Sooner rather than later, 4K acquisition will be everywhere. Along with the high-end professional tools, we already have access to affordable 4K cameras, 4K Televisions, monitors and other affordable 4K tools, and more are hitting the shelves almost every week.
Recently, we learned that Blu-ray is getting the 4K treatment. This is one of the main stories to emerge from IFA 2014, which takes place in Berlin from September 5-10th. The final specs of the Blu-ray 4K format will be completed by the third quarter of 2015, with the first titles and players hitting the market in the run up to Christmas 2015 soon afterwards.
There are not many in-depth details on the topic, but at least the source is reliable. Victor Matsuda, Chairman of the Blu-ray Disk Association Global Promotions Committe was the person that made the announcement. Licensing for 4K Blu-ray is expected to be finalized in the first half of 2015 with hardware and 2160p discs ready to launch for the holidays. Matsuda confirmed the report, and said he expects 4K Blu-rays to cost more than Blu-rays, similar to when Blu-rays launched at double the price of DVDs. The Blu-ray formats should come closer in price as the market grows for 4K discs.
The new specification also will improve color gamut dramatically and offer a higher dynamic range so details in shadows and highlights are visible. The new format also will be able to show 4K video at 60 frames per second.
Blu-ray 4K will be working on existing Blu-ray discs with 50GB capacity, but higher capacities are on the way, said Ron Martin, vice president of Panasonic’s Hollywood lab and a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association’s task force for next-generation Blu-ray development.
Blu-ray 4K stores data in a different way, though, moving from the H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) compression technology to the newer H.265/HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) successor. HEVC takes more processing to use when encoding videos but compresses them more compactly – or alternatively viewed, lets more pixels be sent across a given amount of data-transfer capacity.
The new 4K Blu-ray drive players will be able to extract data from discs at a rate of 50 or 60 megabits per second, and perhaps up to 100Mbps, Martin said. Doubled data-transfer rates plus doubled compression efficiency means the new technology will be able to handle the quadrupled pixels required moving from 1,920 x 1,080 pixels to 3,820 x 2,160 pixels.
Probably, many people would wonder why this is an important news for the filmmakers community in particular as we all now that current Blu-ray player’s sales share is still far behind of the one of DVD players for instance, yet both declining. Well, the truth is that the consumer market has a major role as a trendsetter and is able to push the trend into certain direction.
Remember what happened with the 3D trend that raised only a couple of years ago. Whether you stream UHD content via Netflix, Hulu, YouTube etc or you want to see the best possible quality of your gorgeous 4K content from an optical disc it is always better to have access to as many options as possible. It’s only a matter of time before we see that forecast turning into reality.
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