Are movies in 1080p

In which resolution should you shoot cell phone films - Full HD or 4K?

“In which resolution should we shoot?” - this question is often asked in training courses. The answer: “It depends.” Whether you can Mobile phone videos in Full HD or 4K should rotate depends on how the material is processed further.

4K: The more data, the better

The amount of data speaks for 4K recordings. You get the film in the highest possible resolution. The material is future-proof and still usable in a few years if all workflows have been switched to 4K. The only question that remains is whether you actually shoot cell phone videos for the archive.

Another advantage: Even if you choose 1080p, i.e. Full HD, as the output format, recording in 4K is worth considering. Because by reducing the material, you have more image information in the material than with a recording in 1080p. Depending on the video editing program, reduced 4K recordings result in very usable Full HD material.

HD, Full HD, 4K - what is what?

HD stands for a resolution of 1280 × 720 Pixels. TV stations usually deliver this format to your home TV.

Full HD stands for 1920 × 1080 Pixels. This is still the standard for many productions for the Internet.

4K is usually equated with UHD, the3840 × 2160 Includes pixels. Real 4K would have at least 4000 pixels in the horizontal. Most 4K cameras, however, deliver UHD.

4K: More flexibility when it comes to cropping

Another advantage of 4K in recording: you have enough material to choose the section. Of course, this only applies if you record in 4K and play the finished film in Full HD. Then you have the choice whether you want to show the complete picture as you took it or whether you choose a section of it. This "jumping up" brings more flexibility in editing.

4K: Problems in editing

So why not record everything in 4K? A few months ago I would have said: The only reason that speaks against it is if you want to upload the material from your mobile phone. Because that would take a long time and badly affect the data plan of your cell phone.

But there is another reason: the editing program on your PC. Because not every software gets along well with the material from the mobile phone.

The reasons:

  • 4K material ensures larger amounts of data that need to be shoveled from the hard drive into the editing program
  • the material, which is heavily compressed in cell phones, must first be converted into individual images by the editing program

Many corporate computers are not optimized for working with video data. I have a notebook here that has a fast graphics card but a relatively slow processor. As soon as I load 4K footage into Premiere CC or try to edit with Shotcut, the system goes to its knees. Instead of a liquid film, jerky individual images. This is unreasonable for quick post-processing.

Sure, Premiere can Proxies Exclude, i.e. reduced placeholders that can be used to cut. But that slows the workflow. And not all computers have Premiere. Anyone who cuts with Shotcut or even with Camtasia has to live with jerky images.

4K and the space required

Another problem with 4K arises when you run out of space on your phone. Because 4K video needs four times as much space as full HD video with the same compression. Space becomes scarce on longer days of shooting. And it takes more time to transfer the material to a PC or upload it to cloud storage.

The archives also fill up faster with 4K material. Also an argument for long-term storage.

So when is 4K?

I don't generally advise against 4K. But you should think about the problems that 4K brings with it. My advice: testing. Before starting your first project, make test recordings and try out how your editing program behaves with the material. If in doubt, I would shoot with 1080p, i.e. Full HD. You should be able to cut that with every current program on every reasonably modern PC.

Categories video production