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Our head of Post Production weighs in on his newest enemy, 4K. Accord explores 4K and Post Production Problems. 

The writing is on the proverbial wall, the rumors are all true, and we know it. We feel the pain in the edit suites around the world, and our workflows are shaking in fear.

 4K Is Here To Stay

Well, that is until it is replaced by 8k. We all know how this started.  One camera, two cameras, red camera, blue camera. We started to see the influx of 4k media in the edit bay years ago, but it tended to be more of an anomaly or special project.

 So, the birth or substitute workflows were the trend. You would buy a fast drive stuffed with pricy SSDs or edit with proxies and online– the rebirth of online editing. As it is with patchwork, none of these options are truly sustainable. If you are editing with a client that brings in media, and are not responsible for archiving 4k media, then you can push the band-aid a bit further.

But if you have to edit projects that you own, then you now own the archive process and that 20TB of raw media is your problem. With the initial 4k codecs, the media was massive. It required large, super-speedy drives, and on the backend, more than double the storage space to archive. But fear not my fellow edit dwellers, new codecs are here, so inject yourselves in the pre-production meetings and talk to your camera team. Test, test, test. 

The Sony PXW-FX9

The Sony PXW-FX9 is one of the new cameras that we have here and the codec options offer 4k in manageable bitrate options that look great and are storage savvy. You can fit these codecs right into your existing workflow. (And if you want a review on it, our DP weighed in on his thoughts here.)

We produce a lot of reality shows, so we create a lot of media. Even in 1080, we have to give special consideration to offloading and traveling with the media. There has to be time to offload on location, injecting media into our shared storage for post-production, archiving the raw media, and archiving the final project. 

More Media More Problems 

Now all of these steps along the way are times two. Two shoot drives, mirrored shared storage, and an archive system with daily offsite backups. All things considered, a 20TB project quickly becomes 40TBs of media. With the older codecs, this really tied up resources, increased costs, and generally created a headache, so we shot the majority of the footage for our reality shows in 1080. We have a new season in production now and I am looking forward to moving the shows forward with a full 4k workflow.

We will still post in 1080 since the specs of the network still require 1080 masters, but the freedom to reframe and adjust shots will smooth out a bevvy of cuts along the way. It’ll open options to make a scene work that was previously problematic, and ultimately result in better shows. Our pre-production meeting is next week, the camera tests with the FX9 are complete, so I will be presenting the 4k workflow for Season 4, and guess what? I am confident because, yes, 4K and post-production problems will occur but my old 4k foe is now my best 4k friend.