4K On Set
Arclight Productions have been shooting and finishing films—all in house—in 4K since 2009. They share their experience shooting their newest 4K documentary 'COUNTRY: Portraits of an American Sound' with us.
Why did you chose to shoot in 4K and what difference has it made?
Since 2009, we have been commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles to produce documentaries to complement its ongoing photographic exhibitions. The Photography Space uses 4K HFR (high frame rate) projection technology for playback on two 7' x14' screens; therefore, 4K production has always been a necessity. Because the films focus on photography, image quality is critical to the storytelling, and our live action scenes need to be as sharp and compelling as the still photos, whose native resolution far exceed 4K.
Do you think 4K is over rated or do you feel it will stay relevant in the industry for a few years? Why?
4K is not overrated when used in environments that benefit from its higher resolution such as large cinema screens and special venues. The added resolution brings more information to the viewer and can enhance the movie-going experience.
What other project has your company produced in 4K? What was the outcome?
We have produced 13 documentaries that are filmed, post-produced and projected in 4K. They have all been produced for the Annenberg Space for Photography but many have also played at film festivals around the world where even 2K versions look great because the films originate in 4K.
What are a few pros and cons to working in 4K?
The greatest benefit to working in 4K is image quality. As a filmmaker, I feel freer to compose wider shots, knowing that I will see detail on the both the large and small screen. The drawbacks to 4K are mainly technical, especially in documentary filmmaking where shooting ratios can be quite high. We manage tons of data—terabytes and terabytes—especially in post-production, so finishing a 4K film at theatrical quality requires more time and care than an HD finish for broadcast. We are also working in HFR (at 60 fps), which makes a 30-minute documentary for a special venue as arduous as finishing a 24fps feature.
Can you tell us a little bit about Arclight Productions?
Arclight Productions is an award-winning film production company specializing in documentaries, commercials and behind-the-scenes for film and TV. The company, founded by director Steven Kochones, has produced 13 original documentary films for the Annenberg Space for Photography including "Extreme Exposure," "Digital Darkroom," "The War Photographers" and "Who Shot Rock & Roll: The Film." With a professional staff at full-service facilities in the heart of Hollywood, Arclight also boasts film finishing capabilities at high resolutions, high frame rates and 3D.
Anything else you would l like to add in regards to 4K in the industry?
With Ultra High Definition (UHD) television sets now being sold, I hope that the industry will look to filmmakers with experience in 4K, 5K, 8K(!) to create new, imaginative works that take advantage of this exciting technology. But 4K should never be used as a gimmick. It should be a tool and platform to tell great stories.