Vizio “Reference” 4K TV’s will display at native 48 fps

Vizio Reference HFR

Good news from CES 2014:  Vizio’s forthcoming line of 4K TV‘s, dubbed the “Reference Series”, will be the first with the ability to show 48 fps content without 3:2 pulldown or any other type of meddling.

From Vizio’s press release:

For consumers who are passionate about content, the performance of the Reference Series also makes available two unique viewing modes: High Velocity Mode which enables the TV to display an ultra-fast 120 frames per second over HDMI, ideal for fast action video or gaming content, and Pure Cinema Engine for a true film-watching experience. With Pure Cinema Engine, the Reference Series presents films in their native 24 or 48 fps for the most authentic cinematic experience

This is very cool, even despite the strong possibility that 48 fps may not have much longer to live as a common format, since the Avatar sequels will likely be at 60, or perhaps even 72 fps.

As for HFR 4K sources, the only currently available solution as far as I know is RED’s REDRAY Cinema Player, which is listed at $1750 and is capable of 4K 3D at up to 60 fps.

The Blu-Ray Association began working on a 4K spec and associated disc/player technology about three months ago, but there’s no word yet on HFR capability.  They stated earlier this month that they predict consumer 4K blu-ray players and discs by the end of 2014.

Douglas Trumbull’s UFOTOG will light up screens in 120 fps, 4K 3D

UFOTOGTrumbullIf all goes well filmmaker and VFX legend Douglas Trumbull will wow Los Angeles audiences this August with a 10 minute, 120 fps 3D short film titled UFOTOG (an acronym for UFO Photography).

This experimental short will serve as a test-run for two high frame rate features that will be produced with similar specifications.

Trumbull tells The Hollywood Reporter that UFOTOG is based on a longer screenplay that chronicles a man’s quest to definitively photograph an alien spacecraft: “He’s very smart, a serial entrepreneur, like Elon Musk. So he has the wherewithal to get a really good camera and build a system on a mountaintop.”

UFOTOG was shot with Canon C500 4K cameras and a 3ality 3D camera rig setup that recorded raw data at 120 fps. Live action elements were primarily shot on a greenscreen stage at Trumbull’s studio in Southfield, Mass., and then later composited into 3D sets created from live-action footage of real-world locations and scenery such as trees and skies.  Trumbull told THR that there is very little CG in the film.

Although the feature-length version of UFOTOG is one of Trumbull’s two planned features, it won’t be the first he tackles: “It is not the primary one that I want to make next. I’m also developing a sci-fi epic that takes place about 200 years in the future.”

Trumbull expects UFOTOG to be proof of the incredible immersion provided by high frame rates and resolutions: (via THR)

The projects underscore the director’s belief that films shot at ultra-high resolution and frame rates — and supported by immersive sound, such as Dolby Atmos, which will be used on UFOTOG — will deliver a kind of experience that will draw more people to movie theaters. “What you see on the screen is less like a movie and more like a live event. The screen becomes a giant window onto reality,” he said, noting that this informs the creative choices, as it creates a more first-person experience.

Trumbull’s current solution for 4K 120 fps playback is to serve the material directly out of Eyeon Generation visual effects software via a special server built for Trumbull by JMR Electronics: “It is the only thing we have found that allows us to work in this high frame rate all day, every day,” Trumbull says. For exhibition he hopes to use a Christie Integrated Media Block…but it will require a software update to process such vast quantities of data.

Trumbull is “shooting for some dates in August” for UFOTOG’s public debut: “We’re trying to find a venue in Los Angeles where we can set it up and show UFOTOG properly.”

Check out a promotional video for UFOTOG on the video page of Trumbull’s official website.

See Douglas Trumbull speak on HFR tech and what he deems the “holy grail” of movie experiences.

