"Betas," one of Amazon's current original shows. Credit: AmazonAmazon will record all of its original TV content in 4K ultra-high definition, according to the online giant's TV and production arm Amazon Studios.
This 4K definition refers to a resolution of roughly 4,000 pixels across the screen, hence the name. The standardized 4K resolution, also known as Ultra High Definition or UHD, is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, or more than four times that of HD resolution. A 4K screen is necessary to appreciate the sharpness of a resolution this high, and those sets are still far more expensive than HD models of the same screen size.
However, Amazon has not announced plans to stream its original content, or any of the content available through Amazon Prime Instant Video, in 4K. Streamed video content, even if filmed with 4K resolution cameras, is only as sharp as the resolution of the stream and of the screen used to watch it. An Amazon representative could not speculate on if or when 4K video streaming would become available on the Amazon Instant Video service.
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By filming its original content in 4K, Amazon hopes to compete with Netflix, its primary opponent in the TV and film online-streaming business. Netflix has seen huge success with its own original programs such as "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards," and has also announced plans to begin streaming its some of its content in 4K within a year.
Amazon Studios hopes to find a smash hit of its own among the five series pilots that it recently announced would air in 2014: "The After," "Bosch," "Mozart in the Jungle," "The Rebels" and "Transparent." Amazon will turn the most well-received of these pilots into full-length series. Though the pilots themselves weren't filmed in 4K, the series will be, as will any new pilots filmed in 2014, Amazon said.
The five pilots are a mix of comedies and dramas. "The After" is a thriller developed by "X-Files" creator Chris Carter. "Bosch" is a police procedural based on a series of books by Michael Connelly. The pilot lists Connelly as a writer; Jim McKay will direct and Titus Welliver will star as homicide detective Harry Bosch.
"Mozart in the Jungle," written by Roman Coppola (the son of famed director Francis Ford Coppola), lifts the curtain on the sex, drugs and drama behind the scenes of a symphony orchestra. "The Rebels," co-produced by former New York Giants football player Michael Strahan, follows the members of a professional football team. "Transparent" is a comedy written and directed by Jill Soloway about a family with "serious boundary issues," according to its IMDb page.
These shows won't be Amazon's first foray into original content; the company already produced "Alpha House," a political comedy starring John Goodman, and "Betas," about a group of young tech entrepreneurs. Pilots for the two shows aired in April 2013, with subsequent episodes airing weekly in November and December.