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April 1991


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 7 Apr 91 23:43:20 CDT
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This discussion seems a bit of a moot point, since video and film technologies
are rapidly converging.  I haven't seen HDTV, but from what I've heard and
read, its resolution approaches the quality of 35mm.  It's also worth
considering the kind of interchange going on right now.  More and more people
are shooting on film, and editing on video.
I'm also surprised that no one's mentioned sound quality in the different
formats.  I teach production at UT-Austin, and we have 6 S-VHS offline editing
stations.  I'm amazed at the sound reproduction quality of the HD (or HiFi)
tracks in this format.  Since they're recorded in the video portion of the
tape, that leaves two additional channels, the conventional ones that aren't
as good. The HiFi tracks have a signal to noise ratio of about 90 dB, making
them just as good as a Nagra or CD player.  And you can have up to 4 different
tracks of audio.
You can get a myriad of effects with video that would cost hundreds of dollars
to reproduce in a lab, like tinting your shots by simply white balancing on a
piece of colored paper.  I did this with my class one day, and we got some
really striking "film-like" effects.
Part of the reason for this arbitrary differentiation between video and film
has to do with an early technology that dictated an aesthetic long after the
technology changed.  Conventional television lighting, for instance,
emphasizes even bright lit areas.  This may have been necessary for _I Love
Lucy_, but even an industrial grade video camera can get about a 32:1 contrast
ratio. Still isn't as good as film's, but getting there.
Mathias and Patterson's _Electronic Cinematography_ does a good job of
debunking the video inferiority myth.  You should also check out some of the
experimental video work being done using wipes, dissolves, insertions, etc.
that would cost a lot of money to do in the lab.
Steve Carr
Dept. of Radio-TV-Film