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Author Topic: Why 4K matters - and why it's not ready for prime time  (Read 9340 times)
feppe
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« on: August 26, 2013, 01:38:31 PM »
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The article Why 4K matters is right on all accounts. But the discussion about resolution ignores a critical deal-breaking factor: screen size.

Looking at Amazon's top 20 TVs, majority of them are 40 inches or smaller. At this screen size, you'd have to be at 5 feet or closer to the TV to get any benefit from the 4K TV according to this chart widely used by home theater enthusiasts. The largest TVs in the top 20 are 60 inches, and at that screen size you don't get a benefit until you are around 7'6" or closer to the screen. *

While I have no actual data to back me up, I'd say that most living rooms have setups which put the screen farther away than the latter, and certainly farther than the former. This results in little to no benefit from 4K. Note that these distances are the minimums, and you get the full benefit of 4K at much closer distances: 2'6" for 40" TV, and 4' for 60" TV - much too close for comfort for most people.

Even at IMAX movie screen sizes you need to be closer to the screen than most people are comfortable with: John Galt - of Panavision, so he has a vested financial interest in getting 4K adopted - says that you need to sit on first six rows to get a benefit from 4K (interstitial warning), when most people in the theaters I frequent sit back at the farthest 1/3 of the seats.

Manufacturers will start pushing 4K this year or the next aggressively, but TVs need to get much bigger, or projecting needs to become more common for 4K viewing to make sense. But 60" or larger 4K TVs will likely be prohibitively expensive for years, and projectors will remain a niche product. Even if manufacturers manage to realize economies of scale for larger screen sizes, it is highly questionable whether people will have room for or can and will dedicate 80" or more of wall space to a TV. So it will be up to marketers to convince the public to convert to 4K based on emotional grounds, as there's little to no objective benefit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for 4K. I've seen 4K in person, and it is absolutely stunning - although the viewing distance was much closer than people are accustomed to. At home my projecting screen is 86" which I view from around 10' which is comfortably in the 4K benefit zone. When my current projector dies, I'll probably get a 4K projector. But only if movie selection is much better, and content delivery has been sorted by then - two huge ifs.

4K is not ready for the general public, and I'm afraid won't make sense for many years.

* You can play around with screen sizes, viewing distances and your own visual acuity using this expanded 4K screen size calculator.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 06:52:07 PM »
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I was in the video dept. of a local shop recently picking up a couple things.  There was a Black Magic shuttle on the counter charging, a v2 I believe.  I asked the guy I was dealing with about it, whether it was a good device and the answer I got was that it was like anything else Black Magic makes; great if it works but a good chance it won't.  He said if you want to order anything BM, tell us to get 2 in... just in case.  Selling at the prices they do there have to be compromises somewhere.  It appears that the compromises come in manufacturing QC.

On a different note, thanks for linking the article.  Few people do that and it sometimes makes determining the point of reference a bit difficult.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 08:01:23 PM by BobFisher » Logged
Rhossydd
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 04:32:25 AM »
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The article Why 4K matters is right on all accounts.
Well not really;
To take some quotes from the articles
Quote
one can't even buy an SD TV any more
Well you can, they're still available.
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Flat screen HD TVs are now so ubiquitous and inexpensive that they are found in almost every home in the developed world.
This is a wild exaggeration. The highest percentage ownership I can find recent statistics for is North America where it's claimed 79% owned an HD capable TV last year. I believe the figure for Europe will be significantly lower than that. How many of those are actually connected to a source of HD content is not known.
You'd be making a big mistake if you thought that people buying 'HD capable' TVs are making the purchase because they want the quality of HD, very many simply want a bigger, thinner TV and won't bother watching any HD content at all, many don't have access to any HD anyway.
One of the biggest producers of TV content in Europe, Sky, still expect sport to be shot in 4:3 protect mode because so many subscribers haven't even got widescreen TVs yet, let alone watch in HD.

