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HDTV: CBS and 16mm

I hesitate to add anything to Christopher Bacon's masterly summary of the
Super 16/HDTV debate. However, I could never resist putting fingers to
keyboard, so here are four brief points:

1 - we generally agree that 35mm is capable of 4k resolution, and I know I
have bored you all with the mathematics of this before. Given that the
distribution of silver halide crystals is the same for both gauges (and it
is), to get the same resolution out of Super 16mm requires 1,880 samples.
In other words, there is about 30% more detail in Super 16mm than in 1,440
pixel per line HDTV.

2 - I, too, was sceptical that 16mm could ever make good HDTV, and took
every available opportunity to look at demonstrations. Until two years ago
I was proved right (at least in my own mind), but then Kodak's showreel,
from the then-unnamed Spirit, included some footage which really sparkled.
If my memory does not play tricks, it was shot by a Scandinavian film
company. Given that there was still some really murky Super 16 on the same
showreel, it suggested that it needs good stock and a good DP for it to
work, but it is possible.

3 - resolution is not the only question: stability is much more difficult
for 16mm than 35mm, and because of its stretched image area Super 16 is a
real swine.

4 - Chris is entirely correct to be sceptical about HDTV ever being
accepted in the home. The only way to make HDTV a consumer success would be
for it to have exclusive broadcast rights to soccer in Europe and Superbowl
in the USA.

Dick Hobbs

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