October 6, 2016 at 5:42AM, Edited October 6, 5:45AM

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Is 1920x1080 is good enough to release in Movie Theaters in current time ??

I'm planning to make a local movie project in India, and want to release it in local movie theater, but I don't have 4K cameras, I have cameras which has 1920x1080 or 1080p resolution, should I go for it, or I have to buy 4k Cameras for acceptable look on screen?? Plz Help me Out !

24 Comments

Talk with your local movie theaters and you are likely to discover two things: (1) it's non-trivial to get a 4K movie into theatrical release, and (2) if you can past the hurdles of problem #1, then they will likely be happy to show a movie that originated in 1080p. Many, many award-winning documentaries shown in theatrical release were shot in 1080p or less. But they have to be really, really good to warrant theatrical release.

October 6, 2016 at 6:28AM

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Dear Michael, thank you so much for your precious comment, so can I proceed my production work with my current 1080p cameras ?

Aishwary DUBEY

October 6, 2016 at 8:22AM

Read this article from the NFS archives: http://nofilmschool.com/2014/01/which-cameras-were-used-by-the-2014-sund...

Many of those cameras are 1080p. Many films use a combination of cameras, with high-spec cameras for principal photography and lower-spec cameras for bits here and there. But the award-winning documentary "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory" was shot with a range of 1080p cameras, from the pretty-good AF100 to the less-than-stellar HVX-200.

October 6, 2016 at 12:11PM

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Thanks for the reply ! :D

Aishwary DUBEY

October 20, 2016 at 12:31PM

It depends not just on the camera resolution.

October 6, 2016 at 3:11PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
1823

Thanks Yoda!

Michael Militscher

October 6, 2016 at 8:23PM, Edited October 6, 8:23PM

Haha!

Cary Knoop

October 6, 2016 at 9:06PM

thanks !

Aishwary DUBEY

October 20, 2016 at 12:32PM

Short answer: yes. Most theaters uses 2K projectors. On a well shot scene. you will be hard pressed to find the difference between 1080 and 2K footage. I have been to plenty of short film festivals where they had HD and DCP projections based on 1080p material.

Resolution is not really a big factor. Google up Sony Cinealta f23 and you will see a big list of films shot on HD. Including Startwars 1 and Avatar. But this camera has 4:4:4 color space and log profiles.

If you are going to shoot on DSLRs, research on the best settings for film look (24fps, flat profile, shutter speed etc). Use sharp lenses. Adding film grain in post can improve the perceived resolution/sharpness. But its an optional aesthetic at this point. A good DP can help you avoid a lot of theses pitfalls such as rolling shutter, moire and banding in post caused by certain lighting conditions.

Good luck with the project.

October 7, 2016 at 10:24AM

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Rajesh Naroth
Filmmaker
356

Thanks Rajesh :D

Aishwary DUBEY

October 20, 2016 at 12:32PM

1080p is fine for theaters. Audiences won't know the difference. Best if you use a 4:2:2

October 8, 2016 at 11:12AM

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William Scherer
Writer/Director/Producer/Fine Art Aerial Photography
275

Thanks William

Aishwary DUBEY

October 20, 2016 at 12:32PM

At the time (fall 2016) there is no cinema that uses a higher resolution than 1080p (or 2K at maximum) for digital projection. In fact the only way to get higher quality images on screen your would need 35mm film (or at least 16mm) and you will probably shoot and show digital.
4K has not reached the consumer watched marked yet (and it only will with TVs and VOD). You cannot notice the difference between 2K and 4K on a cinema screen. That is because you a too far away from the screen.

October 9, 2016 at 8:53AM, Edited October 9, 8:53AM

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Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller
1516

That is just false. Most screens are 2K yes. Many are 4K, and many movies have both 2K and 4K masters, showing at a theater near you, right now.

