M ake no mistake, 4K is here. Whether you work for a creative agency, post-production studio, or in-house video team, you probably have clients already requesting 4K content to satisfy the increasing appetite for compelling, ultra-high-definition content.
Some organizations are moving to 4K ahead of client demands. You might decide to adopt 4K post-production workflows so you can boost the quality of your final HD files. Working in 4K now also lets you preserve production files in a format that will let you remaster in 4K in the future.
It can be exciting to move up to a higher-quality format, but 4K can also present a variety of new challenges. Together with StudioDaily, Quantum recently polled nearly 300 video professionals across the United States to learn about the challenges of adopting 4K workflows. Poll respondents were studio owners, directors, editors, engineers, cinematographers, and other team members from a wide range of fields—including advertising, media and entertainment, finance, higher education, and more.
What did these video pros identify as their greatest 4K challenges?
More than a quarter of poll respondents chose editing as their top 4K challenge. Working in 4K requires powerful workstations with significant processing power and memory, as well as low-latency access to high-performance storage. Even if some editors work at lower resolutions, they still need equipment with the horsepower to handle the rigorous demands of HD content. Meanwhile, the colorists, special effects artists, and other members of their team will need sufficient performance to work directly with 4K files.
As you contemplate how 4K will affect your editing workflows, be sure to assess how many simultaneous streams you must support. You need compute and storage resources that can deliver those simultaneous streams without introducing productivity-killing lags.
Storage was a close second to editing in the poll. Video professionals no doubt recognize that ingesting, editing, finishing, and archiving 4K content can require substantially greater storage capacity than working with SD or HD files. While HDTV (1080p) 10-bit RGB video at 30 fps consumes 14.9 GB/min, 4K UHD-1 10-bit RGB video at 60 fps uses a whopping 111.7 GB/min. Depending on the length of the material you’re producing, you could easily generate multiple terabytes of data for each project.
Clearly, production systems with sufficient capacity for working with 4K are essential. But a scalable archive is also key—and in fact, a fair number of poll respondents specifically identified archiving as their top 4K challenge. You should definitely consider an archive environment that lets you store (and easily access) completed projects for years to come.
Of course, storage challenges resulting from a move to 4K are not limited to the need for scalable capacity. For example, you also have to provide the necessary multi-stream storage performance for ingesting, editing, coloring, and other key post-production tasks.
Acquisition was another top 4K challenge for many poll respondents—coming in just ahead of archiving. Acquisition challenges might involve everything from capturing 4K content to ingesting that content into your production systems. In addition to buying a 4K camera, you need a strategy for efficiently ingesting a large amount of data into your production systems.
You might also want to consider integrating archiving into that ingestion process. Archiving raw content in parallel during ingest can help ensure you safeguard content, just in case anything goes wrong during your post-production workflow.
Several poll respondents chose collaboration as their top 4K challenge. Effective, efficient sharing of content among your team members is vital no matter what video format you’re using. But working with 4K can amplify collaboration issues. For example, when you’re working in 4K, you need sufficient storage performance and network bandwidth to enable multiple editors to quickly and easily access those very large 4K files. Fortunately, today’s network-attached storage (NAS) solutions are approaching the same performance levels as storage-area network (SAN) solutions, which means content creators have more options than ever before as look for ways facilitate 4K collaboration.
5. No challenges…yet
Not all poll respondents claimed to face challenges with 4K. But of those video pros in the “no-challenges” bucket, many reported that they have no challenges because they’re not (yet) working in 4K.
If you’ve yet to dive into 4K, now is the time to start planning. You don’t want to figure out that your storage environment is not ready after you begin ingesting your first 4K content.
Quantum has developed a set of reference architectures to help simplify the transition to 4K. To learn more about our reference architectures and how they can help you address your 4K challenges, download the 4K reference architecture white paper.