Tuesday, October 13, 2015

4K won't save you...

4K is quickly emerging as the new standard for image resolution in the world of video. With 4x more pixels as compared to HD one might wonder, does it really give you a picture that is noticeably 4x better? Television manufactures would tell you "Yes, of course!" However, based on my own experience, I'd say that in most situations it is hard to see the difference. The leap from standard definition to high definition was far more significant. But my opinions aside, I will concede that 4K, at least as an acquisition format, is quickly becoming ubiquitous. After all, even smart phones are capable of recording 4K video.

But in that ubiquity I feel like there many misconceptions about how we should take advantage of these extra pixels. A word of caution: don't rely on 4K as a safety net! It does not replace proper lighting, framing, and coverage. While it might solve specific issues in post production, no self respecting cinematographer should expect it to make up poor planning or sloppy camera work.

The following are circumstances I've seen where 4K didn't help:

4K won't save you if your shot is under or over exposed. Capturing more pixels doesn't help if those pixels are too noisy or blown out.

4K won't save you if your shot is out of focus. If your lens isn't sharp or if you don't have proper focus it doesn't matter that there are more pixels when they're all blurry.  This also applies if your shot is excessively shaky.  Yes, you can do better image stabilization with the extra resolution. But keep in mind that a really shaky shot can have more motion blur.

4K won't save you if you didn't get coverage. There are many scenarios in which you may need to reframe. For example, the boom mic or a c-stand is in the shot. Maybe the framing could be improved. Sometimes you may want to punch into a interview shot to hide an edit or for a dramatic effect. But these aren't always the most ideal solutions. The worst is trying to get all of the coverage for a scene out of a single wide angle shot. There's a big difference between physically changing a lens and the camera's position for a new angle versus cropping in on a single shot.

While there may be advantages to shooting in higher resolutions, that doesn't make up for bad filmmaking. Proper planning goes a long way. And always do your best work.

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About Me

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Sandy, Utah, United States
I make movies with my friends. I like to find humor in just about anything. I live in a dark cave similar to Batman's as far as cool computer equipment goes. But my cave lacks the gym, car, and suit...