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October 2002, Week 5


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 29 Oct 2002 21:23:50 EST
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We are relaying this interesting letter about experimental film and DVD from
Re:Voir to the list.
Creative Arts Television

Re:Voir has released over 40 VHS cassettes of experimental films
(, but have no plans to release DVD due to poor
quality. The problem with MPEG compression, designed for natural and
predictable imagery, is that you end up with less than the 24 frames
per second from the original film. Usually you only get 2 or 4. The
inbetween frames are vectorized and calculated. Also, the throughput
(8.5 Mb/sec at best) is too slow to handle full speed video (gop=1).
Jonas Mekas's frame by frame work, Stan Brakhage's hand-painted
films, Len Lye's scratched leader, Paul Sharits' and Tony Conrad's
flickering, and most other experimental practices that are as much
about form as content, cannot be compressed. In this sense, VHS,
though poor, is still the best reproduction medium available from
16mm originals. We have done unsuccessful tests in many labs and
technicians agree. Cinema is about movement, and that is one thing
DVD does not do well. In 2004, blu-ray DVD may be available and could
be a faster medium for video data.
-Pip Chodorov (not subscribed to list: please reply to [log in to unmask])

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