May 17, 2022 - The promise and potential of 8K was hinted at more than a decade ago, when the late Pulitzer-prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert saw an 8K resolution video made of an analog 65mm film, a scan of a movie called Bakara.
"The restored 2008 Blu-ray is the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined," Ebert wrote.
That potential, though, goes far beyond brilliant aesthetics in a home video setting. The resolution that 8K provides has implications for everything from dazzling signage to critical military applications to medicine, and Crestron will be previewing what's to come for those attending InfoComm in June.
"We'll be displaying a retail signage application — a software-based solution with an 8K stream — pushing content to four large displays," says Crestron's Director of Commercial Product Marketing Michael DiBella. It's an early look at what Crestron's readying for later release — and a demonstration of the leading edge of the technology's direction.
Digital Signage — The Tip of the Spear
"We'll likely see 8K deployed for digital signage first," says DiBella. The vivid resolution of 8K will attract immediate attention, but it's terrific for interactive displays that create immersive experiences in a variety of form factors. "From there you'll begin to see adoption in corporate and university settings," DiBella adds. "Corporate America and universities are already investing significantly in these applications to help bring people back to the office and the campus," he says — and this is especially significant given the way video walls and signage are doing multiple duties in the modern environment.
"The amount of messaging we can deliver — well beyond a retail setting — is incredibly robust," says DiBella. Sending information to an entire organization, supporting an organization's brand, providing messaging from other departments, acting as a delivery medium of company news, and so on — the right displays can act as another touchpoint that helps workers or students feel connected and informed, and help drive the desire to return to the office.
And higher resolutions are true attention-getters. "8K is an evolutionary step in terms of visual output," DiBella notes.
More Pixels, Better Images
The reason it's evolutionary (and revolutionary) stems from some pretty basic math: an 8K image is four times the resolution of 4K — which means four times the clarity and detail. "This means you can clearly read branding on a shirt from a distance in retail setting," says DiBella. "It means you see the ball or puck clearly from further away in a sports application or discern tiny details on government footage in a control room." A higher pixel count means greater clarity — and greater clarity creates a more lifelike experience. "It's also going to give gamers — not to mention esports spectators — an even better view of the action." The jumbotrons that round out the experience for fans of both virtual and physical sports are about to see a major upgrade in image quality.
There's something of a "demand loop" created by increased resolutions: An image with more pixels brings a sharper, clearer image to larger screens — which, in turn, helps drive demand for bigger displays. Instead of chaining smaller displays together for large installations like video walls, one screen will be able to provide the sharp image quality that's needed for these "monumental" effects. Additionally, "8K will enhance the video shooting and editing process, enabling better content and effects — content creators have more pixels to play with," DiBella explains.
The Right Application for the Resolution
The other bonuses from 8K technology are much like what 4K provided — but better. "We'll again see color enhancements along with an increase in pixels," says DiBella. That clarity further translates to lessened eye strain.
There comes a point, however, where the upgrades become overkill in one regard: "At some point our eyes cannot process the amount of color the display is projecting," says DiBella, but: "That's why the 8K value is really about size. A giant display will give the same clarity from 20 yards that you'd have five yards from a 50-inch 4K display."
Of course, as of this writing, there's not much 8K content to display — which means upscaling is a big part of the equation. As far as how ubiquitous 8K will ultimately become, DiBella has an interesting take: "I think there will be decent adoption but not through the applications we're accustomed to. I really think there will be more detailed conversations about just what spaces need what resolution. A small space can likely get away with a high-quality, 42-inch 1080p display. There's a broad range of spaces in the middle that creates massive demand for the right 4K solution. We'll see 8K deployed first in those training rooms and large auditoriums I've mentioned, and of course, your niche applications like video walls and signage."
"Ultimately, it will be another amazing tool in the box for our integrators," says DiBella.