4K Production – A Raw topic John Ford - Head of Film by John Ford, Head of Film

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What is 4k?? Why should I shoot 4k?? Why does 4k RAW matter?!?

Just thought I’d summarise quickly the latest exciting developments and why you should want it for your films! 4k raw has become a reality for anyone and everyone.* But what does this mean for you and do you need it or is it just something that would be nice?

Youtube has gone 4k. Most feature films have been mastered in 4k. 4k is four times that resolution that HD. How much better is Ultra High Definition and just boring old High definition?

Full HD – or rather 1080P – looks great on TVs up to 80 inches. Sure, 4k looks better, but how many of you need to make sure your film will look pin sharp at 80 inches?!

There is an advantage when watching Passive (non flickery!) 3D which will be true HD when viewed on a 4k tv. But that doesn’t affect whether or not we should be making your next film on 4k.

So what would be the benefits to us making you a film using 4K raw cameras??

  1. Higher stills from video. We are asked on almost a weekly basis if we can get some stills from the edit for use in brochures or other printed material. Well, with HD you have the same resolution as a 2.1 megapixel camera so that’s pretty rubbish! at least with 4K footage you can pull out 8.5 megapixel stills (probably raw too!) so that’s a bit more useful.
  2. We’re are often asked to make edits to an interview when we don’t necessarily have anything to cover up the edit. Had that interview been shot on 4K you would be able to ‘punch in’ to the shot and create a nicer looking edit.
  3. Reframing is a lovely trick in the edit (Not that our cameramen don’t know how to frame a shot!) Every now and then it’s quite a nice option to be able to show a wide shot and then cut to a slightly closer in version to highlight a detail.
  4. Raw (though not restricted to 4k) can give you far more flexibility in post with colour correction and creative grading. This is a huge benefit in so many ways. Stills photographers know this, it just gives us more room for bringing out the best colour from our grade.
  5. Image stabilisation. We have a great little plugin that we use quite often on handheld shots that will work so much better with the higher resolution shots. This is mainly because the plugin ‘punches in’ slightly. So 4k would give that slightly sharper image and mean I could do more handheld shots on a shoot… which means I can get more shot!
  6. I’m a big fan of tracking/match-moving graphics and this is much more precise when coming from a 4k source.
  7. Getting a lovely key on a green screen shoot is much easier with a 4k source.
  8. Downscaling from 4k source to a 1080P master just looks lovely.
  9. It sounds cool.
  10. Future proofing. M’eh. I’m not sure how relevant this is but certainly if you are looking to build up a huge library of shots that you want to repurpose for the next 5-10 years then why not acquire that footage in 4k… just in case!

So basically, if you’re confused as to what 4k raw is and why it’s important – the main thing to consider is…

it’s just better!!**

*assuming the new Blackmagic Production Camera gets released on time and lives up to the hype 😉 however there are plenty of other awesome 4k cameras that our production company is happy to use!

**providing you are using filmy cameramen types who are already awesome and already filming awesome stuff on awesome cameras… this will just make them even more awesome…

John Ford - Head of Film by John Ford, Head of Film
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