Jimmy Kimmel Live ran its first 4K Ultra HD test on Tuesday, shooting a performance of next week’s musical guest Karmin on the show’s outdoor concert stage before an audience in Hollywood.
“This, we feel, is a step in the direction of [creating] a better consumer experience,” Doug DeLuca, co-executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live, told The Hollywood Reporter. “Our show tries to be on the cutting edge of technology. We have a very vibrant show, and the better it looks, the better the user experience is at home.”
“I believe in the 4K format,” he added. “It’s clearly the next jump from HD.”
4K, also referred to as Ultra HD, is a high-resolution format that contains roughly four times as much picture information as is found in today’s HD format. It was a big trend at January’s CES and has been heavily promoted in professional production circles.
It’s also in a very early stage, and part of the rollout has included consumer education and awareness — still needed, it would appear, judging from the facial expressions of some audience members as the 4K experiment was announced on Tuesday.
At this point, Ultra HD TVs and 4K production equipment are available, though there is currently no method of delivering a steady amount of 4K TV programming to homes. (Some consumer displays, including those made by Sony, will upconvert HD images.)
Still, certain TV series such as NBC’s Save Me from Sony Pictures Television are being shot and finished in 4K with an eye toward future syndication needs that might arise.
Asked why Jimmy Kimmel Live was experimenting with 4K at this stage, DeLuca said, “It is something we have our sights set on and would like to do when a lot of our audience can see it in their homes.”
“We feel this is a first step in the process,” he added, explaining that this experiment allowed the show’s camera, lighting, production design and makeup staffers to start to examine the format. “When you move to a new format, there will be issues over the camera, recording devices, editing system and pipeline that transmits it…There’s going to be some time before we get to broadcast 4K, but hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”
Earlier this year, Sony entered into a partnership with Jimmy Kimmel Live that involves Sony product integration as well as sponsorship of the show’s concert series.
Tuesday’s night performance was unique from other concert series shoots in that it was planned as a 4K test for the show while an HD version was also recorded as a segment for Jimmy Kimmel Live‘s July 10 show.
The Karmin performance was shot on the outdoor stage using six F55 4K cameras (which have already been used for a limited amount of television pilot and series production) that mirrored the show’s HD camera positions, include two fixed cameras, two handheld cameras, jib and Steadicam. (Fujinon’s 19-90 mm and 85-300 mm Cabrio lenses, Premier 75-400 mm and Leica 16 mm Prime were used).
Two songs were performed and shot in HD, which will be used for the show’s broadcast. Then after a break, during which the team switched to the 4K setup, Karmin repeated the two songs and then performed two additional songs.
The HD version won’t offer a direct comparison with the 4K version since the HD was lensed as the sun was setting and the 4K was shot after dark, meaning that both the natural and onstage lighting conditions were different.
During the 4K-lensed performance, HD was fed to the control room’s existing HD infrastructure. Meanwhile 4K RAW data was recorded onto AXS memory cards; that material will be posted at Sony’s Digital Motion Picture Center on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City.
This Ultra HD clip will soon be used as 4K demonstration material at Sony stores and will eventually be available for viewing at home using Sony’s 4K Media Player, which can now be preordered and will be available beginning July 15.
At launch, the Media Player will arrive bundled with 10 4K features as well as some additional TV and short-form video. In time, new movies and programs will become available via Sony’s Video Unlimited 4K content service, slated to debut in the fall.
The FMP-X1 Media Player lists for $699; however, it’s available for an introductory price of $499 to consumers who bought one of Sony’s X900A 4K TVs. The Video Unlmited service will allow users to download 4K movies as 24-hour rentals starting at $7.99 or for purchase from $29.99.