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NAB: “8K as easy as 2K in 10 years”

In ten years, 8K will be as easy to do as a 2K HD production is now, according to speakers at the SMPTE Digital Cinema Technology Summit in Las Vegas, who are already beginning to work at the higher resolution and frame rates.

“It will be as easy to do an 8K show a decade from now as it is to do 2K HD production now,” predicted Jim Houston, principal, Starwatcher Digital, at the SMPTE Digital Cinema Technology Summit in Las Vegas.

The question of how best to handle the tidal wave of pixels emerging from technologies capable of generating higher frame rates, wider colour gamuts, greater dynamic range, and higher resolutions is taxing the tech teams at post facilities, he said.

“From our perspective in the post world we are not fearful of any new proposals – they can all be handled given enough time and money – although some are too expensive to be practical just yet.

As an indication of the size of data that facilities are being asked to tackle, film dailies are commonly of the order of 2.5TB of data per day for a standard 2K show. By contrast an 8K feature at 120fps might average 187TB per day of new data.

“Consider that with a typical dailies workflow of 2.5TB a day you are looking at a two hours transfer time and in 4K its 8 hours, then in HFR 8K you could be looking at 16 hours of transfer per day of shooting. So it’s clear you are going to get backed-up with work very quickly,” he said.

“If you look at how data rates of network bandwidth and optical transmission are increasing then, to do an 8K show as easily as it is today to do a show in 2K or 4K, we are looking at the order of 10-12 years.”

FotoKem Chief Strategy Officer, Mike Brodersen said his facility was currently handling a 4K multi-camera show and generating a volume of data “that is already becoming difficult”.

“Instead of a normal show average of 1-2TB a day, on some days we are managing 6-7TB, so how we would deal with 8K I just don’t know. That said, we are testing 8K images from an F65 (pictured) for one client just to see what we can achieve.”

With an 8K debayer pattern becoming available from Sony in the summer “there will be a director out there who will decide to use it” added Houston.

Adrian Pennington