Sunday, October 08, 2006

And what's this big deal with HD cameras?

While I'm in the groove and posting content that extends beyond being a simple link to something cool, can I ask why I'm hearing so many people getting excited about people doing "internet HD"?

Jeff Jarvis seems to be the most recent culprit,

"Then they set up in the den with lights, a decent mic, an HD camera set to focus on Amanda and me on the couch in front of the books that make me look smart, and with two of them roaming with two more video cameras and a third shooting stills. It was a three-camera shoot! Cable networks and sitcoms don’t use three-camera shoots anymore. On top of that, it was in HDTV."

Yeah! Great. HD. So what?

This may be my ignorance here, and I'm not entirely down with the state of HD in the States, but I can't see HD being any big factor in Internet video (vlogs, vodcasts) at this point. When was the last time you saw someone, anyone, break beyond a 512x288, square pixel resolution? Even the interview mentioned by Mr Jarvis was only 480x272. The last I checked, this is well inside standard definition resolutions.

At this point I can think of only four reasons to even use a HD camera, and only one of them (2) is compelling to me.

1) Extra resolution to play with- This allows for further cropping of the image to create more cinematic aspect ratios, such as 1.85:1 or even 2.40:1. Speeds just aren't up to scratch to use the HD resolution to its full.

2) Better electronics - Just about all modern video cameras come as HD as standard with the ability to downconvert to DV SD, which is likely to be what's really happening (HDV being such a bitch to edit properly without an intermediary codec). Modern camera, better electronics, may as well make the most of it. But that ain't HD.

3) The ability to do Cross-Platform to HDTV - Always a nice option to be able to step it up should negotiations with that cable station pick up halfway through shooting, but if there's no plan for it in the Pre-Prod phase, it's really a bit of a waste.

4) The Buzz - It obviously helps to be able to say "Now shot in Hi-Definition", like old TV shows had the "Now in Colour" super over people's black & white TV sets. The difference is, there is no real HD alternative. At least with colour you could go out and buy a new colour TV set.

As always, I'm ready and willing to hear alternate views. Still 7 days in my comment challenge, so have at it!

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