NHK Shows Off Compact 8K Camera

NHK has taken another step towards ultra-crisp 8K resolution, partnering with ASTRODESIGN to create a compact 8K camera head.  Here are its basics specs:

8K CAMERA HEAD
AH-4800

[Image sensor] : 2.5inch 33million pixels single plate CMOS
(SENSOR Developed by NHK Engineering System,Inc.)
[Active resolution] : 7680×4320
[Lens mount] : PL mount
[Output] : 12-channel parallel optical-fiber
[Dimensions] : 125(W) x 125(H) x 150(D)mm
[Weight] : 2kg

NHK has created 8K sensors and displays for its prototype 8K ecosystem.  Although the current ecosystem encodes/decodes 8K content at 60Hz, a 120Hz version, which would allow stereoscopic TV at 60 fps per eye, is under active development and is the target for their forthcoming Super Hi-Vision broadcast standard.

The prominence of 4K TV sets at CES 2013 indicate that the days of 1080P will soon be over.  But 4K won’t be the standard for long, if it becomes a standard at all: NHK and others have been pushing for an 8K+ future for years, with many believing that 4K is merely a stopgap on the road to true “retina” levels of resolution.

I’m always happy to see the fidelity bar raised. Rapidly increasing display/sensor resolution, computing power and signal processing will soon enable graphics that surpass the limits of what the human eye can perceive. And the ultra-high-quality virtual and augmented reality that so many of us want will require this.

HFR and 4K to be discussed at “Dimension 3″ conferences

Dimension3logoHigh frame rates will be a major point of discussion at the upcoming Dimension 3 expo in Paris from June 18-21.

Dimension 3 founder Stephan Faudeux says, “4K technology is enjoying the same buzz that existed around 3D technology three years ago. There is a synergy between 3D and 4K technologies as well as HFR film-making.”

Here are the conferences relating to HFR or 4K:

HFR – a gimmick or a technological advance?
ROOM 2
Wednesday 19 June
From 11:30 to 12:30

Following Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, new films are produced using HFR (high frame-rate), but this is a source of some controversy, and the debate is technical as much as esthetic. Objectively speaking, what are the advantages of HFR? Can this technology become widespread in theaters?

What cameras for what uses, tomorrow and in the future?
ROOM 1
Tuesday 18 June
From 10:00 to 11:00

In terms of innovation, digital cameras constantly improve their resolution, but other technological advances are planned in the short, medium and long term. What will tomorrow’s cameras be like? They will be able to meet new esthetic and technological requirements (HFR, high resolution, 3D), but also allow for more creativity and leeway during postproduction: HDR cameras, integral imaging.

There will also be a few sessions dedicated to 4K / Ultra HD:

4K – filming and workflow
ROOM 2
Tuesday 18 June
From 11:30 to 12:30

4K cameras have been in use for several months now, and early feedback can now be offered in terms of filming, as well as post-production. With the outstanding resolution of 4K and the generalization of digital processes, we can wonder whether film is still relevant as a filming media… still, producing beautiful images requires that one follow a number of criteria dealing with the consistency of 4K workflows.

Ultra HD, soon on a TV near you
ROOM 1
Tuesday 18 June
From 11:30 to 13:00

The progressive standardization of the HEVC codec will enable the broadcast of audio-visual contents in private homes, at a higher resolution than HD.
- What processes are involved in distributing, broadcasting and displaying these images?
- When will UHD displays become widespread enough to launch a new mass consumer market
An overview of the state of UHD, including the first broadcast tests and feedback from manufacturers

Immersion: what to choose between 4K, stereoscopic 3D and 3D audio?
ROOM 2
Tuesday 18 June
From 10:00 to 11:00

The increase in images’ resolution to 4K and beyond allows for the creation of new immersive spaces that can be enhanced by applying 3D technologies to video and audio. This talk will present technologies such as 3D mapping, large format projection, and 3D audio, destined to be used in museums, art installations, industrial applications or cinema theaters.

Check out the conference schedule page for a full list of conferences.

Attendees will also get the chance to experiment with HFR and 4K production and post:

“The Forum’s 2013 edition inaugurates the Big Shoot, a life-size filming set with a unique environment allowing visitors to test new generations of cameras, 3D, 4K, high frame rate filming, DSLR, etc., and view, assemble and analyze the images on a post-production workstation.”

