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4K: think outside the box

When you think about using 4K technology for displays, don’t just think about showing a high-resolution image inside a rectangle. And don’t be surprised to find that 4K solutions cost less than you think. These were the messages from Sean Westgate, technical director at Green Hippo, a specialist in real-time image processing and video playback tools.

Speaking at an event entitled ‘4K in the real world,’ at the Commercial Solutions Theatre, Westgate explained that there was a difference between 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) and ultra high definition (3890 x 2160). “People are often relaxed about what terms they use, so if someone says 4K, ask them what they mean.”

He added that many people think about 4K purely in terms of a 4K television. “In many environments, you don’t care about a 16×9 aspect ratio, but how it fits in the space or event,” said Westgate. “People stop thinking that video is just a rectangle. You can paint many types of canvases.”

One example is pixel wrapping, such as wrapping an image or texture around a building. In many cases, the original content will be in 4K, but then split into multiple HD streams. “4K processing doesn’t necessarily mean having a 4K display” he added.

The demand for higher resolution displays is partly driven by sales of HD content, 4K TVs, and technologies like Apple’s Retina, added Westgate: “People expect HD displays, and our job is to meet these expectations”. The good news for clients wanting to use 4K technology was that: “The pixel count per project is going up, but the price per display is coming down.”

“When you talk to many people about 4K, the common conception is that you need a 4K projector and a 4K display,” Westgate told ISE Daily, “But in the event space, you can use 4K by breaking it down into discrete chunks. The tools, infrastructure and displays to do it are there. And they are very cost-effective.”