It’s December 8, 2012. Do you know where your content is? Not where they predicted. Neighborhood DVD stores are gone. Blockbuster who? Netflix by mail does not gratify instantly, and stuttery streaming incites screaming. Any movie, anytime, anywhere is still a startup light at the end of a tunnel.
Where have all the DVDs (and Blu-rays) gone? Pogue and pundits recently bemoaned the lack of DVD drives in the latest iMacs, MacBooks and all-in-one screens on stalks.
And what about 4K? Plummeting prices of big flat screen 1080p HDTVs predict a panoply of 4K TVs promised in January at CES. But how are we going to watch 4K at home? For that matter, how will corporations, medical services, stores, schools, venues, and independent theaters get 4K?
RED Digital Cinema is planning to deliver their REDRAY 4K cinema player next month. It will play 4K content on Ultra HD televisions and 4K Cinema monitors or projectors.
Here’s a practical scenario of how you might use a REDRAY. It looks like a cable box. It can perch atop your stack of components, Blu-Ray and DVD players, as well as your retired, tired (but still wired) relics: VHS, U-matic, DigiBeta, MiniDV, Hi-8, Laserdisc, perhaps a BetaSP…
Connect REDRAY to your 4K TV (Ultra HDTV) with an HDMI 1.4 cable. Some TVs use four HDMI 1.3 cables. The other end connects to the internet via your router with an Ethernet cable or 802.11n WiFi. Here’s where it gets interesting, and so far, unique. REDRAY is what’s called an OTT network based appliance. Not having a clue what that was, I got an advanced lesson from RED’s articulate Workflow Wizard Stuart English. Over-the-Top (OTT) service means you get content by downloading from the internet, not by paying a monthly TV channel fee to the cable company. YouTube is an OTT service. Cable TV channels are not.
RED is partnering with distribution company Odemax to host and deliver content to REDRAY players worldwide. The analogy would be like getting YouTube or Vimeo video onto your 4K TV. Posts on reduser.net indicate that Odemax will not just be providing an online library of films and content, but anyone shooting 4K could have a revenue-sharing part of the enterprise.
So, we log in to Odemax, select a film to watch, and it downloads quickly to REDRAY’s internal 1 TB drive. The data rate of 4K .RED files averages less than 2.5 Megabytes per second (20 Mbps, which is close to the data rate of current ATSC HD broadcasts).
Another way to ingest, digest and devour your film would be with a USB stick or SD card. Of course, protection and rights management will be involved. REDRAY 4K media files are protected against piracy by REDCrypt encryption and Odemax provides the digital rights management.
Some additional technical notes. In addition to playing native 4K .RED files, REDRAY can play back and upscale 720p and 1080p HD .MP4 files to Ultra HD resolution (3840×2160). It works on a higher plane than Blu-ray, which is compressed at 8-bit 4:2:0. REDRAY supports up to 12-bit 4:2:2 precision when working with 4K displays.
REDRAY Audio comes by way of 7.1 channel LPCM 24-bit 48Khz surround sound. For 3D material, 4K resolution is supported at up to 60 fps for each eye.
For theatrical projection, the RED laser projector has a built in REDRAY player. If you’re using other models of 4K projector, HDMI to HD-SDI converters or HDMI to DVI adaptors can be used between the REDRAY and projector HD-SDI / DVI inputs.
If a new REDRAY arrives on your doorstep and you’re stilling trying to decide how to get that new 84 inch 4K television into the living room, you can still watch 4K material on your existing 720p or 1080p set because REDRAY can also downscale 4096 x 2160 or 3840 x 2160 material to HD resolution.