8K Video Workflows Becoming Real
In our series on 8K video workflows, guest contributor Arthur Ditner, DaVinci Resolve Trainer & Technology Writer at storage provider OWC, gives his balanced yet optimistic view on the state of the market.
The 8K Workflow
From TV showrooms to YouTube, mirrorless cameras, and even HDMI cables, 8K is seemingly everywhere. But didn’t we all just leap to 4k? Is there any benefit to viewing content in 8K? In this insight, we cover what precisely 8K is8K and how the workflow to produce ultra-high-resolution images is already in place.
What is 8K Video?
First, it is important to note that “8K” is not a standard or specification. 8K is a catch-all way to describe an image or video approximately 8,000 pixels wide, regardless of shape or aspect ratio. While 8K resolution televisions are available for purchase in showrooms across the country, as are 8K computer displays and theatrical projectors, we’re still far from widespread adoption of 8K displays (but that’s not the point!).
Does an 8K display look better than 4k? I ‘s hard to determine. A screen size of at least 50 inches is required to appreciate the difference between HD and 4k in the average home. T ere was a noticeable improvement in quality between 4k and HD, and distribution platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and even Blu-ray came together quickly. T view the difference between 4k and 8K, you would need a larger-sized television in your living room, and 8K TVs are more expensive and consume more power. 8 Also, there are no major distribution platforms for 8K content yet.
So, if 8K is so impractical, why are we even discussing it?
8K Images are Already Here
Photographers are already capturing 8K images and refer to them as 33MP (megapixels).
Digital images in the field of photography are often measured in megapixels. M gapixels describe how many pixels exist inside a single image; one million pixels equates to one megapixel, which translates to an image resolution of around 1280 x 1024 pixels. T produce an image that is 8K resolution, a camera image sensor would need at least 33 megapixels. I just so happens that 33-megapixel image sensors are not only readily available, but they are also practically commonplace! T e exceptionally popular Sony A series, Nikon Z series, Canon EOS bodies, and the Fujifilm GFX series all offer image sensors at or greater than 8K resolution.
Photographers utilize images that are 33MP and greater for various reasons but mainly to capture at the highest possible quality. 8 photographs can be accurately downscaled to produce images for lower resolution displays no matter where the destination is, a process referred to as oversampling. T e level of detail is greater by capturing more pixels and actively down-scaling the critical information. 8 assets can also be easily extracted from an 8K image; for example, if I took a picture of my desk, I could cut out every tool and item and utilize the extra resolution to package each item as its own asset. A plications for this include stock libraries, cataloging, education, and more.
8K Video is Already Here
For years, cinematographers, video editors, and visual effects artists have been utilizing 8K videography. Films such as Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and television series like Stranger Things have been filming in 8K since 2016, thanks to digital cinema cameras from RED. or film and television, 8K assets are used as a utility more so than an exhibition format.
Cinematographers can pair these newer RED cinema cameras with 65mm anamorphic lenses designed decades ago with IMAX capture in mind. or these productions and their DPs, 8K is all about the aesthetic found in the capture and not necessarily the resolution itself. K is still the desired delivery format for movie theatres and streaming services alike. ith this in mind, video editors are offered additional creative freedom to pan-and-zoom 8K video clips, with up to 200% zoom-ins afforded with no loss in pixel resolution, when editing in 4K projects. isual effects artists also benefit from the additional resolution provided by 8K video. ffects such as green screen keying and wire-removal are easier to perform as the artist has quadrupled the amount of visual data.
VR, AR, and Web3 Content
While 8K may not be coming to a living room near you quite yet, it may soon be found in a headset. or VR experiences to look authentic, extremely high-resolution screens are placed on top of the viewer’s eye. nd, when in-game assets are examined this closely, every small detail and wrinkle can be seen. very environment, character, and object within games and applications must be seen with the utmost clarity. nd that’s where 8K capture makes the most significant impact.
Building virtual worlds will require high-resolution assets to provide a range in the scaling and panning of objects. signpost may look convincing thirty feet away, but in VR worlds, users will expect to be able to walk right up to the signpost.
Camera manufacturers like GoPro and Insta360 have been working with these high-resolution formats to produce engaging 360° content. he earliest VR-video content was created by pairing as many as eight cameras recording in 2K in a rig and stitching the various images together. oday, cameras such as the Insta360 Pro and the GoPro Max output multiple ultrawide angle lenses into a single 8K stream. his 8K video can be viewed with screens with 2K resolution today but moving to 4K resolution per eye in the near future, with the ability to rotate perspective in every direction.
Rumors surrounding Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset are nothing new and have purportedly been in development since 2015. ecent rumors suggest that the upcoming hardware will be based around dual 4000 x 4000 resolution screens or 8000 x 4000 when paired, which is 8K. pple has been making additional moves to support the format and ensure that the behind-the-scenes Mac is ready.
The 8K Production Workflow is Already Here
For Mac users, producing work at this demanding resolution is already made possible with today’s tools. inal Cut Pro X natively supports 360° video editing (with some of the best tools in the industry), along with newly added 8K resolution timeline support. everal new Apple Macs, including the 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pro, the Mac Studio, and the M2 MacBook Air, all ship with onboard hardware encoders and decoders for H.264, HEVC/H.265, Apple ProRes, and Apple ProRes RAW. ven a modest MacBook Air with an M2 chip can edit multiple streams of 8K video inside Final Cut Pro X.
Processing 8K for video, imaging, or 360° production work demands storage. hile the name 8K suggests a doubling of data compared to 4K, it quadruples the number of pixels. n hour of 4K ProRes video is about 300GB, whereas an hour of 8K ProRes is just over 1TB.
One product example is the OWC lineup of PCI and Thunderbolt-based storage solutions with real-world speeds beyond 10,000 MB/s and the scalable capacity required for 8K workflows.
For example, the Accelsior is a single-PCI-card product that offers up to four NVMe volumes, while the 8M2 provides 8. VMe storage performs multiple times faster than traditional SATA-based SSDs as they operate directly on the system PCI lanes rather than being bottlenecked by additional controllers.
- The fanless OWC ThunderBlade offers four NVMe volumes in a portable package for mobile professionals or on-set media management. oftRAID makes the array flexible.
Is 8K Necessary?
“This one goes to 11” is a reference to the film This Is Spinal Tap, in which guitarist Nigel Tufnel proclaims the superiority of his guitar amplifier as being “one louder” than the competition. s 8K simply “one louder” than 4K? s there any true-to-life application for this tsunami of data? his answer is: it’s complicated.
Strictly from a production standpoint, the additional expense of an 8K acquisition should not be underestimated. K video produces quadruple the amount of data per hour compared to a 4K production and sixteen times the amount of data compared to HD video. t a certain point, there are diminishing returns with quality vs expenditures.
More likely, working professionals will encounter 8K materials more often. rom high-resolution photographs, stock assets, immersive video, and VFX work, 8K is rapidly becoming commonplace. ith the right tool kit, even a modest laptop setup can quickly access 8K video and keep the creative process moving forward rather than staring at a render bar.