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NAB Video: Conversations with Filmmakers on the Topic of 4K

05.8.13 @ 5:48PM Tags : , , ,

NAB-2013-FreshDVWe mention 4k a lot around here, mainly because it’s something most filmmakers will have to work with at some point in the near future if they haven’t already. While 4k acquisition is certainly a separate topic from 4K distribution, both are important conversations, and FreshDV took to the NAB show floor to discuss the topic with filmmakers:

The Canon C100 post by Ryan E. Walters got plenty of attention on nofilmschool recently, and I think a lot of what he was saying was echoed in the video above. I’ve written quite a few posts on 4k, and while I believe it is going to come very quickly once a few hurdles are overcome, the reality is, many projects will not have a shelf life long enough to require 4k. There are a number of advantages to capturing in the format even if you’re going back down to 1080p, but I think at the moment it’s more a question of wanting to have the flexibility (and possible “future-proofing) vs. needing to have 4k because it’s going to be shown that way.

I believe this will change over the next few years, and I’ve been on record as saying that I think beginning in 2017 HDTVs will no longer be made (it may even be earlier with how fast things are moving), but it’s definitely possible if compression gets better that 4k will take hold in movie theaters and on the internet long before it does in broadcast TV.

What do you guys think?

Link: FreshDV


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  • 4K simultaneously thrills and frightens me. I hate the idea that the stuff I’ve shot on DSLR will be considered “unwatchable” in just a few years. At the same time I’m still holding out hope that vector based video codecs are fully developed soon and render those kind of arguments/fears irrelevant.

  • Anthony Marino on 05.8.13 @ 7:29PM

    I think the article is exactly right. For the small percentage of folks who like hi fidelity the 4k transition has nothing to do with them or even for us, the sake of the filmmaker. The studios (and they control Hollywood) are the ones dictating this move. As technology progresses costs come down significantly. If I was a studio guy (big or small) why would I want to spend money if I don’t have to? Nobody is twisting anyones arm here they figure forget emulsion, give them film like quality for an 1/16th of the price. It’s a no brainer. I believe Hollywood was a major force behind this movement and the suppliers are eager to accommodate for the sake of the almightily dollar. The trade off is as technology progresses and the costs come down really what we’re left with is nothing more than a little better image than we had before. Ha. Plus it’s exciting if you’re a gear head too. Let’s face it :)

  • Broadcast will take a while to catch up for sure. I just shot some pieces for one of the major sports channels and they wanted us to shoot 720p. We ended up shooting 1080 in camera and exporting 720.

    • Anthony Marino on 05.8.13 @ 7:46PM

      Exactly, they’re feeding us 720 and I don hear too many complaints I guess they figure 4k in the theater is good enough too. Broadcast went from film to digital/analogue for the obvious reasons, delivery, workflow and timing (news). This whole transition into 4k now, I believe is that fact digital does rival film resolution plus it’s a lot easier to handle. It makes for an easy switch and cheaper way of conducting business. They (Hollywood) always acquired the best resolution for the times, what’s so exciting now is that it’s available to us. It’s become affordable to shoot quality stuff.

  • Steven Huber on 05.8.13 @ 7:34PM

    Interesting piece, but you can’t actually ruin your eyesight sitting too close to a screen.

  • 4k tvs will still be able to show 1080p. So don’t be so worried that all your hours of work in 1080p will be obsolete. But everyone handling video should be planning to work with 4k. You should at least start learning, in earnest, how to shoot in 4k, and which cams will be best to use. Don’t be like the students that wait until the night before an exam and cram all night for it. Learn now. 4k just looks too good think it won’t catch on. Actually, it already has. It has a foot in the door. The only question is how soon it will be in demand. I’m learning about 4k now as if I need it sooner than I think I do, i.e., now. I wish I owned a Red Epic! Jacob Schwarz has made some of the most beautiful video I’ve ever seen using the Red Epic. And you can’t even see it in 4k yet on YouTube. The “Original” setting is in 2k. And it still looks glorious:

    And make sure you click “Original” in the Quality button to watch this Jacob Schwarz video:

  • Wow, not really many people excited for 4k. Pretty biased if you ask me. Of corse someone had to say your eye cant resolve it unless you are certain distances etc…lol butch please.

    • What did they say about the first cars to go over 60mph—”you’ll die if you drive faster than 60mph”. Yeah, 4k is going to ruin your eyes. ;-)

      • I saw Samsara in 4K (from 70mm film). It made a HUGE difference. I was not looking at a movie screen, I was looking out a giant window. I couldn’t see any film grain.

        It is also interesting that people argue that higher frame rates are undesirable(The Hobbit effect). Yet in the video game world those same frame rates would be unplayable. I check my drivers if I am getting 48 fps. 24 fps in a first person video game? I think not.

        I think the problem with the hobbit is that they didn’t do a big enough jump in fps. Doug Trumball was doing 3d IMAX at 60fps with binaural audio back in the 70′s but couldn’t find a market for it. The biggest complaint I have heard about high fps is that it looks too real and movies shouldn’t have that impact of appearing real as a producer friend told me.

  • 1080p is going to be around for a long time …. particularly for the net … acquisition on the other hand will be 4k … down convert when needed. That’s my view and I will be doing just that by the end of this year.

  • Check out Philip Bloom’s recent podcast. He made some great arguments about 4k. He loves 4k on the acquisition side — but he doesn’t see it happening on the consumer side, the average person can’t tell the difference between a HD image and a 4k one.

