This year, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s biennial tech symposium (September 5 to 7 in Santa Barbara, U.S.) focused on ‘Digital Synthesis’ and attracted more than 220 people keen to discuss technological advancements.
Thomson Multimedia demonstrated its new 2K HD camera, the Viper, which creates nine-megapixel images, while upstart Photon Vision Systems demonstrated a 4K camera that uses eight million ‘true pixels’ per frame.
Unfortunately, viewers won’t notice these advances anytime soon. Observed Richard Wolfe, president of Los Angeles, U.S.-based Hi-Vision America, ‘The lack of set-top boxes for cable, and non-compatibility between satellite and broadcast tuners, is a problem. The truth is there are no true 1920 x 1080 HD sets out yet. At best, you may get 70% of that.’
Still, producers, encouraged by broadcasters, are increasingly embracing hd. Said Mark Shelley, executive producer with Monterey, U.S.-based Sea Studios, ‘Our new series, Living Machine, will be shot entirely on 720p.We’ll use our server to distribute rushes for desktop viewing, offline on Avids, then online on Quantel’s IQ, which can output any variation specified to any tape format that exists. The entire production process will be much more streamlined than a few years ago.’
Pierre de Lespinois, of L.A.-based Evergreen Films (When Dinosaurs Roamed America), also shoots mainly in HD, but down-converts for offline editing to take advantage of low-cost tool sets. ‘We’ve shot around US$100 million worth of HD programs and our production time keeps shrinking, which saves money and lets me put more on the screen,’ he said.
The falling cost and improved quality of computers and editing software have also made it feasible to pre-plan scenes and shots in fine detail, and composite them while in the field. ‘Now we know if the shots worked before we strike the set. The composites are posted on a website the same night. It has cut our shooting time in half,’ de Lespinois added.