Why 4K is wrong

Broadcast Engineering by John Bourbonais

4K technology is another flash in the pan despite what equipment manufacturers tell us

Camera manufacturers stoke our egos with the thought that if we shoot 4K we’ll be able to improve the overall quality of our production, expand our business, be more creative, use the footage forever and become a Hollywood filmmaker. Since 1998 the advertising buzz surrounding technologies such as 24P standard definition, 1080i HD, 1080P HD, 720P HD, 720P Variable Frame Rate, 1” imagers and the like have had compelling reasons that drove their success. However, some touted technologies such as the biggest marketing debacle in the past 15 years –3D TV—have not lived up to expectations and 4K technology is another flash in the pan despite what equipment manufacturers tell us. The most oft-repeated promises for improvement are in the areas of quality, post, delivery and future proofing, but here is why that will not hold up.


Skyfall was shot with an Arri Alexa (2.6K) and projected onto IMAX across theaters in the US. The movie was shot by living-legend Director of Photography Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. Mr. Deacons has been nominated for the Academy Award in Cinematography ten times and it is safe to assume that he would never compromise an image. The production company, in preparation for final distribution in IMAX, knew that the image had to be spectacular. And it was. Mr. Deakins, according to his interviews on the subject, was happy with the end result. He should have been; it won him his tenth Academy Award nomination for “Best Cinematography”.

Recently a Denver Sony presentation for industry professionals demonstrated the difference between 1080P and 4K on a 110” LCD screen. No one attending could really tell the difference. There were a couple of “maybes”, but the overall conclusion was that any image differences were too close to detect. read more...

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.