History of the Camera Part 2
For part 1, click here. The importance of this information is in giving you, the new camera production person, background into why things are the way that they are. We discussed progressive film rate and interlace film rate in part 1.
The call was out for quality. For decades, the television signals and standards stayed exactly the same. But technology was starting to improve and though the television industry resisted change, eventually it to caved. Why did they resist? They have millions of dollars invested in equipment. You change to HD and all that expensive gear would become garage sale material.
But eventually, the call for quality started to overcome the call for everything to stay the same. Everyone agreed it would be called “High Definition” or HD, compared to Standard Definition or SD. Again, just like the RCA/Philco battles of the 1930’s, Sony and Panasonic squared off, each pushing their own standard. Sony wanted to double the NTSC quality– instead of 525 lines, they picked 1080. Panasonic chose 720 scan lines across. However, they claimed theirs wasn’t a quality loss compared to the Sony because they were doing “progressive” images like film. But Sony stuck to their guns on 1080 interlaced. Well today, the winner of the HD battle has been 1080.
And when HD was created, everyone wanted a wider screen, to closer match more the cinema ratios people were used to watching in the theaters, so instead of the SD square (ish), a wider rectangle was created, by making it 1920 columns by 1080 rows. The 1920 was almost 2,000 (or 2K). So now you can understand what 4K is. 6K. now 8K. It’s that column number.
Is DVD up to HD Quality?
So when a client asks for their video that you’ve shot and edited on DVD, is that HD if you shot it at 1920×1080? No. The DVD format is a Standard Definition format. The best it can do is 720×480. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if you shot on a Red camera at 8K resolution. To output your file for the DVD authoring, it will be at best, 720×480. You can play High Def from Blu-ray discs. But most clients today need delivery of their video as a file, whether uploaded to a service like weTransfer, Dropbox or Box, or placed on YouTube or Vimeo, or copied onto a thumbdrive. They just need the file. We’ll discuss the compression/decompression factors in a future lesson.
4K and Beyond
But the difference today in the adoption of new standards, is that today’s televisions can display different standards. So multiple choices are being offered. And cameras have continued to get better. Cameras have been shooting 4K for some time (so roughly 4,000 columns across by roughly 2,000 rows). Why not go ahead and create televisions that can view this jump in quality? So 4K televisions are for sale right now at Best Buy.
Why is this history lesson relevant? Today’s production cameras have all sorts for settings for file size and frame rates. It’s important to know what each of them does.