4K is here to stay, and it’ll go mobile too. Web video production is on the rise. We are consuming video on phones and tablets more than any other device. Marketing videos, corporate videos and even Youtube vlogging is part of our daily entertainment mix whether we like it or not.
Our mobile devices are employing displays with ever higher pixel densities and brighter, more vivid colors. 4K UHD online streaming is already a reality and Full HD 1080p is the bare minimum we expect online now.
This year Sharp unveiled the worlds first UHD phone display (see Tiny 4K Displays Will Be Awesome—Just Not for Smartphones | Indiewire 04/14/15) packing in the full 3840 x 2160 pixels into a 5.5″ size display at 806 pixels per inch. There are rumors of upcoming flagship 4K smart phones from various manufacturers, although time will tell if this becomes a reality this year. 4K UHD laptops are already on the market, and upcoming UHD tablets go without saying.
Virtual Reality filmmaking has arrived on the scene, and while filmmakers argue about whether VR content can be considered filmmaking or not (see Virtual reality is not filmmaking | Motionographer 08/03/15), the technology is not waiting for the outcome. A natural application for mobile sized 4K displays is in VR headsets ensuring a seamless pixel free experience.
Taking things back into the home, large full HD TV’s are the norm and UHD TV’s are more affordable than ever. It is possible to stream internet content on Youtube full screen to a TV that looks as good as a commercial HDTV broadcast. I believe the largest source for UHD content will be the internet, not traditional television broadcasters.
Internet bandwidth is not going to be the bottleneck, we as filmmakers and creators of video content will are already the bottleneck.
The lines between mediums and defined distribution deliverable standards for content are blurring. It won’t be long before the same master files required to make 4K DCI compliant DCP’s for the big screen are also used to make mobile and online video deliverables.
Who needs to be thinking about this?
We all need to be thinking about this, and acting on it. Not just filmmakers working within or aspiring to the theatrical cinematic realm, but increasingly makers of content for any and all forms of broadcast and online distribution whether short form or long.
This includes production of content for television, recorded and live, online streaming and eventually it will trickly down to consumer generated content and youtube vloggers who want an edge.
What does this mean practically for us as content creators?
We can take advantage of the tools available right now to put ourselves and our content front and centre on this newly evolving stage. Consumer technology is already way ahead of us as creators and the demand for 4K content is very real, there’s still not a lot of professionally produced UHD content out there.
Anyone can buy a UHD TV now, but there is still hardly any UHD content to watch on it.
Get serious about 4K+ acquisition
The naysayers have had their time to question the need for anything more than HD or 2K for cinema and television, we watch 1080p content on our phones now, so that time is over. Nobody can afford to be in denial any longer if they want to stay relevant, or in business.
HD finish is not enough
By now it should be obvious that 4K UHD is here to stay, and we need to be ready to finish and deliver 4K UHD masters so that we can deliver to the highest standard across all delivery platforms.
It’s not just about more pixels. High dynamic range displays are coming with much wider color gamuts than we’ve been used to. Rec2020 is on the horizon and will change how we approach color in post production and delivery.
We have the tools
In conclusion, the tools needed to achieve the highest standard of production are more affordable and accessible than ever.
The lines we use to separate and categorize types of production, often by their intended method of distribution and display will disappear, and the minimum standards, and tools employed will be the same.
There will no longer be any differentiation between big screen and small screen, because we will be viewing essentially the same content everywhere regardless of display device.
The 4K argument is not about what is necessary, what is good enough, or whether the human eye can determine or resolve the difference. You can argue all you want while the consumer demand for 4K content takes over.