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4K The new gunslinger in town by Will Strauss J ust when you thought it was sufficient to declare yourself ‘HD Ready’, along comes 4K. But don’t panic. Here’s the lowdown on what it all means and what tools are currently available. As someone that works in (or near) the town named broadcasting I probably don’t need to tell you this but technology advances pretty quickly around these parts. Possibly too quickly for some folks’ liking. Just when you think it’s safe to put your hand up and say that you fully understand and appreciate the latest technological advance, along comes another one to take its place. The latest example of that is 4K. For those of you that still haven’t quite got your heads around HD this could be a real mind meld. All you really need to know is that 4K or Ultra HD (to give it its new US-inspired and marketing friendly 7680 Super Hi-Vision (8K) 3840 4320 Ultra-HD (4K) 1920 720 DVD 2160 Full-HD 1080 480 moniker) is 3840 x 2160 pixels (that’s four times higher than HD). It’s the latest step change towards providing content creators with more pixels to play with and TV viewers with better quality pictures. Oh yes, and having failed to get us all to buy 3D TVs, the manufacturers of television sets are now keen for us to buy 60” 4K Ultra HD screens instead. (At least until they can start bulk building active- matrix organic light-emitting diode - AMOLED – TVs anyway. But that’s a story for another time). There is some interest in 4K from other areas too, including at everyone’s favourite technology trailblazers BSkyB where Sky Sports has been testing 4K on (yes, you’ve guessed it) coverage of football matches. And both SES and Eutelsat have been showing off their live 4K satellite feeds to interested parties. But there’s no need to panic. As things stand, there is very little 4K content out there, the TV sets are ridiculously expensive and with such a high resolution, while it is possible to use the current H.264 standard to squeeze 4K footage into a broadcast-friendly 50Mbps stream, conventional broadcasting is some way off. Plus, the current breed of set-top satellite receiver box is not compatible and there’s a school of thought that says we should wait for Super Hi-Vision (which is 8k). The truth is, unless you work in feature films, the only real reasons to shoot 4K today are to either future proof your content or so that you can manipulate it to infinitesimal levels during post-production. That said, 4K pictures look pretty awesome from what I’ve seen. And very few people will argue with me if I say that, all things being equal, a high resolution image will always look far better when scaled down than an native size image shot at a lower resolution. So, while we may not be broadcasting 4K anytime soon, you may want to start exploring your 4K options if you haven’t already. Which is exactly what I am going to do now. New levels of control and integration Meet the growing demands of your organisation with IPV’s integrated suite of products. Whether its for live production, video repurposing or archive management, IPV simplify the process, drive efficiency and increase profits. Find out more by calling +44 (0)1223 413 690, send an email to, or visit the website at 32 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY071NOV12.indd 32 06/11/2012 18:09