Playing Video in 4K

This past September, Intel hosted its annual Intel Develop Forum event in San Francisco. The Intel NUC team and Planar created a joint Ultra HD video demo for IDF. The Ultra HD displays with a resolution of 3,840 × 2,160 pixels represent four times the resolution of Full HD (as seen on most modern TVs)and are being called 4K displays. If you think Full HD is life-like, then 4K will blow your mind. But all these extra pixels come at a cost as processing that many pixels is extremely taxing. Intel wanted to show that it's new NUC packed the punch to run 4K videos. Intel NUC are essentially a 4”x4”x2” computer. It’s small in size, economical in price but capable of packing a processing punch. The NUC selected for this demo utilized Intel’s latest technology, Intel Haswell 4th Generation Core i5-4250U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphic 5000. The NUC also has 16GB of RAM and a 180GB mSata drive. For the display hardware we had Planar® UltraRes™ 84” 4K display and a Planar 39” Concept 4K desktop display both supporting a touch interface. For software, the Intel NUC was running Windows 8®. We originally tried running the video on the default Windows Media Player, but the results were not good. The solution was to install Media Player Classic which could take full advantage of the new Intel Haswell Processor.

To get Media Player Classic, we installed the K-Lite Codec Pack FULL version from this website. There is “bonus” software you probably won’t want, so be sure to go through the advance settings and uncheck all the special offers. During setup once you reach the “Hardware Acceleration” dialog box, select “LAV Video – Intel QuickSync”. Then complete the setup.

Now that K-Lite is installed you will want to launch a video with the Media Player Classic (MPC) player. We launched a MP4 video shot at 24fps. Running under the default install of MPC, the video was extremely choppy and looked terrible. Pressing CTRL-J from within MPC will launch helpful display data on the top left of the screen, such as frame rate and buffer data. A throughput graph appears on the bottom right. We immediately saw that the system was not able to keep up with the amount of video data being thrown at it. The culprit can be seen in the DVXA line. MPC was not taking advantage of the integrated HD Graphic 5000 from Intel.

The solution is to go into the program tray and select the “LAV Video Coder” control panel. With the control panel up, we could see two problems: 1) the Hardware Decoder field was set to “None” and 2) UDH (4K) was not selected.

The fix was fairly straight forward and we selected “Intel® QuickSync” as the Hadware Decoder and under Codecs for HW selected UHD (4k). We restarted the 4K movie and the difference was remarkable. A beautiful 4K movie started to play as expected. The throughput graphic on the bottom right of the screen now appeared normal.

The final optimization was matching the video captured frame rate with the integrated graphics. Going into Intel HD Graphics control panel, we dropped the fame rate to 24fps to better match the video. This concluded the adjustment we needed to get outstanding play back. The net benefit of this work was going from an expensive workstation utilizing a graphic card for playback to an approximately $600 NUC solution for playback. We also tested the NUC on a touch enabled 4K interactive virtual car showroom. Again the original software required an expensive workstation with dedicated graphics, but with a few software optimizations we were able to get the software to run on the NUC solution at virtually full speed.

For additional information on Planar's 4K displays, visit our website at

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