What's the Deal with 4K?

  |   Dec 13 2017   |  


What's the Deal with 4K?

Especially now that holiday deals and TV advertisements are all over the place, you’re probably hearing about all of the latest technological advances in television and consumer video products.  If you’re shopping for a television, then you’ve definitely heard the term “4k”. 

If you’ve been in the market to produce a video production in the past year or two, you’ve also probably heard it in that context as well. 

It may just sound like a buzzword, but 4k has actually been a pretty big advancement in the field of video.  Simply put, 4k is the next big jump in video resolution after HD.  The name refers to the fact that the resolution of a 4k video is comprised of four thousand lines of pixels horizontally (typically with two-thousand, one hundred sixty pixels high).  This is in comparison to HD video, or 1080p.  1080p refers to the one thousand eighty vertical pixels in a high-definition picture resolution (1920x1080). 

You would be right to wonder why one name refers to the vertical dimension of its resolution, and the other refers to the horizontal dimension of its resolution.  There are a couple different reasons for this, the first of them being the Digital Cinema Initiative.  Formed in 2002, the DCI is the combined effort of the major Hollywood studios to create a specific standard for all digital cinema.  They came up with two possibilities for screen resolution: 2K (2048x1080) and 4K (4096x2160).  Since this was in 2002, it was long before 4K screens were commercially available.  So by the time they were, the buzzword “4K” was already available for advertisers to use.  Since it sounds like more of an improvement on 1080p than 2160p does, they stuck with it. 

A lot of people wonder whether or not they should be requesting their video to be filmed in 4K.  It’s a valid question, and something you should consider.  If your video is going to be used on big screens for a long time, then 4K is a way of future-proofing the video.  4K screens might not be totally pervasive now, but in 10 years, they could be. 

4K videos are also much more costly to produce.  Not only does the video production company need to purchase or rent 4K ready cameras and video recorders to be able to provide this service, they also need to have a workflow that can support 4K.  The higher resolution the video, the bigger the files for it will be, and the bigger toll they’ll take on the processors of the computers being used to edit the project.  Storage and processing power are expensive, and are just as necessary for editing in 4k as the cameras are for shooting in it.    

If you’re shooting a marketing video to be used on your website or social media channels, there’s really no need yet for it to be in 4K.  HD video is still the most efficient option, especially if your project will be watched on small screens and mobile devices.  However, if you’re shopping for a wedding video, or a personal project that you want to look the best, and you’re willing to splurge, talk to your video production company about 4k. 

Was this article helpful to you?  Please provide us with some feedback on your thoughts in the comments section below so we can address it in a future blog post.

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