A Brief History Behind 4K (and what lies beyond)

Written by Jayvee Fernandez

Ever since it was first witnessed in the Dalsa Origin, released in the year 2003 as the first commercial camera to be launched with 4k capabilities; the technology has been fancied by many. However, the high cost of ownership back then meant that the technology remained commercially non-viable for many professionals as well as aspiring photographers.

SONY 4k TV launch

To quote a piece I wrote back in 2013,

Also, there is almost zero content (movies) shot in 4k quality so at the very most, you’ll be loading up a 1080p movie into a 4k TV and a feature known as upscaling will kick in, which is simply the term given to the TV trying to improve the picture quality of the movie by “adding” the loose ends into the picture. WHat’s amazing is that the upscaling from 1080p to 4k is quite amazing and you won’t feel cheated on spending PHP 150,000 on a big-ass TV that can render 4k content.

However, in the past few years, a lot has changed and 4k technology has come within reach of not just professional film makers and photographers, but amateur photographers as well. The big shift came in the year 2010, when YouTube started supporting 4k videos; theatres followed suit soon after and started 4k projection of movies in the year 2011.

Today, 4k has penetrated every aspect of our lives, right from the way we record videos, to the way we see the world. And with innovative products like the 4K UHD HU9000 television from Samsung, the 4K Ultra Short Throw projector from Sony and 4K Cameras like the Panasonic LUMIX GH4 being manufactured for the everyday consumer; the future is definitely headed the 4K way.

So What Makes 4K special?
4K, also known as Ultra High Definition, delivers 4 times the pixels you would find on a Full HD electronic device. The presence of such a high resolution means that your videos and photographs would be sharper on a monumental scale. Moreover, it gives photographers and film makers a chance to shoot movies and photographs that are larger than life and deliver true engagement with the audience.

The reason more film makers and photographers are switching over to the 4K bandwagon is because the fine spatial detail is resolved extremely well when recording or shooting with a 4K camera. Moreover, it gives them a chance to convert it to 2K format and output it to a DVD or Blu-ray without much loss of detail and a finer quality compared to what they could expect if the video were to be shot with a 2K camera.

Where are we headed with 4k?
Back in 2005, Japan’s NHK (Japan Broadcast Corporation) toyed with the idea of how it could convey a sense of reality to the viewers. For this, they actually demonstrated a live relay of a super high vision program over a 260 km distance via fiber optics. The images that were streamed as part of the experimental program boasted a resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels, which is way beyond what the conventional technology has to offer even today.

However, what’s important is the fact, that the idea which inspired this monumental technical feat was 4K, since that is the technology which inspired people to think beyond conventional television to bring an actual sense of reality into a person’s everyday life.

That was back in the year 2005, imagine what the possibilities could be in the future with the current batch of technology that we possess in the form of next-gen televisions, cameras and projectors. Imagine a world where the line between virtual and reality is non-existent. Imagine a world where our lives will be surrounded by a constant stream of images and videos which we could literally feel and touch–4k is that first step towards that giant leap in the years to come.

Today, 4K is responsible for bringing some of the most astounding videos and photographs in the field of movies, fashion, journalism and Music; tomorrow it could open up a whole new world of opportunities and inspire technologies which only exist within the realm of science fiction today. 4K is all set to become the standard definition of the years to come and will replace HD televisions within a matter of years. And with leaders in the electronics industry like Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung already on their way to designing products that capture the true essence of this technology, things are only going to get even more interesting.

About the author

Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

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