With more than twice that of 1080p, 4K resolution is the future of entertainment media. Technology is always being developed to make entertainment media more immersive, and the largest part of immersion in entertainment media is the quality of the picture being viewed. A good picture allows for good immersion, and good immersion allows for satisfied consumers. While at one time a mere 480p would have been considered a good quality of picture, consumers are quick to latch on to more impressive and more immersive mediums for their material. 4k video is the next step in the advancement of ultra high definition (UHD), and any system that uses it will have an edge on the competition in coming years.
4K Encoder and Decoder
Because the picture shown by 4k resolution is so detailed, it takes a very large amount of space and a very large amount of data to work with. Efficient 4k encoder and 4k decoder systems are critical. A 4k encoder is what can allow the material to be packaged and uploaded to the consumer quickly; a 4k decoder is needed to unpack and play the material. If either the 4k encoder or the 4k decoder are slow, frustration and disloyalty among consumers will result toward the devices they're using. It is not enough to be able to merely run 4k videos. The media must also be run quickly, or immersion will suffer.
Several different solutions for 4k encoders and 4k decoders are currently offered by several different companies. The standard for 4k encoding is set by the Digital Cinema Initiative, which reflects the standards set by the world's most prominent cinema studios (Including Universal and Warner Bros.) for ultra high definition media. A DCI compliant 4k encoder use architecture that ensures them to be capable of handling the massive amount of information required by 4k resolution with speed and efficiency. DCI compliance ensures a high level of quality and technical performance in a 4k decoder, ensuring smooth playback.
Not only does a 4k encoder allow for the processing of ultra high definition digital cinema to the standards specified by the DCI, the 4k encoder will allow for even more efficiency when processing lower resolutions. This is where much of the new technology's value will come from. A 4k decoder will be capable of reading ultra high resolution video at a decent speed, and a 4k decoder will be capable of reading 1080p resolution at break neck speed. While home cinema and theater consumers will be quick to jump on 4k resolution for the cutting edge video it provides, all consumers will find in 4k encoding and decoding the benefit of speed in the processing time for the resolutions they're used to working with.
It is for this reason that the development of programming capable of acting as a 4k encoder and 4k decoder has been described as a "game changer." The amount of time required for the transmission and processing of 1080p video, the current industry standard for services such as online video and social networking, can be halved.
High Efficiency Video Encoding, or HEVC (also known as H265 and X265 for its open source version) , is a standard set forth by a joint project between the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). The standard is much like the DCI, but focuses on the 4k encoder and 4k decoder rather than the architecture itself. By using larger sizes of coding tree units, the required bitrates of the program are reduced by half without sacrificing image quality. Subjective assessments by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have shown that the average reduction in bitrate usage by HEVC over the older methods of processing video to be over forty nine percent- an improvement in working speed, and therefore immersion, of about half.
HeyWatch's video encoding service will soon provide full support for the 4K Resolution through its video encoding software and video encoding API. So stay tuned.