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.

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?

High frame rate sample videos from RED

A still image taken from a 60 fps action scene (credit RED)

RED has an excellent article making the case for higher frame rates, pointing out the enhanced clarity and smoothness, sense of immediacy, diminished blur and judder, ability to capture clearer still frames, brighter 3D (thereby reducing eyestrain and fatigue), and, perhaps most succinctly, the enriched cinematic experience resulting from a world on the screen that looks ever closer to reality.

The article provides a bit of history and context as well as rebuts common arguments against HFR (such as the old stand-bye of “it will look like that weird motion interpolation on the TVs I see at Best Buy.”  In response to 24 fps traditionalists, they point out that high frame rates are indeed a new thing, and they are meant to look different.  24 fps isn’t going to inevitably go the way of the dodo just because HFR projection tech is available. HFR is another tool in the toolkit: future movies could be projected at variable frame rates (as Douglas Trumbull has suggested) depending on how the director wants each shot to look.

Best of all, the essay includes some of the highest quality high frame rate sample videos available to date, providing 3 comparison example videos at both 24 fps and 60 fps (let’s hope Cameron indeed chooses 60 fps for the Avatar sequels!). Check them out at RED’s site in the context of the article, download the zip files here (panning comparison), and here (2 action scenes comparison). Alternatively, you can download them individually below:

panning shot at 24 fps: http://red.cachefly.net/learn/panning-24fps-180.mp4

panning shot at 60 fps: http://red.cachefly.net/learn/panning-60fps-180.mp4

action shot#1 at 24 fps: http://red.cachefly.net/learn/action-24fps.mp4

action shot#1 at 60 fps: http://red.cachefly.net/learn/action-60fps.mp4

action shot#2 at 24 fps: http://red.cachefly.net/learn/action2-24fps.mp4

action shot#2 at 60 fps: http://red.cachefly.net/learn/action2-60fps.mp4