Hundreds of Trillions of Pixels: NVIDIA and RED Digital Cinema Solve 8K Bottleneck

For discerning households, 4K video resolution is becoming the new gold standard. But in professional circles, the real glitter is on 8K.

This ultra-high HD standard provides stunning clarity on large screens, where pixels aren’t visible even from inches away.

But it takes massive computing muscle to power that capability — and that’s a task our revolutionary Turing GPU architecture and new Quadro RTX GPUs are perfect for.

100 Trillion Pixels and Counting

State-of-the-art cameras can capture 8K video (which contains four times the pixels of 4K), but those pixels can create a massive computational logjam when editing footage.

Consider: an 8K camera captures at 8192×4320, or more than 35 million pixels per frame. So, just five minutes of that video at 24 frames per second is 250 billion pixels. Figure that a typical shoot involves hours of content, and you get past 100 trillion pretty quickly.

To handle that oceanic volume, post-production professionals rely on powerful, expensive workstations, high-end custom hardware and time-consuming preprocessing.

But that’s all about to change with Turing.

Working with leading camera maker RED Digital Cinema, Turing makes it possible for video editors and color graders to work with 8K footage in full resolution — in real time — reaching greater than 24 frames per second using just a single-processor PC with one Quadro RTX GPU.

And at less than half the price of CPU-laden workstations, this solution puts 8K within reach for a broad universe of post-production professionals using RED cameras whose content is viewed by millions.

“RED is passionate about getting high-performance tools in the hands of as many content creators as possible,” said Jarred Land, president of RED Digital Cinema. “Our work with NVIDIA to massively accelerate decode times has made working with 8K files in real time a reality for all.”

Pixel Perfect: The Perks of 8K

Though the markets for 8K displays and TVs are nascent, professionals can benefit by producing in 8K and distributing in 4K. The extra pixels from an 8K camera give the cinematographer more creative choices in post-production.

For example, there’s more flexibility for image stabilization, or panning and zooming to reframe a shot without losing image quality in the final delivery format. For visual effects, high resolution can provide more detail for tracking or keying. Downsampling high-resolution video can help reduce noise as well as maintain a high level of quality.

Whether the end result is 4K, 8K or somewhere in between, each tool in the production pipeline must be ready to handle 8K. It’s one thing to have a camera that captures the artists’ vision in seamless 8K footage, frame after frame. It’s another thing to translate that smoothness into the post-processing and editing processes.

When the video industry transitioned from HD to 4K, GPU adoption gave professionals the computing power to handle the higher resolution. Now, too, GPUs are doing the heavy lifting for 8K, freeing CPUs to do other work.

Unleashing 8K’s RAW Potential

Video applications like Adobe Premiere Pro, Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve and Autodesk Flame are already capable of working with 8K footage captured from cameras like RED’s. This includes footage stored in its REDCODE RAW file format, which gives post-production professionals more creative control but greatly increases the computational demand to process it.

Depending on the processing power of the computer or workstation at hand, though, videographers and editors end up viewing their 8K files at significantly reduced resolution in the software application. Attempting to play back the footage at full resolution can cause the application to drop frames or stop playback while buffering — so the editors are forced to choose between smooth playback and working in full resolution.

Alternatively, they can preprocess their footage into a more manageable format, but that takes time and disc space.

By offloading all of the computationally intensive parts of the REDCODE processing to a Turing GPU, NVIDIA and RED are giving post-production professionals access to 8K footage at full resolution in real time. And it’s not just for Turing — this acceleration will also substantially increase REDCODE processing performance on other NVIDIA GPUs.

Artists working with 8K footage will no longer have to disrupt their creative flow, waiting for their editing tools to catch up.

New capabilities will also be possible with the NVIDIA RTX Tensor Cores and RT Cores available with Turing. Editors will gain from new functionality like AI-enabled upscaling, which will let them intermix archival footage or zoom in beyond 8K resolution with the best possible results. And those incorporating high-resolution 3D graphics and titling will get more time back to focus on the creative parts of their workflow.

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