September 17, 2014 at 5:09PM, Edited September 24, 9:32AM

35

SHUT THE 4K UP

Is anybody else tired of hearing about 4k? I get new tech is cool and all but it has nothing to do with filmmaking. A camera is a tool, it does not mean you have to be one too. GH4 fanboys, and this goes for any camera, you do not get anything from freely marketing a camera brand and shooting down other people or cameras.

I am a film school graduate, and in all honesty hearing people on sites like this has made me all the more grateful for it. One big takeaway from film school for me was having different classes that focused on specific topics in the process of filmmaking. Not one of my teachers cared or even discussed the newest tech and I miss that.

The ratio of filmmaking to gearheadism is ridiculous now-a-days. We have become so obsessed with the best camera or gear for your buck that we are loosing sight of what really matters (hint: It's not resolution).

What is the point I am trying to make? I suppose this is a call to arms to filmmakers to start creating and stop buying. Use what you have now, don't buy into all this marketing. Don't wait until you have that camera everyone's talking about to make your film. 4K does not make your films better than HD and you are not a more professional filmmaker for buying into it.

Has anyone else notice this trend recently? What do you guys think?

94 Comments

As a director of photography, the tech is obviously relevant. I need to know strengths and weaknesses of my camera platforms before I convince a production to rent said camera. Its my job to be the technical source of knowledge for people who don't feel like sitting and memorising manuals and specs. That being said...

Its ridiculous how focused most of the world has gotten on cameras and tech and I feel like storytelling has taken a hit across the board. Theres an obvious difference between being able to tell a story and gathering your information from film news sites. My answer to "what do I buy/whats the best camera?" is always "Well what will tell your story?" My personal philosophy is that everything should be motivated. If my answer to "why did you do that?" is "It looked good" I'm not doing my job right. I apply that same philosophy to equipment choices. There is no "one size fits all" answer to equipment questions, which is why its important to realise why/when technology both matters and doesn't.

Not to pull an NRA, but..

Cameras don't tell a story; filmmakers do. Cameras help.
http://www.theblackandblue.com/2011/02/23/cameras-dont-make-movies-peopl...

September 18, 2014 at 1:17PM

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Aidan Gray
Director of Photography Assistant Camera | Gaffer
1581

Great link, thanks for that! Yeah, I am as much to blame as anyone, I just noticed that recently I spend way too much time reading up on new gear rather than focusing on story and content and I think a lot of people do the same. Of course knowing the in's and outs of multiple cameras and gear is necessary when it's your occupation but I feel like a lot of filmmakers, or new directors in particular, waste too much time on worrying about having a certain camera or all this gear before they can "get started." There's the mindset that having a certain camera will make their films good and it seems like it's getting way worse with this generation. It's almost more for a social statement or because it's the latest thing and everyone's talking about rather than like you said choosing the best tool for the job.

September 18, 2014 at 4:16PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1144

Yes, me too. To much reading about gear instead of telling stories - and learning how to tell them better is the most important thing - the content, not the camera...

September 21, 2014 at 12:06AM

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Ed Wright
Director, DP, Writer
349

There are many stories that can be told that would be harmed by using too high of resolution camera and might actually benefit from something "less". The resolution can change the feel of a film and the camera used should match the story being told. There, of course, are obvious examples in the not so distant past such as "The Blair Witch Project" where they took what was perceived as a limitation and ran with it. There are also movies from earlier eras where a quality of mystery or glamor is preserved because you can't see every tiny detail. In these eras film was used and film at the time hadn't reached the level of fine grain, clarity, or gamma that film stock in more recent times has reached. But it gave those films a certain feel that was appealing for the type of story being told and reproducing the look these days in the digital world involves post-production processing to introduce grain, change the gamma, etc. What were perceived as flaws back then by the cinematographers of the day are now perceived as positive features for those making certain kinds of movies. If you already own a camera, take advantage of what it offers and don't fall into the trap of the resolution arms race (where once 4K becomes the standard, they'll be pushing you to buy 6K, and so on). If you rent, look at the project you will be doing and let it determine the camera instead of lusting after the latest toy.

September 23, 2014 at 7:44PM, Edited September 23, 7:44PM

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September 23, 2014 at 9:22PM

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Brannigan Carter
Cinematographer/Director/Editor
98

I'm not sure this discussion is actually 'holding back creativity' and I'm not even sure that serious filmmakers give a damn - if you have a budget, you usually use an Arri, and if you don't, you use the next best thing. It's kind of always been like that - even in the celluloid days. Why shoot 16mm or Super 16mm if you can shoot 35mm. But if you can't afford 35mm (4K or whatever) then you'd shoot on anything you could lay your hands on. Which is I think what is happening now. There're just more movies, so more crap. Not less creativity really. But basically I agree this debate is crap; but hey, there are manufacturers with a stake in the discussion, as mentioned elsewhere. BTW: The reason most lecturers at film school don't talk about gear is because mostly they know jackshit about it, and secondly, they're right - they're there to teach you how to make a film on anything that can record a moving image: the language, the syntax, the semantics, the archetypes and myths, the rhythms and beats, the structures and riffs, all that stuff, which is obviously way more important. Amen.
Heinrich Dahms
buzzmedia.net

September 24, 2014 at 8:41AM, Edited September 24, 8:41AM

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Heinrich Dahms
Director-Screenwriter-Producer
74

Steve, on the money!

