As the creative advantages to 4K video streaming and production have risen, cost and complexity have fallen.
It seems like only yesterday that professional content creators began capturing and producing video in high definition, particularly in 1080p 60 frames per second (FPS). But technology is always on the march. Today’s live video streaming professionals are now retooling for the next industry standard, Ultra High Definition (UHD), or 4K. As the demand to stream 4K video rises, content creators need to keep up to avoid being outpaced by competitors.
With four times the pixel resolution, 4K’s professional 3840×2160 quality ensures that any video, event, webcast, or show shot today in 4K will remain evergreen. Converting 4K source footage down to 1080p HD brings more production value and flexibility than footage originally shot in a 1080p resolution.
In this blog, we’ll answer key questions like:
- Why should you consider shooting video in 4K vs. HD?
- What unique advantages does 4K video acquisition offer for both live and post-production?
- Why should you shoot in 4K now, even when the output video stream will only be 1080p or 720p HD?
- How can you stream 4K video without breaking the bank?
Getting Your Hands On 4K Footage
Going back a decade or two, if you wanted to shoot in native UHD/4K resolution, there were no affordable consumer camera options. You needed an expensive, high-end 4K camcorder that could have a price tag of $10,000 or more. It was heavy, cumbersome, and required complex, expensive technology to support the production and storage of the acquired 4K footage.
Fast forward to today where consumers and pros alike have affordable, user-friendly, and highly mobile 4K camera options, such as:
- iPhone 13/iPhone 13 Pro with 4K/60fps HDR video recording and 1 TB capacity, priced at roughly $1500
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with 8K/24fps or 4K/60fps video recording with 1 TB capacity for roughly $1600
- Google Pixel 6 Pro with 4K/60fps video recording with 128 GB capacity for roughly $900
- GoPro Hero 10 camera with 5.3K/60fps and 4K/120fps resolutions under $600
Shooting, producing, and streaming 4K video is now possible at attractive price points.
More Than Just A Pretty Picture
Not only does shooting in 4K produce clearer, sharper pictures, but it also offers greater creative freedom. 4K resolution lets you perform digital zooms and pans — virtual PTZ — without the need for a pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera.
With virtual PTZ, you can digitally zoom into and/or pan to portions of a 4K video image, without losing quality. Since the source footage began at such a high resolution, there’s no noticeable degradation of image quality. In practical terms, virtual PTZ means that camera operators can glide from a wide shot of their on-camera talent to a close-up without stopping to reframe the picture or adjust the focus.
Similarly, in post-production, editors can crop 4K source footage to a 1080p window and easily stabilize shaky camera footage. They can also crop or zoom into any 4K source video to change its perspective. There’s no need to resort to a jump cut and the video is more visually interesting. Also, zooming into the picture can make it easier for viewers to see fine on-screen picture details. With this robust image quality, you can achieve more professional-looking results with fix-it-in-post or other digital video effects. Watch this video to see this in action: Adrian Tucker captures his screen in 4K.
4K Barriers Are Falling
A decade ago, 4K was too onerous to deal with because of its hefty data volume, costs, and file sizes. Most content creators were priced out of systems that could reliably capture, process, and deliver 4K video streams.
As we’ve noted in this blog, barriers to 4K are falling as more affordable 4K cameras, production, and streaming systems have come to market. Users can also access and store footage indefinitely using cloud-based storage options. Networking is also advancing. While the professional SDI networking protocol supports 4K/UHD, budget-conscious content creators and non-traditional broadcasters employ NDI video-over-IP networking. This methodology touts 4K support with less cost and complexity.
How Wirecast Empowers 4K Video Streaming & Production
The Wirecast brand empowers users with professional tools and exceptional encoding for broadcast-quality video streaming with limitless creative freedom. The creative freedom of 4K ensures that production standards rise, not costs. From software to hardware, Wirecast has solutions for video producers and live-streamers of all experience levels and budgets.
With Wirecast 15, (along with new low-cost subscriptions) we at Telestream have improved the support for 4K sources. For more information about the Wirecast 15 software release, check out our recent blog post, “Wirecast 15: Powerful Software to Empower Live Video Streaming.” Wirecast supports capturing 4K camera and media, as well as efficient 4K playback and streaming. Bring 4K video sources into Wirecast using 4K-ready smartphones, Go Pro cameras, or any device that shoots 4K/60.
With software like Wirecast for live video streaming, as well as 4K-ready camera devices, the ability to shoot, produce, and stream 4K video is no longer just for premium content producers. And users have unprecedented creative freedom, such as performing virtual PTZ on 4K footage with Wirecast’s built-in production tools.
Click here for more information about Wirecast live-streaming and video production software and download a free trial to get started. If you’re ready for the watermark-free experience, you can get started with a low-cost subscription for under $50/month.
Dedicated Live-Streaming and 4K Video Production Hardware
The new Wirecast Gear 3 turnkey hardware appliances are available in 4KP60 configurations. Just connect your cameras and sources, and you’re ready to start producing and streaming video in 4K. The award-winning Wirecast Gear 3 is one of the most powerful 4K streaming solutions in its price range. Available in HDMI and SDI models, Wirecast Gear is a flexible Windows machine built to handle your live-streaming needs. Ask a Wirecast Gear specialist for a demo or chat with us on our website.