What Do Different Video Resolution Sizes Mean?

What is Video Resolution?

Video resolutions can be very confusing with so much terminology being thrown into the market place in such a short period of time. Interlaced, progressive, downsampling, display resolution, and pixel aspect ratios are several examples, just to name a few. What does video resolution mean and how does it affect the quality of video that a person watches on a TV screen?  Let’s start with defining what resolution means. According to Vtrep.com, video resolution is defined like this:

Video resolution in a display device refers to the number of distinct pixels that could be displayed in each dimension. It is usually quoted as width× height; for an example: “1024 × 768″. In this example 1024 indicates the width and 768 indicates the height that the display could be resolved in pixels.

The resolution of digital video has slowly been increasing since its early stages, but most recently, the climb for higher resolutions started in the early 2000s. Note, that professional cameras were able to do higher resolutions long before we, the consumers, were able to get our hands on it. So, from a pro-summer perspective, lets assume that the early 2000’s was the decade of mini dv tapes, with a resolution of 720X480, and was actually recorded on a small film strip in a tape format.

I remember purchasing my first HD tv from Circuit City in 2008 with a 1280X720 resolution. I thought it was awesome and couldn’t believe how clear the image was being displayed. After shelling out $800 for a 42″ screen, a week later of course, a 1080p resolution TV comes out for nearly the same price, at the same time Circuit City went bankrupt.  Fast-forward to today and an average person can purchase a 4K 65″ screen TV for under $600. How things have changed.

What Advantages Are There To Have Higher Resolutions?

So lets get into some of the advantages of shooting video footage in a higher resolution. Per the chart below, once the resolution gets past the standard HD of 1920X1080, it increases exponentially and grows very large very fast. When shooting in a format such as 4K (3840X2160) the amount of extra data recorded in the video signal is nearly double that of its predecessor. There are several advantages to shooting in this format, and inherently, every format higher than that up to even 8K.

The biggest, if not the most obvious reason for shooting video projects in 4K as opposed to HD would be in post. There is much more room to crop, scale, and to punch in on a subject if need be, without sacrificing quality. With 4K footage, you can take a one camera shoot and zoom in on the footage to 130% and then cut back to the footage at 100% and it still looks incredible. The better way to do this technique would be to work with 4K footage in a HD timeline and scale down your wide shots, that way there would be a wide shot and close up shot, using the same clip. This cannot be achieved when shooting in lower resolutions because the image becomes blurry the more zooming in is applied.

Another advantage to shooting in a higher format is that you can always scale the footage down for years to come, but without proper software, it is nearly impossible to scale the footage up without compromising the integrity of the footage. 4K footage will always look good on 4K screens, HD screen, SD screen, however, 4K footage may not look good on an 8K screen that our grand children will be using in 30 years. The whole question of exactly where resolution will keep going is going to be interesting. Could it be possible to come up with a vectorized video format that no matter how much you scale footage up, it maintains its high quality? I am sure some computer science student is working on it.

One thing to keep in mind when selecting a video resolution: what will be the final output of my project? If your video is going straight to a website, perhaps 4K is over kill on quality. If the video is being show on a giant video wall in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, perhaps the 4K resolution won’t be enough. There are always other factors such as storage to consider when shooting in the higher resolutions as well.

Video resolutions are always increasing and as the world becomes more and more saturated with a desire to watch video on all different platforms, in order to make sure your message is seen and heard clearly, the right format must be chose. The same goes for selecting digital video, such as motion backgrounds. On Motionbolt.com two resolutions are offered on many of the backgrounds, HD and 4K. I understand the need for higher quality and that is a goal here, to help people obtain the best video loops in the highest quality, for an affordable price.

Video Resolution Cheat Sheet

SD = 720X480 

HD Ready = 1280X720

Full HD = 1920X1080

Quad HD = 2704X1520

4K (UHD) = 3840X2160

6K = 6144X3160

 

Shure SM7B Microphone

When producing a video and recording the audio, the sensible solution is to look up the cheapest Rhode shotgun mic and attach it to the hot shoe of the DSLR camera. That is fine if you are producing a elementary highlight video of their field day, but the more shooting and recording you do, the better trained your ears become to being able to discern what good audio is, and empty audio. A shotgun mic is an extremely direction mic that picks of vocal ranges 40 Hz to 20 kHz, which differs based upon the mic you are using. For instance, the Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun mic is brilliant in its durability, its dependability and its sound quality. But when comparing this mic to the Shure SM7B micrphone, the warm vocal quality simply isn’t there.

While the shotgun works great for run-n-gun situations, for more standard and formal interviews, I recommend a mic that reaches deeper into the human vocal range and doesn’t leave out half the tones that make a voice, full. The Shure SM7B microphone creates that feeling of closeness, warmness, and vocal responses that draw the audience in, which less need for remaster your audio using parametric EQ effects.

The SM7B dynamic microphone has a smooth, flat, wide-range frequency response appropriate for music and speech in all professional audio applications. It features excellent shielding against electromagnetic hum generated by computer monitors, neon lights, and other electrical devices.

The SM7B has been updated from earlier models with an improved bracket design that offers greater stability. In addition to its standard windscreen, it also includes the A7WS windscreen for close-talk applications.

Features

  • Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
  • Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
  • Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors
  • Internal “air suspension” shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
  • Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up vocals or narration
  • Now shipping with the A7WS detachable windscreen, designed to reduce plosive sounds and gives a warmer tone for close-talk vocals
  • Yoke mounting with captive stand nut for easy mounting and dismounting provides precise control of microphone position
  • Classic cardioid polar pattern, uniform with frequency and symmetrical about axis, to provide maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sound
  • Rugged construction and excellent cartridge protection for outstanding reliability
  • Replacement cartridge:  RPM106

So when considering your next mic choice, don’t just run to whatever is cheapest and easy. Take the time to buy equipment that will deliver quality audio. The Shure SM7B will do just that.

Using a Color Checker Passport for Accurate Coloring in Post Production

In the video production world, gear is important. New pieces of equipment are vital in order to upgrade, or resupply failing or aging gear. Having every piece of gear is nearly impossible for most film producers, so hard choices have to be made when deciding what gear to buy. Budgets are real things and with constraints, so come the tough choices. A piece of gear that, to be perfectly honest, is more of a luxury, than a necessity is the Color Checker Passport.

While true colorist will quickly argue it’s the best way to get true colors and skin tones, it is possible to get very close without it. So what exactly is a Color Checker Passport and how does it help when color grading in post? First off, it’s the size of a passport, making it portable and easy to bring in a bag. When opened, it has 4 charts: white balance card, focus checker, color pallet, and a set of grade levels for setting exposure.

For now, I mainly want to focus on the usefulness of the color pallet. While I am not going to go into detail on how to use it exactly, the main idea is that when filming, capture a frame of video that has the color checker in the shot. Once you have downloaded your footage, when color grading, you can check the brand name of the color checker passport and then look up the grade table in a video editing software program such as Divinci Resolve. After selecting your passport checker in the drop down menu, when you sample a color in the footage, the program knows what the color is supposed to look like and will apply the necessary changes to the footage to achieve the most natural look. It takes the guess work out of color grading/adjusting the white balance.

Once again, I see this piece of gear as a luxury as it does come in at a cost of nearly $100 and it is an extra step to take when starting to work on the final look of your project. However, if you are a die-hard fan of the truest skin tones, it might be exactly what is needed to achieve better looking footage. I own one, and hardly use it. I have never had a client complain. But, there is a small part of me that wonders how much better the colors might be if I did use it.

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