Sounds like your question is rhetorical and does not require an answer. And anyways the answer you are offer is the same I would give.

We both know that top 100 of the IMDB movies weren't shot on a 4k, and the next top 100 do not have to be.

So, stay calm and carry on!

Cheers!

September 18, 2014 at 10:11PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3834

The same thing happened when the RED first came on the market and lots of people became obsessed with ONLY shooting on the RED.

4K is a very useful acquisition format that provides more options in post, so I`ll use it when I can, but yes it does nothing by itself when it comes to storytelling.

September 19, 2014 at 10:17AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Just watch the first few minutes of this. Some of the best insight I've heard on the whole 4K thing. http://prolost.com/blog/ibc2014

And, as Stu says "In the first five minutes of this video, there's more wisdom about 4K than than can easily be found on the entire rest of the internet."

4K is a tool that is very helpful. I've used it, and will again. But it's gotten a little out of hand lately with people associating "4K" with "professional", which is precisely what the people selling 4K things want.

Why has 4K become a point of pride for some folks? Because marketing works.

September 19, 2014 at 2:25PM

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David S.
2898

"Because marketing works". Very similar reason to why so many people are obsessed about so called "full frame" cameras.

September 19, 2014 at 9:26PM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2425

Full frame does give a different aesthetic to the image though. The size of the sensor DOES give your footage, and consequently your story, a different feel.

Overall though, I agree that people are buying too much into marketing hype. It drives me nuts in photography, where people will pick a certain camera over the other because it has more megapixels, or when people bash Apple for not increasing the megapixel count in the iPhone. I applaud Apple for that move. They’re focusing on getting better low-light capabilities with images that are twice as large as you’ll ever need instead of giving you images that are four times as large as you’ll ever need that look worse in low light.

September 20, 2014 at 6:59AM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1060

"What matters far more than spatial resolution are acquisition dynamic range and display contrast (which is driven by black levels much more than brightness)."

This is very true, I've pointed this out on posts about various 4K cameras.

September 21, 2014 at 8:28PM

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Tenolian
230

Agreed - a guy I met on Vimeo named Tom Beal said something similar. 4k isn't as useful if dynamic range is compromised.

September 22, 2014 at 2:04AM

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we're hearing "4k" like its "full hd".
its becoming pretty standard and will stop being a topic of discussion soon. With that said tho just like moving on to HD. UHD does look that much better. im not talking about "creatively" or "flavor" but fidelity and quality.

September 19, 2014 at 5:55PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1186

Loving the title though

September 19, 2014 at 6:23PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1964

Word.

September 23, 2014 at 11:42PM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Stephen,

This isn't a trend in filmmaking; it is a trend in our society across the board. Pick any topic, find a website about it, and look at the forums. Same thing.

XBox vs. Playstation
Sports Team X vs. Sports Team Y (professional or college)
Quarterback A vs. Quarterback B (on the same team)
Republican vs. Democrat

The specifics are all unique to the subject, but the bitter arguments over minutia all take on the same tone.

September 19, 2014 at 9:35PM

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jeez man, all i wanted to know was if the GH4 was an acceptable replacement for my HVX. YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO WRITE A WHOLE DIFFERENT POST! haha jk

September 20, 2014 at 1:37AM

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Zachary Eglinton
Writer / Director
259

Cameras help tell my story though. Features like slow motion and low light performance are something that are very tempting because having them can make a director/dp bring his/her vision to life, hence the gear lust. But I get what you're saying about 4k though, it's not as essential as other technical aspects right now, but it wouldn't hurt to have.

September 20, 2014 at 12:22PM

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Miguel Sotto
Cinematographer
248

I would rather watch a compelling story shot on an iPhone 4 than the typical sloppy script and confused editing coming out of Hollywierd shot at 4k, 6k, or 60k.. As far as I am concerned, 4k is the answer to a question that need not have been asked.

September 20, 2014 at 3:59PM

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Michael P Ellis
President, Result Films Inc
251

I agree 100%. Next year it will be 8K then 16K, in five years or less it'll be 100K. There's always going to be something a little better, a little faster. It's better, as you say, to shoot your film on an iPhone and make it phenomenal than wait until you have "enough" to shoot on the latest greatest camera.

September 21, 2014 at 9:09AM

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Jeff Rivera
Filmmaker | Storyteller
795

But there has to be a happy medium between blurry iPhone images and shooting with an Alexa...

September 23, 2014 at 9:02PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

…and the Alexa is not 4K, which I think proves the original poster’s point. If you want better images, simply buying a camera with a higher resolution is not the answer.

September 27, 2014 at 3:53AM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1060

The Arri Alexa 65 can shoot 4K or 6K, though I can`t imagine what this one costs.

