I attended my first MIPCOM in 2014. In my MIPBlog post “5 Challenges Facing Producers and How to Overcome Them”, from January 2015, I mentioned the rise of 4K content. As an independent producer, a few years ago, the 4K format seemed out of reach financially. However, advances in camera and editing technology have brought the costs down to a reasonable level. The rise of the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) that has standardised the digital workflow is probably the biggest tool in the Indie Producer’s toolbox.
So, if you are like me and started out in film, or brand new to the business how does one not become intimidated by shooting and delivering in 4k?
1. Plan your work – work your plan
As a Producer, one is constantly struggling with budget vs. return on investment. UHD (ultra-high definition) presents a wide variety of filming and post production delivery challenges. I recently spent time at a post facility in Los Angeles that had adopted the ACES workflow. One of the biggest challenges I have had in delivery has been the colour. Colour correcting for broadcast isn’t the same as colour correcting for online viewing. I have had red, “red” in one version and “purple” in another. Figuring out your workflow from start to finish will help in budgeting, ACES is a good start.
2. Do your research
What type of cameras and editing/finishing systems can you afford? Yes, you can shoot 4K on your iPhone and edit on iMovie but will that deliver the quality necessary for your ultimate distribution platform? With the rise of drone technology and 4K action cameras, would the quality be sufficient if you shot in that format? Remember, professional equipment yields professional results and higher return on investment.
3. Talk to the Distributors & other Producers
Networking is always key. Set up a time to talk to the distributors about what form of deliverables they need for their territory. The market is constantly changing as the technology behind product delivery changes. Talk to other producers and ask, what is your workflow? I’ve made mistakes during encoding and export. In the ‘old days’ it was a question of delivering in NTSC or PAL. Now, the wide array of codecs, ranging from H.265 to all the Apple ProRes versions, can make your head spin.
4. Attend MIPCOM’s UHD workshops & screenings
There are some great workshops this year for UHD at MIPCOM 2016, including some very good sessions focusing on the Broadcasters: “Here Come The UHD Channels”, “Factual Focus” and “Music/Culture: UHD Broadcasters” (click for full session details). Japan, as the champion of 4K and MIPCOM Country of Honour, is also featured, with Sony returning to sponsor the 4K track (which you can check out in full here). I am pretty excited to attend these sessions, as was recently told that I should just “skip shooting in 4K and go to 8K”. Feature films are starting to be shot in 8K, so I am wondering if the Television industry isn’t far behind. To judge for yourself, be sure to stop by MIPCOM’s very cool Ultra HD theatre. Take the time to watch other producers’ work and get ideas for your own project. There are a lot of UHD televisions out there, but the content may not be delivered in true UHD. Make sure you have an understanding as a producer of 4K content you will have another set of challenges when every detail of the filmmaking process is revealed?
The recent 2016 Olympics in Rio were shot and broadcast in 8K in Japan. I was told by one of the distributors at MIPCOM last year to actually watch the trend in sports broadcasting for the “next direction” in filming and delivery. If the Television industry as a whole is moving toward 8K, independent producers will have to embrace the rise of 4k, sooner rather than later.
JA Steel is one of our pre-MIPCOM MIPBlog Ambassadors, who are coordinated by consultant Debbie Macdonald. Check out all of their posts to date here!
Photo © Lise Gagne, Getty Images