Large monitors are tough to carry around and set up, so it is highly unlikely you’ll find them on a film set. Where you can find one, though, is in a temporary dailies/rushes tent or room.
First, let’s take a look at the unique demands of 4K monitoring.
4K – the problem of too close and too far
Every monitor is constrained by resolution and its size. Both of these are always constant. For the observer, the only practical factor that affects the perception of resolution is viewing distance.
There is always a distance at which the size of each pixel is at the limit of visual acuity. Let’s call this the ‘ideal’ spot.
If you step closer to the monitor, you will begin to see the individual pixels. If you step further away, there will come a point where the resolution advantage of this monitor is lost, and a monitor with a lower resolution might suffice.
Why does this happen? Individual pixels will seem to ‘bunch up’ to form bigger pixels as you step away. To learn more, and to make your own calculations, please read Driving Miss Digital.
To give you a few examples, let us consider the Retina Display as standard, at 264 ppi (printing is ideally set at 300 dpi). At 1-2 feet, for the average observer (which is the majority of us), this is great for reading.
If you’re watching 4K on a 24″ monitor, the ‘ideal’ distance is at 1.5 feet. You might feel this is too close, so you step back, also allowing others to take a peek. If you step back to about 3 feet (which is not that far back at all!), you will be watching 4K at the same resolution as it would appear if you were watching 1080p! Crazy.
Here’s another example. If you’re watching 4K on a 42″ monitor, the ideal distance is at about 2.5 feet (that close?). If you sit back to about 6 feet, you’ve wasted your money. You could have the same feel with a 1080p monitor.
What does this tell you? There is a very small window of opportunity for 4K on a set. 99 times out of 100, you’re better off with a standard 1080p monitor. Just view it a few steps further back. If you want presence, get a bigger monitor!
You could get a retina display kind of feel at 6 feet away from a 55″ monitor showing 1080p. Who needs more on a set?
Consider this before asking for a 4K monitor.
Production monitors at these sizes are expensive, so if you have an HD-SDI feed you might want to consider an HD-SDI to HDMI converter (or the other way around) like the ones Kramer, Blackmagic Design or AJA makes.
Most professional-grade broadcast monitors, with all the bells and whistles, stop at 32″.
One shouldn’t expect the kind of color quality from large monitors as one would find on smaller monitors.
It is plain that if you want 4K, you want the best image quality possible. There are no cheap solutions available, unless you want to create a 2×2 video wall but why?
For consumer level 4K, try Sony VPL-VW1000ES 4K
For professional grade 4K, try the Sony SRXT105.
For the price of a 4K monitor, one could potentially make a movie.
Next we’ll look at scopes.