And then there`s the Arri AMIRA that is getting a 4K upgrade.

September 27, 2014 at 2:50PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

But those JUST came out. The Alexa hasn’t had 4K until this year. People aren’t using the Alexa because it’s 4K.

September 29, 2014 at 1:38PM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1060

Yes, 4K is starting to become a significant influence on the market, which is why ARRI had to support it going forward.

I agree that people aren't choosing ARRI for 4K, but they won't complain if 4K is included.

September 29, 2014 at 4:20PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

I seriously don’t think processor speeds, sensor resolutions, hard drive speeds and hard drive capacities are advancing nearly fast enough to reach 100K in five years (going from 4K to 100K is 625 times more pixels and consequently requires 625 times the storage space and processors that are 625 times faster), but I get your point.

September 27, 2014 at 3:49AM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1060

I love checking out the latest camera's, but when I'm a bigtime director, it's film or nothing. The recent digitally shot movies are way to sharp and make everything look like just a video.

September 20, 2014 at 7:17PM

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Franky Hill
Director - Writer - Producer
112

It is no accident that people of merit and position talk about vision, focus of said vision and execution. Filmmaking is an art of communication, from development to screening.
Too often those that speak loudest have the least to show for it.
I love 4k for documentary as the crop is a master and allows to cover 3 to 4 shots with 2 cameras. That's about it. Am I getting a 4k TV? Not likely.

September 20, 2014 at 9:28PM

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Anna Lorentzon
Producer, Director
234

btw, if you see the express led screen in times square ny. it's a 6k screen with no upscaling on material. also the new screen by the W hotel across the street is going to be 6.5k from what ive heard.

September 21, 2014 at 10:23PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1186

>>>Am I getting a 4k TV? Not likely.

So when 4K TVs show up with REC 2020 12-bit color instead of the crappy REC 709 8-bit color we are currently stuck with, you are just going to ignore this ?

With good content the difference between the color of REC 709 and REC 2020 will be huge.

September 23, 2014 at 8:59PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Excellent post and quite an interesting take. Indeed people have gone too crazy and nuts more for RED and 4K than the basics of film-making and the art of storytelling.

September 21, 2014 at 4:22AM

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Anirban Ray
Film-Maker, Journalist, Photographer
253

My First discipline is in record / music production and I find that everything that effected the music industry is effecting the Film industry in the same manner. One example I recall was one of Neil Young's big albums. He recorded the demos on a Cassette 4 track at his home, but when they came to recreate the magic of those initial recordings in a 24 track studio environment, the songs just didn't come up to scratch. So in the end they transferred the Cassette 4 tracks over to four tracks of the 24 track machine and overdubbed a few extra tracks and that became the final album, which sold big time. Once again, it wasn't the equipment that made the hits, it was the people doing the best they could with what they had while making magic happen. :-)

September 21, 2014 at 7:29AM

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Duncan Wood
Director / Producer / Author / Songwriter
74

I think another thing to think about when it comes to 4K is the size of the files it outputs, and whether or not the editing software can handle it.

The power user might have all the equipment to handle 4K editing without even batting an eyelid, but the average joe just breaking into making films might put 4K files onto their computer and experience a deflating slowdown as they realise they need an entirely new computer just to have the graphical or processing power to even attempt to edit.

1080p is a great starting point and pretty much everything is now equipped to edit Full HD. 4K can wait. If you can afford it, great. But a pretty picture won't give your film any more substance if you don't have a good story. Same goes for 3D.

September 21, 2014 at 11:27AM

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Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor
171

It's more than a little bit sad that the biggest barrier to entry for least a couple decades was the cost of shooting, editing, and distributing your story on 35mm celluloid. Now that we've virtually eliminated that obstacle with digital sand boxes that put more visual capacity into the hands of filmmakers than the masters every dreamed of, we seem more preoccupied with marketing the medium than the message--the story--that is the essence of filmmaking. It is the one thing (unlike 4K or 6k) that is truly "future-proof". The story is the only basis of competition that ever really mattered in terms of creating compelling cinematic experiences.

September 21, 2014 at 5:29PM

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Dion Eusepi
Producer
74

Even if we are talking about technology and gear. The majority of people who taut 4K have little idea of how video actually even works. Or any methods of determining what camera produce better images.

They will fight tooth and nail of any criticism of a 4K camera as though 4K in of itself as a marketing term as become enough.

September 21, 2014 at 8:25PM

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Tenolian
230

Where is are the mindless advocates for 4k? From the look of this thread its 10:1 haters:fanboys. Just saying.

September 21, 2014 at 9:56PM

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Indie Guy
782

We're not so much haters. More...critics.

September 22, 2014 at 7:22PM

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Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor
171

Totally agree. I get very caught up looking at tech whilst my screenplays sit not getting written! For me it's the balance of being 'on top' enough of the options/tools at my disposal. As someone who co-owns and runs a small production company it's always questions of - what will make our jobs easier whilst attaining high quality? Finding the balance between performance / ease of use / affordability. However a lot of this isn't cameras to be honest (though there is that too). It's lights, grip gear, stabilizers etc. Ways to move the camera that I can't currently then looking at what the options are, and are they worth buying as opposed to renting.

