RED Shows Cinema Quality 4K Images from Standard DVDs
RED, the video camera company that likes to dazzle its users, did it again at the recent NAB.
Demonstrating its planned $1,000 RED RAY product, due out later this year, the company showed the device playing cinema-quality 4K video off standard DVDs to a room full of users and customers at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas on April 22.
Those at the event said RED at first played an uncompressed show reel of 4K footage on a Sony 4K projector, which clocked in at 1.3 GB per second. Then they showed the exact same footage using the RED RAY codec at a mere 10 megabits per second—half the bitrate of a standard definition DV—at a compression rate of 700 to 1.
Remember, standard mini DV is 25 MBps. This was only ten. The attendees said they could see zero visible compression. We know little about the RED RAY codec, other than it uses wavelet compression, which is much more efficient than the discreet cosine transform (DCT) compression used in MPEG.
The RED RAY is a disc player that plays 4K, 2K, 1080p, 720p and standard definition from RED disc and RED Express. It also plays native RAW R3D files from compact flash.
Chris Parker, who was at the demonstration, later wrote on the RED forum that “like everyone else in the room, I didn't think anything about bit rate or source when we were watching the reels on the BIG screen. They looked movie theatre quality. Seriously. Only AFTER the two reels did RED inform us of the ridiculously low bit rate they were running at off the RED RAY. I really have no idea how this is possible, because it seems like it should not be.”
Michael Cioni, the founder of PlasterCITY Digital Post, who edited the footage shown at the RED screening, wrote that the secret lies in the power of wavelet technology. Even he was “astonished at the quality of the high frequency compression response.”
RED was mum on the RED RAY technology saying it will fill in the gaps of information later. “What you saw was a technology demonstration to show that 4k image quality is obtainable at practically impossible, or at the very least highly improbable, data rates,” the company said.