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Digital Foundry launches high quality 4K video platform

Five dollars a month via Patreon for access to pristine ultra HD downloads.

Today, the embargo lifts on PlayStation 4 Pro. We've published our review and the first 4K video covering a range of PS4 Pro titles, and it's the culmination of several months of behind the scenes research on upgrading our workflow to accommodate 4K - ultra HD. Today I'm inviting you to support Digital Foundry via an inexpensive $5 per month Patreon that allows you to support this kind of work, while giving you access to high-end video encodes of all our content going forward.

Coming out of the PlayStation Meeting a couple of months back, we became acutely aware of how difficult it is to capture the 4K experience with bandwidth-constrained streaming platforms like YouTube. Platforms like this specialise in convenient, easy streaming but fast action gaming is often reduced to a sea of blurriness and macroblocks. The whole point of 4K is its pristine level of presentation, and we've swiftly discovered that existing 4K streaming content actually seems to resolve lower levels than 1080p. We couldn't show you what PS4 Pro - or indeed other high-end gaming hardware - was capable of, because the platform didn't exist to get the job done. So we decided to build it.

We use a quality-based h.264 encode, processing every frame to a set standard - bandwidth varies according to the complexity of the scene, but average bit-rate can be anything up to 100mbps in the most extreme circumstances. It's a brute force approach to the issue but it gets the job done - the only issue being that bandwidth costs money. That's why we've attached a small cost of entry to the content. You can see my full pitch below, and check out the new DigitalFoundry.net site, where we have a sample video you can download. We'll also be uploading our 1080p content too, where there are also big picture quality improvements over the YouTube experience.

Rich presents his pitch for the Digital Foundry Patreon.

In terms of how to watch our content, modern gaming PCs should have no problem running the videos (we recommend a player such as Media Player Classic Home Cinema - the basic Windows player won't cut it), while even a Retina MacBook Pro runs the 4K videos nicely using the standard Quicktime Player. For users of ultra HD TVs, their inbuilt media players should be able to run the content - just copy the files onto a reasonably fast USB stick, plug them into the TV and you should be good to go. Unfortunately, neither Xbox One S nor PS4 Pro feature updated media players capable of running 4K content, so these devices are not recommended.

The making of Alpha Protocol Obsidian's secret best RPG. The making of Alpha Protocol

To illustrate the quality we are aiming for, we've put together a sample download - two minutes of Rise of the Tomb Raider running in PlayStation 4 Pro's 4K mode, played simultaneously with the PC version on the very high preset, powered by the mighty Titan X Pascal.

One thing we'd like to stress is that we don't believe in the 'walled garden' approach to editorial content. In the future we may consider adding some raw gameplay downloads to the site or other small bonuses based on community feedback, but right now, we simply aim to mirror our YouTube videos in a new environment where quality comes first.

In terms of launch downloads, we have our PlayStation 4 Pro video review, along with Uncharted 4, Titanfall 2 and Modern Warfare Remastered let's plays, all delivered in pristine 4K. On top of that, we've raided the library too with some top-tier PC gameplay - ultra HD, 60fps videos of Battlefield 1, Forza Horizon 3, Titanfall 2 and more. We hope that you want to support what we do here at Digital Foundry, and fingers crossed that the quality of our wares meets with your approval!

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