Monday, February 25, 2002

Going Hollywood

HD Vision moves west in search of bigger business.

by Ken Kerschbaumer

Call him HDTV's Tom Joad. Randall Paris Dark has moved his HD Vision production facility from the heart of Texas to Los Angeles, where HD production and post-production demands hold the same promise as California's farm country during the Dust Bowl years.

"HD Vision Studios will be much bigger in many ways," says Dark of the 15,000-square-foot facility "We'll offer a range of services both in the world of fiction and non-fiction. We'll have HD cameras, digital cinema and a broadcast center. And, in post-production, we'll have 1080/24p, 1080i and standard-definition editing and graphics."

The production arm of the facility, he says, is already landing work for both the corporate market (such as shooting an interview with director Steven Soderbergh for Texas Instruments) and the more traditional Hollywood community (working on a docudrama about a Canadian artist that will air on Bravo). Dark is even writing a script.

One factor working in Dark's favor in Los Angeles is that, with studios and production communities looking to save money, HD production helps get "smaller" films made.

"Our industry has changed dramatically over the years, and I think we all feel at times art has suffered because of the need for the blockbuster," says Dark. "Small, quiet scripts don't get produced as often because bean-counter decisions are made. HD dramatically brings down the cost of production to a point where the independent imagemaker can afford to move forward at a much more palatable entry price. First dollar in is traditionally the hardest dollar to acquire. That all changes now."

One thing lacking in HD Vision's Dallas facility was 24p editing capability. The new facility has it. "Besides our 1080i edit suite with the Snell and Wilcox switcher with color correction and DVE, we have added the ability to edit in 24p that will utilize the Sony HDW-F500 HDCAM VTR, Panasonic D-5 HD-3700 mastering VTR, and a Chyron HD Duet Paint System," he says. "We're evaluating a number of other products and will soon add them to our arsenal."

An interesting aspect of the facility will be a broadcast center connected via fiber to a transmission facility that can handle HD or SD. Complete with a newsroom set, a talk-show set and a virtual set, the center will bring new production capabilities to the L.A. basin.

"The advent of the 24p camera and the adoption of 35mm telecined to HD have caused many of the studios to come around to HD," says Dark. "All this, coupled with high-profile HDTV productions and the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode 2, will make the independent filmmaker realize that it is the way of the future."

from Broadcasting & Cable