Looking at 4K, HFR and HDR

Posted by Ms. Debra Kaufman
Monday, October 20, 2014 - 13:43

HPA Tech Retreat organizer and engineering guru Mark Schubin addressed 4K, HFR and HDR, from physiological, physics and perception points of view with the question: Is more really more? How audiences perceive media has always been an important issue, said Schubin, who gave the example of Edison providing "tone tests" to convince consumers that the sound fro a phonograph was indistinguishable from an opera singer. While the ploy worked, he also noted that Anna Chase, one of Edison's tone testers, admitted before her death that she learned to sing like the way her voiced sounded on the phonograph.

With that cautionary example, Schubin looked first at resolution, noting that higher-resolution cameras rely on filtering, which introduce problems with accurate color reproduction. He also noted that 4K at 40,000-feet is indistinguishable from 2K. "At what distance does it mean something?" he asked. He also noted that all computer-graphics are rendered at 2K, even when they are in a so-called 4K movie. Giving a list of the top ten box office hits of 2013, Schubin noted that eight of them were acquired with film or a 2K camera.

The relative perception of audiences also plays a role in sound noted Schubin, who reported on his own experiences testing stereo sound in the 1970s. Even more recent tests show that audiences feel more immersed with fewer channels.

Comparing increased resolution, frame rate and dynamic range, Schubin concluded that "HDR gives the biggest bang for the buck." But even that conclusion is problematic, since resolution, frame rate and dynamic range work in concert."Going from B&W to color was a mess," he concludes. "Going from silents to sound was a mess." But maybe some of these tools are significant enough to make the ensuing mess worthwhile, he concluded. Meanwhile, the race for more isn't over, he said, pointing to a graphic of 5K shown at CES 2014.