I will say after shooting with 4k for a couple years it does come in handy for the kind of doco projects I do where the extra resolution gives us room to reframe and make one shot look like two. Personally I wouldn't want to do this on a narrative short/feature. Only very little if at all. Even on doco's/corporates I don't ever rely on it but it does get me out of a sticky spot in the edit every now and then when I need to cut something down but don't have B-roll footage to cut away to.

File sizes are more of a pain though. Personally in a camera like the c300 I'd rather 10-bit over 4k. Makes more of a difference for grading. (sorry a few tangents there)

September 21, 2014 at 10:52PM

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Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
759

I wish writers had better resolutions in their endings.....

September 22, 2014 at 11:09AM

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Timur Civan
Director of Photography

Those without confidence in their abilities, will seek out the gear to compensate.

This is where the hobbyist lives and the "prosumer" can't seem to get out of. It's also where these camera companies make the majority of their revenue.

September 22, 2014 at 12:23PM

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seanmclennan
Story Teller
704

>>>They will fight tooth and nail of any criticism of a 4K camera as though 4K in of itself as a marketing term as become enough.

I haven't come across any mindless 4K supporters myself, though I think people need to separate 4K shooting formats from 4K delivery formats.

Right now 4K delivery seems kind of crazy for anything other than movie theaters. There's just not enough digital bandwidth to transport a high quality 4K image across the internet, and the average film/TV watching public is not going to notice much of an improvement with 4K.

However, after owning a 4K camera it makes me realize there are some advantages to shooting with a 4K acquisition format. Being able to re-frame shots in post is very handy when you need it, and being able to deliver a more detailed 1080 HD image from down-scaled 4K footage also makes a lot of sense.

Future 4K TV sets are also going to include the REC 2020 color format which is a 10-bit and 12-bit a color gamut, instead of the crappy 8-bit REC 709 we are currently stuck with, so the color from future 4K TV sets will be significantly better than what we are watching now.

...Obviously 4K has nothing to do with acting or story-telling, it's simply a technology spec that can help you to produce a better looking image.

September 22, 2014 at 6:50PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

This has been the most informed post throughout this thread. Thank you.

September 23, 2014 at 10:00PM

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Ryan Nguyen
Digital Colorist / DIT
95

September 22, 2014 at 6:52PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Frankly at the end of the day it's just another strategy for companies to drive consumer spending and yes dynamic range and color is far more important than resolution, at least for narrative work. People love talking tech, gear, and spending money so really your just seeing human psychology at play.

September 22, 2014 at 9:55PM

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Vladimir Druts
Founder & Director at Intangible.co
284

>>>dynamic range and color is far more important than resolution, at least for narrative work.

...But 4K 8-bit 4:2:0 color becomes 1080 HD 8-bit 4:4:4 color ( or a close approximation of it ) when down sampled. So 4K shooting is producing much better 1080 HD color.

Here's a sample of this in action by Barry Green at DvxUser...
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?328028-New-Panasonic-4K-60P-Cam...

September 22, 2014 at 11:01PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

This! Yes!

September 26, 2014 at 6:39PM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1152

I had to realize this too late. As a wedding film maker, we always get sucked in by certain "marketing gimmicks". Things like "Auto focusing", "Cheapest Full frame", "High ISO" and "blah blah blah processor" are stuff that we usually fall for. These stuff really hooked me into buying the latest video DSLR every year and really ate up costs. It also lead me to devote more time studying them and every new gear I got.

Now that I'm trying to produce a short film it seems none of the cameras I bought seemed to have met my needs. That's because I never got the time to write a script. Now, I'm devoting more time into learning how to write a good story/concept and focus more on content than "features".

Oh as for 4k, it actually helped me a lot of times in terms of cropping and composing some shots for some of my corporate work. I still deliver out in full HD due to the fact that my highest resolution outputs are for web. A lot people here in our country still use DVDs in Standard definition to watch their weddings and everytime I try to convince them for a free upgrade to a USB, they still prefer the DVD. My point is, they don't care about "image quality", they just want to see their wedding with friends and family.

September 23, 2014 at 7:59AM

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Perfecto Gregor Togle
Videographer/ DP
74

My bad if anyone has already posted this, but I found it to be a very practical look at why 4k isn't for everyone.
http://www.mentorless.com/2014/04/14/shoot-4k-youre-indie-filmmaker/

September 23, 2014 at 1:10PM, Edited September 23, 1:10PM

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I attended film school as well. The biggest thing that was hit upon in every class was how to tell a story. Everything else we learned was a derivative of that. 4k has its uses as people are pointing out, but it certainly isn't necessary. When all said and done, if your story is compelling, people will watch it.

September 23, 2014 at 1:35PM

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Ethan Cardoza
Cinematographer/Editor
213

It's certainly true that a well written, well acted, well thought out production shot in 720p is a lot more desirable than an average production shot in 4K. But new technology is fun to look at and it might help to understand why that is.

