4K was one of the hot topics at this years CES. Higher resolutions may be showing more promise as the industry moves on from the latest iteration of 3D, which proved expensive to produce and poorly received by many viewers. However, as we move further into 2014, we continue to see some reticence within the industry when it comes to acquiring in 4K and above. There are some well-documented areas that need to be addressed in order to increase confidence in 4K and drive its rollout. This means looking at technical challenges such as finding the right lenses and dealing with ever-expanding amounts of data and new compression technologies as well as addressing commercial concerns such as identifying viable investment levels given the recent change of pace within the industry.
International standards for 4K and UltraHD (UHD) production and transmission continue to be a work in progress. Many tests and debates are occurring, and of course Canon is participating in a number of those. However, it is not just standards that need to be considered in terms of how 4K is delivered, but also the type of content and how viewers can see the benefits.
The production of 4K is an important consideration and one that Canon is focusing on as a camera and lens manufacturer. Were making 4K more affordable with our EOS-1D C and we were one of the first to market with our 4K screen, the DP-V3010. One other area that needs attention is establishing the best lenses to support 4K production, not just in terms of optical performance but also with a view to operability and commercial reality. Our existing HDTV lenses provide a unique technological advantage, as our EF Cinema lenses are already capable of resolving 4K and beyond. We now need to look at whats next and how these two parts of our range can be married together.
Were already seeing that the approach to 4K varies across different genres. Some broadcasters have experimented with capturing live sporting events in 4K, such as Skys test at a Premiership football match last summer. Capturing a live event in 4K currently requires a Super 35mm camera solution, such as the EOS C500, and appropriate lenses. However, the unpredictable and unscripted nature of live sports means, perhaps more than with other genres, that there are many additional factors to think about when considering an increase in resolution, such as higher frame rates. As such, we are seeing a good deal of interest in the benefits of capturing 4K as part of HD production within the sporting arena, such as zooming in on instant replays to view a close up in HD resolution.
Broadcasters have been shooting in 4K for a while and trials of the technology are all about future-proofing. Programmes might be filmed now, but the footage may be edited and used again, or re-aired in the future when 4K is the norm. After all, in a years time 4K content might be being delivered to the home over IP.
While HD is the prevalent resolution in the mainstream broadcast market now, 4K is very much on the industrys agenda. The technology is available and theres a hunger to use it to drive even better programme-making. The industry now needs to work together to make it mainstream.