Bill Macomber

Silverlake's Fancy Film Post Services specializes in independent films with tight budgets. CEO and CTO Bill Macomber is especially vigilant when it comes to keeping overhead manageable, and that means taking a very practical approach to post-production services. We sent Macomber five questions about how he is dealing with the transition to 4K — and received a healthy dose of skepticism in return. Unless you're looking to debut on streaming services or play in very large theatrical venues, Macomber says 4K is little more than a buzzword.

1) You work on both independent film and television projects. When did 4K become more than theoretical for you?
It is still largely theoretical.  We are not steering our clients towards 4K. I think the quality advancements are minor. The only distribution companies who are pushing for it are the "tech" ones, like Netflix, who see it as an advantage. Even Disney's new animated movies (i.e., The Jungle Book) are being animated in 2K. The truth is that it is very hard to tell the difference between 2K and 4K video. Rule of thumb is that you need a [television] screen larger than 80 inches to even perceive the difference.

2) How have you made accommodations for working in 4K? How are you meeting the storage requirements? 
Our storage is ready. While I don't think that 4K is ever going to be more than a niche market, having high speeds on network drives is getting more and more critical. The people who have made money on the rush to adopt 4K have already made it. The price for 4K delivery is plummeting as supply has glutted the market with companies that are "4K ready" but still working in 2K and HD. It makes more sense to buy affordably priced gear, such as the Titanium-Z shared storage from Small Tree, that can handle data rates like 4K but will still be a good investment.

3) How are you doing QC and monitoring the 4K image?
When we need to, we use consumer Samsung monitoring. 

4) Where is HDR on your radar?
HDR is a very exciting new standard. The difference is very noticeable. I think that this technology will have a bigger impact than 4K, both in theaters and in homes. The power needs of the HDR monitors are the only stumbling block for home use. The current models will not get efficiency certifications and [thus] will not be available to consumers in Europe.

5) Can you describe the overall effect of the transition to 4K on your business?
Mostly, we educate our customers on the fact that 4K is a fad that, just like 3D, will continue on in a niche roll at large theaters and on some streaming services. But for most of our indie clients, it represents a needless expense.