Pushing Resolution – The Path Toward 4k and 8k Video.

Written by Bill Davis on April 16th, 2013

Steve Owen of Quantel on the show floor at NAB.

Resolution is a double-edged sword. It makes our pictures clearer, more useful, and helps make them as “future-proof” as possible. But it also puts significant demand on our hardware systems in terms of processing power and storage.

At NAB 2013, the floor was buzzing with talk of 4k and even 8k resolution workflows, essentially handling super large image data streams and doing useful things with them.

One prominent company featuring this new workflow was long time broadcast stalwart Quantel who showcased their Pablo Rio software solutions for high-end real-time color correction and finishing.

The Quantel Pablo Rio works hand in hand with the most powerful and modern processing cards – such as the AJA Corvid Ultra and the NVidia Kepler K20 Tesla Card – to leverage real-time multi-layer image stream correction and coloring. It provides a full software based color correction system that can achieve stunning results rapidly and efficiently.

“4k is something that’s not just for movies any more, broadcast is increasingly interested in the format” according to Quantel Marketing Director Steve Owen.

And they’re working on the R&D necessary to scale this technology even further showing not just 4k live post workflows at NAB2013, but 8k workflows as well.

Why the overall push for so much resolution? Is it just about clearer pictures in our living rooms? While that’s one piece of the puzzle, it’s not the only one.

Remember, that in the early days of the digital still camera revolution, the big rush was to create images that were comparable with film.

But once that was achieved, engineers didn’t stop. The started looking not just at the overall number of megapixels that they could capture, but also at the amount of data they could store about each pixel.

And that’s what RAW and similar “pixel data rich” workflows are all about. In practical terms, it’s about how much latitude (exposure difference) and color data you can store about each pixel. If you can store a lot of pixel information, you can manipulate that data in post to achieve extremely useful image manipulation in post. You can change the picture to improve deficiencies, and to create customized looks that help your images stand out, and you can do it all fast, which is the lifeblood of broadcast workflows.

Creating masks and selectively improving parts of an image streams brightness and color can help focus the viewer on parts of the picture that might not be as prominent in the originally captured scene. And that’s a powerful capability.

But to allow this manipulation on moving pictures, requires a ton of processing horsepower and fast computing.

For a long time, we video folk could only dream of being able to process our material with tools that let us perfect our videos in a fashion similar to how still photographers could manipulate their massively multi-pixel still images via software in post.

Now, that the moving image side is catching up fast. And companies like Quantel are delivering systems that leverage the latest advances in graphic card hardware to provide just that.

Here comes the future – and it’s likely going to be colorful, bright and really, really clear provided you know how to use these amazing new tools.

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