February 25, 2016 at 12:56AM


Shooting at 4K to export at 1080

It's common knowledge the advantages of shooting at 4K to export at 1080P. Better sharpness, colour etc etc.

But at what level do you do this -
Import? Do you transcode the 4k files to 1080
do you work in a 1080p timeline using 4k files, scaling them down 75%
Do you edit in a 4k timeline and export at 1080p

Or does it not really matter?

Does anyone have a method that they prefer etc?

Would love to know


Generally speaking, the 4K to 1080p step should be done at the last possible stage: final renders. However, for practical reasons you may need to transcode 4K to 1080p to make your editor (both the person and the computer program) happy. In that case, you edit and possibly even grade, using proxies. When you have all the cuts the way you want them, have applied your effects, transitions, color grades, keys, etc., you then switch back to 4K, using your original 4K images, and then export the final deliverable down to 1080p.

If you have a beefy computer with a good graphics card, you may find that editing and coloring 4K natively is a breeze. In which case you don't have to work with proxies. But most editors and grading programs have been designed to accommodate a proxy workflow. It's a pain to learn the first time around, but it's nothing special after you cut a few dozen projects.

February 25, 2016 at 4:06AM


I always keep a copy of my original camera footage, and convert my 4K footage to 1080p Cineform "masters" that I use for editing. ( I also color correct my footage when creating the Cineform files ) The main advantage to working this way is that everything loads and plays very fast ( even when working with multiple video layers ), and I can always go back and export a 4K section of my footage if I want to do something different with it. ( like re-frame my shot, punch-in for a tighter crop, simulate a pan or a slow zoom in, etc... )

If you've got a really fast computer and a really fast RAID drive to work from then it may make no difference between working in 4K vs 1080p, but my computer and drives just aren't fast enough for this. ( yes, you could always work with proxy files, but for workflow speed and the ability to see the actual detail in my shots I like to work from 1080p Cineform "master" files )

February 25, 2016 at 4:31AM, Edited February 25, 4:33AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

I am very interested in this method. Do you re convert footage back to a different filr when you are done or does it stay in the cineform master file?

Scott Oswald

October 6, 2016 at 12:45PM

Always at the last stage.

For the best quality pay good attention to the scaling and encoding. In principle you should be able to get 4:4:4 color going from 4k to 1080p but sometimes the software is not smart enough to do it and not all codecs support it.

February 26, 2016 at 4:08PM, Edited February 26, 4:22PM

Cary Knoop

The best results should come from doing it in the final render, but that's not always the best way to go. I'd say it depends on your specific work.

I usually do it just like Guy described, transcoding the 4K original files to 1080p Cineform or ProRes and working on a 1080p timeline, so I can actually see what I'm doing when I'm editing. With a better computer, maybe using 4K ProRes files in a 4K timeline would be doable, I don't know - in my 2014 MacBook Pro, it doesn't work very well. Like Guy said, it's always possible to go back to the original files if there's need to reframe or stabilize one or two shots.
Another option would be to work with low resolution proxies, and then relink the original files for rendering. Depends on how important it is for your specific work to actually be able to see the details of the image during the editing and grading, I guess. Then again, this method saves a lot of space, in comparison to the other one.

Truth is, the difference between the methods you described will be visually minimal (if you work with good solid codecs, like Cineform or ProRes 422), so it's more of a matter of choosing the workflow that fits best your specific work.

February 27, 2016 at 11:59AM, Edited February 27, 12:43PM

José Pedro Pinto

If you worry about performance use a 1080p proxy and replace it with the original 4k just before you render and scale it down.

Cary Knoop

February 29, 2016 at 1:21PM

Hi, I have a question about this as well. I'm shooting 4K interviews to crop in order to make 2 camera angles in 1080. I don't have a ton of space free on my RAID, so I've been exporting in 1080, then reimporting the new 1080 clips, so I can delete the original space gobbling 4k files. My question is, I've been exporting the 1080 files in Pro Res 422....but since I'll be editing/grading them later, should I be exporting in Pro Res 4444, or 422HQ? Also, if I import in 422, then later "Create Optimized Media", is that the same thing as 422HQ?

November 4, 2016 at 6:13AM


Regardless of the power of the computer use, isn't it always better to down convert your 4 k footage to 1080p and grade the HD that is supposed to have a better color space? If I understand well, the color space is indeed improved when I go from 4K to 1080p. So why not actually work with a footage, the 1080p, that allows more latitude and deeper work in color correction than the more diluted 4 K footage? Am I missing something here?

November 27, 2016 at 10:33AM


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