Christie introduces world’s first 4K 60 fps projectors

christie-60hz-image1

UPDATE: These projectors are actually part of Christie’s Pro AV series; intended for business and large screen applications, not for the cinema. Don Shaw, Christie’s Senior Director of Product Management, explains:

These are not cinema projectors… they are actually intended for our ProAV markets.

With that said, they have similar light engines and optical characteristics as a cinema projector, but totally different electronics that are not compatible with cinema security protocols and movie playback equipment.

As a stretch, you may be able to use them in film post-production, but only for unencrypted content; perhaps for reviewing dailies and for DI processing.

So although 4K HFR in the the movie theater is still beyond the horizon for now it’s encouraging that projector light engines, optics, and data storage / transfer are good to go in terms of 4K HFR.  Now we just need to wait for exhibitors and motion picture engineers to provide updated theatrical distribution protocols and infrastructure.

————————————————————————————————-

Christie Digital has announced the world’s first 60 fps capable 4K (4096 x 2160) projectors: the Christie D4K2560 and D4K3560.

“Christie is the only manufacturer providing full 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution at 60 Hz and the reliability and image clarity of 3-chip DLP® all in one package. Both projectors are a quantum leap forward in video image processing and a breakthrough in high frame rate and high resolution video projection,” said Mike Garrido, senior product manager, Business Products, Christie.

The projectors, which replace the Christie D4K25 and D4K35, are available now for pre-order. They are priced at $125,000 for the 25,000-lumen DK2560 and $161,000 for the 35,000-lumen D4K3560, according to Engadget.

It’s great that Christie has pushed the boundaries with these projectors, but this announcement may be only one piece of the puzzle that has to be completed before we get to watch even 4K 2D movies at 48 or 60 fps.  Christie Senior Director of Product Management Don Shaw told me back in January that the infrastructure for handling such high bandwidth doesn’t yet exist, and may not arrive for quite a while:

“A 4K HFR [3D] projector would require up to 4X the input bandwidth of our current cinema projectors (up to 120 fps total)… this would be a forklift upgrade (i.e. new projector) and the reality is that none of the current cinema infrastructure (IMBs, servers, routers, content delivery systems, etc) can handle this bandwidth. It will be a long time before we see 4K HFR in theaters and we currently have no plans for building such a projector for general Cinema usage.”

Maybe things have changed since January?  At least, maybe infrastructure capable of feeding a single 60 hz 4K projector now exists.  If this is the case, I’d imagine a theater could achieve 4K HFR 3D by having two of everything (server, IMB, etc).  Such a setup would be quite expensive, but wouldn’t it be cool if a few select cinemas show The Desolation of Smaug in glorious 4K 48 fps 3D?

320 gigapixel image of London shows potential of ultra high resolutions

panoramalondonThis 320 gigapixel “photo” of London is billed as the world’s largest panorama:

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html

from http://btlondon2012.co.uk:

The 320 gigapixel image – taken by expert photography firm 360Cities – comprises 48,640 individual frames which have been collated into a single panorama by a supercomputer.

If printed at normal photographic resolution, it would be almost as tall and as wide as Buckingham Palace.

Playing with the zoom makes me feel like I have Superman’s telescopic vision. Although it’s not a perfect image (there are some seams in the stitching and people/objects are sometimes duplicated) it nonetheless give an idea of the power and versatility that super high resolutions offer.  Future filmmakers will be able to capture 16K+ video of an entire set or scene without worrying about framing since they would be able to view the footage in post production, zoom in, and extract whatever particular piece of the scene they want.

If you then combine this ultra high resolution with computational photography technology such as that found in the Lytro camera, all sorts of possibilities open up, including the ability to adjust focus after the fact and mimick camera moves without actually moving the camera.

Although it is far below the gigapixel resolution level and doesn’t incorporate computational photography, RED has been working on a 28K camera. Hopefully we’ll get an update on this camera soon, as RED hasn’t said much about it since announcing it in 2008.

