The Easiest Way to do a 4K Screening

August 18, 2014 Tags: , ,
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Sam here… So… Believe it or not, it’s actually easier for the average person, if they had access to the right projector, to put on a higher resolution screening than they typically see when they go out to the theater.

When you go watch a movie at the typical multiplex, you’re almost universally watching a movie that was made from a 2K master… even if the projector is 4K, the movie itself was up-rezzed from a 2K file to fill the screen.

The main reason for this is that Hollywood hasn’t really figured out the whole 4K pipeline thing… especially on the VFX side. It’s far simpler and more practical for them to finish in 2K.

What this means is that if you have a Dragon, Epic, GH4, or 4K BMCC, It’s a pretty straightforward process for you to shoot, finish, and screen at a much higher level than the big guys do… especially if your VFX pipeline is simple.

In fact, if you somehow managed to have access to a nice 4K Projector with an HDMI port on it, you can put on a higher quality screening in your living room than you’ll currently see in the multiplex.

Why? Well, Both the Mac Pro and Macbook Pro will shoot out a 4K signal through their HDMI ports.

Also, those 4K HDMI ports will also send a 5.1 signal.

A 4K 5.1 screening is now a pretty straightforward process if you’ve got the right home theater and you know how to plug in an HDMI cable and export a 4K ProRes.

It’s now easy to Shoot 4K, post 4K, and then screen it right from your laptop.

I have no idea why film festivals make things so hard for Filmmakers with their DCP, Bluray, or Tape requirements.

Filmmakers should be able to just hand over/dropbox a QuickTime movie and get on with their lives. For some reason, everyone loves to make things complicated.

With my Film Collective, We Make Movies We Make Movies, we do our annual WMM Fest of our communities’ work in LA, and and we run all of the screenings (there were 5 this year) right from my laptop. In fact, every screening we’ve ever done has been done through QuickTime,in 1080 ProRes, using our filmmakers’ QuickTime master files, and playing a from a laptop through QuickTime or Final Cut. It’s just easier.

The only reason we’re not doing 4K screenings is because most filmmakers are still mastering at 1080, and 4K projectors are still way too expensive. Both of these things will be changing in the not too distant future.

If we had the right files and the right gear, though, our process would still not change at all. ProRes is still ProRes, and we’re still just playing it out of an HDMI port to a projector.

Our screenings look better, sound better, and we have almost no room for technical issues because we do things this way. We work from the masters, and leave as few things to chance as humanly possible. As long as the projector is calibrated, we’re good to go.

And while I explained that it’s a lot easier for filmmakers to make DCP’s these days in our blog here… it’s still a very difficult format for the average person to implement on their own and is far from a user friendly experience to screen and play one of those things for an audience.

Both the DCP and Bluray formats were designed from day 1 to be difficult to create and hard to pirate. Essentially, as most high end technologies typically are, they were designed to both keep people from understanding them, keep them proprietary, and to maintain established business models… in this case preserving the studio multiplex and home digital distribution businesses.

Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way around all of this nonsense… which is good news for the independent filmmaker who isn’t tethered to this process and can figure out how to make and distribute their own content.

Right now, I look at DCP’s as a necessary evil, but the truth of the matter is that the safest and easiest way to screen a movie for an audience is to just run it through the HDMI out of your Mac from your QuickTime master.

Why do people feel the need to make things so hard?


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