The visual quality of image is always key to an artist. Some may need perfection, the best pigments, the purest of source material, the most perfect lens; but many embrace the ephemeral, the materials at hand, the cheap house paint for the sake of the color and not the rare or archival qualities. The artist's concept, the process, and the execution needs always to reflect back upon each other.
If we regard film as art we see a progression of technologies changing the materials and processes at a brisk clip. Many rue the death of the cinema palace, an end to celluloid film, the pulldown film gate, the silver nitrate. Experience teaches how something is done and gives skills to perfect the process – it is only natural to want to continue to build upon one's achievements in a believably logical progression.
But that seems like a luxury at the beginning of the 21st century: a quaint memory.
Few things in history have changed the world as much as the transistor or as fast.
The idea of progress having order is long dead.
So why am I thinking about 4k?
NAB 2014 brought a real wave of new 4k products to the film and video industry
4k edit -->> avid, foundry, hit film, fcpx, resolve, smoke, lightwave, sony ci, adobe CC (2), lightworks... that's a LOT of chum in the water
4k cameras -->> one two three four five six seven eight nine - and counting
4k "plumbing" -->> switchers, projectors, monitors
4k is not 3D. The most recent 3D push came from the top; the major movie producers, the consumer giants, the theatrical chains. It was not the film makers or the audience. 4k comes from the makers of content and the tool designers. 4k is here to stay, I'll bet on that.
But 4k-5k-8k is not the future to watch, much past 4k is a dead end. There is always a need for production to be done at higher resolution than a presentation format, but we are getting to a limit of need for presentation resolution. There are fairly hard limits to what the eye can resolve (think "retina" and the like), if anything frame rates will go up in the future, expanded color spaces will be the next really important technological push in production (10bit, 12bit, and topping out at 16bit), and finally for some variable size screens (think multi screens in odd sizes and aspect ratios) .
The real future of media technology is that screens will disappear. They will shrink, they will become surfaces, they will float, they will act like paint, be like walls, they will move in space, but they will in general release themselves from what we might call a "frame".
And as of today we have very little idea of what that may look like...
to be continued....