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Greatest Hits

The Small-Format HD Quality Puzzle

June 5th, 2009

By almost every measure, small-format HD cameras should be worse than their larger counterparts.  So why do their pictures seem so good? They are HDTV and do use technologies available 25 years after the first broadcast solid-state camera.  But, can a 1/6-inch-format $200 HD camcorder, or even a 1/3-inch-format $5,000 HD camcorder, perform as well […]

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Moving Slowly to the Next Miracle

October 4th, 2007

Originally published in Videography October 2007 Who makes small professional HDTV camcorders?  That’s easy: Canon, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony.  Who else makes larger HDTV cameras?  Grass Valley, Hitachi, and Ikegami.  How about tiny HDTV cameras?  Easylook, Iconix, Lux Media Plan, and Toshiba.  Cameras with resolutions beyond HDTV?  ARRI, Dalsa, Olympus, Red, and Panavision.  Then who […]

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Format Factor Fundamentals

May 4th, 2007

Originally published in Videography magazine, May 2007 At last month’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention, a number of cameras drew interest. There were, for example, Grass Valley’s new version of Infinity, Hitachi’s HV-HD30, the i-movix SprintCam BC, Panasonic’s AG-HSC1U, the Red One, and Sony’s XDCAM EX. The AG-HSC1U uses 1/4-inch-format imagers, the HV-HD30 1/3-inch, […]

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New Year’s Resolution

January 4th, 2006

originally published in Videography January 2006 Numbers are peculiar. Most people would consider the question “Which is faster, a house or a statue?” unanswerable. “Which is heavier, an apple or an orange?” isn’t much better. Which is cooler, water or air? Which is smarter, green or purple? Which is tastier, Arizona or Iowa? None of […]

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There’s No Such Thing As HDTV

July 4th, 2005

Originally published in Videography July 2005 Which is perceptually bigger: a tabletop-sized home video screen or the screen of a movie theater? Which offers a greater range of shades of red: the 1953 U.S. color TV standard or the modern standard used for HDTV? The answers could be a matter of life or death. At […]

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The Digital Shot Calculator

April 4th, 2005

Originally published in Videography April 2005 A man stretches out both arms, hands with fingers together, thumbs stretched out and touching, as though framing a shot. He wears a cap backwards and squints. It seems a cliché of Hollywood pretentiousness. Is it? Microsoft Word offers truism as a synonym for cliché. Merriam-Webster offers “an undoubted […]

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Preparing for Act III

November 4th, 2004

Originally published in Videography November 2004 If videography is a grand drama, shooting may be considered Act I (with pre-production the Prologue). Post-production editing would then be Act II. If so, what about Act III? And does being digital help or hurt? In discussing acts, it may be useful to consider actors. Nicole Kidman is […]

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The Cerulean Crux

October 4th, 2004

Originally published in Videography October 2004 There are a number of problems associated with the display of video imagery. For one thing, physical objects have shapes. For another, shadows may be more important than the objects that cast them. And then there are Salem cigarettes. Fifty years ago, color-television sets first went on sale. Two […]

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Focusing on Size

September 4th, 2004

Originally published in Videography September 2004 Here are two questions currently facing videographers:  What is the size of a Super 35 mm film frame?  And, more important, who cares? Throughout the history of video, there has been a trend towards the smaller.  The first video camera occupied substantial portions of two rooms.  The first all-electronic […]

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People Who Need People

April 4th, 2004

this is a Originally published in Videography April 2004 The technology of videography advances inexorably, but those advances don’t eliminate the need for people. Question: How many videographers does it take to screw in a widescreen, interactive, digital, component, high-definition, MPEG-4, streaming light bulb? Answer: At least as many as it took to screw in […]

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By Whom? SMPTE Us

November 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography November 2003 Believe it or not, SMPTE really works only as a first-person pronoun. An announcement from Amsterdam in September stunned the computer world. Microsoft, notorious for trying to keep its software proprietary, said it had submitted its Windows Media 9 compression system to SMPTE for standardization. What’s SMPTE? The acronym […]

