I visited IBC 2012 in Amsterdam. Since some of what I saw applies to high end home cinema I'm posting some impressions here, in no special order.
- NHK: NHK presented Super High Vision, their next generation UHD TV system, which is 8K (33 million pixels). I have seen it before from a projector and was not that impressed back then. While it had lots of spatial detail it also had a distinct video look and was not filmic at all. This year's demo was on 2 LCD 85 inch 8K monitors. Image quality was very good with razor sharp detail. They showed footage from the London 2012 olympics (100m men final, inauguration...). If you step 2-3 screen heights away you get kind of a retina display big TV, a jumbo Ipad 3. Prototype stadium for now but planned for launch around 2020. Till then the necessary components should be in place (4K monitors in many homes, efficient codecs that can do 8K at around 20 Mbit/s without too obvious artifacts).
- Sony: Sony presented tons of gear for all kinds of purposes, as each year. This year the highlight for me was the new 84 inch 4K Bravia which looked fabulous with their demo footage. Good blacks, superior detail and an overall very impressive picture. It can do full 1080p 3D with passive glasses as well. The 3D looked very good with "Amazing Spiderman" as source. Much better than their projected 3D material which was substandard. They also projected several 4K shorts shot on the Sony 4K camera (F 65) which looked good, but suffered from elevated blacks and ambient light pollution. The OLED reference monitors looked excellent, but size is small and price is (very) high. Finally their glasses free 3D monitors were not good, like anyone else's. Wobbling picture. Their face tracking monitor had a stable picture but half resolution and ghosting. This technology is not ready yet.
- Canon: Canon has now several models that shoot 4K. One film shot by Jordan Cronenweth on the EOSC500 was shown in the Big Screen session of Canon. And it looked as good as F65 or Red Epic material. It comes at a price though (30000$ plus raw recorder, lenses etc.).
- Trinnov: They had a booth but no room to listen to material. One could have a look at the software, though, and see how flexible it is and all the various options you can use.
- Blackmagic Design: Lots of gear, but one product all high end home theatre owners will have to consider for their machine park. Teranex in a box! Two models, one without 2D->3D conversion and one with, costing 1675 Euros, resp. 3325. The "fake" 3D was of very good quality from the 2 examples I saw. I noticed no artifacts even with complex motion. In addition the boxes cross convert practically everything into everything, up and down (pixels and fps). One caveat: The HDMI input will not accept HDCP protected sources (e.g. Blu Ray). So feed the box HDSDI or HDCP free HDMI.
- Arri had a session on the Big Screen and so did Red together with Assimilate Scratch (the other Red session I missed). The footage shown was of various quality. Despite the 4K Christie projector the sources were not native 4K, mirroring the fact that Arri Alexa does no 4K and Red projects are usually still mastered in 2K. Arri had a star attraction in the person of DOP Roger Deakins, a known admirer of the Alexa, discussing (digital) cinematography and his work on (among others) "Skyfall". The trailer for this Bond was projected, but at so so 2K quality. It was not a highlight of what I saw on this 16m wide screen in the 3 days I was there. Skyfall should look quite some better from the 4K DCP that is created from 3.5K Alexa raw footage (Skyfall will play on IMAX and 4K installations in addition to 2K).
- Laser projection in 4K and 3D at 14 (!) foot lamberts: Christie showed their 4K laser projector in the big screen auditorium on the 16m wide screen. This machine does 63000 lumen. Enough for 3D as bright as standard 2D. First there were examples shown of "Transformers 3" and "Puss in Boots" at the normal 3 ftl for 3D and then at 14. The difference is huge, of course. 3D works much better that way. The samples were commented by experts that had worked on the stereography. (One is working on the 3D for the next "Star Trek" at the moment). Then all of "Hugo" was projected. Unfortunately I had to leave after the opening shot to catch a train. I would have loved to see the whole film that way. The projector is a prototype and not for sale for now. It's too expensive to make economical sense at the moment. And the laser speckle issues are not yet 100% gone.
- Red Cinema: I talked to Ted Schilowitz about the Red laser projector. Everyone wants to know when it's coming, of course. So from the horse's mouth: Don't expect it before spring 2013 for regular consumers (e.g. no beta testing customers), that is, if all goes well as planned. Since the competition says the tech is at least 3 years away that would already be a huge breakthrough, if spring 2013 works out. So what can go wrong? Well, among other things, Red has to solve the speckle issue like all the others. And it's not 100% solved yet. And the projector will use for sure polarisation for 3D. So without a polarisation preserving screen this projector is a no go for 3D use (might still be top for 2D, but in that arena JVC sets the black level standards and no one knows how good Red's black levels will be in comparison).
- h.264 versus h.265: Several companies showed working h.265 implementations, showing split screen demos between the two, and 4K samples at various bit rates. h.265 is about twice as efficient as h.264. 4K at 20 Mbit/s looked very good. Mature implementations of this should have no problem to deliver videophile 4K at Blu Ray rates, at least in 8 bit 4:2:0. I hope we get 10 bit 4:2:2, though.