Are consumers clamoring for 4K video?

June 26, 2014

Video camera capable of capturing 4K are available from Canon, JVC, Panasonic and Sony. YouTube had offered the ability to stream 4k footage for a few years now and projectors and televisions capable of showing 4K are currently on the market from various companies. Most major Non-Linear Editors (NLE) (Premier, Final Cut and Vegas) offer the ability to edit 4K video.  So where are the consumers asking for 4k footage? Where is the market for these devices? HD has been out for over two decade and the time is ripe for something new! Right?

For a great Wikipedia overview on the comparison between HD and 4K (in all its flavors) see the following two pages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4K_resolution and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-definition_video. As you see there are various standards for 4K, which reminds me of the debate between 720 and 1080 HD all those years ago. Ultimately 1080p won out because of the better quality but it took manufactures and content providers to get on board before the consumers really went for it. All the information I have gathered so far indicates cable and over the air broadcasting is not able to push 4K footage and neither is not looking to do so anytime soon.  Where will the content come from?

HD DVDs finally pushed VHS out of the backdoor and out of our lives for good. (Speaking of which, I have a box full of old VHS movies if anyone is interested… Anyone??) Blu-ray, however, did not do the same to DVD. Will the talk of extending the H.265 codec to Blu-ray mean a new player for everyone along with a new TV? There are a few 4K players on the market and a handful of sites that you can stream or download 4k footage from. Of course not everyone has the bandwidth for that which means the equipment cost isn’t the only barrier to entry that consumers will face.

My experience with 4K videography was mixed. On the one hand the increased detail allowed me to get more creative with digital zooms and pans because I had more information to work with in post. On the other hand the footage choked my machine because of the increase in information. And in the end the footage was down scaled to 1080p to stream on line any way. I’d like to work with a few more 4K cameras before I make any real judgement.

Yes I was the same person who took a long time to adopt HD into my workflow because of the cost involved. To this day no client has asked for Blu-ray HD media to display their  projects but YouTube and Vimeo are viable options for the content so has not stopped the flow of HD video. I am not down on 4K, I am just wondering if there is a cost/visual benefit to adopting it now. Let me know if I’m off base.


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