For years and years, content producers knew that High Definition video was coming, and entire studios revamped their workflows to accomodate HD. Not that long ago, HD started rolling out to the public, in two sizes: 720 and 1080. For those who haven’t yet upgraded to HD video in their living room, those numbers basically are a count of the number of horizontal lines being projected on the screen. Standard Definition television is 480 lines in the US, 570 in the UK, and 720 and 1080 produce much higher quality pictures...if you watch something in true 1080 HD like a Blu-Ray movie, the picture is really mindblowingly detailed, better than double the vertical resolution of the SD video we watched for all these years.
Well, forget 1080. Web video is about to blow that out of the water.
YouTube recently added the ability to upload so-called 4K video to the web. 4K video is only capable of being shot by very, very specialized cameras such as the Red One, and there is very, very little chance that your computer will even play it properly. It takes a massive amount of computing power to handle decompressing and displaying 4K video, and even if your computer can handle it, your display can’t. You would need a monitor that could display 4096 x 2304 pixels, roughly 4 times the size of most desktop monitors. Take a look at the relative difference between the size of a 1080 display and a 4K display:
Even Google, in their announcement of YouTube going live with 4K, couldn’t keep from trying to put it into perspective:
To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.
Check out a demo page of YouTube videos shot in 4K. When you start one playing, on the control bar across the bottom of the video, switch the video resolution from 360 (one of the default resolutions for YouTube) to "Original", which will be the 4K version. See if your system can play them with anything like good results.
It is hard to describe the sheer audacity of 4K video, but its here, and in the style of most other technologies, it will only get cheaper, easier to deploy, and more accessible. So if you thought the 720 HD video capture on your iPhone 4 was awesome, just wait a few years. 4K will make your HD camera look like your grandpa’s Super 8.