    Until we are all on 1Gb Internet connections thru Google and BestBuy is only selling 4k TVs instead of HD, I think 4k is going to be a longer slog on the consumer side than many people think. For shooters, 4k is a relevant question today.

    • I was just at Frys a couple of days ago. everyone in front of the 4k tv saw a difference.

      • Agree – Ben Prater is completely wrong. Saying “the average person can’t tell the difference between a HD image and a 4K one” is laughable….the average person has NEVER seen a 4K image. Easy to bash when you have not experienced it.

        It is only the cost that needs to drop before adoption grows. $5,000 gets you the current Sony 55 inch.

  • A common complaint about 4K is the heavier post workflow, additional computational power, and storage, but it will be interesting to see the file sizes in the new BM4K using “compressed” CinemaDNG.

    The new H.265 codec will also play a catalytic role for 4K on the Web. The H.265 codec shows a bandwidth savings of 40-45% for the same quality as H.264. HEVC or H.265 will allow 4K video to be delivered at bit rates between 20-30 Mbps, and “good enough” quality at bit rates as low as 15 Mbps. In comparison, the current H.264 standard would require at least 45 Mbps to deliver 4K video. The average broadband speed in the US is currently at 7.4 Mbps.

  • When I read the title, Conversations with Filmmakers on the Topic of 4K, I thought, cool, maybe we’ll hear from Scorsese, Coppola, the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, maybe even Spielberg. Real FILMMAKERS! Pffft! Sorry, I’m not interested in hearing sub-30 year old videographers pontificate on 4K. Wish I had those 5 minutes back.

    • Well, these were real people who work with video professionally. Although hearing from Coppola and Spielberg is nice too, they are playing in a completely different league and therefore their views on 4K might differ substantially. I think it was interesting to hear opinions from normal people, because I am more likely to work with all of those people in the future than with the Coen brothers!

  • Juan Carlos on 05.9.13 @ 12:23PM

    4K-schmorekay. It’s just the new 3D. I still have a 720p tv. Gonna buy a 1080p tv in a month or so, and it’s not for lack of money that I have a 720p tv, but for lack of true HD content. I don’t wanna pay a dollar extra to watch something in HD from Amazon Instant. When stuff is available in 4K is it gonna be 2 or 3 dollars extra to watch it in UHD? So, instead of 1.99 to watch a t.v. episode then I’ll spend 3.99 to watch it in UHD… don’t think so. I don’t even own that many blurays, so it never made sense to go 1080p. I have hundreds (bordering on 1,000) dvds and a decent 720p tv has worked fine. My blu ray collection has grown though and I want a bigger screen, so I’m finally taking the step to 1080p.

  • How anyone at this point can say 4K isnt here is wrong. For under 10,000 you will be able to have a camera and a system that edit 4K files. I would say its here. Now is 1080p dead? No, I think it will be alive for along time with most indie films coming out in 1080p. Some of those may be shot in 1080 some may be shot in 4K and edited in 2k for other reasons. As to the whole you cant tell thing..You can. Anyone with good eyes can see a change in detail of the footage from any ways from the screen.

    • Juan Carlos on 05.9.13 @ 6:48PM

      I easily edit 4K files and view them on my editing & or grading monitor, both of which are over 2K in res BUT never once have I output any project to 4K or had a client request it. Ghostbusters is coming out in 4K res on bluray… cool and all but I already own it. The last transfer of Ghostbusters looked like ass. I’m not gonna buy it again to watch it in UHD. It’s a gimmick to re-release it in 4K, and you can’t take away from my point that most home internet connections can’t handle 4K streaming, content doesn’t exist, and people aren’t gonna pay the premium to watch their fav shows/ movies in UHD. Even if I had a 1080p tv (soon) I wouldn’t pay 2.99 as opposed to 1.99 to watch an episode of a t.v. show I I like.

      Yea, 4K acquisition is here but there is a long way to go before your average consumer is watching 4K content in their home. Red stokes the 4K fire with their hype machine but that’s all it is. Look at Jim Jannard’s last thread on Reduser… it’s pointless. All it says is “we’re late, again…” It’s just rallying the online troops. Mustering support for a product that’s not ready. I don’t need to hear from him “RED has spouted off “miracles” since 2006. 4K is the future…” When internet connections can support the 4K content that doesn’t exist and that content doesn’t have a UHD upcharge, like HD does now, then I’ll listen to the 4K miracle sermon. Until then…

  • The last guy in the video was absolutely right: most people don’t have a movie theater at home, and more than a 70 inch tv is just not practical in a normal living room and you will never sit right in front of it, so you will never be able to see much of the 4K improvements at home.

  • john jeffries on 05.9.13 @ 6:54PM

    When a new technological standard is introduced there is always a ton of people being super conservative and skeptical. Just like how everybody used to say 1080p was “unnecessary” and 480p was good enough.

    Change or die

    • I don’t think bringing up net speeds not being able to easily support 4k material is conservative, or what was mentioned about paying more to have content streamed in UHD. It seems kinda premature to discuss UHD prices for content, being as though no provider has set any prices but it does make sense to think that it’ll be more to watch programs in 4k. The technology for capturing the content is there but not for delivering it in a pill that consumers are gonna swallow. Change or die should be directed at the panel manufacturers, Internet service providers, and digital content distributors not the average consumer.