Thursday, May 10, 2007
In the past, the fact that TV used a relatively low resolution picture (four hundred and eighty horizontal lines of resolution) simply lacked real life detail and functioned to mask a lot of the flaws on the faces of actors, news personalities, and other celebrities. Now though, considering the fact that HDTV, with as many as one thousand and eighty horizontal resolution lines, can have over twice the detail of standard definition television a lot of stars are running for the cover of filters.
These filters tend to soften the features of the people who they're used on so that they won't look as old. Or at least not as flawed. One interesting fact is that they're used on some cameras and not others. For example, it won't be unusual for a news personality to look older when reporting from the street than he or she does in the studio.
This use of filters obviously has HDTV viewers upset. Most viewers had invested serious money in their HDTV home theater systems, and in exchange for the at money, they want to be able to see celebrities in all of the grim and grizzly detail of reality. At the same time a lot of celebrities would prefer that everything on TV was as low def as possible. It kind of begs the question of why some of these people got into show business to begin with if they're so self conscious.
The idea of filtering the appearance of people on TV also begs question about how realistic the things that we see on TV are in general. Anyone who has watched any of the bonus features from the latest Star Wars movies knows that there are a lot of things that can be done digitally to an image these days. For example, it won't be unusual to see an elderly actor's face grafted onto a younger and more nimble actor's body for an extensively choreographed fight seen. In other cases, digital replicas of actors can be used as their stunt doubles.
Actors aren't the only visual elements of what we see on TV that are digitally altered these days. In a lot of cases entire sets are digital in nature. It's extremely common these days to shoot actors on sound stages that are covered in a blue or green that can be replaced by a computer with a complex- and often physically impossible- scene.
While it may be easy to worry about various scenarios where the faces of innocent people are grafted onto the bodies of armed robbers in convenience store security videos, the average person can take solace from the fact that it takes hundreds of hours of work to produce just a few seconds of video that's been digitally altered to that extent.