Monday, 11 January 2016


Before I start let me just say, today, right now, in terms of film production, there isn't a necessity to be using anything more than the standard 1080 HD that ANY camera worth its salt comes fully equipped to shoot. 1080 is perfectly acceptable and then some and it will be for a long time. 4K is not a necessity by any means, At least not yet. That brings me to the main reason I decided to make the jump.

In the late 90's and early 2000's the video revolution was in full swing. Canon had released the XL1, which, thanks to a slew of indie horrors, including Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (which was actually only partially shot on the XL1) became the go to camera for making video features on the cheap and soon places like Blockbuster had their shelves filled with some inventive (some not so much), low budget horror movies. It was a good time to be a horror fan.

Eventually the HD revolution began as the prices for High Definition tape and cameras finally started to come down and the tech became affordable for your average consumer. In 2009 I made an SD horror feature called Creepsville, exactly the same time the next year I shot my first HD film Slasher House. A year or so later when we started trying to sell them I noticed something disturbing.

A lot of the films I loved as I grew into adulthood were now facing extinction because they were we're shot in SD and without brand recognition they weren't being picked up for rerelease anymore. Most of these titles we're now being deleted from existence, from the point of view of the market anyway. It stands to reason that one day in the not too distant future we'll see the same happen to HD (1080). Which brings me to my first reason.


For most distributors SD just wasn't an option anymore, they were interested as hell in the High Def film, but they told me in no uncertain terms that "SD just wasn't an option for them anymore" in fact they told me that "Anything produced before 1999 in terms of new films was not worth them taking on". I watched a lot of filmmakers face that struggle as we transitioned into the new High resolution technology (of course there were odd exceptions like Marc Price's Colin that slipped through) and failed to find a home for their Standard Def features.

There is now continued interest from distributors in my HD film Slasher House 5 years on, But no distributor wants to touch the SD Creepsville because its not 'viable' for them to try and shift Standard Definition programming anymore, even though ultimately the film wold end up on DVD which is of course Standard Def, distributors now demand a higher quality master.

So with that said, why wouldn't the same eventually happen with 4K? Well, it might, but the life of any films shot on 4k will be longer than anything shot in SD going forward. 4K resolution also boasts the size (from my understanding at least) as cinema screen resolution, which puts it just higher than digital protections lowest standard (2k). There is every reason to believe that we'll sat at this standard for a fairly long time, if not permanently.


"Surely this cinematic quality comes at a price?" We'll yeah it does, but that price doesn't have to break the bank anymore and in 2016 is not really anymore than shooting 1080p. The truth is, that in the last year, 4K has become a very affordable option for everyone. I looked into shooting in higher resolution in 2014 when we came back from the Premiere of Legacy of Thorn and it just wasn't an option for me as a low budget indie with cheapest options being £4000, before adding tens tuff to make them functional.

Today you can start shooting out of the box for as little as £400 (or less if you buy used) as there are now many more options thanks to companies like Sony and Panasonic leading the charge to bring the tech to the everyday consumer. We're now talking the same price as Canon's latest Rebel (T*i) models but with the added bonus of four times the resolution.

The best part is that, this tech is becoming cheaper all the time, its all ready fallen to 10 times less than it was 2 years ago. Next year it'll be available for much less again and pretty soon, shooting in 4K will become the norm and thats a good thing. I mean, even your phones (mainly Samsung) have been shooting 4k for a couple of years now.

I've detailed a list of 4K options in Part 2 of this blog (coming soon) that range from solutions for the penniless filmmaker to something a little fancier for those with a bit more money to spend, but of course I've kept within the low budget ethos of this blog, It really is worth looking at the options out there now as you'll find...


Shot from Panasonic LX100 (4K) : Slasher House 2
This seems fairly obvious, as you are working with more resolution. But I often hear, and have been guilty of thinking it myself "How much difference can it make?". I have to say, in a few short months of shooting both HD and UHD (4K), even shooting 4K compressed to a MP4 container, I would say the difference is VERY noticeable and in a very positive way.

I was concerned that it really wouldn't make a difference, and that shooting 4K would ultimately be a large risk with added expense, but the second I got the rushes back from our first shoot I could see a clear jump in quality, even from the 1080 AVCHD that the same camera also shoots.

Shot from Panasonic G7 (4k) : Slasher House 2
Another worry a lot of people have is the expense of things like storage etc, Obviously the files are about 4 times larger. but buying new harddrives didn't break the bank too much as the prices are dropping so dramatically it set me back the same amount as I would have paid 2 years ago for quarter of the storage, so it kind of evens out, I got two 2GB usb3 drives for around £100 (one edit, one backup) and they run fine on my out of the box 2012 Imac (the cheapest you can buy too).

You should take into a account that a low end machine will struggle with 4K playback from time to time and if you don't have a butt load of Ram, you're gonna have a slightly slower machine when it comes to cutting, but I've found a decent work around that I'll talk about in Part 3 (Coming soon).


I'll try and cover elements here in more detail over the next couple of weeks.

Please note that 4k is not the be all and end all. Its important that you don't worry about this too much, if moving to 4K is an option, you should certainly consider it for the first reason alone, but its more important that you just keep making movies.

Whether it's on 8/16/35mm film, Analogue Tape, MiniDV, SLR, Compact Camera, your iPhone or a 'Red Max Ninja Dragon T2 Turbo : Street Edition', Don't let technology worry you its all there for one reason. To help you tell stories and in the end it really doesn't matter how you do that as long as you do it well.


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