North v South, change needed

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mscott
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North v South, change needed

Post by mscott »

After many years of shooting film on Std & super 8 & occasionally 16mm when funds allowed I am a member of a club which is now purely shooting on video. Originally on VHS then Hi 8 then mini dv & presently most of our members now shoot in high definition on mini dv tape & have done for a number of years. I’m sure we are not the only club in the country in this regard, so why on earth do the North-v-South organisers restrict this format.
For years we strived for sharper brighter pictures both from the camera & projector & now when we have this with high definition we are told that the quality has to be reduced to standard definition if we want to compete. Are these people living in the past. High definition has been around for many years now & is the only format for many amateurs who wish to squeeze the best quality possible from their equipment. Perhaps Newcastle ACA ought to think of passing this competition over to a forward thinking club or bring themselves in to the 21st century.

I have never posted on any forum before but feel so strongly about this I had to speak my mind.
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Dave Watterson
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Dave Watterson »

Thanks for speaking out - that's what the forum is for.

I can guess that some regular contributors will be right behind you in this.

I ought to point out that NvS is not run by IAC ... but then IAC's record on accepting HD has not been great either. As for Newcastle ACA ... I am pretty certain they can show HD ... maybe the problem lies in the South ... or more likely that the judges might have problems rustling up the necessart kit.

Do bear in mind that if Newcastle had not stepped in when Altrincham stopped running the Northern end of the competition there might not be a NvS competition now!

Dave
mscott
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by mscott »

Dave Watterson wrote:Thanks for speaking out - that's what the forum is for.

I can guess that some regular contributors will be right behind you in this.

Dave
Thanks Dave, I hope so.
Wilmot
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Wilmot »

There is little excuse to suggest that judging sessions can't put together a blue ray player and and HD TV or monitor. Players can be picked up for 80 quid.
This wasn't the case two years ago so I fully understand the initial resistance but not any longer as, like everything associated with our hobby, the technology gets cheaper and more affordable as time goes by.

Any club which hosts a major competition undertakes a considerable amount of work for which they should be acknowledged. However, it's now time to acknowledge that Mike Scott is far from alone in his view.

Onwards and upwards NvS orgnisers!
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billyfromConsett
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by billyfromConsett »

mscott wrote:Perhaps Newcastle ACA ought to think of passing this competition over to a forward thinking club or bring themselves in to the 21st century.

I have never posted on any forum before but feel so strongly about this I had to speak my mind.
As chairman of Newcastle ACA, I feel rather strongly about contributing to this thread.

mscott - you're a new contributor to this forum. If you feel so strongly about having a pop at Newcastle ACA, I really think it would be fairer to identify yourself a little fuller. We are the country's oldest movie club and we really do try to fly the flag of embracing modern standards.

An important point needs to made at the outset though - Newcastle ACA do not run this competition.

And Newcastle ACA is without doubt a forward thinking club. We are setup in our club premises to show both standard def and high def movies. We have a cracking full spec hi def projector, a pretty decent widescreen, a player that plays HDV, and we can play blu-ray when necessary. We've a superb AV amp and speaker setup which provides excellent sound, and some of our members use SD or HD club kit to take our movies into the community. We do our best to do justice to any movie-maker who sends their movies our way. We fully support the benefits of HD.

NvS
As Dave has already been mentioned, this competition is not an IAC competition, but is kept going by many IAC (and non-IAC) members.

It's not run by either the IAC or a club. It's run by volunteers who do it all for free.

Any competition needs people to compile the entries, often using their own kit to show and share the media sent. So competition organisers may need assortment of kit to handle whatever comes in - ie. a blu-ray player, HD projector (or plasma TV), and an HDV player. What does that lot cost and who pays for it? Then to compile a first heat and final heat, they need a computer that can edit and output all of that lot. So more hardware and software is essential - way above what SD requires.

You could abandon any compiling of media, and just show the movies as they're sent in (again with the various players). The audience would get a slower running order, unless blu-ray players have faster loading times ...

...Then of course both venues would need to able to handle all this.

Rant over, but please PM me and I'll forward your messages to the NvS North organisers.
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Dave Watterson
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Dave Watterson »

I had a feeling there would be a firm answer from Newcastle ACA - which has several members on this forum - and is a very go-ahead group. To be fair to mscott - he or she is entitled to a degree of anonymity, especially if putting an entry into the NvS !

There is a problem with NvS being such a high-profile competition and yet with little being publicly known about the current organisers and the constraints under which they work. Thanks for pointing out many of those issue, Billy.

But I do hope some way can be found of allowing HD entries into the competition ...

Dave
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billyfromConsett
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by billyfromConsett »

I'm all for open debate. We all know that. It has to be debate though. Is that what we've got here?

And I just feel that near-anonymous criticism aired in a pubic place isn't the best way to do it. But it's easy to fix.

