There are currently a growing number of options for 4K shooters in the sub £10K realm, and the growing market acceptance of 4K is obvious when you look at Canon’s new range of 4K lenses and 4K chips to shoot HD, Sony’s new FS700, which promises 4K to come, or JVC’s HMQ10.
The JVC HMQ10 is currently the most cost-effective way of getting 4K footage, so it’s important to know how to deal with those files when shooting to them. The JVC 4K Clip Manager makes this very easy to deal with.
What you get when shooting to the HMQ10 is four 1080p clips on independent SDHC cards. In order to be 4K, this needs to be collated into one file. One option is to create a 4K timeline in your NLE (or in something like After Effects) and piece them together like some kind of fiddly puzzle, and that does work, but the JVC 4K Clip Manager does the same thing in a fraction of the time. Here’s how it works:
It’s been said over and over again since the first move from tape to tapeless, but file structure is important. If you lose the file structure, you’re going to be fighting against the program to get your four videos into one 4K file. When ingesting, you may be able to connect all your SDHC cards to your workstation at once, but while that will make life quicker, it isn’t a necessity. The first thing to do if you can’t connect them all at once is to copy the folder structure across. You could do this as a .dmg (Disk Image) file through Disk Utilities, but it also works if you name a file after the SDHC card and then copy and paste the folder structure into there.
After this, you need to tell the JVC 4K Clip Manager where to find all the files by clicking on each Clip Locator and locating the master folder where all the folder structure is located. The Clip Manager will then find all the individual files and collate them into independent 4K clips in the browser.
There are now two way to handle this, and it all depends on how you want to archive and back up your footage. You can either export these as 4K ProRes files or remove them from their original folder structure in their 1080p form for archive before ProRes transcode. Add the location that you want to copy the files to, and drag the thumbnails from the top bin to the bottom bin. This creates a new folder structure in the location you specified. Again, folder structure is key – don’t touch its make-up otherwise you’ll struggle to get it back.
Select the clips you want to turn into ProRes and export them simply by clicking on the 4K Export button at the bottom right of the browser. Given the bitrate and quality of the AVCHD file that is recorded, ProRes LT will be fine for the majority of what you will be making and you won’t really be adding much in the way of quality if you go to a higher profile of ProRes.
A best practice when thinking about cutting anything is to give some thought about bandwidth from your working storage. Minimising the possibility of bottlenecking as you transport your footage to be processed by your NLE is going to be key. This is where Thunderbolt storage and faster connections than Firewire 800 will start to become necessary, especially when cutting multiple streams of 4K. Try to use something like a Promise Pegasus or LaCie Little Big Disk (giving you transfer rates of around 700MBps) or a G-Tech G-speed or Sonnet DX800, depending on your budget and requirements. If you like to keep your working storage internal and have a few spare drive bays, consider an internal RAID.
In terms of non-linear editing, all the major NLEs will cut 4K these days. But if you’re already considering changing NLE and workstation, I would think seriously about combining Premiere Pro and a Quadro 4000 Graphics card. This will enable you to cut multiple streams of 4K without stressing your CPU, and let the Quadro 4000 take most of the work through Adobe’s Mercury Playback engine.
You can monitor 4K as 1080 if you want, but if you’re delivering to 4K – either for signage, projection or to one of the new range of 4K TVs that have started coming out – we can help you develop a 4K monitoring setup. But if you will be downsizing back to 1080 for delivery, then reference monitoring in the usual way will be fine.
It’s not the best camera out there for 4K, but to say it comes in at under £4K the HMQ10 is pretty impressive and, as you can see, its workflow isn’t exactly complicated. Plus, it allows you to scale all the way from 1080p to 2K and 4K in a single camera – especially useful when you consider you’re unlikely to have to deliver 4K all the time.