Dear Vimeo: Before supporting 4K, please prioritize this more urgent need

Many people are requesting 4K on Vimeo, but there’s something easier that is needed much more urgently.

It is clear from the buzz in forums that many people are obsessed about having Vimeo offer 4K, whether it be the UHD (Ultra HD) version or the larger DCI version. However, there is something much more urgent for Vimeo to support, which is both easier and a higher priority than either of the 4K requests because it immediately affects many more video producers who already have multiple years of footage, and countless more viewers already own a proper screen for it.

Clarification: I’m not against 4K on Vimeo

I am not against 4K or UHD on Vimeo. I just believe that there is something much more urgent for Vimeo to add, where many more producers already have a huge back catalog, and many more people already own a proper screen for it.

What’s currently missing from Vimeo (before 4K)? 720/50p and 720/59.94p

Despite popular confusion, 720p with its high progressive framerate (temporal resolution) is live and well, with at least 39 networks in the United States using it (not counting the many outside of this country),

as I covered in an article in May 2014 called Have AJA/Blackmagic forgotten about ABC/Disney/ESPN/FOX?. Feel free to read the whole article, but the short explanation about why so many intelligent stations chose 720/50p (in ex PAL countries) or 720/59.94p (in ex NTSC countries) over 1080HD is often because of one of the following two reasons:

  • Prioritization of high progressive temporal resolution (high framerate) over spatial resolution (pixel count) for fast moving content like sports, since the current HD terrestrial system doesn’t allow us to “eat our cake and eat it too”. We get either high temporal resolution in progressive, or high spatial resolution, but not both.
  • Many news stations chose 720p since they were able to use their existing (SD) microwave equipment, which often was also compatible with 720p, but not with 1080i or 1080p.

(On the other hand, many movie TV stations and networks chose 1080 since most of their content was originally produced in low framerate, at 23.976p, 24.000p, or 25p, so they had nothing to gain with high progressive framerate, and naturally favored higher spatial resolution.)

Vimeo’s status quo about 50p and 59.94p

Currently, Vimeo doesn’t support 50p or 59.94p playback, and therefore they recommend that any material that is more than 30 progressive frames per second be encoded at half framerate (i.e. They want 50p material encoded at 25p, and 59.94p at 29.97p). Vimeo even states that (currently) if you dare to upload 50p or 59.94p, they will cut it to half of that when they re-encode it.

Recommended warning once Vimeo supports 50p and 59.94p

Of course, when announcing new support for 50p and 59.94p, Vimeo should warn users (as I have done so already for a long time) that most mobile devices (i.e. tablets and phones) that are currently in use in the market can’t play more than 30 frames per second. However, we can’t ignore the fact that so much material has been —and continues to be— produced in 720/50p and 720/59.94p. Even though I continue to recommend producers who do not work for a 720p channel or network to stay under 30 progressive frames per second to maximize distribution options without framerate slashing, including the web and mobile devices; nonetheless, the high framerate 720p segment of the market should also be properly attended, with the proper warnings about mobile devices. For example, Vimeo might state the following to producers: “Vimeo now supports high framerate 720p at 50 and 59.94 progressive frames per second. However, this format does not play in the majority of mobile devices at the native framerate, since most mobile devices currently have a limit of 30 frames per second. You may want to label this version of your video accordingly, and upload a separate, mobile-friendly version with the appropriate label.”

Huge number of screens that already accept 720p at 50p/59.94p

Excluding mobile devices, practically all working computers and HDTV sets that are connected to the web already support 50p and 59.94p, and if they are 1920×1080 or greater and are fed 720p, they can nearly all scale up the spatial resolution to fill the screen. The number of devices that are already compatible is huge compared to the ones that are ready for either type of 4K. So Vimeo, please consider supporting 720/50p and 720/59.94p first.

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Books, consulting, articles, seminars & audio programs

Contact Allan Tépper for consulting, or find a full listing of his books, articles and upcoming seminars and webinars at AllanTepper.com. Listen to his CapicúaFM and TecnoTur programs. Search for CapicúaFM TecnoTur in iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

My latest book (paperback + ebook)

My most recent book is available in two languages, and in paperback as well as an ebook. The ebook format is Kindle, but even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can read Kindle books on many other devices using a free Kindle app. That includes iPad, Android tablets, Mac computers, and Windows computers. Although generally speaking, Kindle books are readable on smartphones like Androids and iPhones, I don’t recommend it for this particular book since it contains both color photos and color comparison charts. The ebook is also DRM-free.

In English:

In English, it is currently available in the following Amazon stores, depending upon your region:


Or in your favorite bookstore by requesting ISBN–10: 1456310232 or ISBN–13: 978–1456310233.

En castellano:

En castellano, está disponible actualmente en las siguientes tiendas Amazon, según tu región:

o en tu librería preferida al solicitar el ISBN–10: 1492783390 ó el ISBN–13: 978–1492783398.

FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…