For everyone interested in the future of imaging technology, this is a “must view” video, featuring Michael Cioni, CEO and founder of Light Iron, speaking here at the LA Final Cut Users Group. Light Iron is a Hollywood-based post-production facility known for finishing and mastering films such as The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Muppets, and other recent blockbusters. Cioni is a pioneer in Hollywood’s transition from a film-based economy to a digital media economy. In his presentation, he makes four provocative predictions about our 4K future.
1) 4K is the new 3D
Very few people have actually viewed 4K images, at this point, because delivery systems are few and far between. That is about to change, and it is true that 4K is the new 3D. 4K has an incredible deep depth of field, which gives the viewer all of the impact of 3D viewing, without the need for glasses or for a complicated post-production pipeline. Seeing is believing. 4K delivery will breathe new life into the theatrical experience, at a minimal cost.
2) “beginning of the collapse of broadcast television”
Streaming 4K files will impact the broadcast television world in ways which we cannot even imagine. It will be relatively inexpensive, eliminating the costs and limitations of the broadcast spectrum. It will be much higher quality, eliminating broadcast compression from the final product. The texture of your home viewing will “feel” much more like a theatrical film viewing than a flattened video broadcast.
3) standardized resolutions and aspect ratios will disappear
Our current aspect ratios (4:3 for standard definition and 16:9 for high definition) will free, unlocking new creative possibilities for content providers.
4) prepare for customized geometric monitoring
A corollary to #3, we will need new monitoring systems to accommodate the much broader possibilities for framing images.
RED Digital Cinema has been building and delivering 4K+ acquisitions systems since 2007, and now most of the major camera designers, including Sony, Canon, and JVC are following with 4K acquisitions systems of their own. To date, those of us shooting 4K images regularly have been shoe-horning our 4K images into inferior delivery formats, for the most part. The next phase of the 4K revolution is delivering pure, clean 4K images. RED has some tricks up its sleeve for this spring’s NAB, and, if Michael Cioni’s presentation is a harbinger of this coming spring, surely 4K delivery systems will be among them.
Add the introduction of 4K delivery systems to my list of Big, Fat, Hairy, Bold Predictions for 2012. 4K delivery is coming sooner than most of us think. Not much digital ink has been spilled about this upcoming trend around the blogosphere just yet. This will be something of a stealth trend. But there are some great minds behind it, and the shift is definitely underway. Conventional thinking focuses on the fact that we just, barely, in 2003, made the big shift to high-definition broadcast. But the tectonic plates are shifting already. It is clear that broadcast is struggling and that the model is shifting to streaming media. The transition to 4K may represent a 4-5 year struggle to complete the shift. But as we have seen with the eruption in social media in the past decade, these quantum shifts have a way of happening faster than we expect, once they arrive.