Saturday, August 21, 2010

HD, 3D and Misleading Advertising

I'm really getting tired of all of the hype and misleading advertising around HD and 3D technology. First, let's start with HD.


Here's the latest Comcast ad regarding HD:

The claim is that Comcast has more HD than satellite. And here is what Comcast lists on their web site:

More HD choices than Satellite

  • More than 3,000 HD shows and movies On Demand.
  • Access to Starz® HD movies On Demand-before their network premieres.
  • No additional HD programming fees.

True HD Experience

  • Every whisper and every squint in like-you-were-there crystal-clear quality.
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
  • An amazing library of HD movies available at your fingertips.
But the real info is this (from the troubleshooting section):
Can view HD channels but not in HD quality
  • Not all programs are broadcast in true HD-format, therefore, you should check out the programmer's website for a listing of programming schedules and the format that each broadcast in

AT&T U-verse
Then, AT&T has a commercial:

AT&T claims it delivers more HD channels than cable in most markets:

What to watch

With AT&T U-verse, you get access to over 120 HD channels and growing! AT&T U-verse offers one of the best values in the industry for access to HD programming and delivers more HD channels than cable in most markets. AT&T U-verse provides a robust HD Channel Lineup that includes your favorite sports, events, and movies in HD quality picture and sound with the touch of your button on your remote control.

HD channel availability varies by package(s) selected (you must subscribe to a standard-definition premium channel to receive the HD version).

But once again, the real info is here, in the trouble shooting section:
Note: Not all programs shown on an HD channel were filmed in High Definition and won't reflect HD quality.
Direct TV
Beyonce tries to woo us with her hips and lips for Direct TV's HD channels:

Direct TV seems to make the same claims that Comcast (now Xffinity) and AT&T U-verse. They contend that they have "the most full-time HD channels." They advertise 160 HD channels. What they don't advertise is......go ahead, take a guess. Yep! Even if you have a certain HD channel, if the program you're watching wasn't shot in HD, it won't be viewed in HD.

Now, I'm not an idiot, I don't think that just because I have HD all things should be projected in HD. I just think the content service providers' advertising is a bit disingenuous. The real HD advertising should be done by the individual channels - stating that 90% of their programming is in HD (shot and projected). I guess I do have to point out that Comcast does state that they have "More than 3,000 HD shows" - which does clarify it a bit.

I have the same problem with 3D advertising. There is a huge difference viewing a movie that has been shot in 3D verses one that was shot in 2D and pulled into 3D in post production. I feel cheated as a consumer when I buy a ticket to a 3D movie, like ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and I'm severely let down. The difference is so clear. One thing I've noticed lately is a mixture - which I guess is maybe a way of saving some money in production - partly shot in 3D and partly pulled into 3D in post. Again, it's clear when that's done and it actually takes me out of the movie. Notes on ALICE IN WONDERLAND 3D:

Sony Pictures Imageworks designed the visual effects sequences. Burton felt 3D was appropriate to the story's environment. Burton and Zanuck chose to film with conventional cameras, and convert the footage into 3D during post-production; Zanuck explained 3D cameras were too expensive and "clumsy" to use, and they felt that there was no difference between converted footage and those shot in the format. James Cameron, who released his 3D film Avatar in December 2009, criticized the choice, stating, "It doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2-D and convert to 3-D".

If a movie advertises itself as being 3D - then I think it should mean that it was originally shot in 3D - making it a true 3D movie/experience. If it wasn't shot in 3D, or only partially shot in 3D, then I think it should be called 2.5D, and cost half the premium of the 3D movie ticket.

And, as far as it goes for 3D on TVs - I don't even care about that. I don't want it. I don't want to have to wear anything on my face while at home watching TV. Even if I buy one of the TV's that don't require the glasses, I want to be able to lay on my couch and watch TV, you can't do that with 3D TV. Lastly, I honestly don't want to watch 3D programs at home. I want my regular ole 2D programs - preferably in HD.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


If you haven't had a chance to see RESTREPO, make time soon! RESTREPO, an independent documentary, premiered at Sundance in January 2010 and took the Grand Jury Documentary Prize. Directors Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger do a remarkable job of showing us the war through the eyes of the soldiers fighting in it.

Sergeant Brendan O’Byrne (l.) and Private First Class Juan “Doc” Restrepo (r.) of Battle Company, 173rd US Airborne on a train one week before their deployment to Afghanistan. Italy. 2007. Image © Outpost Films

The movie's title has been one of question - is it a person or a place? Well, the answer is both - it's a person first, then a place. Juan Restrepo, a young soldier who voluntarily enlisted in the army because the physical challenge and disciplined appealed to him, was sent to Afghanistan in the spring of 2007. A camera crew was embedded in Restrepo's platoon, which was sent to the Korengal Valley, the most dangerous place in Afghanistan, to secure an area of land needed to build a major road. Shortly after arriving in and getting briefed about Korengal, the group of soldiers come under fire and Restrepo is hit. This is really where the film begins - this is where we, the audience, get a look into the minds and motivations of the soldiers. As a sign of respect and honor, Restrepo's group names their camp "Outpost Restrepo."

Outpost (“OP”) Restrepo. Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. 2008. Image © Outpost Films

In addition to documenting the surviving soldiers' feelings and motivations, Hetherington and Junger spend the rest of the film carefully depicting realities of the war most never think about - like meetings with the elder residents of the surrounding villages. The interesting takeaway from this film is thus: The bond that's developed between soldiers is a crucial element in their motivation to fight - much more so than the objective mission with which they're originally charged.

Captain Dan Kearney of Battle Company, 173rd US Airborne meets with
local Afghan elders in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
2008. Image © Outpost Films

Whether you're a supporter of the war, a supporter of the soldiers, none or all of the above, make it a point to see this movie.

By the way, Sebastian Junger's book, War, expands upon his experiences in the Korengal Valley and his time with the platoon. It's on bookshelves now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2010 Atlanta 48 Hour Film Project - Best Of screenings

Congratulations to the 2010 winning teams. Winning jury films will be announced at the screening. Below are the 2010 48HFP audience winners and runners up- also being screened. Get your tickets before they're all gone!

Audience Awards GROUP A
"Always Remember the Little Things"
Whatever - Jeff Shipman

Runner Up: Song of the Silenced** - Avalanche

Audience Awards GROUP B
"Reel Life: I Live with a Method Actor"
Lemon Party - Matt Swinsky

Runner Up: Lightning Love - Somoney Pictures

Audience Awards GROUP C
Mavin - Pat Clark

Runner Up: Thesis** - White Flame Studios

Audience Awards GROUP D
"The Unstoppable Edwina Chambers"**
Film De Femme
DIM Pictures - Anthony McHie

Runner Up: It's All about Timing - Khol Slaw Productions

Audience Awards GROUP E
FUGO Studios - Eric Haviv

Runner Up: My Last Time - Intelligent Design

Audience Awards GROUP F
"It's in the Bag"
Godmother Productions - Linda Harding

Runner Up: Love Transcends - Creative Studios

** Denotes Jury Award Winners
Jury Prizes will be announced at the show--including the Grand Jury Prize winner1

Thanks to Our 2010 48HFP Jury:

Elizabeth Strickler, Georgia State University - DAEL Lab
Jason Marraccini - ECG Productions
Matthew Foster - Dragon*Con Film Festival

Grand Jury Prizes - will be announced at the show! ALSO--VOTE FOR THE GRAND AUDIENCE PRIZE WINNER AT THE SCREENING! Your vote will determine the Grand Audience Award winner.