Get Ready for 8K Video

Posted on by Larry

It seems like just last year that we fully made the transition to 4K video for production – though not yet for all forms of distribution. But the quest for higher resolution has not stopped. The ultimate goal, I think, will be 12K. Why? Because that matches the resolution of the human eye when it looks directly at something.

However, in fairness I need to stress that the need for higher resolution is also dependent upon your distance from the image. The farther away you are, the lower the resolution needs to be to deliver a clear image. Huge digital billboards can look great at 50 dpi when viewed at high-speed from the highway.

Still, 8K is coming. What do you need to know?

NOTE: Whether you edit with Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, DaVinci Resolve or some other video editor, their media bandwidth needs are essentially the same.


First, your computer is probably not the gating factor in editing 8K – your storage is.

To prove this first point, here’s a 2018 Mac mini with 8 GB of RAM.

(Storage speed measured using 4 GB files and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test v3.4.2)

As you can see, this 6-year-old Mac mini easily handles all 8K codecs with no problem. (These tests assume you are editing single camera 8K video.)

Taking this to the next level, here’s an M2 Max Mac Studio.

(Storage speed measured using 4 GB files and Blackmagic Disk Speed Tool v3.4.2)

It easily blows way past 12K video. (I mean, really, 10,000 frames of 1080 HD!!?)


(Click to see larger image.)

According to Apple, which publishes detailed performance specs for ProRes:

NOTE: Other codecs require different data rates, check the developer’s specs to determine your needs. In general, 8K requires four times the bandwidth of 4K and 16 times the bandwidth of 1080p HD. Also, keep in mind that H.264 and HEVC will be much harder for older computers to edit due to their compression scheme.

Generally, I recommend you plan that single camera editing will require double the single stream data rate. This puts the bandwidth needs of 8K beyond the speed of single drive hard drives and into that of HDD RAIDs and SSDs.


The other big issue with 8K is the amount of storage it requires. Again, from the table above:

That is a LOT! of storage! A recent project I edited shot 15 hours of HD material. That translates into 16.9 TB if it was shot in 8K!!


Yeah, multicam is a problem. If each stream of native 8K ProRes 422/24 requires 251 MB/second, we hit the speed limit of Thunderbolt 3/4 at 11 streams. (9 streams for ProRes 422/30.)

However, the current version of Premiere is only able to edit two streams of 8K on an M2 Max system fed by a Thunderbolt 3/4 SSD RAID. Final Cut Pro was only able to edit 5 streams of 8K video using an M2 Max Mac and and a Thunderbolt 3/4 SSD RAID, but 11 streams using the internal SSD drive.

So, for now, plan on using 50% proxies for editing 4K video. Proxies are a much better choice because both Premiere and Final Cut can easily edit 20 streams – and more – of 4K ProRes video on Apple Silicon systems.


8K is coming. Not today and not tomorrow. But sooner than you expect. To get ready, you should first look to upgrade your storage. Storage speed and capacity have far greater importance when editing 8K than your computer system.

The same duration media required four TIMES the storage capacity for 8K compared to 4K. (And 16 times the storage compared to 1080p HD.)

8K multicam editing requires the media engine in M-series Macs. Which means that upgrading to Apple silicon is also in your future.

SSD prices are continuing to drop, but not as quickly as we would like. For best performance with the greatest capacity, look for an SSD RAID that supports the full bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3/4.


In September last year, Intel announced Thunderbolt 5. This new protocol supports burst data rates up to three times faster than Thunderbolt 3/4. However, I expect the initial implementation will provide only 2X the speed.

NOTE: As currently outlined, Thunderbolt 5 has the potential to connect external storage at the same speed as the internal drives of Apple silicon systems. However, only SSD RAIDs will be able to process data at this speed.

Thunderbolt 5 is “scheduled” for release later in 2024. However, both computers and storage will need to be replaced (upgrades won’t be possible as Thunderbolt 5 requires a new chip) to take advantage of this technology.

For all intents and purposes, expect Thunderbolt 5 to become widely available in 2025. If you are editing HD or 4K media, Thunderbolt 5 won’t be significant. However, as frame sizes increase beyond 4K and, especially if you are editing large-frame-size multicam, Thunderbolt 5 will become essential.

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7 Responses to Get Ready for 8K Video

  1. Great overview Larry and let’s not forget broadcast TV standards/equip…8K TV sales are not expected for a few years, right? And I am sure High Performance storage mechanisms and optimized bandwidth requirements will keep these new vendors and protocol groups pretty busy for a while.

  2. Stephen Mark says:

    You mention editing high resolution video with proxies, which is what I imagine most people do now. I don’t understand the advantage of editing those resolutions natively so don’t know why I need worry about having the hardware capability to do that.

    But I’m the first person to acknowledge my own ignorance. Can you explain why anyone would want or need to edit 12k footage in 12K? Or for that matter why anyone would edit footage at any resolution higher than necessary to avoid pixellation.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      You are not ignorant and your question is a good one.

      Many editors – especially new ones – tend to think that they need to edit everything at full resolution. I’m not sure why. Perhaps they fear that switching between proxy and full resolution will damage effects, or change color grading settings, or they just don’t know that proxies exist.

      Whatever the reason, easily the majority of requests I get for computer recommendations stresses that they want to edit large frame sizes at full resolution in real-time. It possible, but buying the gear that does that will cost a lot more. Both Premiere and Final Cut have integrated a proxy workflow that easily handles all the frame size and effect conversions so that nothing is lost. So, like you, I recommend editing using proxies – but not everyone agrees.


  3. Kit Laughlin says:


    This is a perfect time/place to ask: do you have a tutorial specifically on how to use proxies? I have to confess that I’ve never used them, always having being able to edit natively in 720p/30, then 1080p/30, and more recently 4K.

    Regards and thanks, Kit

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