Tag Archives: 4K

Sony v. Microsoft: The Console Wars

Over the course of the 2000s, two major companies have been competing for the attention of the serious gamer. The Xbox and the PlayStation consoles have both been integral to the advancement of not just gaming technology, but the driving force behind a few technological advancements. Sony’s PlayStation series has been known as the go-to console for most serious gamers, while Xbox focuses on being the all-in-one console. The different advertising strategies often attract different people, but with advancements in modern day systems, the main differences will be the exclusives and aesthetics.

ConsoleThe first iteration of PlayStation came out in the late 1990s, and stayed the leading console for many years. For the longest time, Sony had no competition, that is until the early 2000s when Microsoft released their flagship console, Xbox. Over the course of the next couple of years the two companies would start to sync up their release dates and start a pattern of pumping out new consoles. Every 5-6 years a new console is released but within those years are mid-cycle upgrades. For the two companies, they release a slim, and then a slightly more upgraded version (in terms of processing power) around a year later.

ConsoleOne key problem faced with these consoles is future proofing. When a new console is sent out every year there isn’t much room for improvement. Many people won’t buy a new system unless there is a significant change. With the introduction of Project Scorpio Microsoft aimed to create a system that would be one of the most powerful. With boasted true 4k gaming Microsoft’s current console, the Xbox One X, has the most powerful processor to date. As well as this they have made their newest console backwards compatible all the way to the original Xbox. Their mission is to make console gaming comparable if not better than computers.

PlayStation’s main focus is a little more different than Xbox’s, where Xbox focuses more on graphics, PlayStation focuses on content. Overall both consoles have good exclusive games, but PlayStation can brag about having a higher percentage of high reviews on their games. Sony’s newest upgrade to the PS4 is the PS4 Pro. This console says it has a 4k experience, but in all actuality it uses a process called supersampling . This process can lower the frame rate of a game, which is very bad when dealing with games that require quick responses. However, Sony’s PlayStation VR is one of the leading headsets in terms of gaming graphics. So much so that they have said they don’t want to advance any farther than they are now, so as to not scare away future competition. When asked about the future of VR in their consoles, Microsoft simply shrugged off the question and instead pointed out their new features of game sharing and backwards compatibility. Unfortunately, PlayStation is more focused on the future of gaming, so they will not be incorporating backwards compatibility.

One problem suggested with the speed of advancements in gaming technology today is that by the time a console is finished, it will already be outdated. A good point to bring up is how Sony released the PS4 pro with already next level graphics, only to be outdone by Microsoft the next year. To combat this both companies can be seen talking about producing consoles faster, or with better gear. The latter will make consoles more expensive and the former will make consoles less worth purchasing.

-Roberto Estrella

When Will We Get 4K? The Bigger Picture

We have both 4K cameras and 4K televisions, so what’s wrong with this picture? The problem lies within our broadcasting/streaming infrastructure. This problem is bandwidth. With 4K video we have a file size that is around 4 times the size of a standard high definition image and that creates a problem when trying to stream video over our inefficient infrastructure.

HD v 4K videoIn order to gain a better understanding of 4K it is important to look at some of the benefits and challenges of this new technology from the perspective of content creators and consumers. By analyzing 4K from these two perspectives we can begin to understand the benefits and challenges of this upgraded resolution as well as the explanation to why we’re not ready for it yet.

Ok, so if we can’t view content 4K due to our lack of a strong bandwidth, then what’s the point of 4K? This brings me to some of the benefits from the perspective of content creators. Shooting video in 4K leads to so many more opportunities in the post-production process of a video.

First, shooting in 4K produces an image with higher dynamic range ( HDR) which gives the video better contrast, better color, and overall, a sharper and more detailed image. This in itself allows for maximum flexibility during the post-production process in terms of color correction/grading which is very common in broadcast and cinematic content.

Second, since we broadcast and stream video content in 1920 x 1080 (High Definition) this means that content creators have the option of zooming in and reframing shots in post-production since they have an image that is 4096 x 2160 which is able to be downscaled to fit into the 1920 x 1080 frame. This results in a sharper image and allows for consumers to be closer to their TVs with limited loss in quality.

4K in sportsOne of the most common uses of 4K and zooming is in sports broadcasts. A lot of sports broadcasts use 4K as a way to show replays in a higher quality than the standard HD that we are used to. We are able to see a zoomed in version of a specific detail in a replay and still view it in 1080p because of the extra pixels offered to us through the use of 4K.

In terms of the benefits to the consumers regarding 4K it’s pretty simple: better image quality. Once 4K becomes a standardized resolution, we will have a better, more cinematic viewing experience from the increase in pixels. The great news is that these 4K TVs are priced similarly to standard HDTVs, so they are definitely an option for the consumer wanting to purchase a new TV. Unfortunately, there isn’t much content to view in 4K unless you record it yourself, so it is essentially a waiting game until the issue with bandwidth usage is addressed.

Although 4K faces some challenges, the media industry is working to develop more efficient codecs like H.265 to decrease the amount of bandwidth required by 4K video to allow for the streaming of high quality content. Still, although it won’t happen anytime soon, broadcasting in 4K is inevitable.

After learning about the benefits and challenges of this new technology from the perspective of content creators and consumers, what impact do you think 4K will have on the television and film industry?

Kyle Stoutenberg

4K TV and Consumer Adoption — NAB Follow-up

4K-Logo4K technology was featured throughout the 2014 National Association of Broadcaster’s Show in Las Vegas in exhibits, product features, and panel discussions with those developing and adapting 4K. Based upon my blog regarding 4K and consumers, the following video encompasses viewpoints and facts on 4K from locals in Iowa and displays 4K products and insights found at the NAB Show.