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So are 4K videos and movies in your entertainment future? I would say 'Yes' - definitely yes. The technology will lead and the consumer will follow.
Video standards are driven by TV broadcasting, which is still the most watched form of video. At the moment there's almost no professional 4k aquisiton kit in existance, but NHK are pushing their 'Super Hi-Vision' 8k system and it's in use now. Who'll win ?
Will consumers just fall into line and buy what the industry wants them to ? It didn't work with 3D.

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There are also those that say that unless you're watching a really large screen you won't be able to see the difference. I'll simply reply to that with the observation that I've seen enough 4K demos at trade shows and conferences that this is nonsense. This is akin to those that say why shoot with medium format if you're never going to make really big prints? This argument simply doesn't hold water for anyone who has seen the difference in even small prints for themselves.
There are two different fallacies here.
Judging a technology by trade show demonstrations is fraught with difficulties and opportunities to mis-represent things. Just because an imaging professional sees a difference, doesn't mean that the general public will see the difference or think it's worth the extra expence IF they can see it.
The second one is that a higher technical standard will drive market success, there are many examples to disprove that assertion. I speak to lots of people that don't see what all the fuss is about with current 1080 HD, if they can't apperciate 1080, higher resolutions won't appeal.





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hjulenissen
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2013, 05:16:42 AM »
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There are two different fallacies here.
Judging a technology by trade show demonstrations is fraught with difficulties and opportunities to mis-represent things. Just because an imaging professional sees a difference, doesn't mean that the general public will see the difference or think it's worth the extra expence IF they can see it.
The second one is that a higher technical standard will drive market success, there are many examples to disprove that assertion. I speak to lots of people that don't see what all the fuss is about with current 1080 HD, if they can't apperciate 1080, higher resolutions won't appeal.
There is also the possibility that if ever 4k becomes the standard, our current 1080p televisions may finally have access to live content that does justice to the display (although in a hardware and bandwidth-wasting way): relatively heavily compressed (per pixel) 4k content may look better on 1080p displays than does heavily compressed (per pixel) 1080p content, at least if the transition to 4k means higher total bandwidth and/or better lossy codecs.

-h
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bartjeej
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 07:18:43 AM »
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Well not really;
To take some quotes from the articles

Quote
There are also those that say that unless you're watching a really large screen you won't be able to see the difference. I'll simply reply to that with the observation that I've seen enough 4K demos at trade shows and conferences that this is nonsense. This is akin to those that say why shoot with medium format if you're never going to make really big prints? This argument simply doesn't hold water for anyone who has seen the difference in even small prints for themselves.
There are two different fallacies here.
Judging a technology by trade show demonstrations is fraught with difficulties and opportunities to mis-represent things. Just because an imaging professional sees a difference, doesn't mean that the general public will see the difference or think it's worth the extra expence IF they can see it.
The second one is that a higher technical standard will drive market success, there are many examples to disprove that assertion. I speak to lots of people that don't see what all the fuss is about with current 1080 HD, if they can't apperciate 1080, higher resolutions won't appeal.

There's one more fallacy. Much of the difference in medium format is due to the sensor size, not just due to the resolution. A 4K video sensor need not be larger in size than an HD sensor or an even smaller resolution sensor, hence, unlike the example of medium format photography, there's no inherent advantage to 4K other than resolution; and as was pointed out elsewhere, for the higher resolution to be visible you either need a fairly large screen or a fairly close viewing distance, as the human eye can only resolve a certain amount of detail.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 08:56:29 AM »
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Can you really shoot video consistently at a standard to show the difference between HD ands 4K without serious expense and time? Think hollywood rather than TV sets and certainly in comparison to run and gun video? I think all you'll be seeing is just how bad the focus pulling and hand holding really is.

