Roger, thank you for taking your time to read this.
I try to pay little attention to what the latest marketing technique is from camera companies, esp. the newer ones, but I was wondering what your stand on this whole 4K debate is, related to cine cameras and projection, since it keeps creeping into general view of any production reading or conversation.
For scanning 35mm film, it seems that everyone agrees that real 4K scans are the best way to get the most out of it. Of course right now we rarely if ever get to see that full benefit in a theater which are projecting 2K, even if they have 4K projectors, or are showing film prints which seem to often be out of focus or beaten up. But it remains that 4K post and archiving seems to be the best or ideal route overall for 35mm and below.
For the web and video games, it looks like 720 is normal for now, but more 1080 is showing up. The best TV experiences that I have seen currently are 35mm originated 1080 Bluray films, playing on a Panasonic 1080 plasma. This at about 7 feet from a 46" screen. I have seen a 4K monitor that looked really impressive up close, but at that same 7 feet, it could have been 1080 or 2K and I'm not sure I'd have known or even could see the difference.
With some current and surely coming cinema projectors being 4K (hopefully their delivery method will catch up soon) how do you feel about using cameras like the Alexa at 2K? What do you think about archiving the 2K you are getting when in ten years we may be looking at 4K+ viewing as the norm, maybe even at home? YouTube has a 4K system in place for what I guess will be higher-end home movie rental via download to your (future) 4K TV.? I guess what I'm getting at is, do you think that 2K digital acquisition is about as far as it needs to go for now and is there much difference the human eye can see beyond it, given how we mostly watch films now? Will your 2K movie be just fine in this next system? (This is all being asked while keeping in mind that there is a lot more to just pixel count in a digital camera!) And with Aaton building a 6K (optical viewfinder) camera, and Sony likely doing a 4K camera soon, you have to wonder how fast the viewing systems will develop to catch up with all of this too. The TV guys need to keep selling and 3D is just today's trend.
The red cameras often don't look any better than some 1080p cameras I have seen projected, or on pro monitors, so I don't think their version of the tech is making a good case yet, after all it was more marketing than anything else, especially at first. Some 1080 shots I have seen look sharper than red's stuff. Not that sharper is always better, but 4K is being sold that way to laymen. Superman Returns was shot 1080p years ago and outside of the odd skin tones and digital look, the technical resolution held up on a full size IMAX screen. Same with Avatar and Tron. But having said that, if 70mm IMAX really is around "8K", it does look a lot different/immersive so my eye can feel that increase, although its because of the huge IMAX screen only, I think, and the unique properties of 70mm film projection which I'm not sure will translate digitally anytime soon. I saw the last Batman movie in a 70mm IMAX and the 15 perf 65mm shots really, really stood out. However I saw it later in a normal theater and they were barely noticeable at all so I am not so sure if more was really any better, outside of a real IMAX system or some future, very high-res screen.
I know everyone feels stagnant if things aren't changing every month these days, but I question a lot of the "progress" decisions being made. Seeing the truth behind the hype is getting tougher although I don't know how valuable knowing more is at this point for me. Do I need to worry about what a distributor is going to ask for 3,4... 10 years from now? Could they be talked into wanting only "4K" material with enough hype? Can I just shoot the next narrative project on what I want to and not worry? Well, it is hard not to worry when you are producing something.
By the way, seeing Black Swan on old 16mm recently was refreshing among all this "progress", I have to admit, and so well done!