Upscaling 1080p to 4k!! How Is It Possible?!

Every one of us is familiar with this terminology as in today’s world, almost every TV from mid-range to high-end comes with this feature named upscaling. So, what basically is this upscaling? how does it actually work? & how will this feature be beneficial for televisions? Is upscaling 1080p to 4k possible? All of these queries & confusion regarding upscaling will be discussed in this article. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

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Basic Way to Know Upscaling

Basically, upscaling is a type of technic that converts low-resolution photos or videos into high resolution with the help of an interpolation algorithm. To understand upscaling properly, you should know the basics about three terms which are: 1) Pixel, 2) Resolution & 3) Pixel density.

What is a Pixel?

A pixel is the smallest controllable element that can produce colorful lights & is displayed on the screen of any digital device like monitors, laptops, TVs, mobile phones, smartwatches, etc. A screen consists of millions of pixels. A normal human eye cannot see the pixels from a modern screen as the pixel density is too high in these devices. If you want to see a single pixel on a screen, go to your too old CRT TV or your old keypad phones and if you look too closely at their display, you will notice the pixels changing their colors as the screen changes. It looks like magic!

What is Resolution?

Resolution is the horizontal & vertical pixel count of a display. If the display offers 1080p resolution that means it has 1920-pixel count horizontally & 1080-pixel count vertically. And, if you multiply horizontal pixel count with vertical pixel count, the result will be the total number of pixels in that display. For instance, a display is 1080p, so its horizontal pixel count is 1920 & vertical pixel count is 1080. Let’s multiply both pixel counts: 1920×1080 = 2,073,600 which means a few more than 2 million pixels are there in a 1080p display. Just like that, you can easily calculate your various digital gadget’s total pixel numbers.

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What is Pixel Density?

Generally, we measure a display’s pixel density by a unit which is called “Pixel Per Inch” (PPI). In a screen, the actual number of pixels displayed diagonally in one inch is basically called & counted as that display’s pixel density. So, it’s natural that if the resolution of a screen is the same for television & a smartphone, the pixel density of a 5-inch smartphone must be much higher than a 22-inch television.

The Functionality of Upscaling

Suppose you have a 4k television in which you are watching 1080p content. In that case, you will notice that the 1080p content has covered only 25% of the screen and the rest portion is displayed as black. The reason behind this black portion missing information.

We have already known the fact that a 1080p resolution display provides around 2 million pixels but a 4k display provides around (3840×2160 = 8,294,400 pixels) 8.2 million pixels which are 4 times more than a 1080p display. So, when you watch 1080p content on your 4k TV without using the upscaling feature, the 2 million pixels will be displayed but the rest of the 6 million pixels will be missing so 75% of the screen becomes black as that 4k TV cannot cover the whole screen with only 2 million pixels.

What upscaling does is to guess the color value and information of the nearby pixels and add information to the rest of the pixels so that the screen of the TV can cover them fully. So, if you watch 1080p content on your 4k TV, enabling the upscaling feature will provide the color values & information to the rest of the 6 million pixels so that the TV screen can be covered with the content & the content looks like 4k! Although, if the content quality is too poor, upscaling may not improve it properly.


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For example, if you watch 360p content on your 4k TV, upscaling definitely can not improve the quality like real 4k content. So, there is a limit for upscaling. The content should be somewhat close to the quality of the television screen then you will get a perfect upscaling. Also, if your TV is cheap and it still has the upscaling feature then it may not be that good.

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What is Interpolation?

The processing technology used for videos upscaling is known as interpolation. With the help of this technology, based on the known pixels’ colour values, the colour values of the new pixels are guessed & decided so that if any user watches any low-quality content in his/her high-quality TV, the upscaling algorithm automatically fills up the rest of the pixels with colour values to convert it into the same picture quality & to cover the TV screen. Depending upon various types of televisions & their models, there are three methods of upscaling technology available in modern times. Let’s know how each of them works.

Nearest Neighbour Interpolation

This is the oldest, simplest & most used method of upscaling. Almost every mid-budget television comes with this upscaling method. In this interpolation, the video or picture quality is initially stretched to the size of the TV’s quality. So, obviously stretching the picture will create more pixels that will remain blank. Now, to decide the color values of those blank pixels, this interpolation method collects the information from the nearest four active pixels and thus, it decides & puts the information on the blank pixels.

For example, if a blank pixel’s nearest 4 pixels are blue, the blank pixel will most probably be a blue one. If three of the active pixels are blue & one is white, the blank pixel will most probably be light blue. This is how this method actually works. So, if you are watching 1080p content on your 4k TV, using this method will stretch the content to 4k resolution. Then the rest 6 million pixels’ color value will be decided by collecting information from their nearest 4 real pixels.

Left: Unedited image. Right: After nearest neighbor interpolation. Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

This method is the most basic one, so it doesn’t upscale the quality perfectly and that’s why this interpolation is mostly used in mid-range televisions. Rugged outlines, blurred areas are very common issues in this method.

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Bicubic Interpolation

In this upscaling method, the colour code of a blank pixel is decided by collecting information from the 16 nearest active pixels. The result from using Bicubic interpolation is a soft display which can provide little bit comfort to our eyes that means, when any low quality content is increased to the same high quality like the TV by using this method, the quality of this content will not be rugged or blurry like the previous one rather it will become soft.

Left: An example of bilinear interpolation. Right: An example of bicubic interpolation. Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Bilinear Interpolation

Bilinear Interpolation is also a very basic method because, in this method, the color code of a blank pixel is decided by collecting information from only the nearest 2 real pixels. In this way, the upscaled content becomes so sharp & vibrant. Both Bilinear Interpolation & Bicubic Interpolation are used combined in the modern high-end televisions to make the upscaling better than ever!

AI Upscaling & Other Features

Not only upscaling but also there are a bunch of other features like Edge Restoration, Detail Creation, Noise Reduction etc. which also play a vital role in improving the picture quality or the video quality of a Television.

But these other features are decided by the AI of the TV itself. In order to provide the best quality of picture & sound, the TV decides what feature or filter it should use when you’re watching soccer or when you’re watching a movie. A modern TV itself will choose what is best for the quality of the particular content. So, along with the upscaling feature, these AI technologies also plays their role well enough.

Want to understand Upscaling In Hindi Watch the Video Below:

Therefore, we have explained almost everything about upscaling & interpolation & their surrounding features that help to improve the picture quality of content in modern televisions. Use the upscaling smartly to get the advantage of bigger, brighter & better content on your TV screen. Upscaling 1080p to 4k or upscaling 720p to 1080p is definitely possible. Lastly, we hope you have understood this article about upscaling technology & it has really helped you. If so, don’t hesitate to express your valuable thoughts in the comment section. Thanks for visiting & appreciating our work.

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