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4K Film Technology a Challenge for Animators

Consumers are becoming more interested in modern technologies which in turn, has created a rise in demand for 4K services, both at the cinema and at home.

4K technology allows screens to deliver four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD. This equates to eight million pixels compared to two million pixels. It allows the screen to display a clearer picture with a higher level of detail and texture and an “almost photographic emulsion of smoothness” for the best viewing experience possible.

Originally, 4K was only intended for cinematic use, however in recent months, manufacturers have been producing TV’s and screens capable of supporting 4K content for the home user. Despite a current lack of content suitable for these TV’s, home users have been investing in compatible kit in the anticipation media companies’ produce more 4K content. Such is the case that the BBC and BSKYB have already confirmed they are set to produce more 4K content with higher frame rates, a greater contrast and a wider colour spectrum.

In April 2014, Netflix an Internet streaming organisation produced a whole series of 4K content to the home user. This meant that any TV’s at home that could hold 4K content, could automatically stream series 2 of the US drama- ‘House of Cards’.  Sony has also released a selection of ‘Mastered in 4K’ branded Blu-rays however most standard Blu-ray players are unable to optimise this content and hold the wider colour range.

Despite this, film makers have taken note of this rapidly growing trend and are thinking about how it could affect their productions. Current animated movies are made to be viewed at 24 frames per second (fps) and at resolutions of about 2K. “But the advent of technologies such as 4K and frame rates of 48fps and higher means that the resolution of animated films will have to be substantially increased” said Bruno Mahe, whose studio was behind films including The Lorax, Despicable Me and Minions.

Unfortunately, current material can’t be automatically scaled up to bridge the gap; the content quality isn’t suitable and animators will need to produce characters and scenes that are more detailed so they look suitable at those higher resolutions and film speeds.

4K content AvatarWhen animators produce their content and render characters and scenes, a large amount of high-resolution data is produced which can take up enormous amounts of memory. To keep up with demand, media companies will need a suitable storage structure with faster reactions in order to maintain real-time playback to the workstation from the storage base.

One production company that has already set up its network ready for 4K production is Rushes. They have done this using a Brocade Ethernet fabric to ensure their network has the elasticity and resilience needed to boost network capacity to meet increasing bandwidth demands.

Brocade networks have also been the network of choice for other production companies such as Lucas Film Ltd (Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and WETA Digital who were the production house behind the pioneer of 3D films, Avatar.

If you would like to know more about Brocade networks and how they can help take your company forward into the future, speak to our certified Brocade engineers.

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