Ken Simpson: My 720p beats your 4k

Here’s a rare and refreshing perspective: a director willing to call bullshit on the rush to 4k. You tell ’em Ken! Story is still very much king. So how come all you hear about his the latest camera? I’m guilty of that too, certainly. And the reason has to have something to do with the fact that story is hard, and it means talking about individual projects, and, as is pointed out in Ken’s rant, there aren’t any large camera companies that have stories to promote – they have cameras to sell. The narrative of filmmaking tends to be dominated by companies with products to push. Happily, we have Ken’s reminder about what the real deal is: story.

5 thoughts on “Ken Simpson: My 720p beats your 4k

  1. Jack Randal

    I’ve been having this conversation with people recently, especially when they ask me why I still shoot with my SD Panisonic. I agree completely with what Ken says, but let me offer a slightly different perspective. At my level what/where can I distribute? The web? Youtube? 4k res watched on a smartphone screen, really? Uh, no… I don’t think so. Let’s say I can get RedBox distribution… well, unless it’s a major studio title, all I can get is DVD. You’ll notice only major studio titles have BluRays in the RedBox kiosk, everything else is DVD, period. SD 16×9 IS DVD quality… think about it. Why spend money you don’t have on cameras to shoot footage you won’t be displaying on a drive in theater screen? It’s a waste in my opinion. Loved the segment, thanks Ken.
    Jack Randal
    Miracle! Pictures

    1. Dan McComb

      There’s another cost to shooting high resolution: storage cost. Add to that processing time (it takes longer to render high resolution video), and you start to have a compelling financial argument to shoot 720p.

  2. Rhett Murphy

    Awesome post. Must admit, I have been guilty of really wanting something that shoots RAW and/or ProRes. But my wanting has been driven by more color grading control (RAW) and simplification of the post process (ProRes). That said, I’m excited about what Magic Lantern is doing for Canon DSLR shooters in this regard. Thanks for giving me yet more to consider, Dan! Good stuff.

  3. Todd

    Learned early in my career that this is absolutely correct.

    And in addition, some clients/audiences simply cant see the difference. The most extreme example of this in my experience was a corporate show I did where I had to put film that had been professionally color corrected on a Rank Cintel in Los Angeles (it was pretty stuff…) in a video with vhs original stuff following it (it was not pretty…).

    Upon screening it for him, I realized with horror that my client simply could not tell the difference…. But that was 1985. Its still the same battle. There are indeed millions of dollars in ad money spent on convincing you why you need the latest greatest, and there is no money for vendors in convincing you why you don’t.

    Whats hard compared to then is now some customers have been influenced by this marketing to the point where they are focused on what gear you are using. I’ve learned the hard way the “aha” perspective you have had is not a viewpoint that is easy to teach. It takes time to educate, risk losing the client.

    Sometimes one must go with the flow/rent the gear they want (as long as they are willing to pay for it).

    HOWEVER kinda like the Matrix, once you realize you’re on the “Upgrade” treadmill you CAN save a lot of money on buying your own gear, and make better business decisions.

    Sometimes you have to get the latest greatest because thats seen as “professional” and its what the customer wants. Sometimes theres a real requirement… your perspective helps to sort out the difference, nicely done.


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