So… What Is 4K Exactly?

So people are starting to talk more and more about 4K TVs and video – it’s a big deal at the minute. If you’re hearing a lot about it, but frankly don’t know what the hype is all about, this blog is for you.

As video production experts, we know a bit about high quality video. So if this blog post doesn’t provide all the answers you need, let us know.

4K: The basics

  1. The 4K screen resolution is 4 times higher than current HD screens, meaning there is more detail and a sharper picture

  2. 4K uses eight million pixels compared to the two million pixels that HD uses

  3. The resolution is 4096 x 2160 but it has been scaled to 3840 x 2160 to fit to a 16:9 picture (the more common size that is being used in households)

  4. 4K requires more digital storage space than HD

  5. It will make passive 3D easier to watch than it currently is

  6. Generally, the bigger screen you can view it on, the better

 

What’s showing in 4K?

Netflix has launched 4K streaming, with season 2 House Of Cards being their 4K guinea-pig. Breaking Bad is also available to stream in 4K. Sky trialled a 4K broadcast back in 2013, during the Premier League West Ham V Stoke match.

Amazon is giving its Prime Instant Video members access to a growing number of 4K films and TV shows. This includes The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Mad Dogs. And the BBC is in talks to be broadcasting 4K in 2016 as standard.

How much does 4K cost?

As 4K content becomes more popular and mainstream, the TVs you can view it on will eventually come down to a more reasonable price. Which means you won’t have to be able to afford a penthouse in the centre of London to be able to watch amazing TV. Current examples though are the Samsung UE48JU6445 Smart Ultra HD 4k 48″ LED TV which retails at around £800, and the Panasonic Viera TX-40CC400B Smart 3D Ultra 4k 40″ LED TV that costs about £500.

Do I need better broadband to watch 4K?

To stream 4K you will need a pretty solid broadband speed. Netflix is stating that anything over 25Mbps should do the trick.

You’ll also need to make sure you have the latest v.20 HDMI cable, as the earlier versions aren’t as compatible and only support 4K feeds of up to 30fps. The v.20 can support up to 60fps.

 

Should I switch to 4K?

4k TVs are becoming cheaper to purchase and there are more programmes being streamed and broadcast in 4K. So, now might be a good time to start looking into it.

Although you won’t currently be able to lounge around all day watching 4K ready programmes (unless you want to repeat a few episodes) we can see more and more shows appearing on the horizon. It’s up to you whether you bite the bullet now, or wait it out until more content is readily available.

It all depends on how desperate you are to have amazing viewing quality in the comfort of your own home. When HD first appeared a lot of people were sceptical. Now, being fully embraced and welcomed by the majority. Just think about where 4K might be in 2 years’ time…

Does 4K really look better?

There’s a reason you watched The Hobbit in the cinema and became uncomfortably aware of Legolas’s prosthetic ears when you didn’t really notice them in The Lord of the Rings saga. 4K captures every tiny detail, sometimes a little uncompromisingly.

This coupled with that particular film being shot at a high frame rate (48 fps rather than 24 fps),  and that ‘filmic’ look that we’re accustomed to is suddenly gone. That leaves the movie looking a bit like a soap opera (albeit an expensive one) .

That Hollywood glow that we’re so comfortable with has now made way for detail and precision, leaving some people not sure which they prefer. This is kind of like when Apple comes out with a new iPhone, but you preferred the size of your old one (a side note to Apple – they’re big enough now, please stop). It’s about adaptability and moving with the times.

A higher quality image undoubtedly makes for a better viewing experience. You will definitely notice the difference when you’re binge-watching at home. Have you ever fallen asleep thinking “God, I wish I could see the shape and indentations of Walter White’s nose pores”? Good news – you can do that now!

Movies made in 4K

In saying that, you’ve probably been watching films in 4K for years without knowing it. David Fincher’s Social Network was the first feature film to be shot, rendered and projected in cinemas in 4K back in 2010. Then there was Moneyball back in 2011, The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, The Wolf of Wallstreet in 2013, Interstellar in 2014, and this year’s Bond effort, Spectre.

With a whole host of movies in-between, it’s not as if we’re new to 4K. However, with Netflix and Amazon having a go, the more that it’s domesticated, the more aware of it we’ll become. Soon it’ll be the norm, and we’ll all wonder how on earth we managed with the ‘terrible’ quality of HD for so many years.

At Stada Media, we make great video. Need video for your business to boost your online presence, engage with more customers or add WOW to your brand? Get in touch!

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