Tuesday, January 4, 2011

When Technology Attacks...

... Or Why HD May Not Always Be the Best Option.

I'm a bit of a techno geek. How could I not be? Both my brother and one of my grandfathers were radio engineers. But I'm not always sold on the idea that the latest technology is always the greatest technology... for every situation.
I worked for almost 14 years in TV news at the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, NC. It was common to walk through the halls and see all the engineers gathered around a piece of new equipment. You could gauge how important and truly useful the technology was by the looks on their faces.
One day my big boss, the VP of Operations & Engineering, saw me and waved me over saying, "You've gotta see this!" It was a hockey game shown in HD... High Definition. It was truly impressive. Cameras that were 50 yards and farther away from the action were capturing images that were unbelievably sharp. If there had only been beer vendors in that room, it would've been as good as actually being at the game.

As the technology became the standard, the HD cameras moved from the sports arenas into the news studios. The distance from the camera to the subject shrunk from 50+ yards to sometimes 10 feet or less. On-air talent were understandably nervous. There was talk of people possibly losing their jobs because they didn't have "HD ready faces."
No one has an HD ready face.
When you look at another human being, especially one that you have an emotional attachment to, your brain factors in the sentient with the visual. Physical characteristics that, according to people who consider themselves experts on human attractiveness, are not considered appealing can become markers that let you know you are gazing upon a loved one. It's your internal filter.

So the next time someone derides you for not having the most advanced piece of image-making equipment, smile and invite them to join you in a photo duel using only an oatmeal box and a can of black spray paint. If they aren't humbled, they may just walk away in confusion.