1080p, 4k, 8k, and beyond


In this week’s post we will discuss the different flavors of high definition video and what these new names actually mean.  There have been many exciting advances in the world of digital television in the past couple of years and we are here to explain them to you.

First, let us go back to 1996 when the first on air broadcast was made in High Definition (HD)  by WRAL-TV.  This signal was sent out at 720p over the air.  Now, in 2019 we are rapidly moving toward a 4k video standard in the industry.  What do these numbers mean to the consumer.  Lets break it  down for you with a diagram:

As you can see there have been a number of video standards over the years with the latest  being both 2k and 4k.  These have both been advertised as Ultra-High Definition video, but as you can see there is still a difference between each, however some manufactures do not distinguish the nuances.  2k resolution is 2048 x 1080, or 2 times the resolution of 1080p and 4k resolution is 4096 x 2160 yet both have been referred to as UHD.   DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives), an organization founded by Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal and Warner Bros. Studios.has created these standards  for the  industry.  As for the standards, we will break them down below.

DCI 8k – 7,680 by 4,320

 DCI 4k – 4096 x 2160

 DCI 2k (UHD) – 3840 x 2160

 1080p – 1920 x 1080

 720p – 1280 x 720

So that was a quick explanation of the High Definition video formats offered today.  As for the “p” nomenclature within some of these standards, let us explain.  This has to do with the way each image, or frame of video is created.  In”p” or progressive scan, lines that form a picture are drawn in a single pass, while with interlaced or “i”, they are split into two separate passes called fields.  The standard is now “p” and interlaced is no longer used.


In addition to the resolution of the video, there is also what we refer to as color depth.  With each advance in resolution we also see the same bar being set with color and brightness reproduction.  For example, with 1080p there are 1024 different variations for each color as well as brightness.  This is called color depth.  While 1080p can produce over a billion different color combinations, DCI 2k, can create over 68 billion colors and this is a large reason why it looks so amazing.  In addition to color depth, this also applies to brightness and contrast.  


So, we learned how this will affect viewing experiences, but how does this translate to larger format images like projection and LED walls?  There has never been a better time to upgrade your projection equipment than now.  When projecting on large surface areas, pixels are enlarged exponentially.  With DCI 4k or 8k projectors you can view an image about 20′ wide without pixelation from approximately 2′ distance   That.. is… amazing!  DCI 4k and 8k implementation with LED walls of all shapes and sizes will benefit greatly from this new standard as well.  The color depth production is almost lifelike even from close distances.  

We hope that you found this information useful and as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.  That’s it for today, thanks for reading!

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