It can sometimes feel like an uphill battle for corporate video production teams to keep track of trends in high-resolution formats. In recent years, resolutions have advanced at a non-stop pace as they've transitioned from SD to HD, then 2K to 4K, and now are moving their way up to cutting edge 8K content and screens. The pursuit for ever-higher resolution never ends.
Corporate video production teams looking to create dynamic content to distinguish their brand from their competition or engage users are faced with an important question: is it worth it to put in the effort to stay at the forefront of format trends? To whom does it matter most? And is there a risk of being left behind if corporate video production ignores adopting new formats?
Here we'll help answer this question by exploring what is driving the high-resolution format trend, why it matters, and how it can bring value to corporate video teams.
What Is Driving This Trend?
It's little surprise the charge toward ever-higher resolution formats is led by film, television, and broadcasting, given they're in the business of creating content meant to be seen at its best. That frequently means in the highest resolution possible, with all the extra detail that provides. It's why David Fincher's Mank is in 8K, and the Superbowl on TV or The Boys on Amazon is in 4K. It's also why TV, tablet, and smartphone makers are pushing the trend, since those are the primary means by which we watch our content.
The pursuit of high-resolution isn't just a visual matter, but a technical and practical one as well. The entertainment industry likes to shoot at the highest resolution possible because it allows for a variety of compressed outputs, with no loss of visual quality. Start at 2K and it's hard to push resolution up. Starting with an 8K master, though, can accommodate Blu-Rays or UHD discs, Netflix and broadcasting deliverables, and smaller formats like trailers and stills. Furthermore, an 8K master copy has the benefit of being more future-proof. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for example, was shot in 8K and will not be outdated for some time, requiring no remastering as the years go on and new home viewing formats emerge.
Lastly, it can't be overlooked that the trend is also propelled by consumer expectations. Yes, the current top-of-the-line resolution—8K—has yet to be broadly adopted by the everyday person. But it's worth remembering it took some time for 4K to become the current standard, and it'll happen to 8K, too. Even if not everyone owns an 8K screen, there's still a broad appetite for better-looking content, especially as televisions and smartphones, as well as Netflix and YouTube, continue to accommodate (and be capable of accommodating) the demand for content in high fidelity.
How Can This Trend Benefit Corporate Video Production?
The benefits of greater detail through high-resolution formats are, of course, not exclusive to major movie and episodic productions. They readily transfer to other industries and their content needs.
Media and production teams at companies rooted in the healthcare, engineering, and computer science industries need to create training videos on how to perform medical procedures, mechanical fixes, and computer analyses. The ability to see greater detail in high-resolution versions of those instructional videos can lead to more accurate learning and fewer mistakes when later applying what's been learned. They can also incorporate them into their internal processes.
Those industries—and others—can also find their marketing benefiting from high-resolution formats. Whether a company's media team produces videos in-house, together with a post-production facility, or through a creative agency, acquiring raw material in high-resolution affords the same deliverable flexibility the entertainment industry has. Video advertising content in 8K can be used in numerous ways, such as social media, YouTube, or stills for digital signage. This flexibility helps organizations maximize their investment, better attract interest, and stand out against the competition.
Applications don't even have to be so high-level. Day-to-day tasks like presentations can be greatly enhanced by high-resolution detail applied to in-person diagrams, charts, and datasheets. Or, in an increasingly remote work world, video calls.
Why Should Companies Care?
On the one hand, it's a matter of revenue. High-quality content drives revenue, whether in the form of advertisements that attract customers or content that distinguishes the services of a company. The multi-use nature of high-resolution content only extends potential revenue. Another benefit is that high-resolution content puts a company ahead of the curve—not just in its willingness to be more at the forefront than its competition, but in its preparedness for the future. Any content shot now in 8K can become evergreen (and therefore monetized) for years to come, reducing the need for new investments in new content and remaining palatable to consumers over the long term.
That's the other reason businesses should care: the growing high-resolution expectations consumers have of the entertainment industry will become normalized and trickle down. It's already happening with high resolution becoming available and more commonplace on consumer devices, like the new iPhone 13, Samsung S20, Xiaomi 10, and Red Magic S3. That increased normalization and adoption, in turn, makes high resolution content more financially attractive to companies, as it means that equipment for producing it is becoming cheaper. The investment required to create high-res video footage is reduced, minimizing expense, and enhancing the revenue potential of final deliverables.
How Media Teams Can Adapt to Format Trends
First, it's important to anticipate certain costs when investing in 8K equipment or shoots, though be assured those costs will be absorbed through the longer lifespan of content. Alternatively, teaming with production or post-production facilities that already have 8K cameras can be a way to avoid some of those costs.
Diving into high-resolution trends also requires proper workflows. Shooting in 8K, for example, will require certain needs from a post-production perspective. Storage space for the large files is needed, and well-organized data management will be important for managing the various final deliverables. In order to maximize the long-term use of that footage, proper archive storage and protocols will be required as well.
Those measures will be well worth it, however. The high-resolution format trend isn't going away; it's here to stay, driven by entertainment, screen manufacturers, and the inherent long-term benefits of cutting-edge formats. Embracing it can help corporate video production teams improve revenue for their companies and future-proof the content they create.