High definition video will be the preferred format for TV acquisition in the UK within three years, according to a broadcast technology expert, writes David Collins.
Making the opening speech at the BroadcastHigh Definition conference last Thursday, the managing director of The Skills Zone - a company that provides independent advice on broadcast equipment - Janet West made the amazing prediction that "by 2006, HD will have grown in popularity and all the middle formats from DVCPro50 and Digital Betacam to Super 16mm film will be phasing out. [By then] we'll be making programmes in either HD or DV."
Despite murmurings from a packed auditorium of more than a 150 delegates, that included heads of production from many of the major broadcasters and indies, West went on to list all the various genres that are already using some version of the format. "Police dramas seem to be particularly attracted to HD," she said, "as well as documentaries and natural history programmes."
In the US, where adoption of HD is a step ahead of the UK, almost a quarter of all primetime TV shows last year were shot on high definition video.
West did admit to one failing on the part of HD: it doesn't handle high-speed photography very well. "The only thing I wouldn't recommend being filmed in HD is a hummingbird in slow motion," she said, giving a specific example.
"But," she went on, "HD is here, HD is the future and HD is still evolving. And to borrow George Lucas's expression, ?HD today is the worst it's ever going to be'."
The Broadcast HD conference, sponsored by Avid, Molinare and Visions, took place last Thursday (6 March) at the Radission SAS Portman hotel in London. Other speakers included director James Erskine, cameraman Ben Frewin, Cinemuse president and chief executive Ted Grier and NHK Europe director general Yasuo Ohnuki.