Standard definition people in a high-definition world

One of the guilty secrets of the glossy world of broadcast TV is that, behind the scenes, it’s all far more shabby than viewers realise. We’re highly adept at designing, building, lighting and shooting everything so it looks glossy, and then somehow it all looks better on your TV at home anyway. Hence one of the running gags of TV: come the age of high-definition, we’re screwed, because you’re all going to notice that the glamorous world of TV is, in fact, scrappy as hell.

I’ve always thought of this as it related to studio sets and things like presenters’ fingernails in extreme close-ups, both of which will have to be prepared to a higher standard for HD (and, thus, would be prohibitively expensive). Reading a review of Miglia’s natty little TVMini HD off-air HD receiver, however, I stumble across an altogether more significant worry: Evangeline Lilly has laughter lines (scroll down for a particularly well-chosen frame).

Now, this is interesting. Suddenly, all those impossibly beautiful television personalities and actors are revealed to be exactly what they are: human. And, frankly, a whole lot less gorgeous in person than one expects. In many ways this isn’t a great shock, but some of the implications perhaps are:

Firstly, maintaining current levels of implausible perfection will require either cinema-grade make-up, lighting, and photography (prohibitively expensive), or a new generation of digital post-production make-up artists to almost literally paper over the cracks. Now, one hesitates to describe rotoscoping as ‘potentially cheaper’ than anything, but perhaps it can be. If so, one can envisage some celebs insisting on being post-produced only by their named artist, just as they currently insist on particular make-up and hair personnel. but this is still the high end of the market we’re talking about.

The only alternative I can see is that we’ll all come to realise just how ridiculous the whole situation is, and accept people more for what they are than for what crappy PAL/NTSC has previously presented them as. Which would, I think, be a Good Thing all round in terms of body self-image, and all that.

Finally, one wonders if the final refuge of true cinematographic glamour will be not high-definition at all. Working on the principle that it’s what you don’t show that counts, could it be that the home of the perceived-beautiful will become… YouTube?

Huh. Fancy that.

3 thoughts on “Standard definition people in a high-definition world”

  1. The Z1 comes with wrinkle adjustment as a preset in HD, to quote:
    SKINTONE – adjustment, to make wrinkles less noticeable by supressing the outlines on the part in skin colour to be enhanced [OFF] no adjustment
    [TYPE 1] the colour range recognized as a skin type is narrow
    [TYPE 2] the colour range recognized as a skin colour is wide.
    note: when [SKINTONE DTL] is set to [OFF] setting will not be effective, and the edge of the part of skin colour will be enhanced at the highest level.
    All that is missing now is a sound pre-set that will rearrange words to make sense.

  2. Of course in the old days of cinema – still pretty hi-def – they just stretched a square of nylon stocking over the lens…

  3. More video processing astoinishment

    After the use-video-for-geometry-and-stills-for-high-res-texture-maps tech demo, here’s another gob-smacking bit of video frighteningness: Blimey. Using multi-point motion-tracking to unwrap a texture…

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