4k picture is becoming clearer

WB's Cookson touts advantages at NAB convention

Chris Cookson, president of Warner Bros. Technical Operations and chief technology officer of the Warner Bros. Entertainment Group, made a case for 4k resolution during his "Digital Cinema Summit" keynote this weekend at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention.

The 4k resolution contains four times more picture information than what is found in the digital-cinema business' commonly used 2k resolution; yet concerns linger in the community that four times the amount of image data results in a more time-consuming and expensive post process.

Cookson on Saturday suggested that exhibition and archiving are key reasons that the industry should embrace 4k.

"We are entering a time when we are not saving as much information as we would have saved five years ago, just as we are about to enter a time where we can see that information," Cookson said. "There are two trends that are converging, and they're conflicting. On one hand, display technology, which has been relatively fixed for decades, is taking a great leap forward as digital projection comes of age. On the other, digital postproduction techniques are rapidly being adopted that limit the image quality going into the vault to something less than what we have saved in the past."

Cookson noted that it is becoming increasingly common to store a film recording of a 2k master in a vault. "The 2k master has less information than the original film did," he said. "For the last 100 years, we're saving the original negative. We need to be aware of what we throw away and the implications of the decisions we make," he added. "It seems a curious time to be putting less of what we capture away for the future. We really need to push for 4k tools in order to protect what goes into our vault for archiving."

Cookson also cited advancements in projection technology as a reason to aim for 4k. "We are just about to see the information beyond 2k," he said. "Technology finally allows us to display more than what we capture in the camera. (Moviegoers) are in a better position to see (higher resolution) and enjoy it."