OK – granted, I just finished watching the Rose Bowl Parade on our new 42-inch Plasma screen HD TV set (and you won’t believe how cool that is), but there’s no question that it’s time to start the transition to HD.
Certainly there are plenty of competitive products and standards, and HD has it’s share of bugs (what doesn’t?), but the technology is ready for prime time, and if you’re a media professional, you should look seriously at the upgrade. Avid and Final Cut both handle it very well, the prices for cameras have dropped dramatically, and there really are very few reasons not to make the transition in 2007.
Here are my suggestions for making the switch:
1. Get the right advice. HD is still more expensive than SD systems, so don’t make a financial mistake. Get the right information and find a good technical consultant. If you don’t know one, find a facility or producer you admire and ask them. Contact Matthew Phillips at Cooke Media Group and he can help point you in the right direction.
2. Get the appropriate system. Just like SD, there is a wide range of HD systems, so don’t over-buy or under-buy. Do your homework, and make sure you’re getting the right equipment for the type of program you produce. But still make the switch. I would rather have a low budget HD system right now than a big budget SD system.
3. Understand the implications for HD images. First, framing a 16X9 shot is vastly different than framing a normal composition. Learn how to compose shots for a wider frame. Also, the detail is remarkable, which has implications for make-up, set design, and lighting. In Hollywood, some major actors are even having it written into their contracts to have their make up air-brushed because of the detail. On a recent HD project I directed for Warner Brothers, we noticed the slightest scratches or dust on the set. We kept the art department busy between takes just keeping the set wiped off and touched up.
Some networks are looking for HD material, so you might even have a better opportunity to get your program broadcast if it’s on HD. You can keep your head in the sand and say there’s plenty of time, or note the fact that HD distribution networks and venues are still limited right now. But the truth is, the technology is ready, and once you’ve produced in HD, it’s hard to go back. At Cooke Media Group, we closed out 2006 by making both our Avid Adrenaline suites fully HD, networked to a Unity sharing system. I don’t know much about it from a technical perspective, but the images are amazing. 🙂
I would particularly encourage faith-based media organizations to (for once ) get ahead of the curve. Let’s be the leaders out there in creating HD programming. I’ll be teaching this year at the Worship Technology Track at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas. The NAB will be the perfect place for you to see the latest HD equipment, so plan to be in Vegas this year and make some serious HD decisions. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.
In the meantime, take the poll on the right and let us know your HD status.