Friday, June 13, 2014

University of Ottawa Feature Story on Randall P. Dark

High Definition Visionary

Years before TV went digital, theatre grad Randall Dark was well ahead of the curve when it came to exploiting the revolutionary potential of HD.

The University of Ottawa's online magazine, Tabaret, is a digital publication highlighting the stories that have shaped and continue to shape the university's history. The June 2014 issue features an in-depth story on alum Randall P. Dark.

"Because high definition was so real and so vivid, I believed that if you watched a documentary about starving children, it would touch your heart in a way that you would have to react." ~ Randall P. Dark

Randall Dark using a 3D camera to film penguins for the film 3 Cities in 3D, which featured images from Gatlinburg, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, all in Tennessee.
Randall P. Dark (BA ΚΌ79, Honours), one of the pioneers of high definition television, says he embraced the technology because he believed sharper images had the power to change the world. But it wasn't easy convincing film industry bigwigs of the merits of HD.

"I was laughed at many, many times," says Dark. "After one demonstration of HD to some of the top cinematographers, directors and producers in New York City, I was viciously attacked. They were saying it looked like video, it was horrible, it was never going to happen. I remember one of my staff asking me, 'Randall, how do you feel? They tore you apart.' But I was elated. I said, 'Did you see how passionately vicious they were, how much they hated it? If it touched them that much, we're on to something.'"

Today, Dark is a producer, director, cinematographer, writer and media consultant who has shot some of the most famous personalities in high definition, including Julie Andrews, Willie Nelson, Harry Connick Jr., Lyle Lovett, Sting, Bill Clinton, Leonard Nimoy and Stephen Hawking. He is considered by the television industry to be a visionary guru who has played a key role in advancing the HD medium.

Dark compares the moment he first saw HD in Toronto in 1986 to someone seeing a Model T Ford during the days of horses and carriages.

"My brain fired and I thought this was going to be the future of so many things. I wanted to help bring it to the world and I was blessed enough to be involved in so much of the roll-out," says Dark.

"Because high definition was so real and so vivid — the colors were perfect, you could see the tiniest detail — I believed that if you had a 65-inch TV in your home and you watched a documentary about starving children, it would touch your heart in a way that you would have to react," says Dark. "I believed it was a technology that would have an impact on people and change their hearts. I honestly believed it would change humanity."

Read the full story by Mike Foster online here