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Shooting 4K the first time

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17 December 2015

Woodcut Media joint creative director Derren Lawford on the dos and don'ts of shooting and posting a TV show in 4K.

We were introduced to a new factual channel called Insight TV who were looking to commission content in 4K. As a company we had been early adopters of HD, so the opportunity to be part of a pioneering wave of factual producers was an obvious appeal.   Insight were keen to have a magic show and once I found the right talents, the channel moved very quickly to commission an international street magic series called Around the World in 80 Tricks.

Although street magic is quite close-up, one of our magicians was particularly acrobatic so visually we knew that would make it distinctive. That and the fact that we would be shooting in South Korea, India and Europe made us confident that the backdrop to the magic could be as visually interesting as the tricks themselves.

Doing anything for the first time is going to throw up learnings and shooting in 4K is no exception. On location for example, the need for a data wrangler you can trust is paramount. Responsible for data storage and backups, they need to be incredibly reliable and tech savvy, given the increased frequency that data needs to be transferred.

4K files are significantly bigger than 2K so transcoding times for raw footage to be viewed and used in the edit, could put a larger dent in your edit schedule than expected.

If there was one piece of advice I would give to a production company embarking on a 4k production, it would be “give yourself more time than you need, then give yourself a little more than that”. Everything takes much longer to process in 4K and so the overall production and post-production process is extended by default. As such producing something to a tight deadline on 4K for your first project is not advisable!

However, the pure quality of the footage makes up for longer workflow; better pictures, sharper resolution and greater to zoom and crop are just some of the practical benefits. From a company perspective, given the proliferation of increasingly more affordable 4K TVs, it’s good business sense to future proof your IP. So I don’t expect to be turning down 4K commissions any time soon!



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