Vision Unlimited/LA News

HD Video Update

by on Jul.29, 2014, under High Definition News, Opinion

A lot of water has passed through the bayou behind my house since i last posted here. My life changed and i was given a second chance by some proficient practitioners of the art of heart surgery. I am now in better shape than i have been for years, after driving myself down with an addiction to work. I am not totally rehabilated but i have learned to pace myself a little, hence the break in posting to this site.

During the time that i have been re-learning how to live, i have not been entirely absent from the “business”, just cooling it a bit. So there is a lot to discuss about the evolution of video equipment, production workflows, and client expectations over that time.

The biggest surprise for me has been just how fast the technology is changing. I started in television in the early 1970s and watched slow but steady changes for about 25 years, moving from huge, bulky cameras and recorders to smaller and more stable versions but with relatively small improvements in image quality. When high definition video production equipment arrived, acceptance was slow, both on the cinema side and on the broadcast side, but once mass production kicked in, the developments seemed to run wild. Consumer high definition gear has now progressed past the quality of the early cameras and recorders that we used in the 1980s, and promises to run right past the HD standards into UltraHD or 4K or whatever versions catch on. I can now build a small, remote camera system that i would have groveled for in the 1990s to get incredible shots that we could only achieve with cranes, helicopters and remote vans. Now, anyone with a little knowledge and motivation can get the shots.

During the same time, customer attitudes have evolved as well. When the means of production were expensive, it was necessary to either prove yourself to backers or have an independent source of your own money. Now, just about anyone can buy several HD cameras, a switcher, and a solid state recorder and hang out a “Production Company” shingle. He may not be any good at telling stories or documenting reality, but many of the buyers don’t know the difference. And people seem to think that, because the equipment is so cheap, the talent to make it sing should be cheap, as well. The truth is that the cheaper the gear, the more talent it takes to produce really good product.

Desktop publishing mentality seems to have come to HD video production.

In reality, there has always been a range of capability in equipment and production work. With more reliable, stable and capable equipment, it may be easier to make individual pictures look good, but the range of product impact widens as more clueless practitioners get their hands on decent hardware.

Still, we should be happy that production, like communication through the internet continues to be democratized, and strive to tell more compelling stories. Surely, the availability of better tools will allow some talents to emerge, where they would have been suppressed in the old days.

Life marches on, until it stops, for each of us; then some young whippersnapper picks up the mantle and marches on into the future.


…still upright and mobile…

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