Producing your video in 4K – is it worth it?

Should you seriously consider producing in 4K?   Absolutely.  It’s not as onerous as you might think.  And although we are a video & web boutique that happens to  shoot in both HD and 4K, we’re not saying this just to boost our bottom line.

What is 4K

What is 4K

So how much better is 4K?  Here’s a quick comparison.   Video resolution is measured by pixel size.  HD in it’s purest form is 1920×1080. 4K is being categorized in 2 flavours. Full 4K which is 4 times the resolution of HD is 4096×2160 and UHD (Ultra High Definition) which is a bridge point between full 4K and HD. It’s 3840×2160.  Anyway you slice it, 4K is about 4 times the resolution of what you’re currently getting with HD.

But why shoot 4K when major broadcasters are still streaming in limited HD, let alone 4k. Because the future is closer than you think. Last month, Rogers announced 4K roll out starting in 2016.

Netflix now has a 4K streaming option and they’ve made it mandatory  that all  new programming submissions come in at 4K.

House of Cards 6K

House of Cards 6K

House of Cards was shot in 6K and delivered in 4.  The added expense, in this case, was worth it because entertainment programming such as this will be  around for the ages.  And viewing in 4K is becoming more accessible. The electronics industry is kind of like your neighbourhood drug pusher. Once you’ve gotten a visual taste of your latest Michael Bay or Scorcesse movie in 4K, you’ll want more.  And 6K is waiting in the wings as soon as 4K reaches consumer saturation.

2 Reasons to consider shooting in 4K

The first is legacy.  If the end product will be around for more than a year and be exposed on a screen larger than a YouTube computer screen, you’ll seriously want to consider shooting and producing in 4K.4kvshd-images-nov20-15-

The second reason is reduced shooting time.  If you are delivering the final product in HD, you can actually spend less time shooting coverage on set by shooting in 4K.   With 4 times the resolution, you can create one shot at 100% and have a second coverage available using that same footage as a closeup.

So, let’s say you’re shooting a simple corporate video with a limited shelf life, or a television commercial for a product that will require fresh creative in six months; are you really going to invest in 4K when you’re not going to need it?  Chances are you may decide to hold off.  But consider the future.

Future Proofing

Your project may not be the next House of Cards, and be around for future generations to enjoy;   but if you end up having to put a ton of planning into pulling a studio or location shoot together, why not make the footage future proof.  Location shoots involve so many variables and the aspirin you took for the last go round may stay in the medicine cabinet if you’re able to do a little forward thinking.

Shooting 4K with some added b-roll will save you a ton of money in the future, and aspirin.

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Tim McLarty - Ontrack Communications Inc.

About the author

Tim McLarty is creative director at Ontrack Communications in Toronto. He’s a podcaster, and his background includes 9 years as professor of media creation at Humber College and 17 years as a broadcaster across Canada.  Ontrack is a media studio creating video, motion graphics, audio and podcast content.  In his spare time he makes short films and travels to any country that will have him.