Sunday, April 01, 2007

Broadcast quality? It depends...

The term "broadcast quality" was originally designed to ensure television and cinema audiences were guaranteed a certain level of moving image quality. It underscored the need for professional product, calling attention to image, sound and editing, and often spelled out minimum technical specifications.

That's not to say that Filminute is not expecting to receive some sublime submissions shot with a mobile phone or a Fisher-Price PixelVision camera. The quality of the films shortlisted will not be about the camera, it'll be about the the story, the sound design, the acting, and the impact of the film.

We'll point to two examples that speak to low resolution, but high production values and style. While Filminute does not accept music videos, these music videos do help us explore the point to be made.

First, a dark cabaret style, Marlene Dietrich-esque, saw, accordion, and vocal rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" by musician Nicki Jaine. As you'll see, PixelVision is perfectly appropriate in tone and manner; we are not distracted by the resolution and, in fact, the mood of this performance is particularly enhanced by the limitations of the camera.

Second: the music video "Some Postman" by the Presidents of the United States, shot with a collection of Sony Ericsson phones. This video also holds the distinction of being the first music video shot entirely on mobile phones. No question of broadcast quality here, but this was no easy feat to pull off. The first 7 seconds of the video make that clear...look at the set up.

Filminute will insist on respect for the high audience and jury expectations around what makes a great film. Amateur hour, or amateur minute in this case, is not likely to make it to the Filminute 2007 shortlisted screenings to mobile, web, television or cinema.

PS: more on "Films shot in PixelVision" (Richard Linklater, Michael Almereyda)