Everybody’s raving about 4K. 4K televisions are starting to be pushed in TV stores and on TV commercials as being the next big thing to buy, and consumer-level cameras are starting to be pushed out with 4K recording capabilities. Of course this is wonderful in terms of technological advancement, and speaking as a video production professional, higher resolution images always make for easier editing and overall better quality footage.
But let’s take a moment to break this down:
At 16:19 aspect ratio, standard definition is 854×480 pixels.
Broadcast quality and Blu Ray high definition is 1280×720 pixels.
Full HD is 1920×1080 pixels (referred to as 2K).
So 4K, is double 2K at 3840 x 2160.
To my knowledge, the only people currently putting out 4K quality content are internet content providers. When the standard for television broadcast and highest quality mainstream content format (Blu Ray) hasn’t even yet reached 2K, I’m struggling to see why everyone is on about the next step up. It’s like trying to flog Blu Ray’s back in 2001.
I’m ranting a little, and I am aware of it, but it’s getting quite irritating hearing everyone going on about a resolution that is so high compared to the current standard that I’m struggling to understand what all the fuss is about. Yes 4K is higher resolution, but that’s utterly redundant if you’re going to slap the final content for mass distribution onto what is still probably the most common format; a DVD disc, at standard definition. Less than a quarter of the original filming quality.
I’m a bit old-fashioned perhaps in my mentality that at a certain stage, adding extra pixels will not improve the quality of your product. It will improve the pixel count, and that obviously improves the amount of video data you have to work with in terms of colouring, and post production/vfx etc. But aside from everything having just a little more shine to it, what exactly are we gaining now?
More crisp image doesn’t improve storytelling. Higher refresh rates don’t improve actors’ performances. There is a point at which we have to realise that for a lot of people, 4K is a better quality image than what their own eyes are capable of capturing. I can’t stand the mentality that just because content is shiny, or covered with digital effects, or ‘the latest thing’ that is is automatically good. Filmmaking is about much more than that and a film’s merit should not be graded on its pixel count.
So I guess what I’m saying is: Calm down everyone and stop looking so hard at each individual pixel that you miss the point of the whole picture.