And since the original poster is from India, here is the first thing that comes up if you google "4K india cinema" :

http://4k.com/news/3000-new-sony-4k-cinema-screens-coming-to-india4079/

Einar Bjarni Davidsson

October 9, 2016 at 2:49PM

Hey Eric,

just to let you know there are plenty of theaters that project in 4K (at least where I'm from). I work projection in a cinema and I can tell you definitively that we get a lot of 4K files although 2K is still currently the standard.

Daniel Song

October 12, 2016 at 7:48PM, Edited October 12, 7:48PM

Thanks ERIC :D

Aishwary DUBEY

October 20, 2016 at 12:33PM

>> "At the time (fall 2016) there is no cinema that uses a higher resolution than 1080p (or 2K at maximum) for digital projection. "

I think you are completely wrong about that one! Since 2009 theaters have started to upgrade their projectors to 4K.

October 9, 2016 at 2:17PM, Edited October 9, 2:29PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
1823

Of course 1920x1080 is fine today, here are a list of feature films that have been shot in HD resolution:

Drive (2011) - Arri Alexa ProRes 4:4:4 1920x1080
Like Crazy (2011) - Canon 7D
Star Wars Attack of the Clones (2002) - Sony CineAlta HDW-F900
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Sony CineAlta HDC-F950
Whiplash (2014) - Arri Alexa ProRes 4:4:4 1920x1080

So you can see that shooting in 1080p is perfectly acceptable, as even big budget films such as Star Wars have done it, but what makes the film look good is not the resolution but the lenses and lighting. All these films were shot in 1080p but they used high quality glass and obviously had professional Hollywood lighting.

October 10, 2016 at 8:06PM

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Matt Nunn
Amateur
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Thanks Matt !

Aishwary DUBEY

October 20, 2016 at 12:37PM

At present, for theatrical release 1080p is sufficient. I don't have any exact idea about what camera you own. If you have a canon DSLR, use that camera with magic lantern firmware which enable getting 14bit RAW footage with a wide dynamic range of 14 stops and excellent colour.

October 12, 2016 at 8:06AM

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RAGHU IRIKKUR
Painter-Cinematographer-Editor-Colourist
93

We've shown two movies at the local Showcase Cinemas in 1080p and it was fine. I was impressed with how good it looked.

October 12, 2016 at 12:05PM

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Most cinema project 2K anyway so you should have an issue. 2K is just 7% more pixels than Full 1080P.

October 20, 2016 at 10:06PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2721

The number of pixels on a camera has a lot less to do with image quality than other things. Some of the worst images I've gotten recently were on UHD cameras (real 4K cameras are almost non-existent) because cramming 4x as many pixels onto the sensor means each pixel is less than 1/4 the size of an equivalent HD camera's. Smaller pixels mean less light-gathering capability, which means more noise and lower dynamic range. Color accuracy is an often missed aspect of image quality. Many lower-end cameras have very weak or impure color filters so it's almost impossible to get natural images out of them. A related topic is color-space (not sub-sampling like 4:2:2 etc). The color-space and Gamma correction are different for digital cinema than for TV, which is why so much ad material looks murky and muted on the big screen. Another short-coming of budget cameras is no OLPF, so moire and color aliasing is a huge issue. I can get an excellent image out of a Digital Bolex in seconds vs 20 minutes for a passable image on a BMCC. Don't forget about rolling shutter either. The slightest jiggle in the image is magnified significantly on a 10M high screen. Then there's the lenses. There's a reason many Hollywood movies are produced at 2K but use $30,000 lenses. None of this stuff means anything if you aren't good at framing and controlling the light of course. I'll take a standard-def camera with a great DP over a top-notch camera with a novice DP.
For the record, 2K and HD are effectively 1080 formats. 2K is 1.85:1 instead of 1.77:1 so it fills more of the theater screen, that's all.

October 21, 2016 at 11:48AM

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I genuinely feel that anything above 4k is unnecessary. If you choose your frames with intent and dont crop it later to save your own ass, you're fine. You can film in 1080 all you want. Just be more deliberate with your framing.

October 22, 2016 at 12:27PM

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Nick Friend
Cinematographer and YouTuber
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