Upscaling Blu-Ray 1080p to 4K Ultra HD 2160P
Upscaling a 1080p Blu-ray disc,
or some other source,
to 2160P 4K Ultra HD is a stopgap measure as all of those extra
pixels have to be interpolated. Given that a Blu-ray disc has 1080
x 1920 pixel content, the 2160 x 3840 of 4K Ultra HD has exactly 4
times the number of pixels. So while in theory each pixel of 1080p
could become 4
pixels of 2160p 4K Ultra HD—with interpolation the pixel pattern of 1080p becomes the
basis for "educated guesses" which means that
sometimes the interpolated areas will come off better than others. But
even at best any kind of interpolation will never be perfect. For
more info on interpolation here is an informative
link. Ultimately though the only way to realize the full potential
of 4K UHD video
projector or flatscreen is to have native 4K UHD
resolution program material.
However another advantage of a
4K UHD projector or flatscreen display is that four 1080P feeds can be
seen simultaneously. As one example, for sports fans who wish to keep
tabs on multiple games at the same time this can be a very nice feature indeed. In
addition if you have a 4K UHD video camera or if you are into digital still
photography having more resolution can be very useful in those contexts.
Native 4K Ultra HD Content
While 4K UHD projectors and flatscreens
are available, the only way that a new video format such as 4K UHD would
really be highly desirable would be if the studios actually were to
release sufficient 4K UHD content that people really want to watch..
However the fact is that a lot of
movies have either been shot in digital 2K or have been transferred from
analog film to digital 2K so it won't do any good to convert any of those
4K UHD as they won't
look any better. In addition some movies were the live action portions
have 4K resolution, the CGI is usually only 2K. Only movies or shows that are either shot in or have been
transferred to 4k or higher can truly be 4K.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
As of 2016 we
finally have some 4K UHD Blu-ray
discs and players being made available. In addition to the 2160 x 3840
resolution, the spec
includes higher frame rates (up to 60fps), Rec.2020 (aka BT.2020) which is an expanded color gamut
along with high dynamic range (HDR). Also HEVC/H.265 encoding
is being utilized in order to
compress 4K movies and TV more efficiently. The new spec also allows for 10 bit
color depth as well as higher bit rates up to 128 megabits/second range.
Here is a link which shows some of the
4K Ultra HD Downloads
For many though, rather than
searching a shelf for a physical disk and then playing it, there is
another way that is preferable and that is downloads. For high quality,
high bitrate 4K UHD titles the whole movie or video is downloaded first and then
played from local storage.
As of January 2016 one solution
that we have here in the store now is from Kaleidescape. For their new
Strato 4K UHD movie server, you can purchase and download UHD movie
titles from the
Store. To see only the UHD titles in the Store simply click on UHD
at the top which will filter the listing to show only the UHD titles. By
the end of 2016 Kaleidescape expects somewhere between 300-500 titles to
be available from their Store—with many more are expected to be released
in the years to follow.
Also here is a list of some
in the 4K UHD format.
4K Ultra HD Broadcasts
In addition broadcast
(via satellite, cable etc.) is another alternative and there have been
some announcements along these lines.
4K Ultra HD Streaming
Lastly streaming is available
although unfortunately it is usually highly compressed and thus is the least good
source in terms of both picture and audio quality. For instance Netflix, YouTube,
and others are currently streaming in Ultra HD 2160p. However the important
thing to understand is how much lossy compression
is being utilized and what effect it has on the video picture quality as
well as audio quality.
article about the 4K remastering of "It Happened One Night" which is
a classic 1934 black and white movie directed by Frank Capra.
Making a 4K End-to-End Movie
is a technical
making a 4K end-to-end movie.
New Standards: HDMI, HDCP, & HEVC
For 4K UHD there are 3 updated standards that will be required: HDMI
2.0a, HDCP 2.2, and HEVC.
HDMI 2.0a allows for 2160P at up to 60 frames per second with HDR
(high dynamic range).
HDCP 2.2 is the updated 4K UHD copy protection scheme.
HEVC, also know as H.265, is a more efficient lossy compression
scheme used for 4K UHD content.
There are more technical details available on the above, but really
all you need to know is that all 3 of these should be present in a
4K UHD video system.
Why 4K UHD Content Can Be Superior?
It is important to understand that a noticeable improvement in image quality due to higher
resolution depends in part upon how large the screen is as well as the viewing distance from the screen.
While having more pixels is always nice in theory,
on displays of 65" or larger—(in this context 65" is the diagonal measurement of a 16:9
aspect ratio image)—what else
contributes to making a significant
improvement in image quality?
More Than 8-bit Color Depth
Instead of the 8-bit color
used in 1080p Blu-rays, by increasing to 10-bit the number of possible
colors that can be displayed goes from approximately 16.7 million to
Technically speaking 10-bit is referring
to the number of bits per pixel.
You see 8-bit color means 28
or 256 colors. Multiplied across the RGB spectrum this then yields 224
which equals 16.7 million possible colors
for any given pixel.
Whereas 10-bit color means 210 or 1024 colors. Multiplied
across the RGB spectrum this then yields
possible colors for any given pixel.
Then going up from there to 12-bit color means 212 or 4096 colors. Multiplied
across the RGB spectrum this then yields 68.7 billion
possible colors for any given pixel.
What having more colors means is that the transition from one color
to another will be more accurate and realistic thus minimizing banding
As of 2016 there are two different lossy video compression
schemes for 4K UHD with the main one being h.265—(which is a more efficient in terms of
compression than the currently utilized
h.264 which is used for 1080P HD 2K). Of course any of the compression schemes being used for
the home market are far more lossy compressed than JPEG 2000.
Basically the more lossy compression is implemented the more compromised
the picture quality is. Though a
JPEG 2000 file for a typical movie can be somewhere on the order of
500GB-2TB which would be impractical for the home market for the
There is also the
enlargement of the color space. Rec.2020 (aka BT.2020) is
definitely an improvement over the
Rec.709 color space used in 1080p Blu-ray as it is noticeably larger. This
means that a wider
shades of color can be seen.
Here is a technical article of color spaces.
High Dynamic Range
HDR, aka High Dynamic Range,
provides for more contrast between dark and light images on the screen.
The idea being to create a much more realistic image.
The Digital Cinema 4K Standard
You might be interested to know that aside from the 4K UHD home
theater standard, there is also the 4K Digital Cinema standard which is a format currently being
utilized in commercial movie theaters.
The actual resolution of native DCI 4K is
2160 x 4096 pixels—which is slightly wider than the 2160 x 3840 of
4K Ultra HD. (4K UHD 2160p has exactly 4 times the number of pixels of HD
1080p which is
1080 x 1920.) More format resolution detail follows:
Display aspect ratio
High Definition TV
1080 x 1920
High Definition TV
2160 x 5120
3200 x 5120
DCI 4K (native
2160 x 4096
1.90:1 (256:135) ~17:9
DCI 4K (CinemaScope cropped)
1716 x 4096
DCI 4K (flat cropped)
2160 x 3996
4320 x 7680
that the D-Cinema 4K standard also specifies 12-bit color, JPEG 2000
compression, and utilizes the CIE XYZ color space. Ideally at some point in
the future the home
standard would be as similar as possible to that for locally
stored content! But don't hold your breath for that to happen!
For more technical info about 4K Digital
Cinema here is a
PDF which talks about 4K projection in
the commercial theater environment.