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Minding the Store

October 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography October 2003 Video storage is one of the least considered aspects of videography, but that’s now changing. Here’s a trick question: Which came first, the video recorder or video? The answer is: It depends. The subject of last month’s New York Section meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television […]

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How and Wide

September 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography September 2003 Widescreen is the future of videography. So why is this blurb oriented vertically on this page? The first thing to remember is that shape is not the same as size. The second is that only images have aspect ratios. The third is that what you see is not necessarily […]

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We Were Shafted

August 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography August 2003 In John Logie Baird’s time, videography was crude but simple.  Now what? Queen Elizabeth II and Marilyn Monroe, liquid-crystal and plasma TVs, Miami Vice and al-Jazeera — any way you look at it, we were shafted. And now we’re in for it big time. Of course, being shafted wasn’t […]

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Three Centuries of Television

July 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography July 2003 Did you see the latest technology at a recent trade show?  Might it have been developed in the 19th century? Panasonic and Sony introduced advanced video concepts at April’s National Association of Broadcasters show, each hyping its system and disparaging the other’s. At last month’s InfoComm, the brick-sized InFocus […]

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The Time Machine

April 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography magazine, April 2003 Disks offer many advantages.  So why do we still use tape-based camcorders? What do the Marx Brothers and John Lennon’s widow have to do with the technology of videography? Perhaps not much — yet. But, although scientists have yet to prove it, it could well be the case […]

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Ideal or “I Deal”?

February 4th, 2003

Originally published in Videography February 2003 Will television entertainment be destroyed without digital-rights management?  Similar predictions were made in 1976. CBS has been pushing high-definition television (HDTV) for more than 22 years — longer than anyone else has in the United States. But they recently informed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they would stop […]

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Anatal Digilog

November 4th, 2002

Originally published in Videography November 2002 It is said that we are now in the digital era. But the solid-state imaging chips of “all-digital” cameras are actually analog devices. On the other hand, the centuries-spanning image-capture technology of motion-picture film operates on straightforward digital principles. The question of whether analog or digital provides higher quality […]

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It Will Be Converted

March 4th, 2002

Originally published in Videography March 2002 If you shoot HDTV, one thing is pretty much guaranteed.  Whatever your show looks like, someone will change it. The world of moving imagery has changed many times. There was the first motion-picture toy, the first live-action movie, the first theatrical projection, the introduction of sound, and the introduction […]

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The Other Tech

February 4th, 2002

Originally published in Videography February 2002 The biggest differences between film and video or movies and television may have nothing to do with technology — and everything to do with technique. Two questions: If a manufacturer managed to reduce all of the electronics in a mobile teleproduction facility down to a single chip, how big […]

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Where Did We Come From?

February 4th, 2002

Originally published in Videography February 2002 There are 36 video formats in the digital-television standard.  It may be comforting to know they were based on happenstance, spirituality, accident, luck, and error. Some people draw guidance from the apparent positions of the stars and planets when they were born. Others study patterns in tea leaves or […]

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Forget HDTV; Get HDTV!

May 4th, 2001

First published in Videography May 2001 Never mind what’s going on with broadcast transmitters and consumer receivers.  If you’re considering major equipment purchases, there’s never been a better time to look at HDTV. A funny thing happened on the way to the live broadcast of the 100th Anniversary concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra last November. […]

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Getting Cranky

March 4th, 2001

Originally published in Videography March 2001 Aside from offering the elusive “look” of film, cinematography has long been able to achieve certain functions that video couldn’t. With the introduction of a new variable-frame-rate camcorder, however, the list may have just gotten much shorter. Question: Why do the people in silent movies appear to be rushing […]

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Too Good For Its Own Good?

August 4th, 1999

Originally published in Videography August 1999 Can brighter, sharper, more colorful pictures be bad? Adventures in electronic cinema offer mixed results. Four Weddings and a Funeral, Three Men and a Baby, two screenings and a quandary: Is it possible for videography to be too good? Some recent events may provide a clue. There have, of […]

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