Speaking for myself, I think one of the main reasons I get excited about new technology is that it reminds of occasions when advances actually *did* open up possibilities for me. When I got my first digital video camera, it seemed too good to be true. I could shoot the video, then load it onto my computer and do things with it. Holy crap. If you'd given me a working light saber, I doubt I would have been more slack-jawed. Thanks partially to marketing hype and partially to that part of our brains that wants to read rumors about the IPhone 7 before we've even gotten our hands on the IPhone 6, we trick ourselves into thinking that each new advance in technology is going to give us
the same high.

And the thing is, technology probably *will* cough up something just as transformative and awe-inspiring as the transition from analog to digital. Maybe in 5 years, maybe in 30 years, but yes, eventually it'll happen. And we want to be sitting on the fifty yard line when it does.

September 23, 2014 at 4:41PM

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Clay Smith
Wannabe screenwriter, film editor, director
222

>>>I found it to be a very practical look at why 4k isn't for everyone.
>>>http://www.mentorless.com/2014/04/14/shoot-4k-youre-indie-filmmaker/

I really find articles like this to be so stupid, because it's obvious that these critics of 4K have never shot 4K, and they don't understand the whole concept of "Shoot 4K to Deliver 2K".

>>>#1 – Nobody Can Tell the Difference

4K downsampled to 2K makes a significant difference in detail (almost twice the image detail)

4K downsampled to 2K gives you 4:4:4 color instead of 4:2:0 or 4:2:2 (4:4:4 color is better)

>>>#2 – It Will Stretch Your Budget And Take More Time

Only during the intial ingest of post production, which is worth it to some film-makers for the better color and better detail. Once your 4K has been downsampled to 2K 4:4:4 masters, you are free to edit just like you would any 2K film but with twice the detail and better color.

#3 – The Delivery Side Can’t Hold Its Part of the Contract

People need to understand the concept of shooting 4K to deliver 2K, so nobody is talking about 4K delivery for Indie films.

4K shooting produces a better 2K image with twice the detail with better color.

So with hardly any extra effort you end up with a much better looking 2K film.

September 23, 2014 at 4:47PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Dynamic range and color space trump resolution. The instant you start diffusing shots (for example, on closeups of female movie stars who are already *horrified* at the prospect of higher resolution!) you aren't even shooting true 4K anymore.

September 23, 2014 at 7:45PM

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Steven Austin
Filmmaker
18

But higher resolution gives you higher color space when downsampling, so 4K 4:2:0 footage becomes 2K 4:4:4 footage when downsampled.

4K also gives you the real resolution of 2K, where many 2K cameras can barely record at half of the real resolution of the 2K format.

September 23, 2014 at 8:45PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

"Wow, you must have used a really nice camera," is not the compliment I'm after. And, realistically, if my work is seen by anyone anytime, it is on screens from phones to TVs. Because of the relationship between the sizes of these screens and the most likely viewing distances from them, 1080 is already indistinguishable from 720. Realistically, the next desirable feature after 720p capability might be any number of things, but it ain't higher resolution. If the camera with the features you want also has 4K res, great. But 4K should not be the feature you are paying extra for. You are getting ripped off.

September 23, 2014 at 7:50PM

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Donald L. Denis
writer, director, cinematographer, editor; filmmaker
88

The funniest part is that most people can't even watch a video recorded in 4K at its true resolution. Who the crap owns a 4K television or monitor anyway? And even if you do, YouTube drastically drops your quality, as well as your free Vimeo Account (reducing its resolution). Nobody is going to be able to tell it's 4K BECAUSE THEIR TELEVISION OR MONITOR ISN'T 4K.

September 23, 2014 at 8:18PM

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Brandon Neubert
Color Artist / Writer / Director
641

Right now it`s all about shooting 4K to deliver in 2K. You achieve a much higher quality 2K image by shooting in 4K and downsampling to 2K.

September 23, 2014 at 10:12PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

It's funny, when I purchased my GH4 I put up on my personal facebook page something along the lines of "Now, before anyone tells me where I should have put my money, I do realize that this isn't an Arri Alexa or RED Dragon. But it is a nifty little camera right in my desired price range, and I can't wait to begin creating with this guy"

Was 4K a factor when it came to my decision? Sure, having an image at that resolution will allow me a few more options in post and I guess I wanted to be as future proof as possible in an age where that isn't really possible, but it was always about getting out there and creating content with affordable tools. Just as the OP is frustrated about this whole 4K "fad", I'm frustrated with the constant gear comparing where people will look down on you for purchasing a brand over their own choosing.

September 23, 2014 at 8:56PM

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Kori Reay-Mackey
Filmmaker
192

4K also eliminate most of the moire and aliasing problems you see when shooting with 1080 HD cameras. I shot a job 2 years ago for a national bank where portions of it had to be reshot because the on camera spokesperson was wearing a suit-jacket that spontaneously displayed bad moire at certain angles, and nobody caught this until the editing stage. A 4K camera would have gotten rid of the f*cking moire that caused the reshoot.

