In the evolution of television resolution, we have seen some incremental jumps in recent years, where standard definition (SD) got replaced by high definition (HD). A significant jump in picture quality that had millions of people upgrading their televisions. Right now, we are on the fringe of seeing another jump in display resolution. 4K video, often referred to as Ultra High Definition (UHD) is the latest screen resolution to sweep the industry. 4K offers four times the amount of pixels than HD, creating higher clarity and finer detailed images. All the major television manufacturers are now offering 4K models. Computer monitors, tablets, and phones are also being updated with a 4K resolution. In the next ten years, it is expected that over half of North American households will have a 4K display – a much faster adoption rate than we witnessed with HDTVs.
A current lack of 4K content is preventing a higher adoption rate, but that is expected to change quickly in the next little while. Japan and Korea have already started experimenting with 4K broadcast streaming. YouTube can now handle 4K video source files and Netflix is offering select titles in 4K as well. 4K video recording devices are quickly hitting the market and range from professional cameras and mobile devices to wearable cameras like the GoPro Hero.
With adoption rates escalating and channels being rapidly upgraded to support 4K content, a 4K recorder is essential tool for anyone with a vested interest in providing next generation video quality. We have recently started working in 4K and are excited about the benefits we have seen. The ability to produce video at this higher resolution not only raises the quality of our portfolio, but also gives each project longevity by being on the leading edge of the 4K curve.
Although it’s worthwhile to have the option to produce video at this higher resolution, as with all hot new technology, sometimes the latest and greatest is not always the best option for your project. While we wait for a higher market saturation of 4K displays and increased streaming bandwidth required to handle the larger files, we often recommend embedding video in High Definition as opposed to Ultra High Definition – unless the content is streaming in a controlled environment that we know is 4K ready. Depending on the project, we might still recommend recording in 4K now so that down the road, when the technical infrastructure has caught up, the video can easily be re-mastered to 4K without an expensive re-shoot.
Beyond the future cost savings, there are several other advantages to shooting in 4K for video intended to be distributed in HD. For instance, downscaling 4K to HD yields amazing results; from our tests, the image quality of downscaled 4K footage is superior to that captured in HD format. Since there is four times as many pixels as HD video, we have the luxury of cropping or zooming up to 400% while still maintaining high definition images. This adds flexibility to the editing process and helps ensure the best framing and image stabilization possible.
4K is allowing us to push the limits in post production further than ever before and we’re excited to be at the forefront of this emerging resolution. Have you seen any 4K content yet? We would love to hear about your experiences with this new resolution.
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