PS4 will offer Sony 4K movie service via 100 GB+ digital movie files

sony-ps4The Verge reports that Sony’s 4K content delivery service will be available via the PS4, citing Sony Electronics President and COO Phil Molyneux, who said “I promise you will not be disappointed” when asked if the 4K service would support his company’s new console.

Sony is apparently aiming for a summer launch for the service, which would offer 4K movies as files of “100 gigabytes and plus” depending on length. Molyneux admits that the large file sizes as well as limited broadband speeds are a hindrance but asserts that Sony has ideas that will mitigate these issues. While not discounting a 4K compatible blu-ray drive (there have been reports that Sony has been working with Panasonic to explore the possiblity of higher capacity blu-ray discs ad players), Sony has indicated that digital distribution of 4K content is the most likely outcome even if downloads initially take many hours or even days to complete.

The primary conclusion I draw from the forthcoming arrival of 4K content (and 8K soon after) is that internet bandwidth (in the United States at least) needs to increase drastically. Google Fiber, which offers a 1 gigabit per second connection (about 100 times faster than the connection most Americans have) would enable 4K delivery in a timely fashion, but the current cable company monopolies are willfully holding back technological progress. I hope Google’s rollout of Fiber continues to be successful and that the cable companies change their anti-consumer outlook.  For evidence of the cable companies’ complete lack of respect for their customers, see Time Warner Cable’s recent statement that they “don’t see the need of delivering [gigabit internet] to consumers.”

By the beginning of the 2020′s 8K content delivered at frame rates of 60 fps or higher (and in 3D) will be the norm.  I can’t wait to walk right up to a huge 8K TV or “life wall” and feel as if I’m gazing into an another reality.  But to get to this point some major changes to the status quo need to happen…the cable companies must adapt, or deservedly perish.

PS4 supports 4K video and photos but not 4K games…may output up to 240 fps

ps4-new-playstation-logo-contact-sheet_croppedDuring a roundtable interview Sony Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida stated that the PS4 will output 4K videos and photos, but not 4K games. Via IGN:

“The PS4 supports 4K output, but only for photos and videos — not games. PS4 games do not work on 4K.”

ArsTechnica interpreted Yoshida’s comments as meaning that 4K resolutions for games wouldn’t become available until the generation after the PlayStation 4. IGN reports that “Yoshida says a single console cannot natively run games in the high-resolution format.”

So there you have it: PS4 may play 4K video from upgraded blu-rays or connected media storage devices, and will be able to display 4K photos, but 4K games are seemingly not in the cards.

The question of whether the PS4 will be capable of outputting games at frame rates higher than 60 fps remains to be answered, although Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter thinks it will be capable of rendering games at up to 240 fps.

Sony PlayStation 4 announcement live blog – PS4 reveal

Only 10 minutes until Sony announces the Playstation 4.  I’m watching the livestream of the Playstation Meeting and will be updating this live blog throughout with all the big news about the PS4, with a special focus on its potential HFR and 4K capabilities.

Will it indeed be called the PS4?  Maybe the PS4k?  Will The Last Guardian make a triumphant return?  What have Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Guerilla Games, Sucker Punch, Insomniac, Media Molecule and others been preparing for Sony’s nextgen console?

4 Minutes to go!

Conference has started! (most recent updates on top) (edit: conference is over)

Coming Holiday 2013! Very cool hype video with clips from all the footage we’ve seen. And the presentation is over! No talk about HFR or, more of a surprise, no talk of 4K (which Sony has been pushing harder than anyone).  But there’ll be much more to be announced between now and E3, and I still think PS4 will have some form of 4K support.

Activision Publishing CEO takes stage. Launch window games promised.  More games will be announced in the coming months.  Bungie’s Destiny is officially coming to PS4! Persistent online world. Co-op play. “First shared world shooter.”  PS3 and PS4 version simultaneous launch. Exclusive PlayStation content.

