Has 8K Changed Video Production Forever?

video production

As display technology constantly advances and resolution quality improves, video production companies have had to keep up with the times. Consumers are no longer interested in low-resolution content, even when viewed on small devices. But what actually is 8K, and how has it affected video production?

Pixel Perfect Resolution

Picture quality can be defined by the number of distinct pixels displayed on a device, be it a cell phone or a flat screen. This display resolution is most often quoted as width x height, i.e. the total number of pixels displayed horizontally by vertically. The most common display resolution found in home viewing devices is 1920p x 1080p or full high definition (full HD). In comparison, 8K has 7680p x 4320p display resolution, and is known as ultra-high definition (UHD).

The current display resolutions available at the moment are:

  • 1280 x 720: Widescreen 
  • 1920 × 1080: Full HD (1080p)
  • 2048 × 1080: 2K (Digital Cinema)
  • 3840 x 2160: 4K (UHD)
  • 4096 × 2160: 4K (Digital Cinema)
  • 7680 × 4320: 8K (UHD)
  • 15360 x 8640: 16K (UHD)

The Case For Higher Resolutions

You may be wondering why higher display resolutions have become so popular when people watch films and videos on smaller screens. Essentially, having more pixels makes images appear smoother, sharper and all-around more lifelike. But, as you can imagine, more pixels on a small screen doesn’t do all that much. In fact, few people own televisions or devices with display technology that can display 4K video content in all of its glory, let alone 8K. In fact, some critics argue that you need at least a 48-inch screen to be able to fully appreciate 4K content, and even then, some say the human eye is not capable of perceiving the details displayed.

So why bother? When considering small screens and higher resolutions, it all comes down to compression. When something is filmed in 4K and compressed to full HD so you can stream it on your laptop, the quality really is noticeably better. And if you view 8K content on an 8K device, the detail is phenomenal.  

Filming In 8K

Making the decision to start filming in 8K should not be taken lightly. The initial cost of all the necessary technology and equipment needed to produce 8K content is not cheap, particularly considering the gear is relatively new to the market. It also costs consumers more to view 8K content, as the devices needed to display the content cost significantly more than normal HD devices. Playing 4K or 8K content also uses significantly more bandwidth, and for film production, higher resolution data requires significantly more space.

With that being said, however, there are huge benefits to filming in 8K. Firstly, filming in 8K now means that your video will be appreciated long after 1080p is considered a thing of the past. Already, commercial companies are moving beyond HD production and looking to the future of high-resolution filming. For example, in 2017 a Japanese public broadcaster (the NHK) have already started gearing up to film the whole of the 2020 Olympics in 8K. At the same time Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 became the first film to be shot entirely in 8K. Clearly, as the world moves towards ultra HD, choosing not to film in 8K will quickly limit your audience.

As mentioned, the second greatest benefit of filming in 8K is the ability to create better low-resolution videos. 8K allows camera operators to film from further distances and zoom in without losing important details. This is particularly beneficial for filmmakers shooting in potentially dangerous environments, for example during violent conflicts or when filming wildlife documentaries. During post-production, companies such as The Michael Group are able to downscale and crop high resolution footage to create 4k, 2k or 1080p clips.

Looking Forward: 16K And Beyond

Although many consumers still watch films in 1080p, for filmmakers the prospect of 16K is very exciting. In particular, a company known as AMD Eyefinity has set a goal for their future graphics cards to support 16K resolution, which will revolutionize the virtual reality experience and allow for what is known as ‘true immersion.’ At The Michael Group, our up-to-date video production team can help you decide what resolution you should shoot your video in. Whether you decide on 1080p or 8K, we will assist you with all of your video production needs. 

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