Unreal Boosts 4K TV Industry

Unreal Boosts 4K TV Industry

NAB Show 2019 Unreal Engine

Reported in the top trends at NAB this year, Unreal Engine made huge inroads into the production workflows of all the usual suspects in broadcast virtual studio and graphic production.

On looking at the exhibition halls, this trend looked more like a full on invasion of the engines, with every other booth demonstrating how they are integrating with a realtime virtual engine of some sort or another.

Let me tell you why I think this is the best thing for audiences since the invention of colour TV and will bring back a love of TV in our homes. But warning, I only have about 8% battery life on my laptop, so I’ll be quick.

Toshiba TV commercial from the 80s

Let me bring you home from the NAB show. To my home to be precise. I recently bought myself a run of the mill Toshiba 4K TV, at a cost about £370. I know I’m a bit of a Mc Scrooge laggard when it comes to my home Tech. I have enough of bleeding edge in my tech grotto where we build our solutions, so my home is a bit of a shrine to vintage tech and incense sticks.

Why normal TV looks bad on 4K

Anyway, we put the new TV in place switched it on and WTF!

The standard definition channels of British TV looked terrible and HD channels don’t look much better, never mind the picture quality, make-up looked shocking in our usual soaps and the stage sets, well they look like they have been built by prisoners on day-release. I’d never seen any of this with my rickety 10 year old Sony HD TV. I never needed up-scaling hacks or video processing, I just watched TV and veged-out!

Bad lighting, old fashioned sets, TV looks out of date in 4K

Bad lighting, old fashioned sets, national TV looks out of date in 4K.

It seems only content shot in a cinematic / creative way and broadcast in HD had any chance on this new 4K so called dream machine that was wrecking my home. Then I hoped over to watch a trendy Nordic crime show on the built in streaming providers and things started to look a bit better, we tried wildlife and yes that did look good. But for the main UK TV shows being broadcast on the standard channels everything looked pretty crap.

It was not just about the picture quality, my point is this is a creative production problem too, as when we could view true 4K content (not much about yet) the sets, shots, make-up in locations normal run of the mill TV productions looked bad. The only thing that looked good was high end or blockbuster content.

But this is a bad thing for local TV, community diversity, people don’t just want to watch Game of Thrones, on a Saturday I like to watch Casualty along with millions of other UK normalites, but Casualty needs too make some production changes, maybe a few virtual sets would help?

Virtual Sets in 4K look amazing on 4K TV

Then last week we (OSF) exhibited at our first academic roadshow looking to hire a few new engineers for the upcoming product launch and we took our new 4K TV with us to show off our work. OMG what a difference, our virtually produced content looks AMAZING on this domestic 4K TV. Not only did the resolution look good, the higher capture also seemed to work aesthetically with our sense of what 4K TV should look like. We’d watched our content on those small hi-end production monitors in post and we knew it looked good, but we’d not run it on a common garden 4K TV, the sort millions of folks now have at home.

100M 4K UHD Sets Sold Worldwide in 2018. New research from Futuresource Consulting projects more than 100 million 4K UHD televisions will be sold worldwide this year, returning consumer demand for TVs to positive growth.

Captured at 4K 10bit 4.2.2 in camera RAW, putting our content on a normal cheap domestic 4K TV proved to me that virtual production is the future of 4K and 8K TV content production, if nothing else it matches my expectations of what high resolution TV should look like. To sum up, virtual production leaves traditionally produced TV shows looking like they are shot on a phone, in your Nans front room, by your Nan, unless your Nan happens to be Roger Deakins.

When it comes to making content for 4K and 8k TV, I’m going to say Unreal is better than real.

Happy Easter all.

 

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