New contributors are both very welcome and very much encouraged to post here. I hope mscott and Wilmot come back and have further say in our community.

I'll do what I didn't do earlier - I'll sign myself off.

Billy Ellwood. Newcastle ACA.
mscott
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by mscott »

Billy Ellwood chairman of Newcastle ACA ?, not according to your website. Your chairman is Michael Gough, however notwithstanding my confusion you wish me to identify myself a little further.

My name is Mike Scott & I’m from the north west & have been an amateur film maker for many years. Over these many years I‘ve been a member of several north west clubs.
Last year I was a member of a club which made an excellent movie for the 2009 NvS but never entered it because of the refusal to accept HD movies. I say an excellent movie because it went on to win awards in other prestigious competitions.
That same club only this weekend filmed the last scenes for their ‘NOW & THEN’ movie, again in HD, but will it be entered ?.

You say you have:
A cracking full spec hi def projector
A player that plays HDV
& we can play blu-ray when necessary
You then go on to say “We fully support the benefits of HD” so why on earth do you refuse to accept movies in HD ?.

With all your kit & support of HD, why not invite your judges to your club room & organize a showing of entries there ?. It seems to work for other clubs.

Regarding the public showing, I would rather wait a couple of minutes between movies & see them as their makers intended rather than to have them reduced in quality for the sake of convenience.

Finally you viewed my criticism as ‘near-anonymous’. This was never the intention. As a first timer for any forum I filled in the registration box’s to join the Iac’s forum & that was how my details appeared on screen.
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billyfromConsett
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by billyfromConsett »

Mike - Newcastle ACA do not run NvS.

I really can't be clearer than that. I will forward your comments to the organisers of the North side.

Our chairmen change yearly - and we have just changed chairman. Our website will be updated when we finalise next year's programme. I never thought I'd be having to post such detail - but hey, it's a valid point.
Mike Shaw

Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Mike Shaw »

Perhaps you're forgetting that whatever happens 'up North' has to be duplicated, equipment wise, down South too. That goes for judging as well as showing the films. Not always as straightforward as you might imagine.

While there is unquestionably a difference in quality between HD and SD (otherwise, why bother?), let us not lose sight of the fact that crisp sharp pictures don't make a good movie, don't improve the camera angles, don't enhance the acting. I'd rather see a well made, well told story on VHS than go ooh and aah at the crisp definition of a cr*ppy hd / blu-ray movie, any day.

The competition is about well made films to a theme, not the sharpest crispest shots. To say 'we didn't enter because they can't show HD' is, to me, one of the lamest excuses I've heard in years for withholding an entry, I'm afraid.

Not all clubs want to lash out on equipment (just) to make the picture look sharper ... some may prefer to lash out on equipment/props/actors to help them better tell the story. To me, quality of the image is the last thing to worry about. It was the same when super quality hi fidelity sound was the vogue back in the 50s. One had to have Williamson amplifiers, with loudspeakers set in concrete in the corners of the room, blah blah blah. Yes the music sound crisper, sharper - and in stereo too - just listen - now its that side, now its this side! ... but a rubbishy piece of music was still a rubbishy piece of music: neither fidelity nor stereo improved it - in fact, it merely highlighted exactly how rubbishy the music was as a composition.

On top of all that, I have heard horror stories of the new super clever projectors not being quite clever enough to keep the HD pictures (which take longer to process) in sync with the sound channels (which hardly need any processing), necessitating delay gizmos having to be added to the mix to bring everything back in sync.

What I'm saying is, if I have to watch the quality of the movie rather than its plot and the way its been put together editing wise and so on, I think its a loser.

So lets not get too uptight about whether HD or SD projection is or isn't available. If its a good story, and HD projection isn't available, run it out as an SD movie and let people enjoy it - I bet more than half of them wouldn't even notice the difference in picture quality - if the story is good enough. You can always say 'Even better in HD...' . As they insist on doing on TV!
Wilmot
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Wilmot »

While I agree that you 'can't make a silk purse out of sow's ear', and poor film doesn't get miraculously better in HD, I do feel it's about public performance. These films are being exhibited to a public audience and it's only reasonable that though the judging may not benefit from being in HD, any public showing should show the film as the film makers intended if this is possible. You've listed equipment which illustrated that it is possible.

As for the poor NvS folk down South, who in the grip of a recession, may not be able to afford HD, this is bunkum.

Go back 20 years when an SVHS recorder cost £1000+ and when video cameras came out they were eye-wateringly expensive. Today, taking inflation into account, we can film, edit and project for a fraction of what it used to cost.

I don't think anyone was suggesting that John Wright's NvS was being run by the IAC, but as the major forum for amateur film/video makers, this forum is an approprite window for constructive discussion.
Mike Shaw

Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Mike Shaw »

Public performance? Down here the NvS shows are for video club members to attend and not the general public: I think there may be some copyright/royalty issues if truly public performances were involved. I'm sure most Club members (if not all) are more interested in the content of a film, its story line and how it was shot, rather than the quality of reproduction and the definition of the cameras used.

