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iPontificateHD Marketing: Getting Too Gimmicky?

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- December 17th, 2004

While I will be the first to admit to jumping on the High-Definition bandwagon recently, it has occurred to me that the term HD is becoming a rampant buzzword that is being thrown around like a magic term to describe the Holy Grail of digital cinema and television.

Granted, HD does look spectacular, and using the higher-end HD cameras is a dream, but the term itself seems to be becoming more of a marketing tool than an expression of format.

For instance, Sony recently released the HVR-Z1U HDV Camcorder to public fanfare. The camera was touted as the prosumer version of high-definition acquisition, but the problem is editing in this HDV hybrid format, not to mention the image itself. The bottom line is that it is not really HD, but it is marketed as such. So what is a consumer to think?

Of course the Sony HDV camcorder is not the first prosumer camera to hit the market. JVC announced the JY-HD10U Digital HD Camcorder at NAB in 2003, and the public response after initial use was far from exemplary. JVC also touts the 10U as HD, and technically it is, but it falls short of the imaging that higher end HD cameras can capture.

The problems with these cameras is that the manufactures are trying to capture HD images on a much smaller and less sensitive chip, and then recording the image onto DV tapes. Sounds great on paper, but the imaging isn't what you would expect when you hear the magic words HD, and that is where the danger lies: The term HD is beginning to lose the standard that once defined it.

This is also evident with the hype coming at consumers this holiday season with all the new televisions sitting proudly on display at your local electronics store. HD is the new "revolution" everyone get on board! Be the first kid on your block with a bag-less, never looses suction, 91 inch rear-projection, plasma cored Hologram box!

Whew, what a mouthful.

While the new brand of HD televisions are absolutely stunning to watch, consumers should be careful of getting all caught up with the sales techniques involved with the two letters "HD." Does an HD coffee maker make better tasting and more realistic looking coffee than my standard definition Mr. Coffee? Well probably not because its a ridiculous metaphor, but hopefully you get my gist. HD is becoming such a marketing tool that if you don't have the latest HD model, you're a total loser.

This is also evident in the broadcasting world, where TV Stations and networks constantly announce that the upcoming show will be broadcast in High-Defintion. Maybe it's because I don't have an HDTV, but hearing those words is like a constant put down to me and my fellow slummers stuck in a standard definition world.

I constantly feel the need to want more and buy more products with the HD logo. HD is just so bourgeois. Let us SDers start a revolt against the imperialist HD overlords and bring HD to the common man.

The joke is on them though, because Super HDTV is already in development, and once released will be so realistic, you will be able to put your hand into the television and smack Paris Hilton on the face for being on your TV in the first place. Once those TVs hit the market, all the fancy HDTV owners will feel as we do here in the SD universe.

I say, Amen.

This is also a sales technique in the filmmaking world in which I work. You throw around the word HD with a client and their eyes get buggy like you just invented the airplane.

It's not that they really have any idea what HD really is, it's simply using the term that automatically garners respect. This is a disservice on some levels because production houses will be judged not on the content and quality of work they can provide, but whether or not they can "do" HD.

So is it jealousy? Of course it is, but I am also tense that the lines of resolution are constantly being blurred by the marketing machines of the electronics giants. I love HD. I want it all the time. I just want it in true HD that is less confusing to the public, and has the ring of quality.

You can find out more information on High-Defintion products by Googling the word HD. There should be a few things to read about.

By the way, this article was written in high-definition.


With five years in the entertainment industry, and three years writing for The Mac Observer, works passionately on various genres of film, including documentaries, narrative features, and shorts. He has two feature films under his belt as Director of Photography and Camera Operator, and his current role at TMO is to cover digital media and the film industry.

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