Image: LG

Here’s a shocker. It turns out that most of today’s biggest television companies, which have been pushing for 8K adoption, are selling display technologies that may not be beneficial to the consumer.

Warner Bros. recently ran a double-blind study and found that most of the its participants couldn’t tell much of a difference between 8K UHD and 4K UHD. These refer to resolutions of 7680 x 4320 and 3840 x 2160, respectively.

The double-blind study utilized clips from three features (Dunkirk, Brave, A Bug’s Life), one live-action series (The Tick), and nature footage by Stacey Spears. All of these were shot in 8K resolution and encoded in HDR10.

Image: Warner Bros.

Few of the 139 participants could spot differences between the original 8K clips and 4K versions when they were played back in alternating sequences on an LG 88Z9 88-inch 8K OLED TV. (The 4K clips were downscaled and upscaled using industry-standard post-production software.)

The lack of visual acuity was not a factor, as each participant had their vision checked before testing began. Most of them had perfect or very good eyesight: 27 percent had better than 20/20 vision, 34 percent had 20/20 vision, while 39 percent had vision that averaged 20/25 or 20/30.

Only the participants with 20/10 acuity sitting in the front row saw differences in two clips, A Bug’s Life and Spears’s nature footage. Still, the 8K clips were only described as “slightly better” than 4K.

Image: Warner Bros.

What’s really surprising is that many thought the 4K footage was better. Michael Zink, VP of Technology at Warner Bros., chalked this up to guesswork. “I believe the reason you see a large number of people rating ‘4K better than 8K’ is that they really can’t see a difference and are simply guessing,” Zink said.

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13 Comments

  1. Honestly I can’t see the difference between 4K and 1080 on my 55″ 4K TV.

    I’ve never believed much in the resolution wars honestly especially when it came to PC monitor screen sizes but got why people would want them. 8K though I think that’s simply a marketing gimmick so people will think there’s a reason to upgrade their perfectly good TV.

  2. As someone who has chased the image quality dragon for decades now I can tell you a few things about this. I’m glad Tsing found this story and it is so true due to other current factors.

    1. Glad they tried to approach it in a scientific manner with at least testing the vision of the participants in the study. It would need to go a step further though in that not all can perceive frames or colors the same and source material used may not take advantage of the full potential 8K can offer. Try comparing colors from VHS>DVD>Blu-Ray>HDR 4K and we can see a difference. Who knows what color standards are in line for 8K? I’ve heard of some but it’s still a long way off.

    2. 8K will suffer from the same faults that 4K has currently. Most things are shot at 4K or 5K max, some notable sports exceptions, and then have a 2K digital intermediate. Throw in bit stream limitations along with color depth and it can get even worse. Whether using current disc media, or streaming, we’re not even close to being able to support this yet. The things shot at 4K, or higher, and mastered at 4K look great and are easily spotted when seen but they are still in the minority of what makes it to release.

    3. This point does go along with #2 but also parallels what happened with 1080P or Blu-Ray. When the first Blu-Rays came out there were many who couldn’t necessarily see a difference. It took time for content, and all the needed tech, to catch up with each other. To me 4K is still in its infancy. We still regularly see compromises made that honestly shouldn’t be when it comes to content creation. Disc content offers the best option but manufacturers have decreased to 3-4 for buying players for them and even then only a couple even offer Dolby Vision support. This leaves us with streaming and I admit some do look better than 1080P physical media it greatly depends on source material and the streaming service delivery.

    I will say that display tech is moving far too fast. Been saying it for a long time now, since 1080P days. Considering it takes five plus years just to have a GPU to handle games is a good sign. For non-gaming content the wait is a little less but not by much. Studios will rush content out but usually with compromises. In the end the consumers are at a losing end. On one hand they have many more choices. Usually this is a good thing but with frequent releases it destroys customer confidence in a platform or product. On the other hand we experience a lack of support for that halo tier along with half baked solutions along the way that manufacturers cannot even support themselves.

  3. Does not surprise me in the slightest.

    Most typical viewing distances and screen sizes don’t even support telling the difference between 1080p and 4k, and usually I prefer high bitrate 1080p over overcompressed 4k with artifacting.

    In my living room / light home theater setup I’m still using a 65″ 1080p Panasonic Plasma with a viewing distance of about 12 ft.

    At this distance I have no need for 4k, let alone 8k.

    If I had a dedicated home theater, I might go for a larger screen and closer viewing distance, and then 4k, and possibly even 8k (bot not sure) might make sense, but this is about as big/close as I am willing to go for a system that serves both for casual livingroom TV watching and for movies.

    When this Panasonic Plasma finally dies, I’ll probably consider 4k, but I’m in no hurry. I have no interest in 8k. I value other visual quality elements (deep blacks, natural colors, good contrast, etc.) more than I do higher pixel density.

    8k is very much pointless for all but a few very narrow corner cases.

  4. I can tell 1k from 4k. (56″ and 48″ TVs as monitors) At least on my computer. Be interesting to test it with video clips and see if I could tell with an 8k tv as a monitor.

  5. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 10678, member: 203″]
    When this Panasonic Plasma finally dies, I’ll probably consider 4k, but I’m in no hurry.
    [/QUOTE]
    I think 4k is the minimum these days anyway so you won’t have much choice unless you find something used.

  6. 8k masters are just the same as 35mm film finally. Having seen movies shot in 70mm it’s just amazing. Also I hope they didn’t shoot these on standard multi color CCD instead of proper 3 CCD capture or else it isn’t actually 8k color resolution only spatial.

  7. HDR has a bigger impact than resolution. I have some movies that are 4K (70mbit/s) and recently watched one that was around 10mbit/s (1080P) and honestly I didn’t really notice anything wrong with the 1080P file. Side by side I bet I could see the difference and if I really tried to look for them, but upscaling on TV’s these days is pretty solid.

  8. [QUOTE=”Strelok, post: 10689, member: 237″]
    HDR has a bigger impact than resolution.
    [/QUOTE]

    For gaming and movies I absolutely agree

  9. “They” .. should of had them play some games .. just going from 1080p to 2k, I see a huge difference .. but I don’t think there are any 8k mods for any games out there right now ..?

  10. [QUOTE=”Elf_Boy, post: 10680, member: 438″]
    I can tell 1k from 4k. (56″ and 48″ TVs as monitors) At least on my computer. Be interesting to test it with video clips and see if I could tell with an 8k tv as a monitor.
    [/QUOTE]

    What on Earth is 1k?

    1024×576?

  11. Well, maybe when there is actual 8k content instead of uprezzed stuff.

    But yeah a good 1080p movie is pretty damn hard to tell the difference between that and 4K. Hell the wife will watch a 480p movie every now and then and those don’t even look bad, just softer edges.

    And we’re still limited to 1080i/720p broadcast source so what is up with the big push for 8K (I already know the answer… $$$)

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