4K, UHD, has it arrived? Is it closer? Will it arrive? It is certainly a reality but its degree of penetration depends on the perspective of each of the following:
Display and TV Manufacturers: yes, it’s here (4K), and integrated in televisions. We have a selection of TVs with high dynamic range (HDR); and it has been showcased at the last CES show.
Platforms, access and OTT service providers: it is almost there. We are still refining the flows of contents, improving the capillarity of the network to increase the number of high-speed accesses in order to provide enough broadband, preparing for the adaptation of internal infrastructures, so that investing in them is feasible in business models. We have pilots, tests on how to adapt networks and needs to ensure quality in UHD experiences. We also work to acquire contents and rights to make de difference with UHD contents.
Broadcasters: until we have DVB-T2 broadcasting, we do not consider it to be for large open audiences. For now, it is only available through OTT platforms. So, we will wait and see, but there is still a long way to go. 4K is at its early stages, and 4K with HDR and 8K are queued to stand in. Our infrastructures are large and every new technological implementation requires extensive work and investment for both flow and volume of content management. Furthermore, updating infrastructures towards high definition has only partly been completed. The last changes in legislation and regulation would have been a good chance to lay the groundwork for this technological shift, which other neighboring countries have already envisaged. Satellite is the only one available at the moment for large population coverage in UHD, with reasonable broadcasting costs. Those operating with it have better chances of reaching large audiences.
Content creators and producers: 4K is fascinating; high dynamic range (HDR) even more, and surround sound is very appealing. We have first-generation means of production, with promising developments and initiatives; the time to market is shorter than with earlier technologies, but with considerable investment efforts. This all makes us particularly cautious because hasty decisions can condition adaptation to future needs, when demand for production is higher and UHD content management models are more consolidated and efficient.
There are many initiatives in content creation. Many of them (documentaries, film releases, musical shows, etc.) have an extra value in UHD for new created ones, and give a new life to those that are not new but are changed to UHD. Advertising and digital signage are also interestingly requesting UHD content.
The challenges and risks faced by each of the stakeholders involved in this first phase manage to gather valuable experience, which is a guaranteed value for professionals and companies.
2.-But, what is 4K?
4K is in fact nothing less than doubling the system’s 2K resolution (both horizontally and vertically), used in films. By extension, 4K is also used in the world of television to refer to doubling (both horizontally and vertically) the resolution of high definition television. But this has only just begun. In the next few years resolution will be increased to 8K.
What will we get in our homes? The fact is that if we do not increase the screen’s size, very little. The good thing about the system is that we can have larger screens with the same pixel size, and this means that the optimum viewing distance is smaller than in the case of standard definition or high definition.
From an artistic point of view, reducing by half the distance to the screen and the screen size means that it will be impossible for the viewer to pay attention to everything that is happening in the screen at the same time and, therefore, the viewing of audiovisual material will be more subjective. In other words, it brings home the cinema experience.
From a technical point of view, this increase in resolution and wider viewing angle is going to need a number of tools that make up the Ultra High Definition (UHD) standard.