02/2015 - Mike's Blog (when he feels like it) - Michael Rissi

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The trouble with 4K...

Published by Michael Rissi in The Resolution Race · 24/2/2015 19:50:00
Tags: RissiProductionsDigitalVideo
One of the main problems with any industry that depends on cutting edge technology is the very real cost of keeping up with the Joneses.

In the video industry, there are currently so many formats and file types, it is difficult to keep track of all of them. For the sake of brevity and clarity, for now I will stick to discussing only one aspect of the digital video revolution, which has been going on pretty much since George Lucas decided digital technology was so advanced, he would make his next chapter of the "Star Wars" saga completely digitally. He worked with Sony to develop a high definition digital video camera which could shoot 24 progressive frames per second, which up until that time had only been possible with film. What now seems like a very obvious idea was truly revolutionary. George Lucas has been a trailblazer for so long, I don't think he knows any other way to function.

Anyway, the movie business hasn't really been the same since. And what started as a way for Sony to please George Lucas, quickly trickled down to every videographer on the planet. Today, 24 frame progressive HD video is everywhere. Even consumer cameras have it. Progressive frames, as opposed to the old fashioned "interlace" frames, present a decidedly superior image when played back, especially if "paused" as freeze frames for scrutiny. More importantly to many filmmakers, such as myself, the cadence of 24 frames per second has a more dreamlike quality, which makes everything shot at that rate look much more like film than the previously ubiquitous alternative, 30 frame interlace video.

So 24P digital video has won over most filmmakers as a viable alternative to film, if not always the preferred one.
The argument against HD video for years has always been about the resolution. HD is 1920 X 1080 pixels, that's four times the quality of what used to be standard resolution broadcast quality video. Now, most people who own HD TVs are pretty happy with them. There has no been a clamoring by the masses for a higher quality picture, so far as I can tell.

But producers need to protect their investments and "future proof" their material to the best of their ability, and this requires obtaining the best possible resolution at the time they shoot their material. Hence, the constant cry for higher and higher resolution. When will it stop? The old saying, round and round and round it goes, and where it stops nobody knows -- seems fitting here.

Basically, it will stop when consumers decide it will stop. Because producers and content creators ultimately are always aiming at consumers -- their audience, in other words.

What this all boils down to is the limits of human vision. At what point is more resolution pointless because the average consumer can’t tell the difference?

Well, for television viewing, which most people do at a distance of at least seven or eight feet away, HD is already perfectly sharp. To see the difference between an HD display and a 4K display at that distance is not easy. Try it some time if you haven’t already.

Therefore, for now, there is hardly a pressing need to switch to 4K unless you are a content creator and you plan to screen your material in a large theater.

That is not the end of the story, however. And I will explain why things will continue to change in my next blog.

Technology upgrades versus instant obsolescense...

Published by Michael Rissi in Moving Pictures -- Sideline Static · 19/2/2015 20:58:00
Everyone wants to be up to date, but no one wants to be a sucker...

Unfortunately, it seems to me we live in world of so much constant change, you can't always do both.  But that doesn't mean you can't try.

Right now, 4K video or UHD "Ultra High Definition" video is redefining what is considered "professional" or master quality resolution.  For that reason, most professionals are looking at 4K as the next step, but there is currently a reasonable argument for holding off...which is what my next blog entry will be about.

Moving Pictures -- Technology Now

Published by Michael Rissi in Moving Pictures -- Sideline Static · 19/2/2015 20:41:00
Video technology has advanced so far and so fast, everyone who has a smart phone can put together a professional looking video with very little effort or expense.

Any parent, for example, can now "video" almost every aspect of her child's life from start to finish.  (For that reason, our society might be producing the most image conscious and narcissistic generation in history, but that's another story.)

For filmmakers such as myself, who produce industrial and corporate videos in between entertainment projects, the name of the game is commercial viability.

Professional image acquisition with quality lighting, sound, and slick post production finishing still takes more time, effort and expertise than the average consumer cares to attempt.  And talent and taste still make a difference.

Even so, the means of production are changing rapidly, and that includes the price of the equipment needed to produce professional level material.  I'll share some of my opinions on that here, concentrating less on where we've been and more on where we're going next.

Why start a blog anyway?

Published by Michael Rissi in Moving Pictures -- Sideline Static · 19/2/2015 20:29:00
The movie business is changing fast.  Everyone who is involved in the business knows this, but coping with the changes can be challenging.

The toughest changes for independent producers like myself have to do with the way movies are distributed now.  Anyone who remembers renting movies on VHS at popular stores like Blockbuster and 20/20 might understand what I'm talking about.  Before Video Rental stores became a thing of the past, movies that had a very brief theatrical existence or even none at all could still very easily come out very profitable through the video rental business.

Besides changes in the way films are distributed, every year changes in digital technology are also reshaping how motion pictures are made.  Stay tuned and I'll write about some of that here. 

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