4K Video Processing: The Definition & the Minimum System Requirements

By Nicole Moore Updated: April 29, 2019
What Is 4K Video Processing: Definition, Workflow, Coverage, Technology and Minimum System Requirements

4K video processing is the manipulation and arrangement of 4K UHD footage. It is bi-directional in the sense that it can re-encode 4K video sources to make it available on different screens, social media, storage media etc., as well as transform 4K video signal from communication channel, storage media to the monitor[1]. 4K video processing techniques are used in UHD BD, 4K streaming services, video codecs, video players and other devices.

What's commonly referred to as 4K video processing is the first case, namely decoding 4K video, editing 4K video footage , resizing 4K video files, converting formats, scaling video and controlling other parameters for smooth playback, storage and transmission.

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Workflow of 4K Video Processing

Running a process of numerous operations is indispensable from the raw 4K video footage to the final presentation on screens. The digital 4K stream has to be demultiplexed[2] to extract the particular video bitstream, which could be displayed on the monitor together with audio stream and side data information. Then 4K digital video is decompressed in a video decoder, and post-processed before displaying on the monitor, and finally encoded for storing in the storage media, playing on different screens, or transmitting to the communication channel.

4K Video Processing Workflow


As 4K videos can be wrapped in various forms, namely H.264 Video, MPEG-2 Video, MOV QuickTime Video HEVC/H.265 Video and so on[3], it's essential to decode 4K video streams into large amount of raw video frames before video processing. Briefly, decoding 4K footage take a process of opening 4K video to get 4K video streams, extracting the frames from streams, converting the YUV color space to RGB if necessary, decoding the frames and displaying on the monitor[4].


4K video post-processing generally refers to a process of all operations on video information, which is achieved through 4K video transcoding, compressing, adjusting and editing techniques.

Editing: 4K video editing is usually considered to be one of the most crucial parts of 4K videos post production. It's a process of splitting, integrating, and re-arranging 4K video footage to create a new work. 4K video editing includes cutting segments, re-sequencing clips, reducing noise, stabilizing shaky footage, adding transition, titling, correcting color and other special effects[5].

Compression: A minute of natural H.264 4K footage at 30fps can be 350MB on iPhone[6], which costs a wide bandwidth and brings heavy burden for storage. 4K video compression could reduce the 4K video size while maximizing visual effects through removing redundant information, including temporal redundancy between a set of key frames, and pixel-based spatial redundancy[7]. Video compression ratio generally refers to the ratio of the data volume after compression to that before. The standard digital cameras have a compression ratio of 5:1, and some formats allow a video compression ratio at 100:1.

Lossless and lossy compression are terms that describe whether or not, in the compression of a file, all original data can be recovered when the file is uncompressed[8]. When a file that has been compressed can be decoded back into its original form with zero loss of information, the compression is said to be a Lossless Compression. Lossy compression means the data after compression is not consistent with the original data. Almost all high compression algorithms apply lossy compression to achieve a lower data rate.

4K Video Scaling: 4K video processing also includes resolution scaling, frame rate conversion, enhancement, bit rate modulation, audio sample rate adjustment etc.[9] Generally, 4K video parameters adjustment can greatly enhance quality, reduce file size to adapt to different screens or reduce the bandwidth consumption.


4K video encoding is the process of converting a 4K video from one format/codec to another[10], to make 4K video footage available to watch across different platforms and devices. Usually when the target device doesn't support the format that the original data is in, or the target device has a reduced capacity or the obsolete file type is incompatible on the modern new device, transcoding a format from one to another could make the 4K video available on the specific device with excellent compatibility. For example, H.264 4K video takes too much capacity compared with HEVC 4K, while it enjoys better compatibility[11].

4K Backend Signal Processing

4K backend video processing is more a process of 4K signal processing, which is committed to changing the characteristics of 4K video signal, enhancing or degrading 4K video quality and transforming 4K signal to a signal[12] that can be retrieved from communication channel or storage devices. It works in a workflow: decoding, noise reduction, deinterlacing, resolution scaling, enhancement, frame rate conversion, color space conversion, brightness/contrast/gamma adjustment[13]. And finally the 4K video is displayed on monitor.

