4k or QHD, as it’s called by monitor and television manufacturers, is being made out as a pretty big deal. The amount of detail in 4k footage is a whopping 8 times that of full 1080p HD. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll notice it. The reason why HD and Full HD were big deals in early millennial pop culture isn’t because it was new and expensive, (like 4k is for now) but because the detail in the image was drastically different than that of VGA(640×400) and PAL (768×576) which simply couldn’t manage to create lifelike images. Now that HD can create realistic scenes, what advantages does 4k offer us?
When introduced the Full HD standard provided enough pixels to offer amazingly vivid and crisp images to the eye, through means of increased resolution. HD made a difference no matter if it was a handheld device, Tv, or computer monitor. It was simply better than previous standards and their respective resolutions which had failed to create crisp images. Although 4k is 8 times more detailed than Full HD, it does not seem as big of a jump as SD was to HD(which was also around 8x the detail). [Denison] This is because HD already offers us crisp images, the increased pixelation of 4k is largely unnoticed unless the viewer is watching a large screen at a very close. This is because most devices do not benefit from the added resolution as the eye can only perceive fine details of a few mm before the mind literally removes it. [Diaz] Because of this though 4k can be used to make even larger televisions and screens meant to be viewed up close. This is why many reviewers note that there is not a great difference when watching 4k TV shows over full HD.
This same idea is expressed through the science behind Apple’s retina line which holds that 326ppi is enough to fool the eye to not perceive pixels up to 6 inches close to your face. [Bayon] The math behind this depends largely on the size of display and average viewing distance, you can see if your display is “Retina” quality or not through this retina test. Now that you have a better idea of the science behind pixel quality, imagine a Tv with a high PPI (pixels per inch) that is around 6 feet away? The amount of information your eyes would receive would be about as much as Full HD. This means that video display technologies have reached a “perception filter”. The scientific principles of this can be explained through what is called the nyquist limit. An example of which can be described in terms of Audio Standards. The CD studio standard for sampling a digital recording is 44.1KHz or about 2 times the amount of frequencies a human can hear. Since humans can hear up to 22khz the sampling rate is 44.1k so the wave can fluctuate the full 22khz in both directions. Now there are newer standards such as 48k, 96k, and 192k that claim drastic advantages over the 44.1 format. Although the added resolution is ideal for pitch or time stretching of the audio in a professional environment, we will never technically hear the advantages of the added resolution. The reason why 44.1k was used as a sampling rate for music isn’t because of some patent or inventor, but rather we cannot physically hear any frequencies not between 20-22,000 Hz. In fact most humans can barely reach 15khz before drop out. Now for the first time, we have reached that level in video. Where the amount of data we can display exceeds the amount we can perceive. This wont stop manufacturers from marketing to you the same plea they did during the jump from SD to HD though.
Now 4k isn’t totally pointless as TV’s over 60 inches will benefit from the extra pixels, if only very little. On the production side 4k is both a fading gift and a nightmare. 4k means producers can capture a scene in 4k and effectively crop close scenes of areas zoomed 8x in the shot. [Cronk] Allowing producers great freedom when preparing scenes with non-linear editing. The problem with this is, as the push for 4k goes on producers won’t be able to use the x amount of HD shots they cropped from a 4k video because now more consumers are expecting native 4k content all around. Although up sampling HD to 4k will certainly do many consumers have a negative annotation around this because they bought a new hi-res screen for the new hi res content. 4k is a nightmare for producers also in the fact that 4k implementations have been weaker to catch on than HD, forcing many film companies who made the jump early to face many hurdles such as lack of distribution, space difficulties, as well as costly displays and cpu/gpu combos required for 4k playback. [Q Artis]
So why is 4k not doing as well as HD did when it debuted? Well that is most likely due to content distribution, 4k screens have cheaper options than HD did at first but very little content to play. Of course consumers may also realize the limited advantage of having one, as HD already provides adequate color, full audio spectrum coverage, and realistic images without pixelation in most situations. 4k just doesn’t have as much (noticeable) bang for their buck.
I believe the current Pop technology culture definition that surrounds the standard is the reinforcement theory. As explained by sociologist Joseph Klapper; “Klapper argued that people’s attitudes, beliefs and behavior were more likely to be influenced by their family, schools, communities and religious institutions. According to Klapper, the only time the media can influence people is when the media introduces a new idea or concept..” This is especially true for 4k as manufactures frame the technology as revolutionary, yet the masses have yet to catch on. Rather they are more likely to upgrade to modernize their home or impress their neighbors, family, or coworkers. This goes to show they are more directly influenced by other people than the mass media. 4k will catch on but for now repeated attempts to frame 4k as more radical jump than HD to SD are just plain wrong. Despite the marketing used it’s evident that the consumers are more likely to use the new standard as those close to them utilize it as well, effectively reinforcing the consumers own thoughts about the necessarily of 4k.
Q Artis, Anthony. “Cinematography- The Problem With 4K.” Mastering Film. N.p., 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.
Cronk, Steve. “The Benefits of 4K Video.” Aberro Creative. Aberro, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.
Diaz, Jesus. “The Cutting Edge of a Knife Is Totally Invisible to the Naked Eye.”Sploid. Gizmodo, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.
Bayon, David B. “The Science of Retina Displays.” PC PRO. N.p., 5 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.
Denison, Caleb. “Yes, You Really Can See a Difference between 4K and 1080p.” Digital Trends. N.p., 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.