I begin my first NYC Production & Post News column with the question: will 3D or 4K triumph?
It isn’t immediately apparent that these technologies can be discussed in the same sentence. Over the last few years 3D, of course, has garnered attention as the next big thing in presentation. But if you’re involved in production, you know that now the excitement is building around available and upcoming camera gear in 4K. (That’s a 4096 x 2160 pixel image according to the DCI cinema standard.)
Why? Three-D production is its own production language that calls for a new set of shooting and editing rules. Directors, DPs and editors need to integrate these approaches as if they were learning film production from the beginning. If these narrow prescriptions are broken, viewers can be turned off from even watching the painful results. Requiring bulky 3D glasses just adds to the hassle.
(Consumer research company Gartner has even reported that uptake of 3D TVs in the home–which are necessary if the studios are going to recoup their investment–has peaked as the technology has failed to “live up to consumer expectations.”)
While 3D offers a new dimension for users to adjust themselves to, 4K is easy to understand. It brings its own glasses-free, hyper-real sensibility to viewers even while DPs, directors and editors can build their already honed skills. Basically, you don’t need to go to school again to know how to shoot in a higher-resolution format.
Just this past week Sony announced that it was beginning to ship the first of some 400 pre-orders worldwide for its new flagship 4K F65 camera system.
RED, JVC and others are joining Sony with new models to come at April’s NAB show, joining other manufacturers who will be showing 4K editing and effects systems. (JVC actually announced its GY-HMQ10 handheld 4K camcorder at CES. It captures, records, and plays video images at 24p, 50p, or 60p with a 3840 × 2160 resolution, which is four times the resolution of HDs 1920 × 1080. Whether or not pros find a place for this camcorder, just the fact that a consumer-oriented product could deliver 4K for about $5000 is astonishing.)
I’ll go out on a limb and call this the year that 4K production takes off.
The consumer market is following up, bringing its first 4K monitors and projectors to the public. There will still be a place for 3D in the future, of course, but it will be a relative niche market with special uses such as animation and sports claiming most of the attention.
If you need some more convincing, come to the SMPTE NY chapter meeting on March 14th. Along with others in the industry, I’ll be hosting a presentation “4K and Beyond” that will highlight how this technology is coming into its own in 2012.