Is 4K Video Quality Critical for Online Creators?

Is 4K Video Quality Critical for Online Creators?

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4k video has been gaining steam in the past few years. It already has solid roots in movie theatres and is beginning to make headway with TVs, but what about online video? The format is supported by YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix and Amazon at this time with many more on the way, but the main barriers to entry in 4k streaming video continue to be the cost involved to shifting production for creators and bandwidth issues for viewers.

Google is aiming to make 4k video more accessible with changes coming to their rendering algorithm on Chrome, not to mention the huge boost in bandwidth if you are lucky enough to be getting Google fiber. But all that being said, should you be producing your Web content in 4k today?

Is 4K Production Quality Really Necessary?

One thing we may want to consider is what is important to online video. Certainly resolution can make an impact, but as we hear over and over again, making useful/entertaining content is at the top of the list above video quality. Add to that list lighting, sound, depth of field and a whole host of other production worries and any resolution over 720p starts to look unnecessary to the average viewer.

Sure viewers might be asking for 4k video, but chances are they can’t stream fast enough to see it or aren’t watching it on a device where they can even tell the difference. In fact, Google’s own “Video Quality Report” measures whether or not your ISP steams in at least 720p. YouTube may support higher, but their main focus is certainly not on the ultra-high 4k resolution.

One of the biggest reasons not to shoot in 4k is certainly the time and storage required to keep and render the video files. That time could better be saved and used doing a number of other things for your video. Spend more time researching and updating your:

  • Keywords
  • Description
  • Tags
  • Title
  • Thumbnail
  • Video Transcript

Focusing resources towards editing or promoting your content to various blogs and message boards may be much more beneficial. There are so many factors to making a video a success that 4k video should be the least of your worries. If you have the equipment, the extra storage space and time for rendering, then of course, go for it. It won’t hurt, and you may rank higher in search results by making 4k content. Once 4k content is more prevalent with viewers, you may get a slight boost in SEO from being entrenched in the results for so long.

But at the end of the day most viewers either can’t or won’t be watching your video in 4k for a while. Many won’t even be watching it in 1080p, especially if they are watching on YouTube. No matter what your preferred resolution is, YouTube will often feed viewers video content at a much slower resolution to maintain a smoother experience.

I’m a big proponent of being first to market for things in the video space and especially in the social media space if you want to get an edge on the competition. But here we are nearly five years since YouTube launched support for 4k video and despite improvements, the market just isn’t ready for it yet.


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