4K Revolution: New Standard Delivery Format Looms
by Sam Mestman

If you happened to be walking around the floor this year at NAB, you probably noticed that 4K was everywhere.

4K Blackmagic Camera
Whether it was Blackmagic’s 4K Production Camera, Sony’s 4K cameras and projectors, or RED’s DRAGON (which shoots in 6K), this increasingly ubiquitous resolution is on everyone’s minds. And it’s not going away.

Within the next couple of years, whether you like it or not, 4K will become the new standard delivery format in the entertainment industry, especially for long-form theatrical films. The chief reason for this change is that TV manufacturers need an excuse to sell you a new television.

Although your 1080p HD television is probably more than adequate for your current needs, it already isn’t “cool.” No one’s bragging about HD anymore. 4K is the new frontier. And if you remember back to the days when HD was just becoming popular, content providers were paid a premium if they delivered in HD. This was because networks needed HD content to promote the new standard. Expect the same to happen with 4K content. In the near future companies will be snatching up 4K content in order to showcase their new 4K televisions.

But before I get to the heart of the article, there are a few things that you should know about 4K (if you don’t know them already):

      • You’ll be able to shoot great looking 4K content this year for about $4,000 with the new Blackmagic Camera.
      • You can currently watch that content for $1,500 on this Seiki TV. We’ve got three of these guys where I work at Lumaforge, and you would be absolutely amazed at the picture quality if you calibrate them correctly. Perfect for client monitoring.
      • You can connect that TV to any HDMI 1.4a video out and get a 4K signal. This means that 4K content is now able to be viewed over a consumer cable as most video cards coming out today use HDMI 1.4a as their standard. Once certain applications are updated, and the graphics and video card drivers get upgraded within the next few months, having a 4K client monitor in your edit suite will be cheaper than buying a nice laptop.
      • YouTube now has a 4K option. You can expect 4K downloads from iTunes and Amazon as soon 4K gets a bit more traction. My guess would be 2014 at the latest.

      • 4K projection might just save the movie theater. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to go to RED studios and see real 4K on a big screen, it makes you want to go watch movies in a movie theater again. While the benefits of 4K in the home might be debatable on a standard screen, seeing it on the silver screen in a movie theater is a mind-blowing experience.

4K DaVinci Resolve
Now that you have a basic understanding of the 4K phenomenon, it is time to talk DaVinci Resolve, the Rosetta Stone of post-production. Resolve allows you to apply some of the world’s best color correction tools to finish a feature film, TV show, or music video after you have imported your project from FCPX, FCP7, Avid, or Premiere.

Once color correction is complete, you can use Resolve to render out the finished product to almost any format, or you can send it back to the NLE software of your choice (FCPX, FCP 7, Avid, or Premiere) and finish it there.

And unlike most dedicated grading systems, which cost absurd amounts of money and require dedicated hardware / storage to run them properly, Resolve runs on the latest Retina Macbook Pro!

Best of all, Resolve is available for free upon purchase of a Blackmagic Design 4K production camera. That’s right. Free. Blackmagic Design has taken an industry standard in color correction that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, and they are giving it away to their customers in a show of appreciation!

For those of you not planning on buying a 4K BM camera just yet, try downloading the lite version of Resolve for free. It has many of the same features as the full license, only the lite version of Resolve caps you at a 1080 HD resolution. In other words, if you want to do a 2K or 4K master, you’re going to need to shell out $1,000 for the full, paid version.

But as we enter this new 4K world, that $1,000 Resolve license should more than pay for itself. As the 4K phenomenon intensifies, companies are going to be racing around looking for real 4K content. And that means that producers are going to be looking for people who know how to create this content without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money to do so.

This is where YOU come in. An FCPX license, which works great with Resolve, costs $300. And as I’ve written before, you can edit easily in 4K in FCPX and always from your original media. This means you can now deliver a feature at the same quality Hollywood does with $1,300 in software, a new iMac, and a Thunderbolt drive. That is amazing!

Bottom line: 4K is here. And it’s cheap. So it’s time to skate toward that puck before everyone else does; you can’t afford not to.

sam-mestman3BIO: Sam Mestman has worked for Apple, ESPN, “Glee,” and Break.com, and is now the Chief Workflow Architect for Lumaforge. He’s also a regular writer for MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED’s REDucation classes, and specializes in saving independent producers tens of thousands of dollars while delivering a top quality product. He is also the founder and CEO of We Make Movies, which in just three years might have become the largest film collective in Los Angeles (and now Toronto). In his free time, he fights windmills. Feel free to drop him an email at sam@wemakemovies.org with any/all comments, questions, suggestions for columns, potential gigs, or scathing emails ridiculing his incompetence.

For more information about how to subscribe to MovieMaker Magazine, check out the MovieMaker home page.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “4K Revolution: New Standard Delivery Format Looms
by Sam Mestman

  1. JupiterGlenn

    Sam, Thank you for an informative article! (I was at NAB and am a RED camera owner). I agree that 4k is here and should be embraced in all aspects of workflow. One issue with your article is that there is an implication that 4k projection is relatively exclusive. I do not believe that is the case. Sony 4k theatre projection is already an industry standard and is everywhere, now. (Sony has a 32% market share in digital theatre projection with 4K. There are 11,000 projectors IN theaters NOW just in the US… just from Sony. Regal, AMC, Landmark, Muvico, etc… all have them.) The competition for theatre vs. home projection will not be 4k… it will be “Ultra HD” 8K as Japan’s NHK has displayed and promoted the technology since 2006… and every year since then, at NAB. 8K projection for theaters with audio that cannot be matched in a home theatre environment. REDRay 4k projection and 4K monitor playback… great for workflow, theatre and home… but 8K Projection, suggested to be an industry standard by 2020, Fantastic! It will promote the theatre experience over home viewing. (Don’t forget the 22.2 multi-channel audio which is a technological innovation and experience on its own.) Theaters are not dead… yet, but 2K almost certainly is.

  2. Writer

    Wow, that is the most valuable and important article I ever read here. I like to shoot photos. And it’s a new addition in my shooter life. 4k revolution is really great.

    Keep it up.

Latest Stories

Happy Bastille Day! Directed by the colorful, hyper-kinetic, and very French Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Mood Indigo tells the story of two lovers against the backdrop of Gondry’s typically fantastical Paris. Visual effects supervisor Romain Strabol explains how the team crafted two key elements of Mood Indigo‘s surreal mise-en-scène: a mouse-house […]

Copy of Road to Paloma 2

Towering over six feet four inches tall, Hawaiian born actor-director Jason Momoa’s powerful presence on screen is unmistakable. In the HBO series Game of Thrones, he is Khal Drogo, the fearsome Dothraki warlord who weds exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen. In Stargate Atlantis, he transforms into dreadlocked military specialist Ronon Dex. He goes mano y mano, […]

New Filmmakers LA is back with even more moviemaking wisdom, featuring interviews with directors Edward Shieh, Sam Barnett, Evan Matthews, Marko Grujic and Michelle Yu. NewFilmmakers LA (NFMLA) is a non-profit organization designed to showcase the innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world, providing the Los Angeles community of entertainment professionals and film goers with a constant surge […]

New Filmmakers LA is back with loads of moviemaking wisdom, featuring interviews with directors J.D. Ramage, Adam Rosenbaum and writer Matt Godfrey, Ross Kolton and lead actor Ryan Mazzei, Bettina Bilger and Chris Valenziano. NewFilmmakers LA (NFMLA) is a non-profit organization designed to showcase the innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world, providing the Los Angeles community of entertainment […]


This week, on the heels of Independence Day, director Hal Hartley (No Such Thing) discusses his latest feature film, My America, which knits together the emotions and people that define the United States. Commissioned by Center Stage, the state theater of Maryland, the film consists of a series of spirited monologues written and performed by […]


Richard Linklater is no stranger to the workings of time—both as thematic device in his films, and as necessary ingredient to the moviemaking process. After all, his two previous features had unusually long gestation periods: 2011’s Bernie had been cooking in the director’s head since 1997, while 2013’s Before Midnight comes 18 years after Before […]


Filmmaker and editor Dean Pollack’s work has appeared everywhere from Bravo and Hulu to Adult Swim. He just completed his second directorial effort, the feature film Audrey, which traces a single hour in a woman’s day. He discusses the advantages and disadvantages encountered shooting a film set in real time on a single location. Not […]

Still from James Broughton film The Bed. Courtesy of Frisky Divinity Productions.

Stephen Silha is the co-director of Big Joy: the Adventures of James Broughton, a lyrical documentary about the beloved director of The Bed, The Pleasure Garden, This is It and other counter-culture classics. Here, Silha recounts his friendship with the late Broughton, the subject he brings to luminous life along with fellow filmmakers Eric Slade […]

New Picture (12)

“The food in that movie looked so good.” There’s nothing quite as aggravating as delicious onscreen food. Think of the plump, glistening, jeweled globs of sashimied perfection served to the camera in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and weep with frustrated desire. Let’s face it: That film, and others like it, have honed the fine art […]