An Indie Filmmaker’s Take on 4K and the Consumer Market

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE supporter of 4K, however recently I’ve been somewhat critical of the format and its impending release into our homes. I’m not being critical because I’ve changed my tune with respect to 4K, but instead because I know the value it brings to the viewer and I don’t want to see it watered down in order for the consumer electronics industry to have something new to sell. Unfortunately, that is what appears to be happening.

4K, for those of you who may be scratching your heads, refers to an audio/video standard set by a group that goes by the name of DCI. The standard was adopted to create a sort of level playfield for all the studios and theatrical exhibitors to adhere to in order to avoid things like “format wars” that we consumers often deal with -think Blu-ray versus HD DVD. Or Beta versus VHS. DCI 4K, or D-Cinema 4K, as it’s more commonly known, calls for a number of standards as it pertains to a digitally projected image; standards for number of pixels, compression, color space and more. These standards were adopted because they most closely resemble, match or even best, the perceived quality of analog 35mm film. While there are a number of other aspects to the D-Cinema standard, the four most important have to do with the number of pixels, color, color space and lastly compression that the image employs.

D-Cinema 4K calls for a resolution of around 4,000 pixels across by 2,000 pixels tall -specifically 4,096 x 2,160. I use the word around because not all aspect ratios will fit exactly into the 4,096 x 2,160 spec, so DCI does allow for some leeway. In terms of color, D-Cinema 4K calls for two things; first, 12-bit color and the ability to display the CIE 1931 XYZ color space -or the entire range of human perceivable color. Lastly, D-Cinema mandates that the image be compressed using the JPEG2000 compression codec, which is robust and not widely -if ever -used at the consumer level. So that’s the professional or D-Cinema standard in a nutshell, but what does it have to do with you the viewer or me as an indie filmmaker? …

Check out the rest of An Indie Filmmaker’s Take on 4K and the Consumer Market, originally posted on Andrew Robinson’s blogpost.