Add to that the fact that content is being viewed more on ipads than huge screens and..
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 08:58:01 AM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013, 09:07:27 AM »
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I appreciate that higher resolutions are on the way, no one is going stop that. Movie theatres want it, some home viewers want it (many on this board), but I don't care much one way or the other, and I suspect I'm not alone. But I won't care unless I'm forced to upgrade when I don't want to, of course. When we went from analog to digital, I welcomed the thinner TV and new aspect ratio, I get all the TV signals I want off-air (live in Ottawa), but I am not happy that I lost the ability to record programming for later viewing. The ability to do that seems to be tied to paid-for boxes from either the cable companies or satellites, so what used to be free now would cost me money. I understand why that is, but regardless, I lost something. (I have heard of off-air PVRs, but have not looked into them.)

But my HD TV is only 32 inches (or maybe 36), perfect for my viewing room, and I am never going to live anywhere bigger, so the benefits of higher resolution don't mean much to me. I have rented movies from iTunes in both HD and SD and can't tell the difference. If I could them view side by side, I might be able to tell, but don't care enough to try to find out if that's true. When I'm watching Wallander or Inspector Lewis, minor gains in picture resolution are irrelevant, but since I can still save a buck by getting the SD version, that's ok with me. Others can buy whatever they want. I would not be happy, when 4K becomes ubiquitous, if the SD choice goes away and I have to pay more (and it WILL cost more, it always does) for what I don't want because the other choices disappeared. In many ways, DVDs reached a point of sufficiency for me, from the picture quality point of view. Given that so much viewing is occurring on iPads and laptops anyway, the consumer need for higher resolution is not so obvious to me. As MR says, though, the need to sell more TVs may be real enough and may be part of the driving force, I don't know whether he was being facetious when he wrote that.
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2013, 09:16:14 AM »
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Hi,

One thing to consider is that a HD screen is just 2 MP. 4K would be 8MP a great way to look at images from vintage APS-C cameras. 8K would be a good match for recent DSLRs and MFDBs, coming in at 32 MPix.

Best regards
Erik

I appreciate that higher resolutions are on the way, no one is going stop that. Movie theatres want it, some home viewers want it (many on this board), but I don't care much one way or the other, and I suspect I'm not alone. But I won't care unless I'm forced to upgrade when I don't want to, of course. When we went from analog to digital, I welcomed the thinner TV and new aspect ratio, I get all the TV signals I want off-air (live in Ottawa), but I am not happy that I lost the ability to record programming for later viewing. The ability to do that seems to be tied to paid-for boxes from either the cable companies or satellites, so what used to be free now would cost me money. I understand why that is, but regardless, I lost something. (I have heard of off-air PVRs, but have not looked into them.)

But my HD TV is only 32 inches (or maybe 36), perfect for my viewing room, and I am never going to live anywhere bigger, so the benefits of higher resolution don't mean much to me. I have rented movies from iTunes in both HD and SD and can't tell the difference. If I could them view side by side, I might be able to tell, but don't care enough to try to find out if that's true. When I'm watching Wallander or Inspector Lewis, minor gains in picture resolution are irrelevant, but since I can still save a buck by getting the SD version, that's ok with me. Others can buy whatever they want. I would not be happy, when 4K becomes ubiquitous, if the SD choice goes away and I have to pay more (and it WILL cost more, it always does) for what I don't want because the other choices disappeared. In many ways, DVDs reached a point of sufficiency for me, from the picture quality point of view. Given that so much viewing is occurring on iPads and laptops anyway, the consumer need for higher resolution is not so obvious to me. As MR says, though, the need to sell more TVs may be real enough and may be part of the driving force, I don't know whether he was being facetious when he wrote that.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2013, 09:17:44 AM »
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but I am not happy that I lost the ability to record programming for later viewing. ......(I have heard of off-air PVRs, but have not looked into them.)
PVRs work extremely well. The difference in quality between off-air and the  high quality HDD recording choices is very small. Plus with some boxes you can archive to Blu-Ray too.
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 09:32:15 AM »
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... 8MP ... vintage APS-C cameras...

