CES 2014: Trends for Filmmakers

AbelCine by Andy Shipsides

Last week I visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which features millions of electronic gadgets that would make any geek smile. I went with purpose though, touring the massive halls looking for new gear and technology that might have an impact on filmmakers. It was tough sifting through all the cellphone accessories and headphone booths, but I think I found some key trends in the mix.

4K & Ultra HD Televisions

This might seem like an obvious one, but the sheer amount of 4K/Ultra HD televisions at the show was very impressive. Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Polaroid, Toshiba, and many others all had offerings in this arena. The technology is improving and price points are dropping, so it is pretty clear that more consumers will be bringing home Ultra HD televisions this year than last. However, this does bring up a number of considerations that filmmakers must keep in mind.

4K vs Ultra HD

This is a confusing topic for some, as we generally talk about image resolution in vertical lines. A 1920×1080 resolution HD video is usually called “1080?; however, it has become a trend to refer to 4K video by its horizontal resolution. DCI spec 4K video has a resolution of 4096×2160, so we could call it “2160?, but 4K just sounds better, right?

So what about Ultra HD? If you divide 4096 by 2160 you’ll see it has a 1.89 ratio (17×9), which is wider than the 1.78 ratio of typical 16×9 HD video. Yet, the vast majority of content we watch today is still formatted in a 16×9 aspect ratio. This is where Ultra HD comes in – it has the same vertical resolution of 4K, but with a horizontal resolution of 3840 pixels, which gives it a final resolution of 3840×2160. Most of the TVs shown at CES are Ultra HD resolution, keeping that 16×9 aspect ratio alive. That’s why, technically, the term 4K is a misnomer when it comes to consumer gear. read more...

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