4K Backend Signal Processing

Workstation of 4K Video Processing

4K video processing claims high requirements on hardware, namely processor, RAM, graphic card, especially for 10-bit color HDR HEVC 4K videos[14]. Usually, single CPU decoding is inadequate for processing 4K videos, since the large frame sizes could increase file render times and get a high CPU usage. A hardware acceleration technology built-in GPU could get 4K video processing faster and smoother.

Hardware Acceleration

Hardware acceleration describes tasks being offloaded to devices and hardware which specialize in it[15]. By default the CPU is taxed first and foremost in most computers and applications, before other pieces of hardware, which is fine when someone has a strong CPU. While there are others that it's smarter to utilize the sound card and GPU hardware components, especially for 4K video processing.

GPUs typically hold more cores than a CPU, an application like Adobe Premiere Pro can render color correction in real time with proper GPU, when it's written to send instructions to this external processor, in other words, when hardware acceleration technology is built into the software[16].

VideoProc is powered by Full Hardware Acceleration, delivering up to 47 real-time faster for 4K video processing! It hugely lowers CPU usage to 40% on all the recent computers, and optimizes file size by 90% smaller than original without compromising quality.

Minimum System Requirements for 4K Video Processing
  • ★ GPU

    Intel® Xeon® processor E5 v3 family[17]

    AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series

    Nvidia GeForce[18]

  • Minimum to play and process 4K video.

  • ★ Memory

    32GB RAM

  • 4K frames requires a large amount of memory to playback smoothly.

  • ★ Graphics

    1GB of video RAM

  • The minimum for accelerated effects.

  • ★ Storage


  • Local, fast storage to hold media and output renders.

  • ★ Typical base workstations
  • Lenovo P900, HP Z840, Dell Precision 7910, Boxx Apex 4, Apple Mac Pro.


1. Video Processing Architecture vocal.com Retrieved 2015-03-26

2. Multiplexing and Demultiplexing macao.communications.museum Retrieved 2017-06-29

3. Video decoding: spinetix.com Retrieved 2018-09-07

4. Intel® Media Server Studio - Developer Guide and Reference intel.com Retrieved 2016-09-04

5. What is video editing? techopedia.com Retrieved 2015-03-17

6. How much storage space does 4K video take up on your iPhone 8 or 8 Plus? imore.com Retrieved 2017-09-14

7. Video Compression Concepts Nimrod Peleg, Updated March. 2009

8. Lossless and lossy compression whatis.techtarget.com Retrieved 2015-06-15

9. Key Concepts / Video Parameters dornsife.usc.edu Institute for Multimedia Literacy Scool of Cinematic Arts University of Southern California

10. What is video encoding? help.encoding.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19

11. H.264 vs H.265 - A technical comparison. When will H.265 dominate the market?medium.com Retrieved 2016-06-08

12. Signal Processing in a Multimedia World signalprocessingsociety.org Retrieved 2016-08-29

13. Backend Video Processing vocal.com Retrieved 2015-03-10

14. Editing in 4K: Minimum System Requirements videomaker.com Retrieved 2016-02-14

15. What is hardware acceleration and why it matters maketecheasier.com. Retrieved 2017-01-10

16. Hardware Performance Guide Serious 4K Editing intel.com Retrieved 2015-06-02

17. Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v3 Family ark.intel.com Retrieved 2017-06-05

18. Video Encode and Decode GPU Support Matrix | NVIDIA Developer developer.nvidia.com Retrieved 2018-06-13

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Nicole Moore

Nicole Moore is a self-motivated, creative copywriter with four years of marketing and advertising experience, specializing in video, audio, images, advertisements, news digital content etc. With a partiality for travelling and shooting, Nicole also loves video post-production and is keen to share her video processing tips and latest masterpieces to social media.

How to Video Process 4K Video Processing

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