A hot topic right now is 4k, 6k, and even 8k video. New cameras, higher resolutions, and no where to put it… That pretty much sums up my thoughts on it. 🙂
But what I’d like to cover are the benefits of high resolution video footage. As well as the drawbacks from shooting in 4k. That way you can make an educated decision on which resolution works for you and your project.
The first thing you want to think about before shooting video is the final destination. Where is the video going to end up? Is it going in the theatre, YouTube, a mobile application? Figuring this out will help decide if 4k is needed or not and then how you can utilize 4k footage in your project.
Some clients and projects require you to provide them a final 4k video file. If this is the case, then you will no doubt want to shoot in 4k and maybe even 6k if you want more options in post production.
But should you shoot in 4k if the final video is going on social media where most people are watching it on their phones? This is subjective. And it really comes down to personal preference and your camera & computer’s capabilities.
One big misconception when it comes to 4k is that 4k video will look better in the end. And this isn’t always the case. The final video is only as good as the bandwidth its carried on and the display its being played on.
So for context, if a person is viewing your final 4k video file on YouTube on their phone with a slow internet connection… it’s not going to look so good. The moral of the story is that there are a lot of factors that go into a good video. 4k is one of the tools that can help it make it good, but there are a lot of other things to consider while creating your video.
So with that cleared up, let’s dive into some of the benefits of shooting in 4k video, or a higher resolution than the final video file will be.
Benefits of High Resolution Video
The best benefit that I have found as a video editor using 4k video in a 1080p timeline is that you have more control over the final composition. You can scale up and crop out undesired parts of the frame.
If you are shooting an interview of a person, you can record it in 4k as a medium shot and then in post production punch in to a closeup shot by scaling up the 4k footage. I do this all the time in my YouTube videos. One is below to give an example.
It gives the impression that there are two cameras. It also gives you the ability to cut to a different take without having a jump cut or having to cover the cut with b-roll. Since I tend to not be a one-take wonder when recording my video tutorials, this works for me. 🙂
The other main benefit is that you have more pixel data and it makes color correcting and grading easier. High resolution video is usually more uncompressed, so you have more dynamic range and can really create some nice looks in post production. Having higher resolution footage makes motion tracking and visual effects in general more easy and accessible.
Drawbacks of High Resolution Video
There are two major things to consider when shooting in a higher resolution. Storage space and computer speed.
You’ll need to copy and save your footage somewhere after shooting day. And if you don’t have a lot of computer storage space, this will be a drawback you’ll run into. You’ll need to invest in some external hard drives or other forms of disk space to ensure that you can save and archive these larger video files.
This becomes more of a drawback when you are working on several projects at the same time. If you have 5+ projects that are happening that were shot in 4k, storage space is definitely going to start costing you as you’ll have to buy more and more… and more hard drives.
The other part is that you want to make sure the computer you use to edit the footage is fast enough to edit it. There are lots of things to consider when looking at your computer. And to save time, I posted a video below that does a nice job explaining what to look for in a video editing computer. Check out the first part of the video below.
So that pretty much covers the main drawbacks. I hope this gives you some insight on making a decision for your project. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to answer any more questions you might have about high resolution video footage.
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