You've just finished the most brilliant bit of work you have ever produced. Shot on Red, edited in 4K, graded, dubbed and in the preview theatre it looks and sounds amazing. Now what?
Well the video needs to be distributed to lots of different recipients with just as many requirements. Is it going to be shown in the cinema in 4K? Played by broadcasters in 1080p, 1080i, 720p, standard definition? Will it be put on a BluRay disk or a DVD? And if it is going to be watched on a computer, how good is the screen resolution and does the computer have the ability to play it back?
There have always been multiple options when it comes to saving a piece of video or TV, even in the old days of U-matic you could choose Hi-band or Low-band. But now if I am asked for a QuickTime file I ask at least 5 questions which are inevitably followed by blank stares and shoulder shrugs.
Every four years or so there is a new format in town, the last biggy being HD with a top size of 1920 pixels by 1080. The next big step is 4K with either 4096 x 2304 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels. We can make this now and there are a lot of formats we can save it to such as old favourites like Apple ProRes and MPEG4 as well as a few new ones like GoPro's Cineform. Shortly HEVC or High Efficiency Video Encoding will be officially released by the MPEG and VCEG joint group. This new codec will have the same quality as MPEG4 but half the size (or the same size and twice the quality).
Bored yet? Of course you are, but what is the point of producing a superb video when the only place it looks right is in the edit suite? A final thought; archive to the least compressed (preferably uncompressed) format you can so you can always produce new compressed copies from this master.