The CES (consumer electronics tradeshow) 2014 was all about 4K products, from phones and camcorders to big, big TVs.
The new resolution standard for digital cinema and computer graphics is ultra-high definition, 4K. This means higher quality in image definition and detail, it means better quality from fast action, slow motion and scenic shots. Basically, the image shift from reality to video reality loses less in translation, giving the viewer, clarity and quality of image and a better viewing experience.
It’s not just TV and cinema that is affected by 4K technology, smartphones, tablets, computer monitors, PC games, all video and all image related technology will shift towards 4K, just like film to digital. Consumers expect to see better quality from 4K technologies, and they will, but it takes time for all broadcasters and production companies to tool up. At CES this year, Netflix announced that it will begin streaming movies in 4K later in 2014
Broadcasters know that the 4K bandwagon has just begun, and just like blue ray, 4K is the hot new technology-selling feature in the promotion of video productions.
For a start, all those family classics will be viewed in 4K, Jaws up close and personal. Disney all over again, Into the Void, adventure taken to the extreme, but sharper, brighter, and even more extreme.
That’s all great news for the quality of viewing experience, but what does it mean for video producers who may be thinking of investing in 4K equipment.
For independent producers who are thinking in marketing terms, offering to produce 4K video can be an upsell for clients. Footage shot today will be ready for delivery in the very near future. The demand for 4K quality will outstrip the short-lived blue ray fad.
This can be a great way to gain the competitive advantage in video production. Corporate video productions shot and produced with 4K capabilities will have the quality edge and a longer shelf life.
Nature never looked so good in 4K; it’s well worth investing in a 4K camera to add to oomph to your B roll stock footage, fields of flowers, rushing rivers, fields of wavy wheat, or whatever, the quality will surpass all current stock and take your B roll footage to the next level. It can give you the same chromakey quality that you would find at network stations, but at a fraction of the cost.
Take a 4K camera into the studio and you will find green screen shots are cleaner and crisper, and in the edit suite, compositing visual effects is easier with a larger pixel count, you can scale down and retain clarity.
And as most video producers know, adding motion to footage in post usually results in a loss of quality, with 4K, you retain the quality. This means that fixing it in post is acceptable, cost effective, and a creative strategy, rather than a last minute fix.
Another great feature of 4K is the flexibility you have with the footage. In video production, the ability to manipulate the image after the shoot is invaluable. The wider frame allows more scope to add movement and adjust the composition. Scenes shot from a static camera position can easily have fake dolly moves, tilts and zooms added.
4K capable cameras can be a huge selling advantage in terms of delivering higher production value and dynamic footage to all your video productions. Here’s a video from Gizmodo that compares the Sony A7s to the Panasonic GH4.
So what’s the downside? And here’s the number crunch, while investing in a 4K camera seems like great value considering the return on production value, the camera is just the beginning of the investment. Being able to produce the stunning quality offered takes investment in supporting technology, lenses may need to be upgraded, you will need computer technology that can handle the additional data flow through, and your edit suite will need plenty of storage; with higher quality definition comes a lot of extra data.
But less face it, this industry is all about keeping up with the trends and the latest technology and pushing the creative to new standards and for now, at least, 4K is leading the way.