In 1888, Louis Le Prince of France (not Thomas Edison of America, though that’s a debate for a different day) unveiled the world’s first motion-picture camera. Since then, the art of recording visual movement has never stopped evolving, from its merger with audio recording (now there’s Edison) to its unbounded role in today’s digital world. And with that fast forward, let’s talk about some exciting things happening here and now—and ways you can use advancing media technology to elevate your videos.
Pick Your Pixelation
Like “upload,” “download” and “streaming,” “high definition” (better known as simply HD) is a signature tech term of our times. Definition here refers to a video image’s resolution or the number of on-screen pixels: HD has 1280 x 720 (a total of 921,600) or 1920 x 1080 (a total of 2,073,600, known as full HD). This represents a common middle ground between standard definition (SD, which has roughly half the pixels of HD) and 4K, a more recent resolution that has four times the pixelation of HD.
As higher resolution generally means a better-quality video, it’s no surprise that 4K is quickly replacing HD as the standard (or at least desired) resolution among video professionals. Its sharper image is ideal for tight, detailed shots and allows for more flexibility in post-production. That said, HD is still widely used and often a smart choice; 4K generally requires more editing time and sometimes specialized equipment, which may not be practical for every project.
For the super ambitious, there’s even an 8K, which no doubt will eventually become the norm for its next-level capabilities (as both HD and 4K had done before it). But outside of massive screens and multimedia displays, few applications currently warrant the crazy 8.
(Don’t) Slow Your Roll
When you can’t quite put a finger on what’s making one video look so much better than another, it might be the frame rate—the number of frames per second of footage. In recent years, the standard rate for TV broadcast has increased from 24 fps (frames per second) to 30 and, for certain types of content and formats, has made its way to 60—and even that’s just a fraction of what’s actually possible.
As with resolution, a higher frame rate correlates with generally higher quality and offers a particular benefit for capturing rapid motion. More frames per second allow for smooth slow motion, making 60 (or higher) useful for sports and realistic gaming action.
Make It an Experience
Earlier this year, Winter Olympics viewers who downloaded an Xfinity app found themselves “in” Beijing, where they got to experience the opening and closing ceremonies as well as select events in all their spectacular, 8K glory. This extraordinary (if extreme) example makes one thing clear: we’ve come a long way from 3D glasses.
Blurring the very lines between seeing and being, today’s immersive technology offers a portal to other worlds; virtual reality (VR) creates a fully immersive experience, while augmented reality (AR) brings virtual elements into the viewer’s real-life environment.
Beyond their well-known place in gaming and entertainment, the use of these technologies has exploded in industries like education, medicine and, naturally, marketing. When visual storytelling is the goal, immersive technology has become the gold standard.
Play to the Platform
With much of humanity forced into homebody life, the demand for real-time streaming, connected TV (CTV) and e-commerce (which is increasingly fueled by video) exploded in 2020. Though actual numbers fell a bit following an initial spike, the general popularity of these technologies isn’t going anywhere.
Today’s consumers also are viewing content across multiple devices and platforms every day. This makes device fragmentation—broadly, the compatibility challenges among computers, TVs and mobile devices as well as their various operating systems—an important consideration for video formatting and streaming. Our partner agency’s digital team can offer expert guidance for optimizing both user experience and audience reach.