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September 5, 2023

Savage is Developing a Market for Limited Edition 8K Video and Digital Collectables

This week we were able to catch up with Luke Neumann of a pioneer in a number of areas of 8K content capture and development and who has recently done an interesting deal with Samsung for a new app on their smartTVs. He started by explaining that he got into the world of video with high resolution very early on.

YouTube or Film School?

In 2010, he had a choice to make – to go to film school or to develop content for YouTube. He chose YouTube and was an early provider of content on the platform – as he said “In the days before you could really monetize YouTube content”. He learned what he would have done at film school ‘on the fly’. This was through real world work showing how the latest technology such as Canon DSLRs could be used by independent filmmakers. He shared that knowledge with others on the platform. As he couldn’t generate income directly on YouTube at the time, he worked on monetizing externally, selling LUTs for color correction and also creating music that could be used with videos.

A breakthrough moment was in 2015 when he created the ‘Ghost Towns’ video in 8K. At the time, Neumann told us, YouTube had not publicly talked about the platform supporting 8K and he was surprised that he was able to upload the full resolution content. The video gained more than two million views very very quickly – taking him completely by surprise – and has now been seen more than eight million times. The video has not far off 5,000 comments! The success of the post saw Neumann’s firm, Savage, starting to work on 8K content for companies including Samsung, TCL, Amazon, DJI and Adobe, among others. He started creating demo content, test content and other high quality 8K video.

Neumann told us that one of the biggest hassles of doing this kind of work is that often a month or two is spent negotiating the usage rights. This can be a painful process that doesn’t really add any value, but is essential. A solution to reduce the hassle is to embed the rights into the content and then protect them with a blockchain technology (also sometimes known as Web3 technology). The embedding of rights into video content has some very important benefits.

Embedded Rights has Benefits

One of the benefits is that the rights for usage can be built directly into the content. That is preferable to using sites and platforms that are set up separately to control the use of content as the firm found that the platforms often limit file sizes and resolutions and that goes against his commitment to capturing and recording in the highest quality. Neumann is committed to 8K partly because the use of the highest possible resolution has allowed him to continue to go back to his original content and re-render it for the latest viewing platforms. His projects captured at 6K on a Red camera ten years ago still look good.

A secondary benefit of the use of blockchain technology means that there can be ‘indisputable proof’ of origin and ownership for ‘digital collectables’. This feature has the benefit that it allows the development of a market for ‘limited edition’ videos. Neumann believes that this development has the potential to allow the creation of an open market that is similar to that for fine art photography. It took a while for the photography as fine art market to develop. Confidence needed to grow that the limits of editions allowing for value to come from scarcity would be respected. Collectors often value scarcity and the use of rights in blockchains can encourage confidence in future and continued control of distribution. He has worked with Samsung and with photographers such as Paul Nicklen (well known from his work with National Geographic among others) to allow resale of his images with blockchain security.

A further benefit of using blockchain is that the rights can include a share in traded value for the original content creator. In other words, if an item of content increases in value as it is traded, the creator can see some benefit.

New Opportunities for Content Creators

All of these features can also enable new opportunities for content creators that may have previously unreleased content. Such content could include, for example, deleted scenes from iconic movies with huge audiences. Studios might be able to realize more additional value from such ‘digital collectables’.

Savage has been working with Samsung for some time and has created demonstration content in 8K. Now, the firm has developed an app for Samsung SmartTVs that allows content to be exclusively licensed. The app, Neumann told us, has just been released on Samsung sets. He sees opportunities for content licensing and sale, especially on sets such as Samsung’s ‘The Frame’ which have been designed around the aim of providing a first class image for digital viewing.

Samsung’s Sangmin Lee said “There is a growing amount of 8K content available on social media channels, and artists are creating digital artworks in 8K,” he explained. “We added in ‘YouTube Videos in 8K’ feature to the 2023 Neo QLED TV to allow users to peruse the 8K content available on YouTube and explore digital artworks, such as an image in NFT form, at a single glance.”

In production, Neumann does not see any real technical barriers to capture and creation in high quality 8K. He tends to use proxy files when editing and that gets him away from any particular challenges of dealing with large files. (Having said that, Petapixel and NHK have both recently pointed out that a well specified MacBook or equivalent is well equipped to handle native 8K). Neumann is very positive about the quality that can be achieved especially if you can capture in the ProRes RAW format which he particularly likes. He tends to produce final content using the H.265/HEVC codec with a 10 bit color depth. He usually compresses to around 25Mbps to 35Mbps depending on frame rate, but is also experimenting with higher bit rates as storage costs come down and device capacities increase.

Savage also has a website that is being developed as a source for 8K video content (and free LUTs and music!) for video creators.

(Well, we got to the end of this article without using the phrase ‘NFT’. The reality is that Savage’s technology is built on NFTs, but as we discussed on the call, the phrase itself has got a bad name after the ‘feeding frenzy’ that developed when the idea and markets started, so we tried to avoid using it, as he does. Just because there was a bit of a crazy period does not mean that there is not a sound idea behind the concept.)

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