O Unsightly HDV!

The last few days, amidst finishing my screenplay for a feature I am directing next year, I have been loading up on the viewing of relatively recent titles on DVDs that I would never willfully spend money on renting or buying, but nonetheless have (or had) an interest in seeing. Among the titles: Juno (a fairly satisfying film whose main vices are overly ornamental dialogue and a staggeringly high, record-making "hipster quotient"...and don't inundate my mailbox asking "What does that mean?" because I am sure you know), The Constant Gardener (engrossed me much more than I had anticipated), a second go-around for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie that, as an Indy fan from childhood, I detested (and, whaddaya know, the movie still pissed me off) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (very impressive work here), among others.

I encountered a DVD at the library called Mendy, honestly a rather lackluster film, shot on HDV. The film tells a tale of religious doubt and crisis of faith rather parallel in theme to that of Devil's Playground, a documentary about the period of exile that Amish kids spend soiling their wild oats away from their tight-knit Amish community. In the case of Mendy, the story is of a Brooklyn Hasid's attempt to transcend the restrictions of his own insular community...of course, with every intention of violating the "Shomer Negiah" status (the concept in Halacha that forbids or restricts physical contact with a member of the opposite sex, except for one's spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents). I was, right from the start, alarmed to see that the movie had been shot on HDV.

To begin, there is a very helpful link that I will provide so an unfamiliar reader can get acquainted with the differences between HD and HDV.

I have virulently avoided shooting on this format for as long as it has been on the market. I sampled the format for a weekend a few years back and wound up completely and utterly despising its flat motion, its fallibility in rendering color data properly, even in the least bit, and filmmakers' tryingly obtuse dependency on the facility of the format, and with this I am talking about overt lighting laziness. I have a filmmaker friend in the Midwest who recently completed a feature which he is now in the process of sending off to festivals. When he asked my thoughts, I came right out and expressed my dislike for the fact that he chose HDV as his shooting format. I told him that, on the first level, it detracted from my viewing experiences because the motion is the first thing one notices, and it looks so...well, to be completely honest, so ugly to me.

I am not the only one who feels this way about HDV. I know quite a few people who have opted to shoot SD 24P in lieu of HDV. There are alternatives provided in the above link I have provided. What can I say? I was called upon to shoot someone's film in Philadelphia recently. When he informed me that he was shooting HD, I informed him right out that, if he planned on using HDV, I would have to back out. That may sound snooty and abrasive, but it takes a lot for an image-maker to view images that have been in some way compromised, as I feel that HDV does rather uniformily.

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