This was easily the most technical, business-y panel I’ve been to (let’s be frank – it was put on by Sharp and had people from the technical sides of YouTube and THX on the panel), but there were still a few nuggets worth sharing for film geeks like you and me.
Early on, a montage of 4k footage was shown on a big Sharp TV, and there’s no denying it looked fantastic. I wish we’d had the opportunity to see a full 4K film instead of the snippets we were given, but still – it looked good, and it looked noticeably crisper. I’d really like to see something longer shot with a hand cam, because the couple of clips that were seemed to shake more than your standard HD hand cam video. My guess is this is more of an artifact of the video’s quick cuts, but given how much clearer everything in the picture is, I could see it actually making a difference in the relative motion of the camera.
As I said, the talk centered on the technical advancement of 4K, but I was able to pose a question of artistry to California Film Institute Director of Development Liana Bender and filmmaker Anthony Gilmore. As with any new technology, the question can’t just be one of incremental advances in fidelity, as important as that may be, but of facilitating new artistic visions. Bender’s answer essentially boiled down to the idea that as the community of 4K filmmakers grows, so will the innovation, but I found Gilmore’s answer more interesting.
Within the montage of we were shown were clips from Bender’s Art of Amazing-winning short film about a Kabuki dancer. Gimore explained that the application of makeup is very important for a Kabuki dancer, almost a spiritual exercise, and because 4K is able to show so much more facial detail, the application of makeup became a visually compelling story to tell. He suggested that, not unlike Mark Duplass’s exhortation yesterday to shoot what you have the materials for, there are stories which are well-suited to the added detail of 4K. “What’s a good story at high resolution?” he asked. “What’s around be that would look great?”
At other points in the panel he did identify some of the difficulties in shooting 4K and higher resolutions – higher cost for more detailed costumes and sets, greater time in post-production due to the larger quantities of data produced – but also said he absolutely wouldn’t think about shooting lower resolutions nowadays as a sort of future-proofing of his films. In fact before the panel ended, some talk went to the nearing advent of 6K and 8K resolution.
And you thought the switch from SD to HD was tricky.