High Definition video is the biggest change in the motion picture industry since the advent of color film began to supplant black and white back in the 1930’s. George Lucas has shot the new Star Wars film (Episode 2) entirely in this medium—video that looks neither like film nor tape, but is more akin to gazing out a window. No traditional motion picture film emulsion is involved in the process until the final edited product is spit out of his high-end computers so it can be screened (on film, for the immediate future) at your local bijou.

Oddly enough, for the first time ever, changes in post production, i.e., the stuff that happens after the movie has been shot—editing, sound work, and special effects—are driving the market towards this new medium. As recently as this past January, the mechanism for finishing a movie that has been shot in high definition video has been expensive and time-consuming. The technical problems inherent in manipulating film images in the new high definition medium are too complicated for this forum, but the good news is that new editing systems from Avid, Sony, and Pinnacle now allow editors and post production specialists to work with the new format at full resolution for the first time. This is nothing less than revolutionary. It brings high definition video to the low-budget independent filmmaker in the same manner that mini-DV cameras allowed cash-strapped filmmakers the opportunity to make broadcast-quality videos on a shoestring a year or two ago.

The Avid DS HD system is the first platform in the venerable Avid stable to manipulate HD video. For $350,000 a filmmaker is able to complete all editing, sound, and special effects work on the desktop at full "film-like" resolution. This is an enormous breakthrough, although VERY bad news for the post production houses who in the past specialized in this sort of work.

For over ten years, Avid has been at the forefront of change in post production. But 2001 marks the arrival of two new systems that threaten the venerable company: Sony’s XPRI system represents that firm’s belated entry into the HD editing market—at HALF the price of Avid’s DS HD. And the REALLY BIG NEWS is from Pinnacle, a long-time manufacturer of capture cards for the Avid machines. Their Cinewave board does something close to miraculous: it converts the High Definition signal into Quicktime, Apple’s multi-platform codec that has finally hit the Big Time.

Off-the-shelf Apple Macintosh G4’s are the Hot Boxes in Hollywood. With the Pinnacle Cinewave card and Apple's awesome Final Cut Pro scalable software, an entire High Definition editing system can be put together for less than $30,000, a tenth of the cost of a much lower-resolution system a mere six months ago.

Uncompressed High Definition Video on the Desktop. Now.

Feature filmmaking’s Holy Grail is within the reach of you, me, and the little skateboarder down the street. Finally.

On Hollywood and filmmaking:

Below the Line

sex drugs and divorce

a little life, interrupted
  1. Hecho en Mejico
  2. Entrances
  3. Sam's Song
  4. Hemingway and Fortuna
  5. Hummingbird on the Left
  6. The Long and Drunken Afternoon
  7. Safe in the Lap of the Gods
  8. Quetzal Birds in Love
  9. Angela in Paradise
  10. And the machine ran backwards

a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon

I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind

Below the Line
completion bond
Film Editing
Film Editor
Final Cut Pro
forced development
HD Video
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Sven Nykvist
Wilford Brimley

21 Grams
Andrei Rublyov
Apocalypse Now Redux
Ivan's Childhood
The Jazz Singer
The Sacrifice
We Were Soldiers
Wild Strawberries

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