Blizzard Entertainment rep takes stage.  Sony  / Blizzard partnership announced. Diablo 3 announced for PS4 as well as PS3.

Ubisoft’s Yves Guillermot takes stage. Watch Dogs trailer being shown. Looks great.  Very noir. Nice character lighting and clothing physics. Particle effects, puddle reflections, drifting debris. Some screen tearing, but it might just be the live feed.

Square Enix / Final Fantasy brand manager takes stage. Announces new Final Fantasy title for PS4 this year!

Square Enix’ CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto takes stage. Agni’s Philosophy demo being shown.  Characters especially look amazing.

Talking about 3rd parties now. Yoshinori Ono from Capcom takes stage. Codename : Phantom Rhei engine for PS4. shows trailer/footage from new IP, Deep Down; takes place underground.  Character models, lighting, cave geometry is stunning. New Street Fighter tease at the end featuring Blanka.

Media Molecule developer takes stage. Talking about using the Move controller to sculpt 3D models, avoiding the “Tyranny of the Polygon”.  Collaborative game where players and their friends create worlds and objects. Showing a video of two people controlling dancing sculpted characters with he Move.

Now, a glimpse of the future: David Cage of Quantic Dream takes the stage. Emotion is his goal. Talking about polygon count increases over time: Heavy Rain to Kara to to Beyond, which uses 30,000. Now showing very advanced “old man” human head model using tons polygons and advanced graphical techniques. Extremely impressive; Hollywood quality. “Now we are only limited by our imagination”

Braid creator Jonathan Blow taking stage.  Introducing The Witness, a “game about epiphany”  Exploration and puzzle solving. Open world. 25 hours of gameplay; compact gameplay; timed exclusive. Trailer shows beautiful world with detailed, pastel foliage, incredible lighting and details. Tesselation I believe.

Sucker Punch’s next game being introduced. Now being shown! Infamous: Second Son! Character models look completely real; a huge leap.

Talking about a game called DriveClub.  Some footage shown, not clear if gameplay.  Painstakingly detailed cars, every microscopic detail modeled. Gameplay footage now being shown.

Games! Guerrilla Games showing Killzone: Shadow Fall gameplay.  Absolutely amazing and beautiful graphics and animation; particle effects, textures, fabrics look nextgen and the scope and scale of the city is incredible.  Better than anything i’ve seen, highend PC games included.

Michael Denny (Worldwide Studios) on stage.

Developers speaking (via pre-made video) about collaboration with Sony for PS4. Taking about Sony’s emphasis on Immediacy: No boot times, no download times. “window” into your PS4 games will be available from your smartphone, tablet, etc.

Sony’s Cloud Services will be released in phases; can’t announce everything today.

Sony’s goal: to put PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, etc games on any device.  ”Everything, everywhere.” That’s the vision behind the Playstation Cloud Network.

Remote Play: built into architecture of PS4; PS Vita can play PS4 games! Logn term goal is to make every PS4 title instantly playable on PS Vita. PS4 uses Gaikai to stream games to Vita “client”.

Can schedule set time to broadcast your game via uStream.

Spectating experience: “Share” button on PS4 controller can realtime broadcast your game to your friends. Friends can post comments to your game screen. Your friends can take over control of your game midgame.

Partnered with Facebook and Ustream.

“Fastest Gaming Network in World”; gets to know your preferences; immediately jump into any game on Playstation Store for free.

Dave Perry, co-founder and CEO of Gakai (cloud gaming) takes the stage.

Personalization: system can get to know you. System learns your likes and dislikes, places content they predict you’ll like right in front of you.  Their goal is to  predict the net game you purchase and have that game downloaded and ready to go before you even press the play button.

Real names and profile pictures will be emphasized for online multiplayer, sourced from social networks.

Dedicated, “always-on” video compression and decompression.  Sharing video is possible while playing a game simultaneously.  Can observe other players’ games.

Digital titles playable even as they are being downloaded.

Power saving “Sleep Mode” – gameplay saved in RAM.

