Saturday, June 21, 2008

BPN 1135 4K: new genration cinema

I thought that I had a big screen with my 40 inch Sony Bravia HD screen, especially bought for the soccer matches of the Dutch national team. But at the Media Park Annual Conference I saw a demonstration of 4K cinema on a large screen. On the screen movies were projected in the highest available resolution possible at present.

The demonstration was given by CineGrid Nederland, a project by SURFnet, University of Amsterdam and Waag Society. They had organised an enormous 4K projector and proudly introduced the Cinegrid Exchange, a collection computer discs with a capacity of 96 Terabyte. The Dutch Cinegrid Exchange is coupled with already existing Cinegrid Exchanges in the United States and Japan.

The image is larger and very sharp and compare to normal television ten times better and four times better than HDTV. Also the sound is better. The claim of 4K cinema is that it offers new opportunities for visualisation of science projects, in education, but also for cultural and entertainment events. From the first viewing it looked to me that the new opportunities are incremental and not really innovative.

During the demonstration a series of movies was shown. In the series science projects the visualisation of a part of the universe was shown; beautiful due to the resolution. For education a hurricane was visualised, based on scientific data; it looked great, but had the effect to me as the first break-out design of Mitchell Beazley in the seventies. Also the Dutch artist Jaap Drupsteen had produced a graphic animation (see illustration). A cultural movie came from the Holland Festival. Last year the opera Era La Notta was recorded in 4K (see illustration). An impressive movie. But also existing movies are scanned and upgraded for 4K showing. During the demonstration the movie Baraka, a movie containing images of 24 countries from 6 continents was shown (see illustration). At the end a movie was shown by an artist who had drawn a helicopter view of a town. All over the screen, cars are crawling; busses run their course, while bridges over canals are opened for passing boats.

4K cinema has the problem of a big screen, while the audience will have to be in close range. To see the crawling effects of the last movies you have to get very close. So projection for large crowds might be a problem.

All in all, I loved what I saw. Great resolution and beautiful effects. But also the drawback of close viewing. But it remains an incremental innovation, but will not be a substantial leap forwards.

Blog Posting Number: 1135

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