Image Science Foundation Unravels 4K: Does Color Trump Resolution?

Ever since the failure of 3D as a long-term movie and TV sales driver, both Hollywood and the consumer electronics industries have determined that 4K, or Ultra HD, provides the best opportunity to drive video product sales.

Since both industries began to focus on 4K, momentum for the format has been steadily gaining steam. Highlighting that momentum was the buzz it generated at two of the biggest tradeshows of the year — CES and InfoComm.

Both events featured a number of 4K products and the interest for the format on each respective show floor was noteworthy.

Taking a step back from all of the 4K enthusiasm is Joel Silver, president of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and one of the A/V industry’s preeminent video experts. For well over a year, Silver has been cautioning installers that there are other fundamentals in place that should take a higher priority than resolution.

Color Space Advances Key to Quality

According to Silver, the underpublicized part of the impending video industry’s format updates is the expanded color gamut that could become a part of their final specification.

“The 2020 color space (the International Telecommunications Union Radio Communications ITU-R BT.2020 recommendation) is going to be great for laser color space, but it will be difficult for older TVs.”

“Flat-panel TVs will be expensive,” he continues. “The broadcast space already uses [the spec]. I have a 17-inch HP laptop that was part of a venture with DreamWorks and it includes Rec 709 capabilities and the Adobe Color Space that is much better than HD. The laptop also does DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives).”

“I can in a two-minute demo show pictures in three different color spaces. Improvements in color gamut are instantaneously superior to the average viewer. Showing Adobe Color Space over Rec 709 is noticeable. Glancing at 4K, the average person doesn’t see [a noticeable difference] because it is just resolution.”