on January 30, 2015 Technology News

Preparing for 4K on the Small Screen

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On December 8th, Vimeo On Demand Sellers and Vimeo PRO members could allow users to download 4K videos. Just one day later Amazon updated its streaming video app allowing 4K streaming for both Prime members and non-Prime users with certain 2014 4K UHD TVs. Two months earlier, Apple announced its newest iMac with 5K retina display. 4K is back in the news and 2014 ended with a bang for the Ultra-HD video service.

So what does this mean for viewers, videographers, and editors? And what exactly is 4K?

4K Background

HD has a resolution of 1920 pixels wide X 1080 pixels high. 4K nearly quadruples that with roughly eight million more pixels. Ultra-HD is any display that has a resolution of 3840 X 2160. We refer to this resolution as 4K because there are approximately 4,000 pixels in width. More simply, if you narrowed in on only one quarter of a 4K display, you would still get an HD quality image.

Who is experiencing 4K?

Videographers, editors, and viewers have all been aware of 4K for quite some time now. Videographers and editors using equipment like the RED, Alexa, and Odyssey 7Q video recorder know the value of shooting 4K. Suddenly, you have the ability to capture your best slow motion and reframe any shot in post. Sony’s Video Unlimited 4K service, Netflix’s select 4K shows and movies - including House of Cards - and YouTube 4K streaming have been available for over a year. So why have so few of us been able to have the 4K viewing experience in its full brilliance?

Viewers and editors alike need either a 4K UHD TV or the newest iMac to view UHD content - outside of movie theaters of course. Here is a list of supported 4K display configurations and settings for Macs and 4K TVs.

But with Amazon’s new 4K streaming options, Apple’s newest iMac with 5K retina display (5120 X 2880), and Vimeo announcing that it will follow suit with 4K streaming, it is looking like 2015 could be the year that 4K is put on the map. Vimeo Staff Blogger Naren Venkataraman writes, “And while we don’t yet offer 4K streaming on our site, we’ll be ready by the time broadband providers start widely supporting the high speeds required. It’ll be so awesome when we all have IMAX TVs in our homes.”

Steps to Prepare

Many production companies shooting in 4K are still delivering their content in HD, and part of the reason is that their computers cannot handle ingesting and editing their 4K assets. But as clients begin demanding 4K content the newest 5K platforms, this will lead to an increase in demand of 4K deliverables. Jonathan Paul of Premium Beat recently published this blog on steps, from boosting your RAM to updating your processor, to optimize your computer for editing with 4K assets.

With increases in internet speeds, viewers can expect streaming in 4K to be just as high quality as their Blu-ray viewing experience. And speaking of Blu-ray, Blu-ray 4K is set for release in 2015 - so prepare accordingly. Viewers and editors alike can expect to see much more 4K content on the scene in 2015.

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Ben Bokaer

Support Manager at MediaSilo. Avid movie-goer. I also own the most adorable kitten-- her name is Sassafras.