"Vintage APS-C cameras", great line. What, am I old already?
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2013, 02:17:18 PM »
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One thing to consider is that a HD screen is just 2 MP. 4K would be 8MP a great way to look at images from vintage APS-C cameras. 8K would be a good match for recent DSLRs and MFDBs, coming in at 32 MPix.
Be careful though: AFAIK, a good full HD screen is "1920 x 1080 x 3", displaying all three colors at each of about 2 million locations, so capable of showing more in some respects than a 2MP Bayer CFA sensor gives. But definitely, stills on the screen are often viewed close enough that our eyes can see more than 1920x1080 delivers, even if the "2840x2160x3" of a 4K screen goes a bit beyond what we have a need for.

One difference between viewing prints and viewing on-screen: when we want to examine some detail of a large, sharp print, we might often move in close, far closer than "normal" viewing distance (by which I mean about the same distance as the screen width or screen diagonal), but if we want to explore part of an image on screen, we are more likely to zoom and pan, staying at about normal distance or further away. So even if our image files and prints can sometimes benefit from more resolution than is useful at normal viewing distance, screens probably do not. If so, then somewhere between 3K and 4K is probably all most of us will benefit from.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 03:13:40 PM »
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Hi,

What I see is that looking at my projected screen at comfortable viewing distance the image is quite fuzzy, depending on seating position. ideally, the pixel pitch on the screen should be smaller than the angular resolution of the eye. That obviously depends on viewing distance.

Best regards
Erik




Be careful though: AFAIK, a good full HD screen is "1920 x 1080 x 3", displaying all three colors at each of about 2 million locations, so capable of showing more in some respects than a 2MP Bayer CFA sensor gives. But definitely, stills on the screen are often viewed close enough that our eyes can see more than 1920x1080 delivers, even if the "2840x2160x3" of a 4K screen goes a bit beyond what we have a need for.

One difference between viewing prints and viewing on-screen: when we want to examine some detail of a large, sharp print, we might often move in close, far closer than "normal" viewing distance (by which I mean about the same distance as the screen width or screen diagonal), but if we want to explore part of an image on screen, we are more likely to zoom and pan, staying at about normal distance or further away. So even if our image files and prints can sometimes benefit from more resolution than is useful at normal viewing distance, screens probably do not. If so, then somewhere between 3K and 4K is probably all most of us will benefit from.
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 04:35:36 PM »
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Got no dog in this fight really. No objection to 4k cameras, theater screens & TVs...but no strong desire either. My current set is a 40"...it takes up just the right amount of space in my rec room, leaving enough space for more important things like guitars, amps & books. I do love displaying photos on the TV...one reason why I print less than before. My friends & family like this too. But they're not in any way pixel-peeping types (nor am I) so the extra res would/will have little practical benefit. The big plus with displaying photos on a TV or monitor is the transmissive nature of the image. Friends who mostly yawn at prints take notice when the same photo appears on the screen. There's a particular pop that you don't get from a reflective image...and this has little to do with spatial resolution.

-Dave-
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 05:35:11 PM »
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Hi,

What I see is that looking at my projected screen at comfortable viewing distance the image is quite fuzzy, depending on seating position.ideally, the pixel pitch on the screen should be smaller than the angular resolution of the eye. That obviously depends on viewing distance.
Oh yes: no question that from 'normal" still image viewing distance, 1920x1080 is going to be visibly imperfect to people with reasonably sharp vision --- I was just warning about the hazards of "equivalence". In fact, I have said elsewhere that screens with 4K horizontal resolution will have their greatest visible benefits with still images rather than video, so I look forward to them becoming more common and affordable.
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2013, 08:24:23 PM »
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I'll take 4K for my stills. Future video is a bonus.
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bcooter
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« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2013, 09:05:25 AM »
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I'll take 4K for my stills. Future video is a bonus.

Last night went to the Odeon in the west end and saw the Lone Ranger.  Great technique, lame script and direction, but there were twenty minutes of trailers and I was amazed at how beautiful and clear (mostly beautiful) they were.  They looked like they had depth, like an amazingly good art print.

