4K photos from a PS3 on a VPL-vw1000 are stunning. However, several things can go wrong when preparing your PS3 and preparing your photos, leading you to believe you are a) looking at properly-displayed 4K photos, but that b) your projector is not nearly as good as you were led to believe. Have no fear: It is at least as good and may be better!
It took me three days of flailing around in the dark to work out exactly how to get perfect results every time. Some of it required working out the missing instructions. Part involved figuring out, then proving that what little instruction I was able to get over the phone from Sony just happened to be completely wrong. Follow these instructions and you'll have a far easier experience than did I.
Please note that some AV receivers interrupt the communication between the PS3 and the projector. This includes even new receivers spec'ed as able to pass 4K signals. When first setting this up, plug the HDMI cable from the projector directly into the PS3. Once that works, then try passing it through your AV receiver. (This whole thing is a hack; the fact that your new AV receiver cannot pass the off-beat communication going on here does not mean it will fail with real 4K later on.)Part 1, Viewing Photos
Included with PlayMemories 4K Edition are five 4K demo photos dated 2008 (along with a couple of later 3D panoramas that are not 4K). You should start out by preparing the PS3 and viewing those demo 4K photos using the instructions below. Then move on to parts 2 and 3, how to prepare and transfer your own photos for viewing, as part 2 in particular is far more tricky and time-consuming than you might expect.
Note: Even if you're a PS3 expert, rather than your having bought a PS3 new just for this app, be sure to study and follow instructions 3, 4, and 6: Miss any of those, and you’ll be looking at 2K photos wondering why things don’t look any better than they do.
1) Find your redemption code supplied with the latest VPL-vw1000 projectors or contact Sony tech support for a free code for existing owners. (You have to get all the way to the top tier of support to find anyone who is even aware of this program. The support people in India/The Philippines know nothing about it. Your dealer's installers should have direct access and should be able to get you the code and instructions on how to use it.)
2) Use the code to download and install PlayMemories 4K Edition onto the PS3. You will find written instructions for doing this step at http://pro.sony-asia.com/product/resources/en_BA/images/Banner/Projector/playmemories4k_download-guide.pdf
3) Launch PlayMemories 4K Edition, go into Settings, change Video Output to “4K Photo,” and then press Back.
4) Quit and restart PlayMemories to cause the program to switch into 4K-ready mode.
5) Select View Photographs from the main menu, find the first demo photo of the green valley, and press the X button to get rid of the available-photos stripe.Even after all this stuff, you are still looking at the picture in 2K! There is one more final, critical step to switch from 4K-ready to 4K:
6) WIth the photo now filling the screen and no menu visible, press the button with the magenta-colored, open-square symbol twice to invoke 4K.
You can now using the forward and back buttons to move from photo to photo without exiting 4K mode.
If you flip back and forth between 2K and 4K, you will not see the kind of blockiness in 2K you might expect. This is because the projector is interpolating the 2K image into pseudo-4K. What you get is a kind of rumpled quality, particularly noticeable with diagonal straight lines. That rumpled quality disappears when you switch into 4K using the open-square button in step 6.
You may want to use the Photo pre-set on the projector to get Sony’s judgement of a good color balance.
How it works: Sony has created an elaborate, elegant hack. PlayMemories 4K Edition and the VPL-vw1000ES handle photos in one of the projector's 4K modes known as Quad HD, namely, 3840 x 2160, but the PS3 is not capable of sending any image with a resolution higher than single, standard HD, namely 1920 x 1080. To get around this limitation, PlayMemories 4K Edition starts out by slicing each 3840 x 2160 photo into 12 pieces. It then transmits each of the 12 pieces to the projector where special code already embedded in the projector reassembles the smaller pieces back into a single 3840 x 2160 image before presenting it on the screen. (If you click Menu on the projector’s remote to display the Picture menu during 4K photo display, you’ll also see that the projector has changed the mix of indicated options at the direction of the PS3, indicating the level of cooperation going on between the two devices.)
Part 2, Adding Your Own Photos
The rules are actually simple. They just don't happen to be the rules that you're likely to hear from Sony over the phone...Part 2a, Preparing the photos on your computer
Sony, at least at first release, was telling their support people that the program requires the use of photos that are 8 megapixels in size and up. Actually, the program requires photos that are 8 megapixels in size and down!
PlayMemories 4K Edition is sending 3840 x 2160 images to the VPL-vw1000ES. Any image smaller than that is displayed at its native size with PlayMemories adding a black border around it to fill out the total pixels to 3840 x 2160. You may or may not like the black border, but the image itself is a stunning pixel-for-pixel reproduction of the original at 4K resolution.
The real problem is with images larger than 3840 x 2160. These must be scaled down by the PS3 to exactly 3840 x 2160, and the PS3 does a terrible, terrible job of scaling, introducing all kinds of really ugly artifacts, artifacts so severe that when I first uploaded my 15 megapixel pictures, I couldn’t tell the difference between 2K and 4K.*
To avoid these artifacts, you must shrink or crop any image larger than 3840 x 2160 to exactly 3840 x 2160 before transferring to the PS3. (That's why the five sample 4K photos are exactly 3840 x 2160.) Carry out this step and you will be stunned at the quality of the results. Have a dimension exceed either
of these two upper limits and you will have moire patterns and all kinds of other distortions across your photos.
Many computer photo apps, including free ones, will enable you to crop images to a specific size. The better ones, including Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, will also allow you to resize your images downwards. You should crop to 16 to 9 aspect ratio before resizing, with a mathematically-related size a plus. For example, if you crop the original to exactly twice 3840 x 2160 before reduction, few if any extraneous artifacts will be introduced upon reduction.
(Don't try making your smaller pictures larger, even using Photoshop: You are unlikely to be happy with any attempt to resize a smaller photograph upward. Better the black surround than a fuzzy picture. You may also, like me, discover that some of your prized photos are not nearly as sharp and clear as you always thought. It is not the projector. You've just never seen your photo on such a good display.)
If you don't want to get involved with resizing, cherry-pick photos where you can crop out a nice 3840 x 2160 chunk that stands well on its own.Part 2b, Transferring the photos to PlayMemories
1) Transfer your prepared photos to a UHF hard drive or flash drive and insert the drive into the front of the PS3.
2) Select Import Photographs from the PlayMemories main menu and import the photos.
Note: Some flash drives have hidden photos, such as the flash drive maker's logos. These may also be imported. It's not a bad idea to format the flash drive using FAT32 before using it with the PS3. Skip this step if it's scary; you can always erase unwanted photos.
* Neither Sony nor the PS3 are to be faulted for the poor scaling performance. Scaling, done right, requires a lot of intensive computing power. The PS3 was never designed to handle such tasks, nor does the device have the time to perform it: When you ask Photoshop to resize a photo, it doesn't happen instantly; even a powerful computer takes a good long while. Photoshop has the advantage of only having to do it once, at which point the image is permanently altered. PlayMemories has to do it on the fly every time you re-select that photo, so it must use a quick-and-dirty algorithm so you don't have to wait 15 to 30 seconds for every photo every time.