Friday, November 12, 2004

Reality TV HD production

The HD Expo "Reality Television" panel moderated by Randall Dark was highly attended and one of the most spirited discussions of the day's agenda, addressing the teaming of Hollywoods' newest kids on the block: Reality Programming + Shooting in High Definition.

Panelists included: Marc Wolloff, Executive in Charge of Production Popular Arts Entertainment; Ron Romberger, Editor; Robert Bennett, Executive Producer, CEO/Founder HD Republic.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

2nd Annual HD Expo

The panel, Reality Television, will be moderated by Randall Paris Dark, Co-Founder and President, HD Vision Studios, Inc., and will address such topics as: Does Technology Impact the Creative Process? Are There Budgetary Limitations with HD? and Does HD play a Role in Reality Television? Featured panelists include: Marc Wolloff, Executive in Charge of Production, Popular Arts Entertainment; Ron Romberger, Editor; and Robert Bennett, Executive Producer, CEO/Founder, HD Republic.

The second annual HD EXPO, a gathering of pioneers and leaders in the world of digital and high definition technology, will take place today in Los Angeles, at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd., from 1:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Stocking Up

While many stock houses are now shooting and transferring footage in high def, others are waiting for demand to increase.

by Christine Bunish

An 8-year veteran of HDTV, Randall P. Dark, co-founder/president of HD Vision Studios ( in Studio City, CA, remembers a time when there was no call for HD stock. But times have changed. "The world is going digital widescreen and high resolution," says Dark. "In the past, 4:3 SD libraries were worth hundreds of millions of dollars because of demand. But all of their footage will go away in the digital widescreen world unless it's important historical or archival material. You can't seamlessly incorporate a 4:3 low-rez image in an HD program. Everything that people have used in the past has to be recaptured for the future."


Initially, Dark fulfilled requests for HD stock footage as an offshoot of his own content-creation business. "Providing 'eye candy' for product launches at trade shows and retail environments was a big source for us," he reports. "Everyone wanted to attract floor traffic with jaw-dropping footage on their TV, projector or playback device."

HD Vision still provides images for that market, supplying footage for Texas Instruments' HD projectors and TVs display at CEDIA as well as for a number of major manufacturers at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show. Dark crafts custom programs for exhibitors based on his extensive HD library. "They want people to walk by and see some pizzazz, not a storyline. The images have to be self-explanatory; extreme sports, aerials, nature."

Now Venice, CA-based Footage Bank ( represents HD Vision's HD program clip library as well as footage Dark continues to gather, such as European material he lensed while on location for Wealth TV.

When Paula Lumbard launched Footage Bank in '02, studios had begun gearing up for HD program delivery, "We hoped there would be enough shows to support a company like this, but there weren't during our first year," she recalls. "Instead, we spent time building our library, the concept of HD footage and educating ourselves and our clients."

Today, with a new TV season underway. Footage Bank has seen the studios do an about-face. "People now ask for HD or 35mm," she reports. "Even the last film shows are taking HD images." Among the series requesting clips from Footage Bank are LAX, Dr. Vegas, Medical Investigation and Everybody Loves Raymond. "We've also been working aggressively with DPs to shoot locations on 24p HD to build our library and meet the on-demand need for establishing shots," she adds.

Footage Bank represents HD material from over 60 suppliers in a wide range of subjects, including the popular technology and timelapse categories. It offers aerials from the "Over America" and "Over Canada" series developed by Sony and KCTS/Seattle; footage from HD cameras mounted on the Space Shuttles; and collections from three of the "world's best" underwater cinematographers. Al Giddings's underwater library has been upconverted to HD from film and video using the Teranex system while Howard Hall and Tom Campbell shoot 24p HD and 1080i HD native, respectively.

Footage Bank recently signed to represent Helinet's aerial collection captured by gyro-mounted HD camera systems developed by Helinet. "The systems have incredibly powerful lenses, so you can be riding alongside a car looking at the driver, then pull back and the car becomes just a spec," Lumbard explains. Helinet footage has already been licensed for the indie HD feature The Kid and I.


In spring 2003, the 30-year-old image vaults of HBO Sports, containing over 40,000 tapes of one-of-a-kind material covering sports and more, were opened to the public.

"We had licensed our boxing material on an ad-hoc basis before but embargoed our behind-the-scenes footage," notes Max Segal, manager of HBO Sports Archives ( in NYC. "We realized we had wonderful personality features from all sports and decided to make it available."

The archives comprise a number of stellar collections. In the sports arena, HBO leads with its boxing features as well as fight footage from bouts where it is the rights holder. Grand Slam Tennis includes original Wimbledon features and interviews from 1975 to 2000 and US Open features from the mid-'80s. The Football collection represents original features and interviews from HBO's Inside the NFL. Also offered is material from HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel and extensive interview footage and B-roll from award-winning documentaries like Do You Believe in Miracles?; Playing the Field: Sports & Sex in America; When it Was a Game; and Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World.

The archives also possess strong non-sports collections. "When we go around telling athlete stories, we end up shooting scenics and landmarks," Segal says. "We've also been building a newsreel collection through the Library of Congress and National Archives."

