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4K Video Production: What Marketers Need To Know

by MARCUS KRIEG, on May 4, 2015 10:42:00 PM


So, let me guess.

You want people to watch and share your videos, right?

Of course you do!

That’s why you create beautiful videos: because you know they perform better than “so-so” videos.

But what happens when video technology improves and your videos begin to look dated?

Pretty frustrating, isn’t it?

Fortunately, there is a way to future-proof your videos, which our Director of Production, Stronz, shares in the video below.

Check it out (or read on, either way):

What does “video resolution” mean and why is it important?

It’s important to understand that there are three big factors at play when discussing video quality:

  1. Resolution
  2. Screen size
  3. Distance from the screen

When we’re talking about video, “resolution” measures how many “pixels,” or individual splotches of color, are included in a single frame of the video.

When you’re looking at a very small screen, low resolution videos look just fine. The same is true if you’re very far away from the screen. That’s because the pixels appear to be so densely-packed that you can’t see them individually.

But when screen sizes become larger, or as you move closer to the screen, pixels start to become noticeable, giving your videos a grainy look.

To use an example, it’s likely that your home TV displays resolutions up to 1080p. That means it displays 1920 pixels across and 1080 pixels in height, for a total of just over 2 million total pixels in the image.

Now, if your TV is a 32”, those 2 million pixels are much smaller and more tightly-packed than if you had, for example, a 70” screen.

Similarly, if you have a 70” screen and look at it up-close, you’ll see individual pixels. But if you step back 15ft, you wouldn’t notice them as much.

Now that you understand what resolution means, the next logical question is, why should you care?

It’s actually quite simple: when everything looks sharp on a screen EXCEPT your video, you’ve essentially created a negative experience for your video viewer. They’ll see the difference.

To demonstrate this, click on the image caption below:

4k vs. 1080 resolution side by side

See how the image on the right is crisp and vivid, while the image on the left is grainy? You can see individual rocks in detail with the 4k shot, but the rocks blend together in 1080p. (Note: you may need to click on the link in the caption to see it in full-size. Remember, smaller images mask resolution differences.)

If you’re used to seeing beautiful images like the one on the right, seeing something like the image on the left would leave you feeling dissatisfied, because your expectations (high resolution) are not met by the reality (low resolution).

And in business, trust is earned by exceeding expectations, not by failing to meet them.

So if you want your videos to look great, you need them to display in high resolution.

But before we get into our recommendations about resolution, it’s important to get a sense of the options you have available. Below you’ll find a few of the most common video resolutions you’ll see.

Standard Definition (Old-School)

  • 640 x 480 (480p)

Standard definition displays are considered “old school” now. If you’re uploading videos in this resolution, stop it!

Seriously, children shooting videos with smartphones will make your content look bad if you upload videos in standard definition.

The good news is, almost anything you use to shoot video with these days will at least shoot in HD quality, so we don’t see this too often.

High Definition (All right... For Now)

  • 1280 x 720 (720p)
  • 1920 x 1080 (1080p)

HD resolutions are the current “standard.” Pretty much everything today supports HD video, including: YouTube, smartphone displays, computer monitors, Facebook Video, Twitter Video, Vimeo, etc.

Plus, ever-increasing internet speeds have made it possible for most people to stream HD videos without any buffering, even with just a cell signal.

So now there’s no excuse not to create your videos in HD resolution. At minimum, we recommend uploading your videos in 1080p. If you do, nobody will think your content looks dated.

At least not yet.

While your content will look good in 1080p, it’s important to note that we’re quickly approaching the final days of HD video. TVs, computer monitors, smartphones and even social networks like Twitter are starting to migrate to the next-generation of technology: ultra-high-definition.

Ultra High Definition (Next-Generation Displays)

  • 3840 x 2160 (4K)

As a frame of reference, 4K videos have approximately 4x more pixels than 1080p.

Want your videos to look just as good on a TV screen or computer monitor as they do on your smartphone? If so, you should be shooting your videos in 4K.

Plus, if you do, your videos will look great on any screen for years to come. That’s why WireBuzz shoots all of our videos, both for ourselves and our clients, in 4K. We want your videos to stand the test of time so you can get the most out of your investment.

But don’t 4K videos cost more to produce?

This is one of the biggest objections people have to creating videos in 4K, but it really doesn’t make much sense when you think about it.

Here’s why:

If you’re working with a video marketing agency, like WireBuzz, there is literally zero additional cost for producing your videos: we already own and use the best equipment so we can knock your socks off when you see your final videos.

But if you’re shooting your own videos, then yes, you will likely need to upgrade some of your equipment.

Even then, the cost is easy to justify: you can get a great camera, like the Panasonic Lumix GH4, that shoots in 4K for about $1200.Panasonic Lumix GH4

And when it comes to editing, you also may need to update your computer to a newer model to handle the large file sizes.

But all told, it would cost less than $2500 to upgrade your equipment so you can shoot video in 4K.

If you think about it, that’s a small price to pay to ensure ALL the videos you create have a long shelf-life.

Deciding if 4K is right for your next video project

Before you schedule your next shoot, you'll want to decide if shooting your videos in 4K makes good sense.

In most cases, you should shoot your videos at the highest resolution possible, especially if you're working with professionals. But if you're shooting your own videos, don't let technology be a roadblock. As always, the most important detail is creating compelling stories that resonate with your audience.

If you're not sure whether to invest in upgrading your equipment, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Am I producing "evergreen content" that will be useful to my audience for years to come? If so, it's worthwhile to invest in equally-evergreen quality.

2. Is my brand associated with quality, precision, or innovative design? Keep in mind that people will associate the quality of your product with the quality of your content. In academic research, this phenomenon is called the "Halo Effect." If you need people to think "wow," give them the best viewing experience possible.

Still have questions about 4K video production? If so, let us know in the comments below!


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