8K Video – That’s a Lot of Pixels

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Just as 4K (or Ultra High Definition TV) is becoming standard in most major TV markets, technology has marched on and 8K is strutting its stuff as the new star on the red carpet. Last year (2016) Red revealed their 8K camera and were swiftly followed by Canon and now, this month, to add some spice to the marketplace Sony have launched their 8K camera, which can simultaneously shoot in 8K, 4K and regular HD (ie 2K).
red camera shooting in studio

What’s so good about 8K?

In short, the benefits of 8K resolution are:

  • The picture has 16 times more pixels than 1080 HD video
  • Shooting at 8K frame size is suitable for bigger screens
  • You can compress to a smaller frame size for a better quality picture
  • You can crop in to the action and change your framing. For example, when shooting a wildlife documentary in 8K you could film from a safe distance and in post-production crop in to the action
A comparison for sharpness between 1080p and 4K

Does anyone have an 8K display screen to view the footage on?

Yes, but is it overkill? Yes, most likely. The technology to even broadcast or stream 8K is still not quite there yet. Think of how fast your internet speed needs to be to handle that much data. Plus from the production side, it’s more expensive to shoot in 8K throughout the whole process. More storage is needed, computers need to be more powerful, drive and internet speeds need to be faster. Until it becomes a standard in broadcast, there is little point to getting an 8K TV, yet.

Who’s using 8K?

James Gunn, Director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was the first in Hollywood to use Red’s 8K weapon camera.  He knew that as the film is so CG heavy, he needed to shoot very detailed imagery to match and maintain a consistently sharp look between live action footage and CGI.  Gunn’s been reported as saying the camera is very small and surprisingly portable considering its power.

Japan has announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be broadcast in 8K, by which time, who knows, you may be able to buy an 8K TV from Currys (or the like) for £400.

8K…? Is my internet speed up to the challenge?

Certainly not in my house. But time and technology will march on…

I want one…

You can spend thousands on a decent 8K camera. Remember, it’s not just about the quantity of pixels, you get what you pay for in the quality of the camera’s tech. Plus you will of course need to buy the lenses, the accessories and viewing monitor, which you also can’t cheap out on. However p&p is free.

And the future… 16K?

Unless holograms and Virtual Reality TV win the race.

Don’t lose sight….

If you have a great story to tell, it will be awesome in HD.

If you have a dull narrative with no story, it will be terrible, even in 8K!

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