4k (aka Ultra HD) is yet to become a mainstream video format, however, several 4k monitors are already proving their worth in video production in various government facilities. Indeed, NASA is using 4k monitors as part of its growing video production chain.
Since the 2003 Columbia accident, NASA is trying to explore the high-resolution video formats as an affordable substitute for film. Today, NASA relies on Red digital cameras to shoot historical and ancient footage in both 4k and 6k to capture the highest detail possible. The space agency also sent a Red Dragon camera to International Space Station for the same reason. (Earlier use large IMAX cameras in orbit ceased once the Space Shuttle retired.)
Rodney Grubbs, program manager of the NASA Imagery Experts Program at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala said that until recently, they rarely have to view all of this imagery in 4k because of the cost of 4k monitors and their challenging play-out workflows.
However, reductions in 4k monitor prices and workflow changes made it possible for MSFC people to view 4k video in its endemic resolution, instead of down converting it to normal HD. This is why MSFC now has a 65-inch Sony XBR-65X900B consumer grade 4k monitor (priced $3,800 online), and a 32-inch Sharp PN-K321 professional grade 4k monitor ($3,000) installed in their lab.
MSFC purchased the 32-inch monitor from Apple and connected to the Mac Pro system they put together, Grubbs noted.
Having a 4k monitor delivered a number of benefits to NASA.
Grubbs said they have shot 4k for many years, but never got to see in its indigenous 4k. Seeing the indigenous 4k gives the shooters affirmation of good focus and exposure. He also added that if a producer or editor is considering capturing a part of the 4k video for HD use, such as 720p or 1080p piece from the larger full framing of the 4k video, it can help and aids the engineers in making very close inspections of events in the video.
Since 2010, NASA is using Red One 4k camera at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch of STS – 131 on April 5, 2010 (using the Space Shuttle Discovery) recorded in 3D. It used five pairs of Red One cameras arranged for stereoscopic shooting around the launch pad.
For NASA, it only makes sense to use to 4k monitors given the comprehensive use of 4k video; both in increasing the detail of its film for current study and to-future proof its film for years to come. Here is an excellent list of the most popular and best rated 4k monitors available on the market!
Hence, there is room for 4k monitors in today’s HD-dominated video production facilities and now that monitor prices have come down, it is an ideal time to buy such a monitor and start exploring.