Panasonic Japan has just announced that it’s developing a new “Super Hi-Vision” (as it’s called in that country) plasma screen that supports 8K resolution at 120 frames per second. The joint project with NHK Science and Research Laboratories will push 7680 x 4320 resolution without a backlight, the first to do so in existence.
The detail of this new plasma screen that stuck out most to me is the mention of 120fps, a sort of increase that has been creating quite a stir as of late. Apparently, during a screening of some clips from the first of Peter Jackson’ new Hobbit movies, viewers were quite displeased with the director’s opting to shoot the entire movie at 48fps, double the traditional 24fps. The additional frames cause footage to look a bit odd in regards to the human persistence of vision – sequences look harsher in movement than standard sports video, and much of the cinematic glaze afforded by the emulsion of old is diminished. Presently available TV’s with 120Hz refresh rates hint at the unnatural quality I’m describing. It’s not ideal, and can even put off a bit of the uncanny valley. I don’t like the uncanny valley. Still, it’s not clear how the increase in frame rate will even affect the progressive signal of the new plasma.
Panasonic and NHK have also developed a new drive method for stifling flicker that occurs at ultra-high resolutions, and the Super Hi-Vision TV is said to image maintain stability, even at 8K. Also, NHK plans to reveal it’s new 8K 120fps sensor sometime in May.
The incorporation of of 48fps and 120fps content seems fine when one is cruising in a Jetta whilst listening to Coldplay on the way to a viewing of Avatar 2, in the acheivement of a sort of iLife trifecta of all that is slick, cold and dead – but when it comes to real things, like Middle Earth, the new concepts are… not ideal. Likewise, a new consideration for Hollywood in its war on movie piracy might involve talented encodists rendering this 48fps hocus-pocus back down to 24 in a seamless way, just to make things watchable.