BVE 2012

    JVC at BVE 2012


Related Shows
  • Larry Jordan with Thom Holliday talk streaming at BVE 2016

    Larry Jordan with Thom Holliday talk streaming at BVE 2016


Articles
An Obituary to Timecode
Bruce Devlin - new A stoic and persistent character that stubbornly refused to change with the times, Timecode has finally passed on, but no-one has noticed. A long-lasting industry veteran, Timecode was brought into this world at an uncertain date in the late 1960s due to the needs of analogue tape workflows and the demand for synchronisation between audio and video devices. A joint activity between SMPTE and the EBU led to the work on Time and Control codes starting its journey to standardisation in the early 1970s.
Tags: iss134 | timecode | smpte | ebu | edit | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read
Sony HDC-4800 Review
Andy McKenzie First announced at NAB 2016, the Sony HDC-4800 is a studio camera system capable of shooting 4K/UHD at up to 8x or full HD at up to 16x. With a price point upwards of £250,000 it is a very high-end product with a wide feature set. In Sony's own words, "This is the future of live production, designed to satisfy the storytelling aspect of modern sports production.” Deliveries began in mid 2017 and, after careful preliminary evaluation, we invested in several systems for our hire fleet ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Tags: iss134 | review | hdc-4800 | sony | finepoint | Andy McKenzie
Contributing Author Andy McKenzie Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation - November 2018
Dick Hobbs - new There is an interesting seminar called Size Matters at the KitPlus Show – organised by the publishers of this fine magazine – at MediaCityUK in Salford on 6 November. It’s a talk by cinematographer Alistair Chapman on the way that camera technology is changing, and in particular the size of the electronic device which creates the image is growing.
Tags: iss134 | cmos | 35mm | AJA | Arri | Blackmagic | Canon | Datavideo | GoPro | Grass Valley | Hitachi | Ikegami | JVC | Kinefinity | Nikon | Panasonic | Red | Sony | jpeg2000 | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
AI in Media and Entertainment
David Candler Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term appearing everywhere these days. What is happening in media and entertainment (M&E) that makes the industry ripe for AI? In other words, why does the M&E industry need AI?
Tags: iss134 | AI | wazee | David Candler
Contributing Author David Candler Click to read or download PDF
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF