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Old May 20th, 2019, 05:03 PM   #1
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4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

I am planning on shooting my first feature film which I would want to send into festivals, and if I get distribution, that's great too, but want to plan for distribution as well. I have to decide which resolution to shoot in, and the two most popular ones right now are 1080p and 4K. Or since I'm shooting in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio most likely, than the two resolutions to be more exact for me to choose between, would be 4096 x 1714 VS. 1920 x 802 more exactly.

I was told that even though a lot of distribution companies nowadays want 4K, that the challenges of shooting in 4K is that the focus puller has to be much more precise, and that special effects will be a lot more challenging to look real in 4K compared to 1080p.

And I'm shooting a horror movie which requires quite a fair amount of special effects, so would 4K be right for me then therefore? Or if it's true that the chances of distribution are much greater with 4K, would it be worth it, even if the special effects and focus pulling would be more challenging? Or if special effects and focus pulling looking better is more important, than I could even shoot in 480p if it means hiding the special effects better and making it look even more real, but 480p going too far and no distributors are going to accept 480p, no matter what?
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Old May 21st, 2019, 12:27 AM   #2
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

These days the Dual Pixel auto focus (DPAF) in canon cameras do a great job. For me in documentary situations it is a life saver. Many years ago before DPAF was available (it had just been announced at that time), I had to shoot one horror film and every moment with so much of running around by the actors, despite being ultra careful, we were missing focus at times. There are some high quality focus pullers even now who can pull it off in 4K. It is a question of budget and availability of such talent.

Since this is your first feature, I would suggest to simply go with what is easier for you. If 1080p is easier, then better do it. Not every feature is finished in 4K. And also too often we wait for eternity to get the ideal environment for our dream film. Just shoot, learn and move on to your next.
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Old May 21st, 2019, 01:05 AM   #3
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

It's worth noting that many high end feature films are shot with an Arri Alexa, which isn't a 4k camera.

If you're doing doing VFX, think about the rendering of 4k effects and if your post production computers can manage it.

For festivals I wouldn't worry about 4k, they look for other factors in selecting films.

The biggest seller for distributors is who is in the film, a name actor is a bigger selling point than resolution, However, they may use 4k as a general filter for those many films out there, so they don't have to watch them. Best future proofing is a great film, not the resolution and winning awards at the festivals will do more for the sales than 4k.
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Old May 21st, 2019, 06:41 PM   #4
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Oh okay thanks, but I read that distributors look for 4K a lot and it has bigger chances, if that's true. I don't think I would be able to afford a named actor though likely.
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Old May 21st, 2019, 11:56 PM   #5
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Definitely shoot in 4k. Take the advice of others with the delivery.
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Old May 22nd, 2019, 12:32 AM   #6
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Shooting 4k for a 1080p delivery is worth doing. Although note that many cameras are UHD, the 4k is commonly just used for marketing TV sets, so you need to check the camera specs if you require the theatrical 4K.
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Old May 22nd, 2019, 06:54 AM   #7
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Okay thanks, but why bother to shoot 4K if you are going to have a 1080p only delivery? Why downgrade? Some people say to downgrade so you can re-frame, but since I decide the framing when shooting, I don't find there is much that needs to be re-framed in post. Unless there are other reasons to downgrade?
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Old May 22nd, 2019, 09:00 AM   #8
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

You will have a 4K master if you ever need it. Plus I have noticed that 4K downsizes really well to 1080 and your 1080 output may look better than if shot in 1080.
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Old May 22nd, 2019, 06:30 PM   #9
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Oh okay. If I shoot in 4K though, is there any reason not to release in 4K, since most festivals and distributors, I am guessing will take 4K, if you have it?
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Old May 22nd, 2019, 07:34 PM   #10
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

I think you release in whatever side your target destination wants. Different folks may require different things. I mean, at that point itís just rendering a file in different resolutions right?
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Old May 23rd, 2019, 12:37 AM   #11
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Not all cinemas are 4k (probably most aren't), so you will need 2k versions available,

Distributors are different to festivals, you need to go to film markets to attach them.
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Old May 23rd, 2019, 06:28 AM   #12
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Why not just ask the distributors that you intend to approach what they would prefer?

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Old May 23rd, 2019, 06:20 PM   #13
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

2K flat is 1998X1080. If you shoot 4K you can deliver 2K flat or scope (2048X848) without uprezzing. I'm guessing you're actually shooting 4K DCI 4096X2160 to crop for 4096X1716 2.39:1, so that's your best option in terms of cinema deliverables (if you can handle the amount of data).
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Old May 23rd, 2019, 10:31 PM   #14
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Re: 4K vs. 1080p, which is better for me?

Okay thanks. I can ask distributors. Yes I will want to shoot a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, so I would shoot 4K and then crop it.
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