The fact that costs today are lower than 20 years ago has little to do with small and hard pressed clubs (and not the NvS organisers) not being able to splash out on the latest and greatest projectors every five minutes so that those who insist their films MUST be shown as made can be satisfied. Bunkum? Just how demeaning and insulting do you want to be?

Perhaps someone ought to point out to Banksy that his fine artworks should only be presented on the finest canvasses and not the sides of buildings, et al, otherwise people simply won't properly appreciate and enjoy them.
Wilmot
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Wilmot »

Two years ago the NW IAC refused to accept HD videos partly because they believed there was very limited uptake of this new format. Within a matter of months, after seeing how small and inexpensive cameras were and how easily HD projectors could be obtained, the decision was reversed. Last November, entries would be accepted, for judging, in SD but with an undertaking to show HD, if supplied, during public performance.

Have you recently seen anyone trying to buy a SD television or video camera?

As to the notion of 'public performance', I still consider myself to be member of the public although a club member.

I have never, ever, observed in my 30+ years of attending club, local or national competition, audiences being asked to provide proof that they are not secretly, MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC, and are in fact members of a club.

If I were happy to watch my months of work being shown on VHS I would have never bought a High 8 camera. If that technology had be adequate, I'd have not invested in mini dv. If that was acceptable I wouldn't have moved onto 1080 format HDV. If my 32inch CRT allowed me to watch films in the best freely available quality, I would not, last month have bought, for only £730, a brand new Freeview HD 1080, 50 inch television.

Still I suppose because everyone can't afford to keep up, your suggestion may be that we should sacrifice the time and effort which members have contributed to putting the best quality on screen and we should all accept the mediocre because that's all a club putting on a show could achieve.
Mike Shaw

Re: North v South, change needed

Post by Mike Shaw »

Just to clarify 'public performance' from my understanding - For the purpose of licensing, copyrights and royalties (read your IAC music licence for example), club festivals and shows etc are not regarded as 'public performances' but as club shows. Of course everyone in a club is also a member of the public - how terribly observant - but that doesn't make the NvS, BIAFF etc 'public performance' shows.

Of course people buy the latest technology and not yesterday's technology. That isn't the point. The point is that many of today's clubs don't have the funding - or desire - to replace existing fully working projectors with a new HD version at this moment in time - with the ancillary problems those can bring - and then perhaps do the same again next year when the 3D projector or a brighter longer throw model is brought out.

It's OK to buy new new new every five minutes, if you have no financial restrictions to consider. Most clubs do have restrictions.

Bear in mind the NvS organizers do not have their own equipment. They rely on the generosity of clubs to supply equipment, arrange the halls and so on.

It doesn't end there of course: what good is the super duper HD projector projecting onto an old format, tired out screen ... that isn't large enough to do justice to the wonderful panoramic views those marvellous new camcorders are capable of. And no desire for 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound to go with all those super sharp images? Tut tut!!

I say again: the point of the competition is the content of a film made to a specific theme - and how it meets that theme, not how super duper the projected image looks.

Now I quite understand people wanting their efforts to be shown at their best. Of course they do - and so do I. But if you'd rather your work wasn't seen at all rather than be shown in a slightly lower quality, so be it. And truly, the difference between HD and SD is not really so great that it detracts from the enjoyment of a movie's content - if it does detract to anyone but the maker, then I suggest the content should be re-examined. Most people couldn't tell the difference anyway unless the two qualities were put side by side ... and even then many would be hard pushed.

Frankly I would far rather see a well made movie on VHS - originally shot perhaps on 8mm film or with a bog standard Video 8 cam - than a rubbish film shot with all the whizzes and bangs of Blu-Ray and the like.

And before you ask - yes, I'd like my films to always be shown at their best - but the most important thing is that they are shown, and if that ever meant they had to be shown black and white, then show them in black and white. Not preferred, but better than not showing at all. On that we must agree to differ I think.

I find your final paragraph rather facetious and denigratory to clubs who are struggling to stay 'alive', so will ignore it altogether.
mscott
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Re: North v South, change needed

Post by mscott »

Ok I’ve heard all the reasons for not accepting HD, although they seem to be more excuses than reasons, so here is the deal:
I am offering to drive 300+ miles to the southern judges, staying overnight if necessary taking with me HD playback & projecting equipment, complete with screen, all at my own expense. This offer is also open to the northern judges.
If accepted & HD is allowed into the competition then great, problem solved. If not then I stand by my comment that it is down to excuses.

It’s also interesting to note that the entry form for the northern clubs carries the statement ‘HD PRODUCTIONS SHOULD BE ENTERED IN SD FORMAT’. There is no such notice on the southern clubs entry form. Does that mean that the south accept entries on HD ?.............may save me a trip down south !.
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