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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Blu-ray May Adapt To Fit 4K Movies

There is currently activity within the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is to bring 4K into the Blu-ray specifications, although there are some fundamental reasons why 4K may not be yet ready for primetime.

"We created a task force three months ago to study the prospects of adding new technologies to the format," Andy Parsons, BDA president Parsons revealed in an interview with "We will evaluate three criteria, starting with the technical feasibility of doing 4K, which is four times the picture quality of 1080p," he added.

Earlier this year, Sony's Victor Matsuda had said that the BDA would not bring 4K into the Blu-ray specs, although he had acknowledged that an increase in demand for Quad HD displays could change that viewpoint.

Parson's words come just a week after CES in Las Vegas, where there had been a lot of talk of 4K and how we can get 4K content onto these great new HDTVs showcased there. Sony has announced it will offer customers a protected server with 4K content on board.

Besides the challenges related to the creation of 4K movies, editing and other post-production functions, their storage and disctribution are also difficult.

At standard frame rates, Quad HD has a native data rate of around 12Gbits, eight times that of today's 1080i HD. HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) is a new codec, which reportedly reduces the amount of data by 35-60% over its predecessor, AVC/H.264. HEVC should enable any content encoded at 3840x2160, 50/60p to fit onto a standard 50GB Blu-ray Disc, though BD?s developers may use the opportunity of a format upgrade to increase its capacity ot even use the high-capacity -but still very expensive - BDXL discs (100-128GB).

In addition, any new 4K Blu-ray discs should be compatible with existing BD players. This is very difficuly (impossible?) as these players should support realtime decoding, and most probably based on hardware, not software.

It's not clear to the BDA's working group whether 4K can be added to the Blu-ray format.

During CES, Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai said that bringing 4k content on a BD disc posed difficulties, meaning that the much-rumored PS4 may not hold the key to Blu- ray?s '4K' future.

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