17 Feb 2018

8K – Is Bigger Better?

It’s an exciting time in the world of video production and viewing. The Oscars are soon, Netflix has more content than ever, and the Olympics are in full swing. It feels like there’s almost infinite options of things to watch, and with each of those you have a lot of ways to watch them. The companies that manufacture the cameras we use to shoot video and the TV’s we watch it with are always looking for new ways to excite consumers. I’ve watched the world be introduced to High Definition, multiple formats of home 3D viewing, 4K, HDR, and now the largest, most outrageous format of all: 8K.

Bigger, Better, or Different

As humans we can’t help but be excited for bigger numbers. Bigger is always better, right? Well, it depends. When HD was first released the infrastructure wasn’t there for most people to actually have it displayed properly. Some people bought a High Definition television but were still only watching Standard Definition on it. Those that paid extra for an HD antenna or HD cable service often got spotty signals or service and scrapped it for years. They were content with the lower resolution, but consistent stream, of the Standard Definition TV that they had been watching their whole lives.

The Problem

We’re now dealing with similar problems with 4K. Most people that are watching 4K are getting it from Netflix and YouTube. While that’s convenient many professionals like myself haven’t been very impressed by 4K from those providers. While the resolution is there, the video isn’t being broadcast to your screen at the data rate that will make it as sharp as it should be. HDR demands an even higher data rate and even more challenges. Quite frankly there aren’t many people that are truly watching great quality 4K, let alone 4K HDR, on their devices. For the most part the only people that are truly getting a great 4K HDR experience are those who (in addition to having a great 4K HDR TV) are watching an Ultra HD Blu-Ray disk.

The problem is, most people would prefer the convenience of a streaming service like Netflix over the highest quality way to watch their content. So this brings us back to 8K.

Who is watching it and when should you think about getting an 8K TV? The answers are not many people are watching it now. Whoever you are there won’t be any reason for you to think about an 8K TV for years, maybe the rest of your life. The only places you can see the Olympics in 8K are a handful of theaters in Japan. I think it’s great that we have cameras that can achieve this remarkable resolution and for special, timeless events like the Olympics or maybe a man landing on Mars I’m all for it. But for everything else, I think we can wait.

Let’s get 4K HDR figured out first!

(Written by Mike Pasky)

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