Are you still wondering if you should invest in new equipment and upgrade to 4K production? Seriously, we video producers are on the brink of another technical leap that can trash all our current works, so we must start it all over again.
I’ve been in video production for some 20 years and have seen my work gone trash after the transition from SD to HD. I can’t believe by that time I thought HD was going nowhere.
Back in 2015 producers started to use 4K (AKA UltraHD) camcorders. Just some of them because the format was new, there weren’t video productions in 4K to play in your TV and well, that was also the reason nobody was interested in 4K TVs.
Lee Morris wrote the article “6 Reasons To Shoot 4K Video Even If You Can’t View It Yet” for FStoppers.com back in July 2015. You can access the article from here: http://bit.ly/4K-2015
The article perfectly describes the transition from HD to UltraHD just as it happened during the transition from SD to HD. In other words, the article is full of good tips on how to take advantage of 4K video if you happen to own a 4K camera but still deliver your works in HD.
Using a higher frame size to get sharper downsized footage, stabilizing your footage, cropping your footage, create smooth pans and zooms, get A and B roll shots at once and use 4K frames to get nice screenshots of your scenes for the web (those are the 6 reasons by the way) are exactly the kind of things I used to do when I first owned an HD camera while delivering my works in SD.
The article is very well-intentioned. And don’t get me wrong! I still produce videos in HD in my company simply because we haven’t upgraded our computers! And therefore, I take advantage of any 4K footage to achieve exactly the achievements that Lee Morris describes in his article.
But you know what? This is a Déjà vu. I have experienced this before more than 10 years ago. I know that any HD work I produce today will go to the trash as soon as Internet bandwidth supports 4K video and tablets, phones and computer screens get higher “retina” resolutions.
What surprises me is that at the time of writing these lines by the end of 2017, I still see the question pop up in LinkedIn threads: “Should I upgrade to 4K?” and many, or at least too many of the answers recommend to stick to HD and use 4K for the same 6 reasons presented above.
Here is where I find the article “Should I Shoot in 1080p or 4K For My Next Video Project” by Mike Briggs and written in April 2017. You can read the article here: http://bit.ly/4K-2017
Mike Briggs doesn’t encourage video creators to stick to HD. He basically presents the benefits of still producing in HD. The limitations of 4K according to Briggs are essentially reduced to economic factors. For example, 4K footage requires high-performance computers, bigger and faster hard drives and of course costly camcorders. It also requires more time because even a high-performance computer will take longer to process 4K UltraHD video than 1080p HD video. The article also revisits some of the reasons why filming in 4K was an advantage back in 2015.
I must say that all that Mike Briggs claims is true. But his arguments are the same that I had back in 2007 during the (costlier, messier and longer) transition from SD to HD. All I can say is that I was wrong back then.
Here are my 3 reasons why you should start producing in 4K ASAP:
1. Future-proof your work.
Today, I cannot show my works in SD. They look ridiculously low quality in comparison to any HD video I have produced after then. Do you want to trash all your current portfolio? If the answer is no, 4K is the solution.
2. Upgrading to 4K is cheap.
Honestly, even smartphones record in 4K. Any 4K is better than HD. Video editing software such as Premiere lets you edit at 1/8 the resolution to make the workflow smoother. Besides, a 4K professional camera today costs 5 times less than a professional SD camera back in 2000. The price of video production is so much cheaper today you wouldn’t believe what we used to pay to equip ourselves.
3. Forget about post-production benefits.
Yes, right, all that stuff of having a bigger frame makes dead easy to pan, crop and stabilize footage. But open your eyes, you are a filmmaker, you must get the perfect footage to minimize post-production efforts. That’s how a video workflow becomes smooth. If you have become too dependent on post-production solutions you need to train yourself again and get back those valuable filmmaker skills you need to make the perfect movie.
Finally, a word of advice from someone who used to be too obsessed with technical perfection. Don’t stop filming because you don’t own a 4K camcorder. If not having the budget to upgrade is your problem, then your priority number one is to develop your portfolio.
Make videos like a beast while the transition HD to UltraHD lasts. The vast majority of average video viewers aren’t aware of the technical change. So produce videos and when you make the money to upgrade, be the first, because very soon the HD train will reach the final destination and whoever didn’t change station to UltraHD will have to start their portfolios again.