Do we need 8k video?

8K video – you’ve probably only just bought a 4k TV đź“ş. But already, the industry is pushing creators towards recording in 8k (when most of them haven’t even upgraded to 4k) by producing cameras that record in 8k – okay, so this is getting into the top end of the market, but it won’t be long before we all start recording in this format.

Let’s roll it back a bit and work on the principle that traditional TV still uses 720p content (yes still!) with a few HD (that’s 1080p) channels. Services like Netflix and Amazon are now pushing content over the internet to your TV in 4k and in fairness, it looks pretty good, but it’s only just starting to become the norm. However, there has been a lot of ‘cheating’ going on where the actual TV station, or creator, upscales their original 1080p footage to 4k by using specialist software, and you probably haven’t even noticed. This is something that most creators do for parts, if not all of their content, because you don’t notice.  Now you won’t get away with upscaling from 1080p to 8k, but you might get away with 4k to 8k.

So why do we keep doing this? Well, we do keep buying larger screens on which to watch our favourite programs, and laptops have retina screens in them which are 4x the resolution in the same physical size. So, we really do only have ourselves to blame, because who doesn’t want that 65” TV in their front room, to watch that horror and see that scary face come screaming out at you? In all fairness, technology is always advancing and whereas previously, we couldn’t make larger pieces of glass (by the glass, I mean the TV screen with all the pixels on it, not just a pane of glass), we now can.

What strain does this put on the industry and you (the customer)? Well, when 4k came out, it was charged at a premium by production companies because they had to invest in new technology to record it, new technology to store it (it’s a lot larger file size) and new technology to edit it (it’s amazing how memory – hungry 4k is), so the cost is significant. Although it’s becoming the norm, and most production companies will shoot in 4k, they will still provide you with the finished article in 1080p or even 720p. Wait…what… 720p? Yes, that’s right! This is because if we are supplying an advert for your TV commercial slot, they will request it in 720p (this does make us cry). The 1080p format is great for internet use and perfect for mobile tablets and phones, so why do we shoot it in 4k? Well, it gives us extra scope in the editing room to zoom in, pan around and create other fancy effects to make your production stand out and reduces filming costs by enabling this in post-production; reducing location, talent and filming costs.

So now the important bit is that by the time 8k becomes the norm for production companies, the rest of the technology should have caught up; we will be giving you files in 4k, with the added advantage of being able to do the fancy effects in post-production with the 8k footage. I just hope the technological requirements for TV adverts have also progressed by then. So technology is evolving and everything has it’s a cycle, but as a client, you can be sure that our industry is naturally evolving and that your production will be done in the best, most cost-effective way, to make your cinematic vision a reality.

Terry Livesey
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