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 The advent of HDTV currently has the potential to be the 'golden age' for
SUPER 16 film.

While there's no doubt that HDTV video origination will be great for live
sport and game shows, it still currently has serious disadvantages as a
film replacement  - that will take a long time to over come.

All the arguments I've heard about whether or not SUPER 16 is suitable for
HDTV never takes into consideration films 'frame rate independence.'
Simply if you shoot SUPER 16 at 24 FPS you are seeing it with traditional
NTSC transfer artefacts  Shoot at 30 and there is a definite improvement,
but shoot and transfer at 60FPS or 50FPS in Europe, and you have an image
that will jump off the screen at you -  with lower grain and improved
sharpness.  The dynamic range and depth of film is obviously retained with
lower filmic and motion artefacts.   The down side is you'll use more film.

The SUPER 16 origination format has considerable cost and creative
advantages over HDTV video origination, particularly for field production.

The most basic HDTV field production kit weighs in at over 250 kilograms,
and to run it requires around 2000 watts of AC power. A SUPER 16 film
camera such as the AATON XTRProd, weighs in at just under 9 kilograms,
fully loaded, with a power requirement so low, you can run all day on its
pocket sized 12 volt battery.

Operationally, the absolute minimum staff levels required are approximately
3 to drive the HDTV system - only one to drive the AATON.   The costly
catch for HDTV video comes if you want to move quickly for another set up -
or worse still - another location away from the road.

For serious image work, what HDTV video origination really needs is what
film already has.
A flexible canvas that can record high amounts of data without a clumsy
line structure, the ability to record variable frame rates and telecine -
that ability to fine tune, or change an image to your desire all without
dramatic image quality loss.   Telecine has traditionally been the weakest
link in the film chain - trying to get all that information off it - and to
be able to record it - has been the problem for film to video.
The Spirit telecine in high def., from what I've seen,  goes a long way to
solving this problem 'upping the ante' on HDTV video origination.  HDTV
Engineers on set, trying to perfect the recording of the HDTV image, will
always cost more and be less accurate or creative than colourists
perfecting the film image to HDTV in telecine.

HDTV video origination is currently too slow and has too many physical,
technical and creative restrictions for serious location imaging -yet - but
I'm sure its time will eventually come - SUPER 16's time is now!

John Bowring,
Melbourne.  Australia.

John Bowring  jbowring at lemac.com.au
Lemac Film & Video, Australia
Phone +61 3 9429 8588 Fax +61 3 9428 3336