4K or not 4K, that is the question


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Peter Savage goes all literary to show how our industry draws on Shakespeare and Keyne.

4K or not 4K, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of a much larger workflow
Or to take arms against a sea of other formats
And by opposing end them. 2K, to sleep
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
That format, and the thousands pounds
Of pounds we spent on it. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. 2K, to sleep—

No, I haven’t gone mad but I do feel like Hamlet at his most uncertain of mind, when he was considering life or death, because there could be yet another change in our ever-changing sea of formats.
I thought the world had settled on 2K. That this was the defacto format in camera drama. But then out comes the new, less expensive 4K F55 Sony camera amid rumours that Arri are either bringing out a new camera, dropping prices and/or enhancing and/or changing the Codex/Recorder on the back of their cameras. And don’t forget the advance of the Canon 4K cameras.
A dismal start and continuing struggle
By the time we have gone to press all should have been revealed – and we all should be at BVE, hoping that business has picked up both in the supply of kit and in the start of the drama and sports shooting season. It has, again, been a dismal January and the industry really needs a good kick-start at the end of February. Hire companies have been hit harder than ever this year; the Olympics brought an early end to the drama season; and companies have been counting the cost of huge investments last year and short cash flow this year.
So, what are we looking forward to this year? I was hoping to say further stability in the market after a golden era in the last two years in acquisition – enhanced by the tax breaks, coming in this April, that should ensure more drama is shot in the UK (as mentioned in last month’s article). It is, however, a nerve-wracking time for companies and financiers alike as we struggle through February in effect losing money. It is easy to say it happens every year but I feel that this year is almost back to 2008/9 when several large companies either went to the wall and/or had to seek assurances from their creditors.
This whole issue on formats, and the uncertainty it has brought to a jittery market, is the result of the push by consumer manufacturers to bring products to market. Widescreen, HD, 3D, 2K and now 4K have all been pushed ahead of their time and unashamedly by eager consumer manufacturers who need to sell more of something that is now so reliable, space saving and interior designed.
Showing his age
Remember those huge Trinitron televisions that would make interior designers hold their heads in their hands in despair when you asked where you could put them in your bijou lounge? Nowadays, televisions hang flat and look good; sound systems are almost invisible – no wires, no hi-fi attached to get the surround sound. Today’s gizmos are so good that manufacturers can only push their products by enhancing the quality of the picture watched and upping the resolution of transmission.
Warts and all
There is no doubt that 4K will come – but how soon? And do we really want to see every wart and wrinkle on every soap star’s face? In fact, natural history apart, I cannot think of anything worse than being able to see whether or not half the cast of Waterloo Road has acne.
So I am going to start a new campaign for dumbing down what I want to see on TV. I suffer enough queasy can’t-watch moments in Casualty in 1K, let alone if it were shot in 4K, and that’s not to mention close-up Anamorphic lenses (I might as well be inside the deep incision in the stomach that is shown regularly while I’m trying to eat my tea).
So what happens now that we have consumer giants pushing television products that the not so eager customer is being pushed towards and that they don’t actually need? I’ve given you some poetry; now for some maths: our consumptive function is:
C = A + B (Y – T)
Casualty = Anamorphics + more Blood as a function of (You watching less TV)

If you would like to know more about keeping formats stable and chasing endless upgrades do contact me at peter.savage@azule.co.uk and/or write to the TV Bay editor. And, yes, we have had both Shakespeare and Keynes in one article.

Tags: iss074 | shakespeare | keyne | 4k | format | debate | azule finance | [author]
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