September 23, 2014 at 9:20PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Correct, I haven't had any nasty moire issues since I started shooting :)

And even though very few people have 4K monitors or televisions, as some have pointed out, shooting in 4K for 2K delivery yields some obvious benefits. But in the end it's about the content and how that tool helps you.

September 23, 2014 at 9:29PM

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Kori Reay-Mackey
Filmmaker
192

I agree. I'm in a position where it's time to upgrade my Canon 60D to something better. Right now I'm taking a hard look at the GH4 and Samsung NX1. I'm tired of having to hack my camera to get the features I want.

The only negative aspect I see with shooting 4K on either camera is file size. If I can work with the larger files, why not use something that can be down sampled to something better?

In all honesty I feel like those complaining the most about 4K are afraid of change. It's just like high frame rate, 3D, etc. They're tools, not a religion.

I love gadgets and technology and it's ridiculous how far we've come with smartphones and DSLRs in a relatively short period of time.

September 23, 2014 at 9:50PM

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Madara
writer/director
252

Wasn't reading all the comments, so maybe I'll share someones opinion. I personally think that the most valuable thing is idea and that you can shoot your film either on 16mm celluloid, Full HD H.264, RAW, 4K or IMAX, but if you don't have a right idea, it doesn't matter what are you shooting on.

I am currently using BMPCC as I like it, before that I was using 5Dmk2 and I consider my gear as a tool, and not thing to brag about.

There is a similar discussion about 4K cameras where people are saying that we as filmmakers need more creative space and color science from camera, not the resolution.

September 23, 2014 at 9:04PM

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Bojan Andrejek
DP / Cinematographer / Producer
229

I completely agree with your point on technology but film school from my experience is predominantly taught by a gaggle of film-maker fan-boi's that couldn't explain the aesthetic difference between Robert Bresson and Henri Cartier Bresson.

Pick up your camera, shoot everything, try everything, experiment with everything. There is no right or wrong way to make a film it all depends on context. There is nothing you will learn in film-school that you can't learn on your own. Watch everything you can by the masters, Dreyer, Godard & Tarkovsky, Eisenstein etc.. as well as contemporary, exemplary artists like Jost, Jarmusch & Hartley etc... and watch the junk too. Learning what not to do is important as learning what to do, maybe even more important.

Read all the books you can get on every topic you can take. Semiotics by Christian Metz, to Theory & Practice by David Bordwell, Peter Wollen, E. Ann Kaplan. Read the reviews of great movie critics which is a great way to introduce yourself to a new director or cinematographer or writer you never heard of.

About the only value I can see from film school is about the same thing I can see for college. Contacts & Friendships but with the advent of Social media (like right here for example where there are some great people) college is offering you a glass of water for 40K a year when the guy down the block is giving it to you for free.

You can't underestimate the importance of relationships but this also depends on what you want to do. i.e. work in a traditional system = film school. But if you want to make art and you love film-making. Go out and do it. Don't let some condescending, pretentious jackass make you feel like you can't because you don't have some pseudo-degree or 4K camera. If you are passionate and motivated and realize that it isn't all fun (a lot of it is business) the there is very little is stopping you today and you certainly don't need 4K to do it.

Best of luck to everyone here.

September 23, 2014 at 9:07PM

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You should check this fantastic discussion out with 3 of the top DP's in the world regarding 4K and other great stuff...

http://nofilmschool.com/2014/09/three-world-class-cinematographers-share...

September 23, 2014 at 9:18PM

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One of the main reasons why 4K has recently polarised the community is because we are not properly discussing both the benefits and caveats of the technology. I'm going to make a comment on how certain filmmakers have chosen to approach the conversation.

4K acquisition, 4K workflow, and 4K delivery are three distinct stages of 4K filmmaking that each need their own separate focus for scrutiny. Note that this does not include commentary about the business, craft, or the media content itself. That is an entirely different thesis altogether.

When you choose to play to the roots of storytelling ("it's the characters, not the camera, etc."), then the question has suddenly become philosophical and effectively invalidates the technology as a whole. Yes, it is true that storytelling is king (we've known that for a while now); but to put all of your money into that bank makes for a poor argument.

It is my opinion that this is an irresponsible and self-destructive mentality to have- to avoid studying and understanding the mediums of which we work with in a passionate manner is a sure-fire way to get left behind. Not that we all have to be color scientists, image engineers, or broadcast technicians; but to at least have some idea on what all the fuss is about.

Ultimately, your opinion is your own opinion. Nobody here is going to tell you what your favourite icecream flavour should be, nor what camera you should shoot with. Just be sure you have all the facts straight before calling any shots.

September 23, 2014 at 9:44PM, Edited September 23, 9:44PM

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Ryan Nguyen
Digital Colorist / DIT
95

Completely agree. And truthfully, better stories will always be more important. I think the quality of the tools--4k cameras and systems--are completely outpacing the quality of stories and editing.
But here's a great summary of the impact of 4k by Larry Jordan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzhIRR7pH0I

September 23, 2014 at 10:01PM, Edited September 23, 10:01PM

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Brad Taylor
Writer/Director
95

Thanks for the Larry Jordan link. Interesting talk.

