Just as 4K (or Ultra High Definition TV) is becoming standard in most major TV markets, technology has marched on and 8K is strutting its stuff as the new star on the red carpet. Last year Red revealed their 8K camera and were swiftly followed by Canon and now, this month, to add some spice to the marketplace Sony have launched their 8K camera, which can simultaneously shoot in 8K, 4K and regular HD (ie 2K).

What’s so good about 8K?

In short having an 8k resolution means:
1. The picture is 16 times as sharp and colourful and has a greater depth of field than regular HD video.
2. You can have an enormous frame size suitable for an enormous screen.
3. You can convert to a smaller frame size and have a superior quality of picture.
4. You can crop in to the action without compromising your quality. For example, when shooting a wildlife documentary in 8K you could film from a safe distance and in post production crop in to the fine detail of ‘the kill’ and still have an impressive 4K resolution.

The way things were… (it certainly makes DVD quality look shoddy).

Does anyone have an 8K display screen to view the footage on?

At home – no, not yet. Home HDTV screens are 1920 x 1080 as standard which is the equivalent of 2K. 4K screens are also common place, costing around £400 to buy (depending on how big a TV you buy).  That’s the same price that HDTVs were a couple of years ago. It won’t be long before 4K TVs are standard and, you guessed it, 8k screens are coming: Sharps, Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic all having products launching.

Who’s using 8K?

James Gunn, Director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was the first in Hollywood to use Red’s 8K weapon camera.  He knew that as the film is so CG heavy, he needed to shoot very detailed imagery to match and maintain a consistently sharp look between live action footage and CGI.  Gunn’s been reported as saying the camera is very small and surprisingly portable considering its power.
Japan has announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be broadcast in 8K, by which time, who knows, you may be able to buy an 8K TV from Currys (or the like) for £400.

8K…? Is band width up to the challenge?

Certainly not in my house. But time and technology will march on…

I want one…

Should you wish to purchase one for your kit cupboard, the Sony UHC-8300 will set you back around £45,000. You will of course need to buy the lenses that fit, the accessories and viewing monitor, however p&p is free.

And the future… 16K?

Of course. Unless holograms and Virtual Reality TV win the race.

For the tech geek in you, here’s the tech spec:

Small mobile devices have a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels, a low resolution video was 720 x 576 and before HD was standard.
Ipads are 1536 x 2048 pixels, although that’s for video gaming and graphics.  The HD video you view is 1920 x 1080.
Desktop monitors are 2560 x 1600 (video resolution as above)
HD video frame size is 1920 x 1080 – the industry standard for video resolution.
Ultra High Def video resolution (ie 4K) is 3840 x 2160
8K video resolution is 7680 × 4320

Don’t lose sight….

If you have a great story to tell, it will be awesome in HD.

If you have a dull narrative with no story, it will be terrible, even in 8K!