Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Artist in HD

The Artist In HD
Randall Dark’s Award-Winning Portrait of an Artist Demonstrates the Benefits of HD to Documentary Filmmaking

The goal of the documentary is to document reality. This premise, however, runs contrary to the forcibly controlled medium of the motion picture. Because of cost, and the limitations within the aesthetic itself, creating a situation in which reality can simply “happen” is nearly impossible. With the introduction of High Definition (HD) video, these parameters have been greatly relaxed. Lower costs associated with HD production, and the added flexibility that comes along with it, has eased these restrictions, allowing the filmmaker to get closer to truth than would ever be possible with film. Writer and Director Randall Dark’s Telly Award-winning documentary, Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark is the perfect illustration of the unique benefits of HD production and Maxell’s HDCAM Media. With the freedom allowed by his HD camera, and the high quality of Maxell’s recording media, Dark captures the richly nuanced story of an artist who triumphs daily over dyslexia.

The subject of the documentary is Dark’s older brother, Shayne, who is a prominent Canadian sculptor. Raised in a time when little was known about dyslexia, Shayne was simply categorized as a “slow learner.” Consequently, as an adult, Shayne reads and writes at a second grade level. The documentary explores his battle to overcome this life-long learning disability, while becoming a contemporary artist with international renown.

Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark, which was shot on Maxell HDCAM and Sony HDCAM, and was edited exclusively on Maxell HDCAM, is the perfect example of how HD production and technology help to overcome many of the obstacles inherent to documentary production. Because HD costs less to shoot on than film, and because the logistics of shooting HD are simpler, Dark had greater flexibility as a director, which enabled him to capture moments that wouldn’t have been possible with a more stringent shooting schedule.

“HD allowed me to roll the camera all day long while conducting the interview and it allowed me to try new things as I saw fit,” said Dark. “This method helped Shayne achieve a greater level of comfort and helped us to capture the spontaneous moments that provide a true, unique glimpse into his identity and character. It enabled us to better capture real life, which would have been limited with the more rigid techniques that are intrinsic to shooting film.”

Another advantage of HD is the time saved with camera set-ups. When shooting on HD, the director, by looking through the viewfinder and glancing at the monitor, can see exactly what they’re shooting. The sound is also fed directly into the camera. As a result, preparation time—especially with lighting and sound set-up—is significantly decreased. This allows for more flexibility when moving from location to location.

“Sometimes I’d just set up the camera and not let Shayne know that I was shooting,” added Dark. “We’d run through the shoot as though it were a rehearsal, which made him more relaxed and natural. This technique yielded priceless moments. When shooting on film, I’m not allowed that luxury; film is too expensive to risk wasting, and the subject always knows when you’re shooting. Also, with the durability and reliability of Maxell’s HDCAM product, worries about tape performance are not part of the equation.”

What bolster’s Dark’s confidence in Maxell’s HDCAM is the media’s ultra-high performance binder systems that make the tape exceptionally durable – an essential asset to working volatile environments. The HDCAM videocassette also features a recording density 1.4 times greater than Digital Betacam for superior digital and video performance.

Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark is the first of a 13-part series. The In the Round series will feature accomplished artists and the major handicap or obstacle each of them has overcome, or continues to battle, in order to achieve success. The artists to be profiled include sculptors, painters, musicians and photographers. Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark was produced by Kristen Cox and edited by Jayme Wing.

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