4 great agency projects making creative use of 4K

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4K is no longer a gimmick. The high resolution format for images and video (which you can get learn more about in our 4 things every creative needs to know about 4K video post) has rapidly moved from novelty to the mainstream.

4K television is now a reality, with all the major manufacturers churning out 4K sets, and Netflix, Amazon, Sky Q, BT Sport Ultra HD and more providing 4K content to watch on them. Elsewhere, the XBox One S is leading the way for 4K gaming, while a dazzling array of smartphones now offer 4K video recording.

London’s Piccadilly Circus has recently upgraded its famous video screens to 4K, summoning a truly Blade Runner-style nightscape to passersby. And you can even find a wide variety of 4K stock footage for your projects, from libraries such as iStock by Getty Images.

In 2017, in short, 4K is something that every agency has to get on board with. In this post, we check out four agencies that harnessed the power of 4K within their recent projects.

01. Renault & Manning Gottlieb OMD

Manning Gottlieb created a truly immersive experience for fans of the Goodwood Festival of Speed

A global agency headquartered in London, Manning Gottlieb OMD recently completed a global Facebook first for Renault at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The agency published and promoted a 4K Facebook livestream that switched between 2D and 360 video.

“The brief was all about creating the most immersive experience possible for all the petrol heads who wish they could have been at the event but weren’t,” explains Tom Langan, social media manager and content marketing evangelist for Manning Gottlieb OMD. “So quality and the way the assets played out were vitally important.”

It was vital, then, that the agency filmed everything in 4K. “We’re at a point with technology now where the equipment and software required to film and publish live in 4K wasn’t really an issue,” Langan adds. “The cameras were small, lightweight and no harder to use than regular non-4K equipment. From a production perspective, there really was no good reason not to film everything that way.”

That said, at the consumer end, things aren’t moving quite so fast. “Viewing on 4G, and even on most Wi-Fi connections, bandwidth doesn’t really seem to be able to keep pace with the output we’re serving when we film in 4K,” says Langan. “Although 4K was achievable in the upload to Facebook and YouTube, viewers may often struggle to see the content in ‘all its glory’ because of the restrictions on their devices.

“It’s been brilliant to push the abilities of the platforms, the hardware and the software,” he concludes, “but it would be great to see consumer devices and connections have the ability to serve this content up in a way that does it justice.”

02. Royal Mint

Filming the Royal Mint collection in 4K allows customers to appreciate the high level of craftsmanship that has gone into the coins’ creation

The Royal Mint, which produces the UK's coins, this year asked POPcomms agency in Bristol, UK, to film its new coin collection using 4K cameras. It wanted to let people zoom right into the detail and truly appreciate the high level of craftsmanship captured in each coin.

“The main challenge was making sure these highly delicate coins were free of blemishes such as fingerprints or fluff – especially when shooting with macro lenses,” says senior account manager Stuart Janicki. “The same applies for the props and scenery. We have a very high level of attention to detail on these shoots and this is only exemplified by the 4K resolution.”

The footage was first shown during The Royal Mint’s presentation at the World Money Fair, he explains. “After this, the footage was used in promotional campaigns for the different coins, both on the website and social media. The high 4K resolution also means we are able to take stills from the footage and use these in other marketing materials.”

His main tips for any agencies working in 4K? “It’s all about attention to detail,” he stresses. “Being able to crop into the footage afterwards means you have to make sure your scene and props are immaculate when shooting at a macro level.”

03. Sony Bravia

Last year, DDB Berlin was tasked by Sony to create a new advertising campaign that would highlight the impressive picture quality of its new Bravia 4K HDR TV sets. The ad, which was shown across the UK, Ireland and Germany last autumn, was created using a mixture of drones and handheld 4K cameras to create a spectacle that offered an impressive level of ‘wow factor’.

Filmed in an abandoned former casino in Romania, the spot culminates in the multicoloured, glittering explosions of 1,500 balloons filled with glitter. "Shooting this commercial required weeks of preparation and a lot of effort from special effects and production design partners,” said Alice Bottaro, creative director at DDB Berlin, in a statement.

“Glitter is a very challenging element to work with, even more so because we wanted to show the particles in all their detail and brilliance. We were also very lucky to get such a beautiful location: during the film, you really experience how the glitter turns this abandoned casino into a place full of colour and life.”

The ad takes obvious inspiration from the bouncing coloured balls commercial created by Fallon London to first launch the brand in 2005. As Shuhei Sugihara, head of brand and product communication at Sony Europe, explained at last year’s launch: “From balls, bunnies and flower petals to balloons and glitter, Sony has always used striking colour and visual beauty to showcase its range of televisions. 

"The creative direction of this footage was based on the same idea... a million glittery details to truly demonstrate the difference our 4K HDR TVs provide in terms of colour, contrast and detail.”

04. Panasonic

The rise of 4K TV means that cinema and television are becoming closer and more intertwined than ever before. This inventive campaign for Panasonic, launched in April, runs with that idea by spoofing four types of film blockbuster in one commercial.

Framestore Pictures, Director’s Duo – aka Benjamin Kratzin and Christopher Schlierf – and creative agency Brave all worked together to plot the commercial, which was shot in 4K over three days in Cape Town and mastered in HDR.

Taking the heroine through four different genres in turn – costume drama, noir thriller, sci-fi and superhero action – each scene is designed to highlight a particular aspect of the 4K TV’s image quality.

"Many creatives dream of making a big-budget movie,” said Liam Fenton, creative director at Brave, on its release. “To be able to work with the best in the business to create a trailer for four different Hollywood-style features in one, all dramatising the benefits of Panasonic's 4K HDR performance, was an unforgettable experience."

Framestore was responsible for the film’s VFX, including environment extensions and replacements, crash landing spacecraft and FX dirt, dust and fire explosion work.

“This project had the perfect combination of elements for us: cinematographic influences, big vision, and a passionate team,” said Director’s Duo in a statement. “It was no small feat to pull off, and would not have come about without the tenacity of the wider crew, and their ability to think of new solutions on the ground. We constantly tried to push the boundaries.”

You can learn more about the project on the Brave website.