In 2016, we announced that you could upload 4K video for playback. In the years since, we’ve seen some truly incredible examples that demonstrate the power of 4K video — like Mike Olbinski‘s Staff Pick “Monsoon V.”

But while we all know 4K is really, really good-looking, not everyone knows what 4K is, or why it matters for video makers and watchers. Read on for our for the ins and outs of all things video resolution.

4K, defined

4K signifies all horizontal videos with a resolution around 4000 pixels. There are two 4K standards that you’ll come across frequently: DCI and UHD.

DCI 4K (which is 4096 x 2048 pixels) is the resolution standard for professional video. While cinema and production houses use DCI, most television is UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels), a consumer display standard for television and computer monitors. At Vimeo, we typically refer to all 4K as UHD when in reality we support up to DCI 4K — we’ve taken it a step further with support for HDR.

Is it better than 1080p?

Yes! 1080p is still great for social media posting, it is no longer the standard for online video resolution. But while 1080p content was once considered hi-def, these days it’s really better suited for social media posting. 4K is regarded as ultra high-def (UHD) because it contains 4x the amount of pixels than 1080p, conveys a higher bit depth, higher frame rate, and a wider, brighter color gamut. Simply put: 4K delivers a crisp and beautiful viewing experience across a wide range of platforms.

4K + your phone

The ability to record videos in 4K has been available since Apple released the iPhone 6S and 6s. It is now the mobile standard as far as smart phones from Apple, Google, and Samsung are concerned.

With the Vimeo app on your iPhone or Android — or your favorite places in the cloud, like Dropbox or Google Drive — you can record your mobile videos and upload them in one simple place.

How does it impact my videos? And my audience?

If you’re filming in 4K and uploading your videos to Vimeo, you’ll be able to provide a 4K playback option to your audience. That means that your viewers can view videos in 4K, provided they have the required bandwidth and screen resolution.

People watching videos online want a viewing experience as close to the Silver Screen as possible. 4K videos now make it onto the big screen, so it’s the quality that your audience will expect from most filmmakers. The sharper the image, the more professional and produced a video feels — assuming it doesn’t compromise the film’s original quality to the point of looking fake.

Take it even further

Since we launched 4K we’ve continued to improve upon what was already there. We launched HDR a couple years ago, which allows you to upload beyond-4K videos for your fans to watch on their UHD screens. We’re also keeping up-to-date with video technology and innovation happening in the industry. We’ve also announced our support for the AV1 codec, which delivers a high-quality viewing experience, wherever you are in the world.

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