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Is the industry ready for 8K file sizes?

By Michael Darer | Mar 9, 2020

When it comes to the ongoing growth in file sizes, 8K represents one of the largest and most powerful forces on the horizon. While many were skeptical of the new format (and some remain so), early adoption is taking hold across the industry. With Japan putting forth the first 8K television channel, China posting major numbers of 8K television shipments, and camera manufacturers like Canon providing 8K lenses for this past Super Bowl, it’s harder and harder to ignore the influence this will have on M&E businesses.  Even if final distribution in 8K is still a ways off, organizations need to work with 8K as part of production and post-production workflows.

But are they truly ready?

If media organizations want to be able to leverage 8K, they need to understand how to handle, at scale, the massive files it will create. Otherwise, the trend is likely to leave them behind

With this in mind, we’ve spent time exploring what 8K adoption will look like, and how our solutions — designed to move huge pieces of content quickly — can help.

Big file sizes, big value, big risks

The degree to which 8K will create massive files cannot be underestimated, and represents a major step from 4K. The growth from 2K to 4K to 8K is exponential, with each subsequent resolution having the amount of pixels square incrementally. That’s to say that for a 4K image that’s 8 megapixels, that same image in 8K is actually 32 megapixels. 

Understandably, this also affects the size of the file in which the image is stored. Consider the raw 4K footage that might be used in film production to ensure future-proofing of the content (this is one of the roles that 8K is swiftly taking over). A file containing 90 minutes of footage in 4K can be 6000 GB. The 8K equivalent would be three times as large.

These massive 8K files pose a number of challenges to organizations in film production, television broadcasting, video games, and more. As 8K becomes an increasing norm, these businesses will have to find a way to swiftly and securely move content in order to meet the needs of a studio, a post house, or the many distribution platforms consumers are connected to today. If their files can’t get where they need to go on time, then their value is diminished. 

Especially in the case of film production, where high-profile hacks resulted in improper access to proprietary, high-value content, the ability to confidently move large files under stressful conditions and tight deadlines is critical to the success of the enterprise. 8K, with all it bodes for the increase in size and value of such files, will force even the most cutting-edge organizations to reevaluate how they move their content, how they protect it, and what solutions they trust to do so. The alternatives are to either be left behind by a potentially industry-shaping trend, or to rush into the fray unprepared, damaging their reputation and bottom line as a result. Neither likely sounds appealing to M&E companies, and, luckily, neither has to be the case.

Embrace the power of 8K

For over a decade, Signiant has had the honor of working with some of the most dynamic, revolutionary, and adventurous media organizations in the industry, all of whom were dedicated to creating the best possible content: something to leave their audiences reeling. With our file transfer solutions, these businesses were able to comfortably embrace each new opportunity as it came, easily integrating the latest and greatest into their workflows. Combining unmatched acceleration technology and storage independence that allow you to keep your content under your control at all times, Signiant software is relied upon across the industry.

8K represents another such opportunity.

Sure, some have debated the degree to which or the rate at which 8K adoption will change M&E, but the reality is that adoption is already underway, and the diversity of applications for this format might go a long way to hasten it. As such, there’s a good chance that 8K will impact media enterprises before they planned on it, and they’ll have to be ready if they want to take full advantage of the opportunity.

The implications of 8K are vast, but some of them are plain: file sizes are growing. With them, however, comes bigger ways to wow your audience.

Is 8K More Supply or Demand?

8K has a lot to offer, and 2020 will likely add uses to the conversation. As it stands, 8K’s efficacy is heavily intertwined with the nature of individual projects and the requirements of the deliverables in question, and understanding the key strengths and current limitations of the format will be essential to its efficient and cost-effective implementation.

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