Friday, July 19, 2013

8K Digital Technology Breathes New Life Into Classic Films

Blue File Folder Holding Film Reels
image from www.istockphoto.com
After looking closer at the future of television and 4K resolution, we were shocked to discover that 8K resolution is already a thing! While 4K tv’s can display near-film quality images at 3840 x 2160 pixels, or 4 times more than current 1080i high definition, it turns out that 8K technology is able to create an image at a jaw-dropping 7680 x 4320 pixels. This image is 16 times the resolution of 1080i. While the technology of 8K is not expected to reach the home theater market until 2020 or later, the technology is being used for a surprising purpose: restoring and remastering classic film prints.

Warner Home Video is already using the technology to bring many of their classic movies to Blu-ray DVD. Even though many of the original camera negatives of these films are stored in climate controlled vaults, they still show some degradation over the years. Original dyes and developing processes of the time were not foolproof, so many negatives experience loss of color and other signs of aging. With 8K technology, each frame of film is scanned into an 8K image. This image can then be color corrected, cleaned up or modified to better showcase the picture as it was meant to be seen.

Classic Warner Brothers movies that have gone through the 8K process and are now available on Blu-ray include Wizard of Oz, Ben-Hur, Gone with the Wind and North by Northwest to name a few. More titles from Warner Brothers and other classic studios are being restored with the 8K process even as we speak. Even on a current HD TV, the remastered films display vibrant colors, deep blacks and a crisp audio track that has been scrubbed to remove old pops and hiss.

The only drawback? Many of these films were shot at a 4:3 aspect ratio, so black bars were added for wide screen viewing. Despite that, you will be sure that the classic movie on your silver screen is sure to look as good as it did when it first came out in theaters.

Friday, July 12, 2013

4 Reasons that 3D TV is on Life Support

Retro TV with 3D Glasses and IV Drip
images from shutterstock.com
For the last couple of years, media outlets and TV manufacturers alike have been heralding 3D as the next new thing in television. Most of the televisions manufactured today have a 3d processor built into them, and with the addition of a $100 pair of 3D glasses, they deliver eye-popping 3D with select movies and TV channels. Unfortunately, performance in the marketplace has been much slower than anticipated. Some manufacturers, like ESPN and the BBC are even suspending development of their 3D programming for now.

We’ve spoke of 3D TV before when it was seen as the next big thing. What caused the sudden cold reception? Here are some reasons from experts in the industry:

4. Not Enough Content – Aside from a select number of movies and some dedicated TV channels, the amount of 3D content vs. non-3D is pathetically small. Many movies and TV shows just do not lend themselves to a 3D makeover (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas springs to mind). As for TV shows, the only dedicated 3D channel out there is Hong Kong-based Sky, which has announced that they are sticking with the 3D format.

3. The Benefits are Confusing – Customers as a whole have been reluctant to embrace 3D TV in their homes. Many people are confused as to how the process works, thinking that every channel is going to be 3D. Others balk at the high cost of glasses needed to watch 3D content ($100 per viewer can add up for large families). Others wondered if they would even be able to watch 2D shows on their 3D TV. IMO too much hype was given to the fact that people could watch 3D in their homes and not enough was used to explain how the new technology works.

2. People Were Underwhelmed – Everyone thought that the transition from big screen to living room screen would be seamless. The truth is that people were unimpressed with 3D even in the big theaters. Alyssa Ousler of InvestorPlace.com interviewed theatergoers and discovered that people felt like the 3D effect was not worth the higher prices. This sentiment seems to have transferred to home theater gear designed for 3D.

1. People Watch TV Differently – When people go to the movies, they usually sit and watch the show without doing more than munching on snacks. At home people watch TV much differently. Many people do other things like read, check their smartphones or surf the Internet. Others exercise or do housework while the TV is on. Our family even used to eat dinner while watching the tube. Think of how much harder these activities would be with a pair of 3D glasses on.

In spite of this downturn, it does not look like 3D is going away completely. 3D TV technology has already been incorporated into thousands of TV’s and could still be added in the future.