Olivia Hottle


Broadcasting in 4K: Just a Matter of Time?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you’ve probably heard something about 4K.  4K is something that has been around for years in the film industry.  The term comes from 35mm film and “4K” is referring to the number of vertical lines in the resolution.  As explained in the video below, 4K is 4 times the resolution of our typical 1080p HDTVs.  4K TVs (or UHDTVs) began rolling out into the consumer market in 2013, and as with any new tech, initial sales have been slow.  Now, in 2014, as these UHDTVs are becoming more mainstream and more affordable, broadcasting companies are starting to figure out how to broadcast this new high resolution.  But there are some challenges that go along with this, as expected.  For one, the bit rate itself is giant.  It takes 8 times the bandwidth of typical broadcast HD to push a 4K signal. The key to broadcasting in this new resolution will be next generation compression with HEVC.

5391099_origThe next generation of video compression standard is upon us.  HEVC is the successor to our commonly used H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codecs.  Using science, HEVC has been developed to make 4K resolution (and other resolutions), still look amazing while drastically reducing the overall file sizes.  See the video below for a more visual explanation of the process.

Now that you know a little bit about 4K and HEVC, it might not seem like broadcasting in 4K is very far away.  I believe we will start seeing 4K broadcast distribution sometime in the next year, maybe even by the 2014 holiday season.  Along with that idea, we may even see 4K distribution through streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant around the same time.  These are some of the topics on which I intend to ask questions about and hopefully gain some inside information on at this year’s NAB Convention, which I will be attending in Las Vegas early next week.

I will update this article below with my findings soon.

Rob Bauer

I’ve Converted to 4K (But Should Your TV Convert, Too?)

I didn’t believe the 4K hype.

4K, or Ultra High Definition, will supposedly create a new way of shooting and viewing video images through its use of 8,294,400 pixels, as compared to high definition’s 2,073,600. This means a clearer picture with more vivid colors.

4K format size
A comparison of various video size formats.

Now I believe.

My conversion came as I stood between a 4K television and a 90-inch HDTV. The biggest television I’d ever seen looked like standard definition in comparison.

Before rushing out and buying a 4K screen, we must consider the different arguments for and against 4K and the implications 4K has on technologies such as gaming and smartphones. But first, let’s look at the basics of 4K, and at whether consumers truly want this technology…

What is 4K?

handycamThere are three components that determine the resolution we see—the content, the player, and the screen. The image will only be as clear as the lowest-definition signal. In order to get 4K, you must have content filmed (or remastered) at 4K resolution. Some films have been rescaled into 4K, and others are now being shot in 4K. Sony has created a 4K consumer camera for users to create their own UltraHD videos. In order to view 4K, you also need a 4K player in order to output UHD video to 4K screens. This can be via a device such as Sony’s 4K media player, which plays content downloaded from the Internet, or via a future device that would play 4K broadcast signals, if and when those are developed. Finally, in order to get 4K, you need a UHD screen in order to see 4K clarity.

Obviously, 4K still is far from making their products completely consumer friendly and easy to adapt.

Do People Actually Care?

Some say 4K will revolutionize media. Others think it’s a ploy to sell more products and make people believe their HDTVs are obsolete.

What my eyes saw in that television showroom didn’t lie—4K is beautiful and more realistic than any previous resolution I’ve seen.

Yet, others say the human eye cannot perceive the high 4K resolution when viewing from six to ten feet away.

Additionally, the average consumer may not even understand 4K. The Leichtman Research Group conducted a March 2014 study, finding only 30% of its subjects had ever even heard of 4K, and only one-third of that 30% had actually seen a 4K set.

However, it still appears that consumers may want 4K TVs.

“We’ve been selling quite a few. (The customers) come in and see the great picture and it’s a little hard for them to not buy it with how great it is,” said Terry Root, owner of Maximum Sight and Sound in Waterloo, Iowa. “The only thing that’ll probably keep them from buying it is the cost.”

The price of a 55-inch 4K screen at Maximum Sight and Sound is $3,000. Smaller, 40-inch models are $1,500, though Root has seen prices on all the 4K TVs dropping.

Professionals are learning to incorporate 4K into their workflows.

Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa uses a Canon 1DC 4K DSLR for their video production. They don’t distribute content in 4K, but make use of the high resolution, letting them digitally crop and zoom shots while still maintaining 100% quality. This creates the perception of multiple camera angles when it is solely the 4K camera filming.

“4K has been great for us, but it’s just a matter of upgrading the rest of our gear to work with it… I had to upgrade a lot of my computing hardware just because it’s such a huge data rate,” said Matt Miller, PLC Creative Video and Media Coordinator. “I use 128GB cards that were the fastest you could buy, and it gives me a half hour recording time.”

TVMiller feels that many people do not know what 4K means, and that consumers are generally slower to adopt what is used in the film industry.

I believe 4K technology will inevitably become the standard, such as High Definition has—but not for at least several years. Right now, 4K may be great for the user who can understand its limitations and handle its possibilities. Lower prices are more attractive, but there needs to be content, and a way to deliver that content easily before people will ride this bandwagon. But first, consumers need to have ways to view and learn more about 4K before they buy, whether this is done through advertising or increased awareness through other channels.

So what about you? Do you want 4K technologies? And will you be buying them soon?

Olivia Hottle