Douglas Crockford




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High Def Expo 2005

On March 3, 2005 I attended the High Def Expo, a free half-day conference held at LA Center Studios, the largest independent studio facility in Los Angeles. The show was targeted at creative and technical people who want to produce programs in HD. The slogan for the show was "HD Everybody's Doing It." My interest in this show was a Super Session panel on the state of the HD business. Unfortunately, that session was canceled.

The only other session was The Advertising Business Goes HD. It was chaired by Ken Yagoda of Y&R NY (an advertising agency). His panel was made up of nine directors and directors of photography who had each shot at least one project in HD. All of the panelists liked working with HD and would like to use it again. This is not surprising. I would expect that a director who hated working with HD would not be invited to speak on this panel.

Most of the directors liked that HD media is cheaper than film (when you include all processing costs), so you can leave the camera running. This makes it much easier to shoot performances of real people. The film procedure of "Lights! Camera! Action!" can put too much pressure on people. HD allows for more natural performances.

HD is not good for shooting bright exterior day.

The eyepieces and viewfinders for HD cameras are very bad. (There is a product opportunity for small, very high-quality displays.) Sometimes it was necessary for the cameraman to look back to a full-size monitor, but that is a very difficult way to operate a camera.

There are surprising issues that show up in HD production. For example, there are insurance companies that will insure a motion picture production. One of the things they insure is the film negative. But their standard contracts and procedures don't work when there is no film negative. It is surprising that in 2005 that directors are still encountering these sorts of problems.

They liked that HD allows for immediate playback. However, there is concern that rewinding tape could lead to accidental loss of recordings. (There is a product opportunity for smart recording equipment with fail-safe features. The insurance companies would require that productions use it.)

They wondered if HD is about to become obsolete as 4K production tools become available.

There is no cost benefit for shooting HD compared to 35mm film. I was surprised at this.

The advertising agencies are reluctant to produce in HD. They want their commercials to look great in SD. The number of households that watch commercials in HD is still very small.