June 15, 2018

Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry about Resolution According to DP Geoff Boyle

Who reigns supreme in the battle between picture and pixels?

It's difficult to define what makes an image "good". Is it the composition? The lighting? The use of color and texture and depth? The answer is yes to all of that—and so much more, not the least of which, as some would argue, resolution. As the industry standard continues to get higher and higher, with 4K making way for 8K and beyond, many filmmakers have no doubt wondered about the correlation between high-quality images and resolution, including DP Geoff Boyle, who in this interview with Cooke Optics TV, expressed his stance on the debate in one of the more colorful ways we've seen. 

"Don't worry about the color space, don't worry about the resolution, just worry about the images."

Whether you're in favor of, against, or 100% neutral on the high-res debate, one can appreciate and even be inspired by Boyle's sentiment. It's easy to get sucked into the vortex that defines what a "cinematic" image consists of and how they're captured, but not every filmmaker has access to the technology or gear that can help them "keep up with the Joneses." Instead of getting inspired and going out and shooting something with what we have, we spend our time lusting after expensive, "pro-quality" Alexas, Zeiss Master Primes, and ARRI SkyPanels that we forget what actually makes people respond to images on an emotional level.

It's framing and composition, costuming, location, set dressing, actors' performances, color, lighting, subtext, movement, editing, music, sound effects, and a good, good story to tie it all together. Does it really matter if all of this stuff is packed inside an HD or even SD image?

As Boyle points out, what resolution is a Rembrandt, Seurat, or Rothko painting? It seems like a preposterous question to ask in regards to painted masterpieces, so maybe resolution is something that can, or maybe even should, take a backseat to everything else that makes an image worth looking at. Of course, at least some image quality is necessary—we need our audience to be able to know what it is they're looking at—but how much is "some"?

What is your opinion on resolution? Do you agree with Boyle? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment


I really love Geoff Boyle. He always has such an elegant way of putting things in perspective. Cooke's youtube account is awesome by the way. Lots of interesting stuff on there!

June 16, 2018 at 6:52AM


Aside from the fact that 95% of the content we consume, still, is only 720HD at best and everybody seems completely happy, Boyle has a wonderful way of taking you through art and cinema history to demonstrate what beautiful images look like and how the last criteria for a beautiful image is resolution.

June 16, 2018 at 9:55AM


Love the pixelated shot from 2001 to introduce this topic. I generally agree that no magic in the scene, no magic from the sensor. But I disagree that nobody makes great images today with digital. The Crown is f*ing brilliant, for one.

June 16, 2018 at 10:33AM


Dynamic range and color science are more important than resolution when it comes to digital image capture, one reason the Alexa is so popular with cinematographers despite it having barely more than 2k resolution up until recently.

June 16, 2018 at 11:02PM, Edited June 16, 11:02PM