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So You Think 4K and 8K Look Good? Behold This 18K Camera Platform

Forza Silicon Debuts New Design for Defense, Security Markets Based on New CMOS, Image-Processing Technology

4K was all the rage at NAB, but that's hardly the ceiling for resolution, even in the near future. Even at NAB, you could see 8K acquisition in the Astrodesign and NHK booths, and you may have been wondering, then, how far resolution can really be pushed. For a hint, look to CMOS sensor design specialist Forza Silicon, which is introducing a new customizable video-camera platform that can reach "resolutions approaching 200 megapixels" at 60fps.

Video professionals don't generally talk about images in megapixel units, which measure the number of pixels in an image (1 megapixel is either 1 million or 1,048,576 pixels, depending on who's counting). But, to put that in perspective, HD resolution is about two megapixels (1920 pixels horizontally multiplied by 1080 pixels vertically gives you 2,073,600 pixels). 4K is a little less than nine megapixels. Even Red Dragon's vaunted 6K resolution equals only a little more than 19 megapixels. You'd need to bump the numbers to something like 18K — 18,000 horizontal pixels — in order for a 16×9 image to approach 200 megapixels total.

Well, that seems to be what Forza is suggesting with its Forza 100+ MP CAM Platform, built around a customizable CMOS image sensor operating at 60fps and proprietary on-board image processing technology. The camera would be switchable between black-and-white and color, and the company said it would produce video images with minimal motion blur. The camera is debuting next month at the SPIE DDS 2014 show in Baltimore, MD, which is geared to defense and security applications.

Forza suggested the camera was ideal for surveillance applications, but said it can be configured to meet requirements in defense, aerospace, automotive, and medical-imaging markets. Would it come in handy in, say, sports production, where it could be pointed at a football field and endless regions of interest defined at HD resolution or higher? Sure — but it'll be a while before anyone in this industry is willing to deal with that much data coming off of the sensor.

12 Comments

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  • Anonymous

    Serious Overkill. Nothing but an effort to get us to waste more money on data we don’t need outside perhaps for scientific needs.

    • BillK

      That’s kind of the point; this camera is aimed at those scientific/surveillance needs.

      For example, positioning a camera like this at the entrance to a secure area would allow you to crop down to stunningly high quality photos of a suspect.

      Likewise, as suggested, should a way to save the native datastream be developed, imagine covering an entire football field (or racetrack or…) with an array of these – you would be able to have full HD instant replay of ANY inch of the field at any time.

      For ordinary cinematic usage, I’m sure the folks at ILM and other FX houses are already drooling.

      • ernestmac13

        Conceivably, with such cameras around the field, it would be possible to fulfill many a sports fan’s dream, enabling them to view the action from any angle, pause it and then start playing it from another angle. This already exists in a primitive form on the Win U, you can watch these video sphere movies, usually of tourist spots, which enable you not turn around 360 degrees, and even up N and down 360 degrees, while the movie is playing. When you do this, you will see the camel’s eye view move with you, as if you were there in real time. You can also zoom in and out of these video clips. The next step will be doing this in real time, & in 3D. Imagine watching NASSAU and being able to jump from the camera views from each car & any anywhere along the track. This will surly make many sports more engaging, imagine being able to view a diving computing from the diver’s point of view. It would be cool to have several of these aboard the space station, on board rovers on the surface vhf Mars,the moon, space probes, etc. Imagine seeing the asteroid impact on Jupiter in high res.

        • Ernestmac13

          That should read NASCAR, lol.

  • Anonymous

    In the surveillance world, there are a number of multi-megapixel cameras that allow a virtual “PTZ” output at some lower resolution than the native resolution of the sensor. In other words, PTZ with no moving parts. I can see a system like this being valuable for military/security applications–not just scientific needs. Also, the author’s example of pointing such a camera at a football field would not necessarily be overkill if the operator specifies a smaller (HD) Region Of Interest, and only an HD ROI is output. One could zoom or pan to any ROI instantly, perhaps with real-time object tracking. Conceivably, even multiple simultaneous outputs could be supported.

    On the other hand, I wonder what type of capturing system could handle the entire sensor output in order to do after-the-fact analysis.

  • Jeff

    I’m holding out for 36K.

  • Edmund Singleton

    I feel bad for all those overly made up women in broadcast news and their greasy lips, they are going to worse then they do today…

  • Peter

    Overkill indeed. Isn’t the human eye only able to decipher 3K? Data mining for visual effects work I understand. Point a camera at some Raytheon, military constructed appliance for R&D makes sense but storytelling? I dunno. Where is all this going?

    • Jared Ba

      I haven’t heard that but I’ve heard similar comparisons. My problem with all of these attempts to quantify what the human eye sees is… Batman. Remember the Dark Knight? They shot most of the movie in 35mm (about 3.5-4k depending on who’s counting) with special sequences in Imax (about 9ish k). In a true Imax theatre (not that faux 4k but really 2k Liemax as mentioned in the earlier comment), the 35mm sequences were projected on a fraction of the screen and the Imax sequences were projected in full screen glory. The 35mm sequences (or 3.5k sequences if you will) looked positively muddy and blurry by comparison, even per square foot of screen. In other words even with the 35 mm footage “shrunk” down or not stretched out to fit a giant screen the faces and landscapes just couldn’t hold the detail of the same patch of screen from one of the Imax sequences. I suspect the eye/brain combo is constantly scanning, focusing on different parts of the image, compiling over a series of scans a much higher resolution image than we give it credit for. Therefor, as weak and poorly designed as the human eye is compared to other creatures, for an immersive cinema experience (whether on a 6 story screen or on some sort of goggles) the optimal is still Imax or better. So why want even more resolution than Imax? Imagine some day 10 or 15 years from now (or much sooner, you never know) when CPUs/GPUs/SSDs allow, a filmmaker can fine tune a problematic composition months later in post, cropping, panning, scanning, deep into the picture and still have better than Imax resolution. That would be/will be incredible. I love overkill.

  • YouStartedit

    But what could you display it on ?

  • TRed

    The first thing I thought was–how pathetic the new Lie-Max 4k camera will look projected at Lie-Max 2k. Overkill or not, I’d love to see a serious epic filmmaker project this on a six story screen.

  • Michael Mooney

    in 25 or 30 years it will be 200 gigapixels and then 200 terapixels, and up and up.