Finally, the Gold Collection: The Film Vault features film-originated iconic and specialty shots of boxing, motor spots, golf, horse racing, baseball, tennis and figure skating, plus Bob Costas's essays for his On the Record HBO series.

Most of the footage in the archives originated on SD video but that is about to change. "We're moving to HD across the network, and our goal for 2005 is to do as much as we can in HD to meet the need for people asking for HD footage," Segal acknowledges. In September, HBO produced its first HD boxing broadcast, and more feature pieces will be shot on HD.

Segal estimates about 40 percent of business is with fellow cable networks.


For Anchorage-based Last Frontier Footage (, HD means widescreen 35mm. Owner David Hoffmann has assembled a spectacular collection of widescreen 35mm footage, most of which he shot himself, of avalanches, glaciers, the Northern Lights, wildlife and scenics.

"When I started, I was shooting on video, but I felt I had to shoot on film. I began with 16mm, but a Hollywood cinematographer told me if I wanted to play with the big boys I'd have to shoot 35mm," Hoffmann recalls. "A lot of people don't do wildlife and nature photography on 35mm because it's a lot of extra work with all the heavy equipment."

As a result, Alaska native Hoffmann has a collection of stock images that include the Northern Lights, which has been used in BBC television programming, and is among his most popular offerings "because it's so hard to get, particularly on film."

Other clients of Last Frontier Footage include Target, which incorporated clips of Yosemite's El Capitan and mule deer in the early morning, plus a shot of Denali's Wonder Lake; a Princess Cruises commercial with a shot of bull caribou and the Alaska Range in the background; a Big Boy restaurants spot featuring the Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska; and Discovery for whale footage.

Hoffmann says he'd consider shooting in HD "if that's where the technology is going and what clients demand. But the fact is I can fill requests for glaciers or the Northern Lights for theatrical and widescreen HD with my widescreen 35mm material."

Additional whale, avalanche and glacier calving footage would be among the first categories he'd try to capture on HD, if clients request it. "People are always asking for new material, and I'd like to improve upon what I already do well," Hoffmann says. He is also available to custom shoot footage if clients need specific on-location material.


The model of royalty-free footage, featuring buy-out collections, has expanded in the industry recently. "In the past 24 months there's been a shift to companies going royalty-free or offering royalty-free product," says Andrea Keating, CEO of Delaware-based Reelcities and founder/CEO of crewing agency Crews Control.

Reelcities takes a royalty-free approach that spring-boards off Keating's crewing expertise. "We're selling location footage that's like having your own location crew out there," she explains. "The production quality and variety we offer gives you options you can't get elsewhere."

Reelcities has introduced 27 royalty-free stock location footage reels, available in multiple formats, for major US cities, plus Greece, London and Toronto. Asia is currently in production. The reels are priced at $495 each, plus shipping and handling.

"Crews Control had a client who was booking shoots for location footage in cities around the world for a new product launch," Keating reports. She asked why the client was going to such lengths instead of using stock footage. The reply was that negotiating the stock footage world was complex and costly in dollars and time. With custom shoots, "I can get it all on my desk within 48 hours, and I own it," the client told Keating.

A light bulb went off for Keating and Reelcities was born. Her clients wanted "a selection of takes of each location with multiple pans, zooms and angles; longer takes; and stock that was shot as actual location footage not just stock shots," she says. "And they wanted it royalty free."

While Reelcities' footage has been lensed on Beta SP and Digital Betacam, HD may be just around the corner. "People are asking for HD originals," Keating acknowledges. "Beta SP is still popular, but we're waiting for one HD format to prove itself, then we'll begin to reshoot everything."


Headquartered in Peoria, IL, Creatas ( is a leading provider of royalty-free stock photography, illustration, footage and other design tools. It represents its own Creatas brand stock-footage collection as well as a number of others.

"Royalty-free images are a small part of the overall footage market, but where we focus our energies--on corporate and small broadcast customers--royalty-free is the best solution," says David Moffly, CEO of Dynamic Graphics Group, the parent company of Creatas. "Everything is available online, you get it immediately, and you're good to go."

The collections Creatas represents can be purchased outright, or customers can download in realtime a broadcast-quality clip or series of clips on a royalty-free basis. "Everything is on servers in our data center waiting to go," Moffly notes. "If you're buying clips from the Creatas brand, we store your information so you can access clips through the Web site as long as you remain a customer." The entire inventory of Creatas clips will be available online by early 2005.

Clients "are using content to tell stories so model-released people have done really well, as has extreme sports, which offers a powerful set of images that messages can wrap around. There's also a lot of demand for scenics and animals."

The Creatas brand has 13 categories, including business, lifestyle, people, sports and leisure activities. Reel Life has an expressive collection of lifestyle material "shot to encompass a whole emotional story, like its 'Father and Son' title," Moffly says. Rocketclips spans outdoor leisure, baby's first steps and bustling office life; and Rubberball has a fresh take on people-themed categories.

Creatas represents Corbis's and Getty's royalty-free products along with Thinkstock's cutting-edge images, Dynamic Graphics' world locations and more.

Moffly believes the market for HD royalty-free stock footage will be "a slow progression. We know HD is coming, and we'll be selling it as the world moves forward, but right now editing in HD represents a new set of investments for our customers who have in-house video editing capabilities."

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