8K vs 4K TVs: Double-blind study by Warner Bros. et al reveals most consumers can’t tell the difference

    I’ve lengthy maintained that the worth of 8K shows just isn’t within the elevated pixel depend. There’s a restrict to the decision that people can discern on video screens at regular seating distances, and rising the pixel density past that restrict provides no benefit.

    But the place, precisely, is that restrict? More particularly, do 8K shows provide any profit when it comes to perceived element in contrast with 4K beneath regular viewing situations? In collaboration with Pixar, Amazon Prime Video, LG, and the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), Warner Bros. just lately addressed this query in a well-designed, double-blind research to see if individuals might discern a distinction between 4K and 8K with a wide range of content material.

    For the needs of this text, “4K” refers to a decision of 3840 x 2160, and “8K” refers to a decision of 7680 x 4320. As you would possibly already know, these definitions are one thing of a misnomer; to be technically correct, “4K” actually means 4096 x 2160 and “8K” means 8192 x 4320. But these phrases have been coopted by the consumer-electronics {industry} to use to the corresponding tv resolutions, in order that’s how I’ll use them right here.

    Content choice and preparation

    A complete of seven clips have been ready, every in native 8K and about 10 seconds lengthy with no compression. Two clips from Warner Bros.’ Dunkirk (8K scans of 70mm movie) included a closeup on a personality and a large shot of the seashore. Animated clips from Pixar’s Brave and A Bug’s Life have been rendered in 8K for this research. And two clips from the Amazon live-action collection The Tick—one in a cave and the opposite in a spaceship—have been shot in 8K on a Red digital-cinema digicam, as was a clip of nature footage shot by Stacey Spears.

    All seven clips have been additionally natively HDR and encoded in HDR10. Fig. 1 lists the HDR10 statistics for every clip.

    Warner Bros.

    Fig. 1: All seven clips have been encoded in HDR10. This desk reveals the MaxFALL (Maximum Frame Average Light Level) and Max CLL (Maximum Content Light Level) of every clip. As you’ll be able to see, the clips characterize a variety of common and most gentle ranges.

    Each clip was additionally downscaled to 4K utilizing the industry-standard Nuke post-production software program. Then, the 4K clips have been “upscaled” again to 8K utilizing the Nuke cubic filter, which principally duplicates every pixel 4 instances with only a little bit of smoothing so the ultimate picture is successfully 4K inside an 8K “container.”

    Why upscale the 4K variations again to 8K? Because each variations can be performed on the identical 8K show in a random method (extra in a second). In order to play the 4K and 8K variations of every clip seamlessly with out HDMI hiccups or triggering the show to momentarily present the decision of the enter sign, each needed to “look like” 8K to the show.

    Test gear and process

    The show on which all clips have been proven was an LG 88Z9 88-inch 8K OLED TV, which I reviewed here. All clips have been loaded onto a Windows PC with an Intel 18-core i9 CPU, SSD RAID storage, and Nvidia 1080Ti GPU. A BlackMagic 8K Pro video interface despatched the video by way of 4 12G SDI hyperlinks to 4 AJA Hi5-12G SDI-to-HDMI converters, which output HDMI 2.0. The 4 converters despatched HDMI 2.0 to an Astrodesign SD-7075, which transformed them right into a single HDMI 2.1 bit stream that was despatched to the TV.

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