March 25, 2006

"You see all these pockmarks in his cheeks and he looks like an entirely different person -- and you go, 'Wow, is that Brad Pitt?'"

HDTV looks so good, it makes mere mortals look bad. Actually, the HD camera makes the picture so sharp, it's not just clearer than old-fashioned TV, it's clearer than what you see looking at the real world with your human eyeballs. It's exciting, but also distracting. You fixate on details of the set or some minor feature of a face. Don't succumb to that crazy absorption! Don't sit so close! That's what mothers have long said to kids watching TV, and there really wasn't any problem that needed solving. Now, with HDTV, we should sit farther back, to keep in touch with reality and to stave off that autistic focus on the unimportant.

12 comments:

sonicfrog said...

When I was finishing my degree in radio, tv, film production in 1992 HDTV was still on the drawing board here in the US. One potential problem we examined was changes of production cost and modification of general set design HDTV would necessitate. Current set design of sitcoms and the like is sloppy compared to film because of the low visual resolution. When you paint a set for a TV show, you often use paint and sponges to emulate stucco textures on walls. It looks like stucco because the low resolution tends to blur the details. You couldn't do that with HDTV because you would clearly see the texture is painted on. Jerry's apartment looks like a real apartment when you watch "Seinfeld" on normal TV, because the set design and industry techniques in general is geared toward getting the most out of the low resolution. If you filmed the same set with HDTV cameras and standards, the apartment would look less "real" and maybe be a distraction. The greater attention to detail, the more time it takes to design a set, design the costumes, situate the lighting, etc., etc... That extra time equals extra money spent increasing the cost of program production.

And yes, it will mean that more effort will have to be made to make TV stars as pretty as we have grown to expect. I met "A. J. Simon" a.k.a. Jamison Parker in San Diego when they were filming "Simon and Simon" on location on Shelter Island in San Diego. He was short and much stockier than he appeared on the small screen.

vbspurs said...

to stave off that autistic focus on the unimportant.

Love it.

Not quite as awesome as 'cookie dough of truth', but then few things are.

Cheers,
Victoria

Slocum said...

This concern is really silly-- HDTV still has substantially lower resolution than 35mm (let alone 70mm) movie film. If Brad Pitt and Kiera Knightly seem to look fine on the much larger, much higher res movie screen -- they'll look fine on the smaller, lower res HDTV 'big screen' TV.

Jennifer said...

I don't know, Slocum...you're so far away from the movie screen. If the tv makes Keira Knightley look like this: http://www.usemycomputer.com/show.html?image=/indeximages/2006/March/18tg.jpg

Yuck!

lindsey said...

I remember an article about this in the NYTimes awhile ago. They said the only star that came out looking good from HD was Halle Berry who appeared to have flawless skin and an unearthly glow.

I guess the point of it all is that for there to be movie magic, reality shouldn't have pores. They're probably better off not cooperating with the HDTV or developing quick masking techniques so pock marks and pores don't show.

lindsey said...

That forehead really is magnified. It looks more like a rash than acne though. So many bumps of uniform size. At least it's not the horror that is Cameron Diaz. I've always been surprised that Diaz never went on something like Accutane. Accutane will nuke that stuff. It saved me when I was in high school.

Ann Althouse said...

Slocum: I think the lighting and photography in movie closeups is done with extreme care. And soft focus is used sometimes. Film just looks different, anyway. HDTV can look harshly superreal.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noumenon said...

HDTV has always been a "push" technology, with a lot of government sponsorship and interference. It's not consumer-driven. Maybe it's plain gonna suck.

Maybe it's just a device to make it harder for new networks and studios to compete with the big ones and their free government-gifted broadcast spectrum.

Serenity Now said...

... the HD camera makes the picture so sharp, it's not just clearer than old-fashioned TV, it's clearer than what you see looking at the real world with your human eyeballs.

As a matter of logic, to the human eye the image on an hdtv can't be clearer than what you see in real life.

Ann Althouse said...

Serenity Now: You're wrong, but it is hard to explain why. Reality exists in space, and an HDTV picture is a flat plane. Sharp edges are created, with intense focus throughout. Real life doesn't look that way.

Maxine Weiss said...

Can't they add in static, or throw vaseline over the lens?

I think it's sort of an irrational fear, like when records were going from mono, to stereo.....and the fear that nobody would accept "Hi-fi".

Peace, Maxine