Tuesday, June 15, 2010

After 3-D comes 4K

If you think 3-D is the end of video developments, you should have been at last week's Mediapark Jaarcongres 2010 in Hilversum. 3-D, 4K and holography were hot topics.

First 3-D. Phil Lelyveld of the Consumer 3D Experience Lab in Los Angeles explained why headaches and nausea are issues for 3-D. The focus point is by definition on the screen, but looking at two different images at the same time makes our eyes converge at a different point, either in front of or behind the screen. This creates the 3-D experience, but for some it is hard for the head or the stomach. Hence, 3-D is to be applied in a moderate way and Phil recommends not too many images where the convergence point is way in front of the screen.

Then holography. There was some talk about Japan trying to organise the 2022 Soccer World Cup, in which case they would have holographic projections of each match in soccer stadiums around the country.

Finally 4K. If television develops from black & white to color to widescreen to HD to 3-D, then 4K could be the next step. Back in 2004, this article in the New York Times described MGM's efforts digitising analogue films in the 4K standard. The 4K standard is experimented on by CineGrid in the Netherlands, working with SURFnet and other partners. Fiber is explicitly mentioned as the medium of choice, because of the excessive data rate. Images are 4x sharper than in 3-D (i.e. a 4,096 x 2,160 resolution) and sound is recorded in 16 channels. According to this leaflet, 1.5 hours of video would require 750 DVDs or 3.5 TB of data. Each frame would be the equivalent of up to 50 MB, not mentioning what the 16 sound channels require. It was stated that a 4K stream would require a massive 8 Gb/s download speed for streaming (uncompressed), or close to 1 Gb/s (compressed). So that looks like a cinema experience, rather than a home cinema experience for now. Coincidentally, a few days ago a new 4K recording was made of Viktoria Mullova, playing JS Bach in the Holland Festival.

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