Sony reveals 4K Ultra HD content strategy

posted on Friday, 26th April 2013 by Steve May

home cinema  4K  High-end 

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In the run up to this summer's first concerted push of 4K TVs, Sony is tackling the Ultra High Definition content shortage head on. Speaking to Inside CI in Los Angeles, the brand shed more light on its UHD strategy, which will include a 4K Gallery app for the PS3 that allows Sony set owners to view award-winning photography, along with the image library of National Geographic and Old Masters artwork in UHD resolution. The results from the beta application looked stunning. "Those that have seen this say that in many ways it's better than the real thing," we were told. "While the actual Mona Lisa can only be viewed from behind museum security glass, our 4K Gallery features the artwork in ultra high resolution close-up. Very few people have ever been able to appreciate this level of detail before."

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment also threw new light on the label's Mastered in 4K Blu-ray releases. Jeremy Glassman (pictured above), manager for Emerging Platform Development, stressed this was not just a marketing ploy to sell catalogue titles on disc, explaining that all of the movies have been remastered from original assets. "The objective is to be true to the original picture quality, retaining grain and anything that was intended to be seen. The discs are a digital to digital conversion from 4K to 2K, but they are standard Blu-Ray discs that will play in any existing Blu-ray player."

He added that the titles would be stripped of any extras in order to obtain the highest possible bitrate for Blu-ray, therefore optimized for 4K TVs. "When the original Blu-ray for Ghostbusters came out in 2009, it was up to current standards," says Glassman. "But they've now rescanned the original negative in 4K and there's a pretty dramatic difference."

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing ten titles worldwide, timed to coincide with the release of the 4K screens. Another five titles will follow." Glassman reveals that there will also be bundling deals with the titles and the TVs, although specifics have yet to be confirmed.

Glassman says that it's not the intention for the discs to be confused with native 4K content. However, he says there is an expanded colour pass which will be played back on display's capable of  xvYCC colour. Displays without xvYCC still get REC709 -"It's an optimized viewing experience." Comparisons between the orginal native 4K file and Mastered in 4K discs, when viewed on a Sony 65-inch 4K TV were undeniably impressive.

As for native 4K on Blu-ray, Glassman would only say that the discussions have begun with the BDA. "A working group is evaluating the Blu-ray spec, to be see what can be done over the next few years. But it's very early days…" While he wouldn't speak in an official capacity Glassman did say that native 4K on Blu-ray "wouldn't be surprising. But as of right now, these Blu-rays are the best content for 4K TVs on a global basis."

During our session with Sony, the company once again stressed that the upcoming 4K movie file download service was US only, however comparisons between native 4K files and their remastered Blu-ray equivalents did seem to reveal the UHD movie server file interface for the first time…

Also read:
4K TV production gaining traction says Sony
 

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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