I thought s__t, this must be how good 4k can be because I've seen a lot of 4k and before never noticed the difference, but this time . . . wow what an image and not just on one trailer or the movie but everything shown.

So when I got back late I had to look up what kind of system they use and it's called the  ODEON Digital 8000 HD and I thought s__t 8k, wow.

Turns out it's not 8k, or 4k but 2048 on the long side, it's just something there projector system does.  It crushes the blacks a little, adds a richness to the middle tones and opens the white up some.

I think it also helps that the screen wasn't that large for the theatre and the theatre was pitch black except for the screen.   So regardless of how it's shot, the display made a huge difference and I went back and looked at streaming HD trailers of the Lone and it looked nothing like the movie, so it must be the projector.

IMO

BC
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« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2013, 10:25:20 AM »
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Turns out it's not 8k, or 4k but 2048 on the long side,
There's the irony of some folk wanting cinematic looking video, when all they're actually watching when they go to the cinema is projected HDTV.

No many people complained that Star Wars III didn't look 'cinematic' enough when it was shot on the HDC-F950 which has the same 2/3" size chips that normal production broadcast TV cameras use. SWIII wasn't the only feature to use normal TV standards either, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CineAlta

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michael
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« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2013, 10:35:24 AM »
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There's the irony of some folk wanting cinematic looking video, when all they're actually watching when they go to the cinema is projected HDTV.

No many people complained that Star Wars III didn't look 'cinematic' enough when it was shot on the HDC-F950 which has the same 2/3" size chips that normal production broadcast TV cameras use. SWIII wasn't the only feature to use normal TV standards either, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CineAlta



The cinematic look has relatively little to do with system used to shoot, or system used to display. It's about lighting, frame rates, motion cadence, and DOF among others.

Michael
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bcooter
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« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2013, 12:58:42 PM »
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I've really never understood 24 fps, (I know I'm alone on this) because it was only used to save film, not for any other reasons.

I know everyone swears they can see a difference between 24 fps and 30 but I can't, unless I have titles that crawl across the screen in horizontal motion, then 24p kind of stutters 30 fps is smoother.

I'd rather edit in 30 fps or 29.97, but have finally given in and shoot everything at 24, because that is what everyone asks for.

I think the film look is over rated, but then again that's me.  For movies they've gone to digital intermediates for a long time and with all the post work they do, it's hard to tell what the original content was shot in.

Back when I started shooting motion and the best camera I could afford was a Canon xl1, I would trick out the footage by keying out certain tones, putting different color on different tracks and then drop a matte in the whole thing and put a darker track underneath and mimic light fall off from the lens.  Did it all in fcp and it took forever, but looked pretty cool.

When I'd go to the tape duping house (boy have those places disappeared) they'd ask did you shoot this 35mm or 16mm and I'd say mini dv they'd say naw, I'd say yes . . . .

As far as lens fall off, it's just what lenses you can put on a camera.  If you have a bunch of 1.2 primes then focus fall off, even in mft cameras looks good.  If you shoot at f8 then it looks more video like, at least that's my perception.

But I do think film has it's own inherent qualities, especially in being able to hold a look in different scenarios.

AS still photographers, morphing into film, I believe we can learn more from videographers than cinema film makers.  Videographers work more like us, they usually have smaller crews, smaller budgets and less time.  The good ones (and there are some very good ones) know how to use light to produce separation rather than just focus.

IMO

BC

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« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2013, 01:01:05 PM »
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The comments about theater projection are right on.

Local theaters are projecting gorgeous images with digital projectors with current technology. I know they are far outside our budgets but this (I believe) is largely due to the demands of projecting in a huge theater.

I get to photograph a lot of ultra -deluxe home theaters in my work and I have had the pleasure of watching  a number of Blu-Ray movies on them and can scarcely believe the excellence of the image. I am NOT a video theater geek and know little about the available gear but I can say that I have never seen images projected as brilliantly as I do today.
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