At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, talk of Ultra HD was on everyone’s lips. A handful of Ultra HD sets were even on display. No question, Ultra HD provides stunning images—at least when displaying content created in the new “4K” video format. Unfortunately, 4K content is virtually non-existent.
So far, only a handful of feature films have been shot with cameras capable of 4K, including “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Prometheus” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. That is hardly surprising given the amount of work involved. Insiders reckon making a full-length digital feature in 4K is equivalent to producing six ordinary 2K films.
Even so, some 17,000 cinemas around the world now have digital projectors capable of showing 4K films. So, if and when Hollywood upgrades wholesale to the new video standard, cinema-goers will be able to decide whether 4K is worth the premium they are bound to be charged.
The recent flood of 3D films largely failed that test. The lacklustre sales of 3D television sets suggest they are now doing the same. Will 4K suffer the same fate? It is far too early to say. But, for sure, 4K television—far more than 4K cinema—faces some formidable challenges.