What Comes After High-Def? Higher Def!

Now that the HD transition is finally kicking into gear friends and colleagues who have been around long enough to know that something new is always around the corner have asked, what comes after high-definition? And answer of course, is higher-definition.

As Sony is pushing 1080p from the "lens to the living room" with its 1080p digital cameras, digital cinema projectors and full 1080p consumer displays, the company is also paving the way for the next generation of HD at 4K resolution.

4K equates to a pixel array of 4,096 x 2,048. That's four times the pixel count of our current 1920x1080 HD sources.

In the last week Sony announced that its 4K SXRD digital projection system is ready to go to market. According to Reuters, Sony's 4K system, which includes a projector and the computer server/players that store and playback the digital cinema movie files, costs only about 10% more than the $90K that an average 2K (1920x1080) digital cinema rig is reported to cost. Announcements of sealed deals to install these SXRD projectors into movie theaters are expected to follow.

During this year's Home Entertainment Show members of the press were treated to screening some 1080p native material on one of these 4K projectors (upconverted of course) at the Sony Pictures lot down in Culver City, including scenes from the Adam Sandler movie Click, which was captured on Sony's 1080p digital camera system. The image was sharp and crisp, but also rich and somewhat film-like, as though film grain was somehow being mimicked by the system. In short, even 1080p native material looked absolutely terrific on the 4K system.

Also this week, news out of the ShowEast exhibition was that Sony demonstrated a 4K digital camera and storage system. A Hollywood Reporter story on the subject quoted Sony executives as estimating the camera/storage system as being ready for prime time in two to three years. Sony claims that this 4K capture system, combined with a 4K digital cinema projector will offer quality that rivals 65mm film in the theater.

No word yet on when the studio will start taking pre-orders for your favorite movies re-mastered at 4K!