September 23, 2014 at 10:08PM, Edited September 23, 10:08PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

4k was already there long time back when Red cameras were introduced. So I don't think it is the matter of resolution but the accessibility. Not every aspiring filmmakers can afford or even rent such cameras. possessing a cinema camera is i suppose every filmmakers dream. I know, resolution is just one aspect, but still to satisfy your soul- to own a camera which we assume are little brothers and sisters of the High end cinema camera definitely helps.

September 23, 2014 at 11:13PM

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People need to worry more about their story.

September 23, 2014 at 11:52PM

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A lot of great stuff on here guys; thanks for the lively discussion. I don't really have anything new to add except to chime in and agree with the voices expressing that at the end of the day, a movie is good because it has a good story, not because it was shot in 4K. I just saw an incredible movie earlier this week called 'Coherence' - it's a super micro budget feature shot on some DSLR (probably a 5D) with no professional lighting, and quite frankly, it looks like crap. But 5 minutes in, I wasn't paying attention to the shoddy, low-quality cinematography anymore, because I was completely gripped and engrossed by the story. The minute we let the tech take over the experience, well, there's no point making movies, really.

Some people have been bringing up a lot of the benefits of 4K - it results in higher detail when scaled down to 1080, provides more freedom in post, etc. But at the end of the day, believe me, most of the people watching your movie won't be able to tell the difference. There is a whole gaggle of stuff that seems so obvious to us filmmakers who have hands-on experience with the tech. But I gotta tell you, most people I know wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a DVD and a Blu Ray even if I showed them side by side.

Additionally, even from a more tech-oriented side (as a DP, after all, we do need to be familiar with the benefits and limitations of our tools), I think it is safe to say that color fidelity, skin tone rendition and dynamic range are FAR more important to a DP than how many pixels the image is made of. It's no coincidence that the Arri Alexa has become the industry standard, even though it doesn't record a true 4K image. It's because it doesn't matter - what people really care about is how the image that comes off of that sensor looks. And that is where a lot of these prosumer-grade 4K cameras often fail to live up to snuff, unfortunately.

September 24, 2014 at 12:22AM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2071

But downsampling 4K to 2K gives you 4:4:4 color, so 4K is providing you with better color right off the bat. ( unless you are already shooting 2K 4:4:4, which seems like a rare thing )

September 24, 2014 at 6:08PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

You can have 4:4:4 color in 1080p or at any resolution; color sampling has nothing to do with resolution.

September 25, 2014 at 11:52AM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2071

I don`t know of any 1080 HD cameras that shoot 4:4:4 color, but any 4K camera can produce 1080p 4:4:4 color when you downsample the footage to 1080 format. Even the GH4 internal 4K 4:2:0 footage becomes 1080 4:4:4 color format when properly downsampled.

September 26, 2014 at 3:15PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Seriously! I don't think that everyone understands that 4K can produce a 444 HD image. That's a REALLY big deal.

September 26, 2014 at 6:34PM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1152

Well, how about let's start with the most predominantly used camera in the industry, the Arri Alexa, that can record a 1080p 4:4:4 image. The Amira can do the same, of course. Though it's older, the Panavision Genesis has a 4:4:4 output through dual link 3G SDI, as well as the Sony F35. Back to modern day, the C500 can output 1080p 4:4:4, and the list goes on and on.

Once again, color sampling has nothing to do with resolution.

September 26, 2014 at 10:57PM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2071

Most of us will not be able to use an Alexa to shoot our Indie films, but we can definitely afford a 4K camera.

>>>color sampling has nothing to do with resolution

This is where you are wrong. A 4K 4:2:0 image stores the SAME amount of color information as a 2K 4:4:4 image does, so with proper processing you can downsample your 4K 4:2:0 footage to create 2K 4:4:4 footage. This is a BIG deal for most shooters, as 4K cameras are now affordable to almost anyone.

4K footage downsampled also produces full resolution 2K footage, so you end up with very sharp 2K footage.

For those of us that can`t afford to shoot with an Alexa, these two factors are a big deal.

September 27, 2014 at 3:08PM, Edited September 27, 3:08PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Over 10 years ago the Viper shot 10 bit 4:4:4 uncompressed, I shot the launch for it in, err 2002? and a movie on it in 2006.
Hugely underrated camera that was so badly sold.
Geoff cinematographer

September 29, 2014 at 3:24AM

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Geoff Boyle
Cinematographer
8

4k is just another buzzword that (of course) does not change creativity, styles, etc. But: It makes everything easier - stabilizing, framing, coloring,... That`s what we media guys should use. And: We spend too much time in forums reading about 4k instead of going out and catch pictures...
Cheers
Thomas.

September 24, 2014 at 2:21AM

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Thomas Pohl
Head of Production
84

I couldn't have said it better myself. It took me years to adopt 1080p, and I think it's great for what I do. This is just like the megapixel race, it will keep going up until there is something else that changes and makes everything "old news."

