Author: Brandon Butrick |


Advancements in digital video are so massive now, that they have surpassed film resolution. In the 720×480 DV era, I remember people saying that digital video would always have this “digital” look, and that it will never have the warmth or resolution of film. That reminds me of this quote:

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

― Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary

The “weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty” characteristics of video have been annihilated by Moore’s Law and we have now adopted and embraced the “digital” look of this new form of Ultra HD. So much that it’s to the point where a lot of people think film looks soft or too grainy in comparison. The stereoscopic effect is more accurate than film when shot in 5K, due to the pin-point accuracy that the resolution lends the separate “eyes” of the camera. As we move past 5K, like the new RED Camera sensors are now doing, we should keep an eye on what signatures these new mediums contain and how we can utilize them to tell better stories and capture more accurate images. Looking forward, as new technologies like graphene camera sensors are dreamt up and implemented, all we can do is be thankful for science, the innovations in Silicon Valley video production and being able to harness all of this technology as storytellers.