Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Does High-Def make "great" SFX look bad?

I should preface this by saying I love HD TV and HD gaming. It's unbelievable - sports look great, games look great, and most movies looks great. But today I stumbled upon something I noticed once or twice before but kind of turned my head the other way.

I just finished watching Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith on HBO's High Def channel and I have concluded (because I am such an expert) that High Def is not always a good thing. In some cases DVD quality may be a bit better.

"Your nuts" you might be saying. Well here is why I say that. The High Def version of Star Wars 3 is such a clear, exact picture that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is apparent to the naked eye. Especially the green screening that is being utilized for virtually every shot in the movie. Since George elected to create most of the background scenery digitally and green screen the actors in, every shot suffers from this fake feeling. It would not be so bad if just a few shots here and there had this effect, but its everywhere.

To be fair, I should go watch the DVD version and compare it - the green screening effect may show there as well. As high def becomes more prevalent, it seems that more time should be spent on the lighting in both the digital set and the green screen set to make the two environments as similar as possible, so when they are composited together the effect is realistic. The SFX of today seem to be able to get by when movies are viewed in the theater (the "resolution" is not as high as HD), but when viewed at home at 1920 x 1080 (i) it really shows.

It would be interesting to see if the digital projections of Star Wars 3 showed this same noticeable green screen effect versus the traditional film projectors ....

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