September 24, 2014 at 2:41AM

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Sean Conley
Cinematographer
84

We all want the prettiest image we can afford, but CONTENT IS KING, always has been and always will be. Great thread :)

September 24, 2014 at 10:16AM

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Logan Fish
Video Journalist, Gulf News
147

I'm waiting for full RGB sensor technology and no debayering. Not easy.

4K? It's fine if you have the budget for data storage and offloading on set. There is an improvement in image and noise, nothing wrong with that. Cropping becomes easier (but that questions the original decision a cinematographer and director have made with framing). 4K isn't wrong or right until one looks at the film/project your making and see if it fits in financially and creatively.

September 24, 2014 at 10:58AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1719

The discontinued Sony F35 camera already had a RGB sensor that produces a gorgeous image.

The F35 used to cost $250K+, and now you can pick them up on eBay for about $10K. It's a very cool camera, but you have to be prepared for the amount of work it takes to shoot with it.

September 24, 2014 at 6:11PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32369

Story and 4k is not an either or situation. If you believe so you are handicapping yourself. Don't let an advocacy of story actually hinder you from the tools to tell a better one. Story matters more than camera, but whats most important certainly doesn't neglect the other components. Otherwise directors would go make films by themselves! Filmmaking is not as simple as "just focus on story" sounds. Theoretically or on a forum maybe it is, but in practice it gets far more complex. Especially if you are an "indie" or no budget guy you will not have the luxury of only directing. I think thats where some are shooting themselves in the foot.

September 24, 2014 at 11:37AM, Edited September 24, 11:37AM

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Indie Guy
782

I think that the irony of 4k is that as it gets more and more popular and cheaper to use the more people are watching videos on device that get smaller. With that being said I think that their are pros and cons to shooting on 4k. The biggest con is that until recently there haven't been a lot of 4k devices to watch anything on. This year though a lot of manufactures have released 4K tvs and I expect that they will sell a lot of them this Christmas season. The other con is that you need a nice computer to work with it. I work on a Macbook Pro and can handle any 1080 footage but with 4k everything slows down. Of course - if you are an editor with a nicer computer than mine (which is probably the case) than that really isn't a problem.

The pros of 4k is obviously that you get more pixels to work with and if you can broadcast on a 4k device it looks better than 1080p. Also with more and more people getting things that they can actually watch 4k soon more people will be expecting 4k. Remember when YouTube started playing HD videos? When that happened not everyone was releasing HD videos and a lot of the videos can only go up to 480p on YouTube. At the time it was no big deal. Now though when people go to a video and see that it's max resolution you think, "how old is this video?" I think if anything 4k will eventually catch on and be a standard just like HD did a few years ago and 6k or even 8k will take the place of 4k. If you want to be a future proof filmmaker I think that 4k is the way to go.

September 24, 2014 at 12:08PM

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Aaron Allsop
Producer
295

i noticed recently an explosion of new releases of cameras. every other week a new version drops, you will drive yourself crazy if you try to keep up. i agree with Mr Stephen her "start creating and stop buying". use whatever you have but keep focus on what you are trying to say or explore. subject matter is the essence of every art form.

September 24, 2014 at 3:35PM

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khireddine Ouazaa
Director, screen writer, camera operator, VFX
81

When I started getting into filmmaking I was very focused on the documentary filmmaking. I read a book that was invaluable to me as a budding filmmaker. It was called Shut Up and Shoot (http://www.amazon.com/The-Shut-Shoot-Documentary-Guide/dp/0240809351) and it taught me a great lesson to, and Nike said it best, "Just do It!" This book was a guide to DV documentary filmmaking and even then they talked about not worrying about the gear and focus on the actual creation.

I am a firm believer that it is all about the story. If you focus on the story you are trying to convey and let that win out it does not matter about the camera your shot it on.

One thing that is hard to ignore is the audio quality. I can watch a movie on 4:3 VHS if it has good audio quality. I would not want to watch and probably would not be able to focus very long if the audio was terrible even though it was shot on a RED.

Currently if you are shooting something in 4k the only difference it will make is if you would like to reframe without having to have another camera. Also 4k is great if your project is being released in a cinema. If you are releasing it to the internet their is no need for 4k yet. The speed in many areas has not caught up and it is not a standard for all TVs. It also comes down to viewing distance. If you are standing about 3 feet or less from your TV then you can process the sharpness of the picture. Anything past that it would take a larger screen and I mean much larger (Movie Theater) for it to make a difference.

To Recap:
Focus on you story.
Don't forget good audio.
Just go out and create.

Cameras are just tools just like the "Ultra HD Oven" is not going to make you a better baker.

September 24, 2014 at 5:12PM

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Chad Fortenberry
Director of Media Content
135

Like all my best profs. at PSU Film School say, "story, story, story". Nothing else matters if you don't have a great story. Production values matter, but I'd rather watch a grainy VHS of My Fair Lady (doing that right now in a vintage Canon Beach, OR motel) than a special effects 3-D extravaganza with a sorry, sorry story...

September 24, 2014 at 11:24PM

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TheRealBruceWayne
Filmmaker/Musician/Writer
8

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