Video, Strategy  /  3.12.18

What Is 4K Video and Is It Worth the Price?

4K refers to the 4,000 pixels that fit across the width of a screen. All those pixels are what make the video look more like what the human eye sees. But with extra pixels comes an additional cost. The choice is, do you spend less for a video today or spend a little extra to create a video that will last you several years.

Are all those pixels really worth the cost? Yes.  Better image quality is always going to be worth it. But hey, I make videos, so I’m biased. The more pressing question is why 4K is the right resolution for your video project.


Before I can answer that, let’s get some context.


There’s almost zero chance you’ve made it through this past holiday season without hearing about 4K. Becky down the street picked up a 4K TV for the family on Black Friday, and she won’t stop raving about how much detail she can see. And to an extent, Becky is on the right track. 4K stands for the 4000 pixels that stretch across your TV width wise. Compare that to the current standard of 1080 pixels.


With more pixels, we can display more detail, more color and create a more “true to life” image. This is known as resolution. The higher the resolution, the greater the detail in the picture. More detail means we can manipulate that image more without losing quality. It also means that image will have a longer shelf life as technologies continue to advance.


While marketers and retailers and Becky down the street are going on and on about how fantastic 4K is, the industry is already beginning to play with 6K and 8K video. But while that kind of resolution won’t be consumer ready for a few years, 4K will saturate the market by the end of 2018.


Of course, your current TV will still work, but as we get used to the higher resolution 4K provides, our current media players will pale in comparison over time. It’s like watching a video you took with your smartphone and then watching a home movie from 1996.


It’s not just the windbreakers that look bad.


You’re a nice person, so I’ll tell it to you straight; you’re going to have to transition to 4K. It’s just a matter of when. If your business posts highly produced content to YouTube or Facebook or you’re putting ads on TV, then you should absolutely adopt 4K. Even though your audience might not be able to watch your video in 4K just yet, it will ensure your content remains current and professional looking for at least the next 5 years.


However, if you’re only concerned with posting a quick hit piece that you know will be out of date next Tuesday then don’t sweat it. There is, after all, higher costs associated with producing a 4K video.


You’ll only reap the benefits if you want your videos to work for you long-term. 


Higher resolution requires more expensive cameras that use more expensive memory cards. It also means dealing with massive files that require a more time-consuming workflow.


Yet, while you’ll pay more upfront, you’ll see the returns down the road. Superior image quality will give your content a longer shelf life meaning you can leave videos up for longer and even reuse or manipulate already shot footage years from now.


So don’t be surprised when Becky down the street tells you how great your latest video looks. Right before she tells you how she binged Black Mirror over the weekend. Have you seen Black Mirror? You should really watch Black Mirror.

Jesse Manfra

Video Production Director

Jesse is Calypso's video production director. If you’re doing any kind of video work with us, he’s your man. Jesse writes about all things video, with a few heady references thrown in for good measure.

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