Trailer for new game being shown, designed by Cerny, called Knack.

Havok physics demo shown..lots of falling debris cascading over structures.

8 CPU cores, almost 2 teraflops, GDDR5 memory[!] 176 Gb/sec bandwidth which further boosts GPU performance. Modified GPU to be useable as general purpose  computation device.

UE4 demo shown

Dualshock 4 being shown.  Touchpad screen on top. Share button.  Headphone jack.  ”Light bar” to identify players.  Designed in tandem with stereo camera that tracks controller and identifies player depth.

Live demos coming up

Cerny: PS4 is a powerfull, accessible system.  Architecture is like a PC in many ways, but supercharged.  X86 CPU. Highly enhanced PC GPU. Memory: 8 GB of high speed memory[!] . “Massive” local harddrive storage.

Cerny: Spoke to dozens of best developers in world.

Cerny: “for PS4, we wanted nothing to come between platform and joy and play.”

Mark Cerny: “The need to radically customize technology can interfere with game creation.”

Lead PS4 system architect Mark Cerny: “[My] role on [PS4] started about 5 years ago.”

“Experiences [of PS4] will surpass gamers’ wildest expectations.”

It’s officially called Playstation 4

“A glimpse into the future of Play, “the most personalized experience” following their pedigree, “most powerful platform ever.”

“Connectivity between devices has been essential”

(paraphrase) “The living room in no longer the center. The gamer is the focal point for our efforts”

Retrospective highlight reel running: “fighting the war against reality”

RED taking preorders for 4K REDRAY Cinema Player

redray_978x513_01Thanks to JL for giving me the heads up on this 4K media player by RED: The REDRAY 4K Cinema Player. The REDRAY player is capable of high frame rate (HFR) 3D at up to 60 fps per eye.

From RED’s site:

There is nothing like a true 4K 3D experience and REDRAY delivers with playback of 3D media at up to 60 fps per eye in 4K. Whether in a home theater or at the office, REDRAY’s flexible HDMI 1.4 connectors let you leverage the latest 3D and 4K LCD flat panel and projection display technologies.

RED describes REDRAY as “the first 4K Cinema Player to bring ultra high-definition content to your home, business or local theater using internet file based distribution.” It utilizes a 1TB internal drive and “advanced networking and low data rates” which allow for content distribution via FTP transfer or solid-state media.

In addition to providing content for Ultra HD flat panel displays and 4K projectors, REDRAY can also be used for “digital signage applications to drive up to four 1080P displays.”

RED’s site doesn’t specify a release date, saying that it’s “coming soon.”  You can preorder it for $1,450.

The only other 4K content delivery platform I’ve heard about so far is Sony’s server that comes preloaded with 10 4K-mastered titles, offered alongside the Sony Ultra HD TV.  But from what I’ve read it seems like Sony’s server is a closed platform: you can’t freely move files to and from it without someone from Sony doing it for you.  Sony is currently working on a 4K content download service, but whether it will offer non-Sony content remains to be seen.

JL also notes: “3D HFR 4K Projector to follow soon…”  From RED I assume. Once we have such a projector only a few small hurdles remain on the path to 3D HFR 4K content, primarily involving content distribution, digital file security, and date routing (although all of these could feasibly be overcome by operating entirely within RED’s ecosystem).  However it would be quite a sea change for the movie exhibition community to move to RED projection solutions when they currently use Christie, Sony, Barco, or NEC projectors / integrated media blocks.  I’m sure these companies won’t let RED be the only way to get 4K 60 fps 3D content to the screen.

A question for anyone who may know the answer: does HDMI 1.4 actually have the necessary bandwidth to deliver 4K content at 60 frames per second, in 3D? Wikipedia says that 4K at 24 fps in 2D is the maximum that HDMI 1.4 can handle, while RED’s site says that the REDRAY player can indeed deliver 3D content at 4K 60 fps per eye using “flexible HDMI 1.4 connectors.”

Is there anyone out there who can help clarify this?