Around 16 percent of U.S. households now include a 4k TV, with projections that percentage could double in the next year.

The sustained growth has many churches considering moving to 4k technology. If your church is in the midst of those discussions, here are a few things to consider.

Consider the cost of producing 4k video.

Get ready for sticker shock. Transitioning to 4k will increase costs in several areas including cameras, computers, monitors and storage.  Even with the new equipment, 4k capture and production will come with problems. Low to mid-level priced 4k cameras are prone to overheating after just 20 minutes of shooting. That’s a problem for worship services that last close to an hour.

Video editing is very demanding of the computer’s performance, and CPU, GPU, memory and hard disk are the four key parts that have the most impact on performance. As for the motherboard, it is the communication center at the four major hardware parts. Therefore, the key to the smooth video 4k editing work depends on whether the motherboard is able to fully support or let these four parts work together in a stable condition.  

The other cost is time. Working with large 4k files will increase transfer, export and upload times. Without a fast internet, you’ll spend 3-4 times as long to get your work done.

Another consideration is storage. Your 4k files will be 4 times larger than your 1080p files. That adds up if you’re producing weekly worship services.  Budget for twice as many storage devices after your transition.

How does your church plan to use 4k TV

Most churches use video projection as the main form of ‘video’ content for displaying song lyrics, sermon notes, and graphics. In the truest sense, this isn’t actual video content, but rather computer-generated outputs at a variety of resolutions. The overwhelming majority of churches have invested in specialized church software for handling the database of song lyrics and scripture notes, with popular choices being ProPresenter, MediaShout, and EasyWorship. Though each of these vendor tools allows for video playback, the majority of the work is done in the software as purely graphical elements sent to the projector as simple computer input.

Considering that over 90 percent of the 300,000+ churches in the United States have the attendance of fewer than 90 people, the need for video is far lower than it is for larger churches. In this sense, the need for 4K is also minimal considering the content is computer-based graphics that look terrific on a screen suitable for viewing in a 100 seat — or less — venue.

You’ll find greater benefit in post-production, especially if you capture video in the field. Because 4K allows for far more picture information, it’s possible to use a single camera in the field and crop content as if it was shot with multiple cameras. In this way, 4K is a church editor’s dream because he can zoom, pan, and change camera composition. The higher resolution also makes it easier to pull stills from the video.

Video projection and LED curtains and video walls have also allowed churches to introduce staggeringly large electronic canvases that act as scenic backdrops. With 4K resolution, the opportunity for stunning, crisp, and bright images takes these church stage sets to new levels of immersion. Today, multiple HD scenes are stitched together via software, but it’s now possible to simply open up a 4K canvas and seamlessly introduce the fidelity of visual imagery that exceeds what their attendees see in most movie theaters.  The most likely church candidates for 4K are those venues currently used with larger-than-life IMAG video venue campuses where the sermon is projected/displayed via video (live or playback). In particular, those churches that have opted for the huge, dropped-to-the-floor center screen for the lock-down shot of the main stage and side screens for the close-up IMAG will realize the most impact of 4K on this center canvas, as the life-like realism of 4K will further enhance the suspension of disbelief that helps attendees focus on the message and not think about it being a video screen they’re watching.

Looking to the future

Some churches might also consider the change to get ahead of the next upgrade. That was the case for Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina.  The church had been operating with 1970s technology when it began capturing video of worship services back in 1997. In 2008 the church upgraded to 720p but that was also behind the technology of the day.

Almost a decade later, the church needed to spend almost twice that to upgrade Redemption’s broadcast capabilities to 1080.  To avoid another costly change two-three years down the road, they opted to leapfrog to 4k now.

Donnie Haulk, CEO of AE Global Media, helped Redemption navigate the upgrade. He told Worship Facilities:

“Most people judge a ministry in the same way they judge a website, which is in about six seconds. If you can hold on to someone longer than that, the chance to keep them on for the service is much greater. You want viewers’ interest to be piqued. The new design and new delivery does that. It changes the way the presenter is perceived because of the platform design, space design, music systems and camera angles.”

Redemption’s church leaders have seen benefits. The viewing numbers of the church’s broadcasts have increased 10-fold from what they were. Before the switch, the church was at approximately 20,000 viewers. Now that number is closer to 200,000.

Now the bad news, tv manufacturers are well into working on 8k video.