Monday, 25 January 2016


One of the biggest complaints against using 4K is how it affects workflow when it comes to editing, this concern comes from the fact that shooting in 4k obviously creates way more data to manage. I'll admit that when I decided to make the jump to a camera that shoots 4K I too was concerned about how much it would slow me down, or even if I'd be able to do it at all.

I made the choice of getting a camera that could shoot HD 1080p very well, but gave me the option to shoot 4K when I was ready. 

Now my machines are both Mac, I find their build quality and functionally worth the amount I pay for them, people may disagree but I've edited on both low end Macs and high end PC's and personally have had no end of trouble when it comes to anything powered by Microsoft, which is a shame as their choices in editing software are actually more to my preference. 

My system spec for my 2011 iMac
Either way, this is just my opinion, editing on whatever you're comfortable with should be your main goal.

The truth was, however, that cutting on my 2011 out of the box iMac just wasn't as taxing as I had been led to believe. My machine has cut several features and dozens of music videos using Macs standard Graphics Card and only 4GB RAM. That sounds insane right? But it managed, not only fine, but actually quite fast.

Editing 4k on the other hand, well thats a different matter, but 3 months into editing a 4K feature and the same system handles it just fine. Pulling the footage from an external self powered USB 3.0 harddrive (which are very inexpensive at £60/$90 for 2TB, I consider that to be a very good deal.) and it really doesn't have any problem pulling the footage from it during the edit.

The problem it really has is playing back the footage in realtime. The computer really doesn't like it, even in 'Preview' or 'Quicktime' it struggles. The workaround for me was very simple and it should work in any non linear editor on any system.

Note : I did try this on Final Cut 7, but because of how the program uses your Memory it really just couldn't do it. But it works fine on programs like Hitfilm, Premiere Pro CC and FCPX (and probably Sony Vegas too, although I can't say for sure).   



Creating ProRes LT proxies I was able to load the footage into a 1080 timeline (all of it) Like a strip of film and then leave it to render. depending on what I've shot, it usually takes around 20 minutes to render the 4K footage for a 3-5 minute scene on my current set up.

Then I just work my way through and remove all the footage I don't want and of course you are left with your scene. Its very similar to cutting and arranging a strip of celluloid.

After that I simply copy and paste the footage back into a 4K timeline, which is linking back to the 4K footage and then export. 

Now I have a 4K master that I can use to export my films to HD, whilst having both a better quality image AND my work ready in a higher resolution for when its needed down the line. All done on a low spec, lowest price, out of the box iMac. 


PLEASE NOTE : I am aware of the Proxy media approach (creating a lower quality clip for editing) however this, for some reason, still causes major slowdown on a low spec system, which I assume is down to having an initial 4K timeline. My system even warns me that this will happen when I try it.
This work around is essentially a way of making your own proxies as you need them in your timeline without having a playback issue. 

P.S. Remember to empty your cache when done to remove the unused render files when done with your cut.

Now this probably sounds backwards to most editors out there, and it is, for me too, but its a work around that saves me having to drop money I don't have on extra RAM and the result is fine. 

The fact is, it has made me a more efficient filmmaker, knowing that the more coverage I have to shoot means a more taxing time in the edit means that I shoot what I need to much more efficient standard to make my life easier when I come to cutting the footage. 
Raw footage from Panasonic LX100 : Slasher House 2

Is 4K harder to edit than 1080? Of course it is, you're dealing with 4 times the information and unless you're willing to drop extra cash on your system to make it top notch, then, like every other part of low budget filmmaking, you have to find a way to make it work.

My overall point here, is that, filmmaking overall is a series of challenges. From writing to production to post and you need to keep all of these thing in mind, overlooking the whole journey whilst you're working. It doesn't matter if you're shooting SD, HD, 4K, 8K or 50K, you should be thinking about your whole process from beginning to end and how what you are doing on set will affect your post production. 

Just remember that resolution is a very small part of what makes an image look great.


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