We are all familiar with the need to be half a step at least ahead of emerging technologies. As far as resolution goes the new buzz is all around 4k. While any video producer will undoubtedly be foaming at the mouth to get hold of a 4k camera it is probably worth taking a little step back and looking at the bottom line on this equipment.
- Pro – 4K (or Ultra High Definition UHD) is outstanding. No point in beating about the bush here 4K is remarkable quality. In the simplest terms a 4K screen delivers 4 times the resolution of a HD 1080p screen. Now this has got to be good.
Con – Who is watching it though? At the moment there are very few UHD screens out there and even fewer people using them. Obviously you need to future proof but at the moment it really is future tech for the average user.
- Pro – 4k is going to happen! All the major networks are looking into 4K and the R&D has been done.
Con- Yes, it is going to happen, the question is when? Most of the major networks and producers have fairly recently invested in the HD boom. While they are all looking at it, how long it will take them to adopt it is another matter.
- Pro – You need to go with the latest advances to stay in touch with the industry. There is no option but to go with 4K.
Con – Agreed. However, the question is ‘when’ – not ‘if’. Remember the 3D boom? Didn’t boom quite as loud as we expected did it? Well that was because you need special equipment and expensive upgrades as the end user wasn’t it?
- Pro – With 4K my customers will be getting the best product. I should go with 4K to make sure I provide the best service.
Con – Now this one is probably at the heart of the problem for most SME production companies. When you are considering that move to 4K cameras you will need to decide if the cost is worth the prestige. The bottom line will likely be the question is there a return on this investment for you? The answer to this is how much your clients value the 4k product compared to the fact that, for some time at least, they might not actually be able to view it in all its glory.
If you are intending to future proof your output and you are in the high-end production market for major television, then right now you do probably need to consider 4K.
If, as the majority of the industry is, you are working in the mid range market place then you need to look at this in terms of the income that will you get, and when you will get it, specifically as a result of spending your cash on 4K kit (ie the Return on your Investment).
If you do the research on 4K you will see frequent references to the size of viewer needed. The smallest UHD television is likely to be 55” and it will be years until Internet playback is anywhere near that resolution. I would guess YouTube for example still automatically plays in 360/480 for most users. Some pundits even say that without 20/20 vision UHD is a waste of time.
Add to that the bandwidth and storage needed to stream and/or store UHD and it becomes a technological nightmare. When you then add to this mix that a decent 4K camera will cost upwards of £3700 – £4000 just for a compact, or £15000+ for pro level equipment, and that the end user needs to shell out £5000+ for a TV – it clearly needs thinking about.
Of course we have seen this situation with new technology many times and we are not advising either way. As with all upgrades and industry changes it is going to be down to your individual circumstances.
As always we are happy to help you in terms of the financial implications of a move to UHD 4K production, whenever you decide it’s the right time for you to make the change.