Ultra HD, the threats

Digital vs. Film

Digital vs. Film

Film cinematography survived digital, cinema survived HDTV, and the next opponent for both: Ultra HD

Digital verses film photography, a heated debate since the coming of age of digital cameras; digital cinematography and film are also battling out in the realm of motion pictures. With more and more digital cinema advocates in the industry, increase output of high definition content, and HD superseding analog broadcasting, will 4K/Ultra HD whittle away further cinema in the form of film?

As technology further itself along the path of innovation and improvement, the environment of how we produce and view things changes accordingly. With the prices for high resolution cameras becoming more friendly (e.g Red slashed prices as much as 40% on EPIC-M) , and the giant filmmakers pushing for digital cinema transformation, the likes of George Lucas, Peter Jackson, James Cameron etc. digital film production will continue to spread across the market. Even though upgrading to yet another level of resolution, the whole spectrum of the production requires time and further development; such as solving the issues of streaming much larger data, the technicality of compressing and post production, upgrading projectors, screen and even sound systems across the cinema chains, but since the technology is becoming available, the enthusiasts will embrace it. Thus, moving away from production in film cinematography.

Positive attitudes towards the 4k comes from a sector within the industry, James Tonkin, director and founder of commercials and promos producer Hangman Studios, believes capturing images at the best resolution possible: “I like the idea of acquiring at the greatest resolution you can, regardless of the resolution you’ll be delivering in. I’m obsessed with image fidelity and seeing as much information as possible. The more pixels you have the more you’re getting an image closer to real life.”

DP Nic Morris also said “…back in the early days of HD, shooting in HD and down converting to SD looked much better than material acquired in SD. The same applies here – if you shoot 4K and down-res, you’re likely to notice an increase in quality,” (source Televisual )

Standing firmly at the opposite end, directors such as Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Quentin Taratnino have commented negatively regarding digital film making. With the critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies such as Nolan’s Batman series, and many more, adhering to film,  it is unlikely that the 35mm and its band of brothers will be cease to exist any time soon.

Will it then change the environment on how consumers view the contents? becomes the next question. Why bother going to the cinema when you can watch TV programs and movies with utter clarity on a staggering 84-inch? To house the 8 plus million mega pixel of 4K, the displaying screen has to be BIG. The manufactures are offering the forefront UTVs at 80-inch and above, to go below, the increase in image detail starts to be less noticeable.

On the other hand, going to the cinema is a social event, the sound system will always be better than the affordable home theatre system, and the screen will always be bigger.  It will take a few years for the production infrastructure to evolve, as it took 5 to 6 years for HD to become a norm. A further discussion on Ultra HD by PC magazine poses questions on the need of Ultra HDTV at all, and arguing that “there’s a chance Ultra HD could end up like the current 3D fad, in that there’s just not lot of content available to watch…’

Sony XBR-84X900  4K LED TV

Sony XBR-84X900 4K LED TV

For now let’s enjoy the hi-tech’s offering, and watch the first true music video featured in 4K, according to Sony Professional Solutions of America president Alec Shapiro. This doesn’t seen so threatening is it?


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