Ultra HD 4K and Why You Should Care

Keri Goff - Former Vice-President & Editor, A Cut Above Video Productions, Inc.
January 2017

If you’re considering buying a new large video display for your home or office Ultra HD is a good choice. Though not much Ultra HD material is available today, that is changing and HD material up-scaled to Ultra HD does look better.

Why should you care that A Cut Above has the capability to shoot your video in Ultra High Definition, also known as 4K?

Let's first start with the technical aspects of what HD actually is. Most standard HD formats are either 1280x720 pixels or 1920x1080 pixels. Ultra HD (UHD) or 4K is called that because it contains about 4,000 pixels horizontally (UHD is 3,840 and 4K is 4,048 pixels across, both are 2,160 pixels high), roughly 4 times the amount of pixel data of standard HD.

Scaling down UHD video into a smaller HD frame (deliverable on TV, mobile devices, websites and social media) is useful because the extra pixel data will allow for more flexible editing and provide higher picture quality. This is especially true while working within a Green Screen environment.

Shooting in UHD or 4K to get a sharper and cleaner final edit export at 1080p is the number one reason to shoot in 4K, but there are other time and cost saving reasons that make it useful as well.

Eliminate Multiple Camera Setups:
UHD and 4K with four times the pixel data allows an editor to extract a wide and tight angle from a single video clip, saving shoot time. This also results in a faster post production edit time. You save time, equipment cost and editing costs.

Pull High Quality Still Images:
Let's get back to that technical stuff for a moment. HD footage is typically 1920x1080 pixels. If you want a high quality photo for print you will likely need to use a professional still camera to achieve a pixel resolution of anywhere from 3088x2056 pixels (low end crop sensor) to 5760x3840 pixels (high end full frame sensor). The image resolution from a traditional HD video camera is limited if you desire to pull stills. However UHD or 4K falls right in line with many higher resolution still image needs at up to 4096x2160 pixels.

Will a UHD or 4K video camera replace the need for a professional photographer? No. However if you want to pull images for a magazine, corporate flyer or to enhance your website you are right on track, and your video editor will be able to pull those images for you quickly and at very little, if any, extra cost.

Ultra HD or 4K is a few years away from becoming a common household feature. It is easy to go out to your local big box store and pick up a decent 4K TV at a reasonable price, but you will have a hard time finding footage to play on it. Unlike that 3D TV and 3D BluRay player you bought for those 4 movies that were released, the obvious advantages of 4K are much more likely to take hold. Current HD video has already replaced that "old fashioned Standard Definition" of 640x480 pixels, and UHD 4K will go in the same direction.


© 2017 Keri Goff
Editor and Vice President of A Cut Above Video Productions, Inc.