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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 07, 2014

Will 4K Television Viewing Be a Game-changer or Just Another Passing Trend?

By Ryan Sartor, Content Quality Editor

Every year it seems there is a new method of viewing movies and/or television programs that aims to change the game. James Cameron successfully changed the landscape with the high-quality 3D theatrical movie viewing experience of Avatar in 2009, only to have a litany of imitators create cheap post-production 3D conversions of films, collapsing the marketplace just as it was beginning to take off. In 2012, Peter Jackson was decidedly less successful upon introducing 48 fps (frames per second) technology on the first Hobbit film. Whereas most films are screened at 24 fps, Jackson’s hope was that the added frames would create a greater amount of detail for viewers, though most simply found it distracting and oft-putting.

As greater resolution seems to be a big selling-point for many HD (high-definition) televisions, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced at the CES (News - Alert) 2014 conference that season two of House of Cards will be one of the first shows available in 4K.

Image via Wikipedia

Most HD televisions offer viewing in the 1080p range. As show in the image above, 4K technology offers almost four times the level of definition that a 1080p screen currently can give viewers. While actors may already be nervous about the further number of pores, blemishes and wrinkle lines viewable through this new technology, the push towards greater adoption may be a while off as the lowest-priced 4K television still goes for $3,500 or so.

House of Cards seems like an ideal showcase for 4K technology, regardless of how many people end up viewing it in that format. The show’s pilot episode was directed by David Fincher (an executive producer for the show), who’s been a huge proponent for HD technology, as opposed to film. Since 2007’s Zodiac, Fincher has been pushing HD filming technology, always striving to work with the latest cameras.

One of the benefits of 4K from an artistic perspective is that it picks up the slightest information and can give additional levels of information regarding light and dark shadowing, allowing cinematographers to be more subtle than ever before and not rely on more complex or restrictive lighting set-ups. While film purists may continue to decry the artificial, cold nature of such technology, a show as delightfully chilling as House of Cards will no doubt thrive in such an environment.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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