Video production in HD or 4K

HD vs 4K Video

Which format to use?

HD vs 4K video is a discussion which has been happening for a few years. Many would assume that 4K is better so use that instead of HD. That is like saying a truck is better than a car so use that. Bigger does not always mean better. In the role as projected video on a big screen, like cinema and some very large TV screens, 4K is a great fit. However on a small device like a mobile phone or even a tablet, anything larger than HD makes no difference in viewing quality but it can be counter productive. Mobile devices often need to use mobile data to stream video. This means that the larger the video the more data will be needed. If the network is not super fast, buffering can occur. This will reduce the viewers experience. Many video hosting companies like YouTube have an auto image size adjustment based on the signal of the user. This can overcome many of the speed problems.

Filming in HD or 4K

Video has been changing rapidly with mobile devices becoming faster and having much higher specifications for video. Many cell phones can film in 4K and even 8K. You would think then that choosing the highest image size is best. There are however many drawbacks to mobile video. This biggest problem is speed of data processing and data storage. If you are filming in 4K the device has to work much harder than in HD and the storage space will be used up much quicker. How some device manufacturers get around this it by compressing the data. What you end up with is very big but low bit video. Its fine for home use but editing low bit video has some serious problems. To be able to edit a video there needs to be sufficient to modify. If the original video is very low bit, the video can easily break up when being processed. This can result in an undesirable video quality.

Marketing in HD or 4K Video

Online marketing needs video. So once again you may want to use the biggest and best. But once again some thought needs to go into this. Firstly having a video made for you in 4K, or higher, can cost more than an HD video. If budget allows then that is fine. However if budgets are tight it helps to think why you would want 4K instead of HD. Most people will argue that 4K is “future proofing” the video. In other words. The video will be usable for a long time. This makes sense if you intend to keep using the video footage for years to come. If however the video footage is for a product or service which will be outdated in a year or two then it makes no sense to future proof it. Also if the video is going to be downgraded to standard definition (SD) or even smaller for mobile devices, then it makes no sense to have the video filmed in 4K or higher. 

What is 4K for?

It is often assumed that bigger is better. As it is with anything new. So many people would say “use the biggest video you can get”.  The question though is why does 4K exist in the first place. The purpose of 4K and larger video formats is top be able to make the screen size bigger. Keep in mind that cinema screens, which are larger than most peoples living areas, are 4K. That means that cinema resolution is more than good enough for a screen size that would not even fit in your home. Many people will argue that they can see the difference. If they have an absolutely huge screen then yes that will happen. But if your TV screen is 42 inches or less in size, you would have to be very close to the TV to see the pixels. That would not be a healthy distance to view from. Either way this is all considering that the viewer would be using a big screen. Most videos these days are viewed on mobile devices. It would mean then that anything bigger than HD will make no difference. Remember 4K and higher is for bigger screens. The image quality mostly remains the same across all sizes.