Friday, September 28, 2007

What They Aren't Telling us About High Definition TV

Have you noticed how stores selling TV sets always show animated movies on their LED and plasma screens? From Toy Story to Shrek to Nemo. I guess it’s because Pixar, Dreamworks and the like showcase the resolution, saturated color and impact of high definition screens. It makes you wonder how higher and higher definition will treat real live actors, entertainers, celebrities. History tells us that dramatic new technologies gave for dramatic shifts in the kind of people these technologies demand. Television is now in a very similar space to the movies when sound caught on. Suddenly actors who had dominated the screen by the emotional expressiveness of their faces were brought down by squeaky or unappealing voices. A new breed of sisomo actor stepped up. People who could captivate audiences by how they looked, how they sounded, and how they moved – all at the same time. So what’s going to happen with high definition? I suspect that the new heights of definition with be unyielding to anything that smacks of lack of authenticity. What a paradox for screens that are being sold on the allure of animated cartoons! This is the big watch-out for human actors. Animated characters can be gleaming and polished but I’d be cautious about having teeth remoulded, faces lifted and bodies reshaped by knife, not life. My guess is that the people to shine on high def will be the people who shine in a crowded room - the ones with genuine emotional charisma, authentic personality and increasingly, a sense of personal purpose that resonates through everything they do.

10 comments:

Susan Plunkett said...

Hopefully along with credible and evocative performance, we will see real crags and landscapes and not digitally enhanced faces too often. Lee Marvin was Lee Marvin and not a silicone doll :)

mattw said...

Kevin - Great article - There is a site called TMZ here out of Los Angeles that had a banner on it that showed what celebrities will work in 1080p and which ones won't. Your article is fascinating recalling the parallels between this and the silent picture era. I remember visiting a client's booth at NAB in 2001 and seeing for the first time the incredible detail and depth of field this platform can deploy. Later Stallone - loved you in SD - but HD is a different game buddy! Thanks for the post, you had me laughing.

Kevin Roberts said...

Susan – Ha, right on! Technology is great for some things but no one seems to have mastered recreating a human face…yet. The nuances are far too subtle. So do you think HD will give rise to a new generation of make up artists…plastic surgeons…costume designers…or perhaps they all need to up their game?

Kevin Roberts said...

Mattw – Nice one, I can remember my first HD experience, so real it seemed unreal. I suppose a similar experience must have been felt when people viewing the first color TV pictures.

Susan Plunkett said...

I think a fair amount goes on as it is to apply filters and digital imaging changes to actors. I'd hate to see that become so exaggerated that we get anime looking people. I used to think Charles Bronson was one of THE sexiest men around and him looking plastic faced would not have cut it.

I recall first seeing colour TV and initially being disappointed by it. There was a war time situated TV series here called The Sullivans and it seemed perfect in black and white. Colour seemed to cut across the austerity on that sort of show and took an age for me to get used to. I still enjoy film noire very much and can be frightened just by light, shadow and music atmosphere hints.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I remember the my first HD experience, watching a football game. It was surreal, and I wished that they would transmit the "real football" on HD as well.

An amazing aspect of this race for technology is the sheer spectrum of the products offered. On one side, there are people in the world who haven't seen color TV yet, but on the other side we have TV with such a high quality that we can't even hide the actor's imperfections.

Randall Montalbano said...

The entire world has to change because of HDTV, just as it did for my favorite...Radio.

My daughter just pointed out to me that her digital camera can also "do" black and white. At which time I pointed out that B&W is a far more skilled craft than color (mean no offense to anyone). I mean, we can all take a photo of a sunset in color and get an "ooo or an aahhh". But, can we get one to love a photo of a patch of grass (w/o HD), and get the same reaction?

Sure, HD changes everything. You gotta love it.

Kempton said...

Kevin, I am no expert in makeup (or anything) but I've read (few years ago) that some makeup artists use airbrush to apply makeup for performers appearing on HD broadcast.

Quick Google found these two links,
http://www.temple.edu/ispr/examples/ex04_01_08a.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/24/AR2006032401808_pf.html

Blanca said...

I must say I was really disappointed with my first HD experience. It felt like I was on the set watching the actors rehearse. I watch TV and film to be entertained and hopefully inspired, not to have reality shoved down my throat. I don't want to see every wrinkle every pore of the actors. Not even "real" reality is that crisp!

derek said...

"Mattw – I suppose a similar experience must have been felt when people viewing the first color TV pictures." I'm old enough to remember BBC2 in the UK test broadcasting The Old Grey Whistle Test in colour. You know what, compared to the quality of cinema screenings at the time TV was a let down. DerekAT