Two years ago, in Preparing for 4K On the Small Screen, I predicted “Viewers and editors alike [could] expect to see more 4K content on the scene in 2015.” So what's the verdict on 4k now--nearly 2 years later?
Answer: Still a bit "TBD".
For every step forward there seems to be a step back on the adoption of 4k in the mainstream. For example, Vimeo On Demand Sellers and Vimeo PRO recently made 4K download available and Amazon Prime updated its streaming video app to allow 4K for certain UHD TVs. But despite the increase in 4K TV sales , many consumers still don’t feel a strong need to buy 4K UHD TVs. So that begs the question--is 4k just not all that necessary for the average person?
Let's get geeky: 4K (minimum of 4096x2160 pixels) quadruples the number of pixels of HD (1920 pixels X 1080 pixels). Acclaimed film editor, Walter Murch, explains that with high quality images, “...the fidelity of the image is beyond what we need,” allowing editors to “re-frame and manipulate” the image as needed, ultimately providing more flexibility. Post production teams have seen an increase in Prores 4444, VP9, and H.265 codecs use in their day-to-day workflows over the last two years. But the issue of having limited options of streaming and viewing content in 4K remains prevalent.
Setbacks: In November, 4K was back in the news with the release of BBC’s Planet Earth II, which was shot in 4K. Trusted Reviews explained that the original Planet Earth helped put HD on the map, and its recent installment might bode well for 4K. However, the show did not air in 4K because:
“the BBC currently has no dedicated 4K TV channel. Secondly, there currently probably isn't enough people with 4K TVs to give the show the justice it deserves.
Rather, fans should view the 4K filming as future-proofing more than anything. It's good for the BBC to have 4K footage in stock and the series will be ready for release later.”
The Future: Major news for 4K hit again last month when Google, Microsoft, and Hulu all began delivering on their promise to provide 4K streaming services. This could mean 4k adoption will explode or it could simply be just another advancement that is underutilized because the average consumer can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080p. Forbes contributor John Archer, however, remains optimistic in his predictions and now hopes Apple will follow suit in the race for 4K streaming.
Let us know your thoughts. Share with us why you do or don’t think 4K is on the cusp of becoming commonplace for the home viewing experience!