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I was taken for a ride by Canon’s 8K experience

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Ultra high-resolution video should make the viewer feel as if they were part of the action, or, in Canon’s words, "simulate a physical experience." It’s this philosophy that went into the interactive 8K Ride Experience in Canon’s booth at CES 2016. Held in a small makeshift screening room in front of three large projector screens, the two-minute experience left me wondering what I had missed that was supposed to make me feel things.

The overall experience was rather lackluster

Four 4K projectors, each responsible for a quadrant of the projected screen, were stitched together to create the 8K video in front of me while two screens — one on each side of the main video screen — mirrored the main screen but were intentionally blurred to seemingly provide depth. From a user’s point of view, the video — shot in the Czech Republic with a Canon prototype 8K camera and lens — guided me through a forest and then through the streets of a major city, before finally looking down a track at an oncoming locomotive, a climax that was likely meant as homage to the 1895 silent French film The Arrival of the Mail Train. As urban legend has it, when the black-and-white film was shown for the first time, audience members screamed and ran to the back of the theater in terror. The impact in 8K, however, was lost on a savvy crowd already accustomed to 4K, 3D, and virtual reality headsets.

The quality of other scenes were easier to appreciate. The granular details of a church exterior in one scene drew audible gasps from a few of the dozen or so audience members able to fit into the screening room. But the overall experience was rather lackluster. In other scenes, one in particular showing a room decorated with dolls and another showing the inside of a library, looked computer generated to my eyes — almost like a high-quality video game; it was only after the preview was over did I get clarification from Canon representatives that they did in fact shoot a scene from the inside of a real doll house.

While the demonstration was interesting, it’s hard to walk away from the so-called 8K Experience and be excited for Canon’s vision of the future.

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