In 1965, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel made an observation that the number of transistors within a square inch on integrated circuits had doubled each year since their invention. At that time, he predicted that processor power would double every two years, leading to rapid advancements in technology. Fast forward 52 years to 2017, and Gordon Moore’s theory has held consistently true. Exponential increases in processor power have led to innovations in computing, cell phone technologies and video resolution, just to mention just a few. Moore’s prophetic postulation is known today as Moore’s Law. While it is not a scientific law like gravity, technophiles everywhere are familiar with the enduring theory and look expectantly for the next round of innovations and advancements.
In just the last two decades, the video world has seen incredible leaps forward in camera technology with regard to image quality and resolution. SD single CCD chip cameras quickly gave way to 720p HD models, which gave way even more quickly to 1080p, seemingly overnight. 2K was soon eclipsed by 4K and now, even before most videographers have fully embraced and integrated 4K production, 8K is already making the technology headlines, and those who subscribe to Moore’s Law are not surprised.
In just the last two decades, the video world has seen incredible leaps forward in camera technology with regard to image quality and resolution.
Measuring at 7680 x 4320 pixels (also known as 4320p), 8K video is the newest and highest ultra high definition resolution to date. The Full Ultra HD format boasts 16 times more pixels than full HD and four times more than 4K. As with all new technologies, it comes at a cost. One of the most talked about cameras, Red’s WEAPON 8K with a HELIUM 35.4 Megapixel CMOS, starts at $49,000 dollars without lenses and accessories. Of course the bigger issue with producing 8K video is the reality that camera technology is far out in front of display tech, so even if you shoot it, very few people can watch it back at full resolution.
YouTube posted its first 8K video back in 2015, though at that time almost no one could watch it. Full ultra high def 8K videos titled “Ghost Towns,” “Peru” and “Patagonia” are among a growing collection of YouTube videos produced at FUHD that you can peruse for fun and inspiration.
Many savvy producers cite the benefits of shooting 8K, even if their final distribution format is at 1080p. The Full Ultra HD raw footage can be cropped-in on to yield multiple compositions from a single wide shot. Still photographers are also fired up about using 8K motion pictures as a source for extracting high resolution still images for photography.
So what are we as makers of media to do with 8K? Do we need to scrap all of our current production gear and mortgage our homes to purchase pricey 8K workflows? While early adopters who have deep pockets may be safe in jumping into 8K, it isn’t time for most of us to make that move yet. For now, let’s watch with interest as technological advances continue to increase exponentially. One of the greatest things about the effects of Moore’s Law is that faster and faster adaptation of new standards by consumers has lead quickly to lower and lower prices. Before you know it, you may be able to pick up a new 8K camera from any number of manufacturers for what a 2K camera costs now. Of course, by then we’ll be talking about 16K or 24K video.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.