On one hand, the widescreen, hi-def technology revolutionizes everything from DVD movies to evening news broadcasts, creating a high gloss plasticity for the former while revealing the all-too-human imperfections of the latter. Finishing TV spots in HD adds considerable cost, not only for the dedicated versioning, but also to finesse the pan-and-scan headaches associated with aspect ratio changes.
But that’s the high end. At the other end of the spectrum, everything from streaming video to the TV audience’s acceptance of reality programming has created widespread tolerance for lower production values. With apologies to Tony Scott—casual viewers seem far more interested in what’s seen and said than the chocolate filter limning the cumulus perfection of late afternoon skies.
Which leaves those of us who tell stories on video with a Sophie’s choice: chase (and fund) high end production value or choose (and accept) lo-fi verite. Candidly, that creative decision must be decided before any video project begins. And given the rise of online video viewing—over three quarters of internet users watched over 13.5 billion videos online last October alone—things don’t look good for HD. Short of a client with a large buy during televised sports, I’m not sure it merits the investment yet.
That said, things do look good for a creative revolution. Because once again, technology democratizes video production, allowing those without Hollywood budgets equal opportunities to change the game based on the remarkability of their ideas.
The big question is, assuming you do have the courage to speak honestly with your clients about where they want to make their investment…will they have the courage to choose one and not both?
Somehow, I think the smarter ones will…