Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Today's gear - hardware and software - makes everyone a pro, right? At least that's what the marketing for manufacturers of most cameras, workflow systems, storage systems and editing software will tell you. My take is a little different: Today's gear makes everyone an amateur. Yeah, a pretty broad brush, but look around. Watch a network or cable channel - see if they can go a half hour with an on-air refocus, accidental zoom, jump cut, closed mic...good luck. I know, I know: look at what's going on on the screen. So much that it's impossible for a production team to manage it all. Well, nobody cares about that part. They care about the content. That's another interesting point: if it is about the content, the way it's presented, production warts and all, shouldn't matter. Maybe so, but does that mean we should all sink to the amateur level just because that clip fed via satellite phone has such poor resolution? Or should we be trying a little harder to up the quality of production. An industry friend called awhile back and asked me for a definition. "What does 'broadcast quality' mean?" I don't have an answer anymore. It is about the content and if that means a YouTube clip makes it to air, fine. But if that clip is surrounded by sloppiness, well, that's not quite so good. But how to define broadcast quality? It's impossible. What to do? How about paying a little more attention to quality. Many techs I know will bust their hump to wring an additional 2 kilohertz of audio response out of a device - if you let them. Most editors will gladly work through a jump cut if they can. They have the pride. It'd be great if that ethic were more pervasive. Then it might be true - the amateurs may really try to emulate the quality that pros put out. Hey! It could happen.