It's time ask yourself a difficult question: do you really need to shoot in 4K?
On his new site, Indie Film Hustle, veteran filmmaker Alex Ferrari is tackling questions like these, questions that pertain more to the scrappy underdog filmmakers out there than the folks with multi-million dollar budgets. And through his podcast, which is booming in popularity these days, Alex is sharing his brash, no-nonsense approach to low-budget filmmaking with the masses.
In a recent episode, he goes after one of the sacred cows of modern digital filmmaking — 4K acquisition — and makes a compelling case for why indie filmmakers should think twice before assuming that 4K is the right choice for their production. Check it out:
Ultimately, the entire point of this episode is to get you thinking about something that might otherwise go unquestioned. Thanks in no small part to tech blogs and the constant, never-ending stream of 4K and high-resolution news, there's a notion out there that 4K is just the way of the world in 2015, and that all filmmakers should be shooting 4K now. In truth, however, we're still far from living in a world where 4K is the absolute standard for shooting, post-producing, and distributing video content. The world is moving in that direction, no doubt, but it's just not there yet.
In the meantime, it's important to ask yourself a few questions in order to determine if 4K is 100% necessary to what you're trying to accomplish. Are you choosing to shoot high-resolution because you're aiming for theatrical distribution, or is it out of some vague notion that 4K acquisition equates to a more professional looking film? Have you taken into account the additional costs of a 4K post-production pipeline? Can that money be put to better use, say by increasing the production design budget? How will your audience consume your film? If the answer is "computer screen," does it really make sense to shoot 4K?
Ultimately, you won't find Alex arguing that resolutions of 4K and higher can't be useful. They absolutely can. However, as independent filmmakers, it's a best practice to work smart and not bite off more than you can chew. If shooting in 4K will cost you more money and slow down your post-pipeline, and then end up in front of an audience who wouldn't be able to tell the difference, does it really make sense?