Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sony Demonstrates 4k Tech (ShoWest 2009)

Michael here.  Sony has been pushing their 4K technology heavily at ShoWest.  Tuesday evening's The Soloist screening was projected using a Sony 4K projector from a 4K Digital Cinema Package (which was scanned at 4K resolution from the original film negative).  Sony also has a demo of their 4K 3D projector on the tradeshow floor, where they are showing a variety of footage, including a reel from PACE and various trailers for 3D movies.

The image quality of The Soloist was amazing: vivid colors, great contrast, and an image resolution that fully captured the finest nuances of the original film--and all this on a very large screen.  4K certainly offers an improvement over 2K when you are viewing a 4K-sourced image on a large screen from a short distance.  The number of films capable of producing 4K DCP files should be increasing rapidly, as movie studios opt for more 4K digital intermediates for archival purposes.

The 4K 3D system (on which Sony is partnering with Real D) is actually projecting dual 2K images simultaneously, as opposed to the triple-flash system of 2K projectors.  Technically, the dual projection is supposed to be easier on the eyes/brain than the triple-flash process due to less black space between frames, but given the small screen and ambient lighting present at the Sony booth, it was hard for me to tell any difference.

As we reported, Sony has signed a deal with AMC to roll out their 4K projectors on approximately 5000 screens by 2012, pulling them within striking distance of the number of 2k DLP installations.

My one caveat about 4K is that I would rather see 2K content filmed and projected at 48 frames per second than 4K, given the choice.  Hopefully, both 4K and 2K projector companies, along with 3D system companies such as Real-D, Dolby, and XpanD will soon offer solutions for 48 frames per second projection in both 2D and 3D.

Click here for a great Variety interview with James Cameron where he explains the benefits of 48 frames per second 3D cinema.

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