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Old September 28th, 2009, 07:18 PM   #1
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Ken Burns' 'National Parks'

I liked the story, but parts looked to be shot with a cell phone. I was surprised by the lack of visual quality at times.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #2
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I noticed that too. The story line was great but at times great footage did not accompany it.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #3
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I admit I was a little surprised at some of the footage used....SD if that.. I am trusting maybe they were using archival footage and much of the on site stuff unique to particular parks may be higher def. because it might be more current. They say it was 6 years in the making and maybe the early days were shot in SD. (The footage indeed was VERY low res in places - I laughed when I saw the "cell phone" comment but as I thought about it, it got less funny.)


I will await further comment until I see more, but the start was inauspicious with but occasional flashes of the old Ken Burns sizzle.

Chris

ps. I thought the sound track was wonderfully done.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 12:21 AM   #4
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Sometimes I think successful people think they don't have to keep up with the technology. If it was good enough for the Civil War, or Baseball, its good enough for this. This has been disappointing. From the first two episodes, it looks to me like they needed to get Per or one of our other UWOL greats on the camera. Worse, why did PBS let him shoot it that way in the first place.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 01:04 AM   #5
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Tonight's episode was a little better to my mind.... I do like their use of sound, but it is clearly shot in SD, NOT HD... so why did PBS hype it as HD?

I'm not a HD snob by any means but came expecting an HD product and all I seem to get in true HD are the stills (which I fully understand as HD material since we scan them at above 2K). There were a couple shots of the waterfalls that MIGHT have been HD...but...

Still I am learning watching and that for me is what this is all about.


Chris

ps. Remember they said this was 6 years in the making.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #6
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Maybe they shot HD in later episodes. I can remember seeing some stunning Yellowstone stuff done by Steven Dempsey using can HDV cameras. This footage while nice, wasn't near as beautiful..
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Old September 29th, 2009, 08:43 AM   #7
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The PBS affiliates in my market are available via Sat only in SD, so I haven't really noticed. Agree that it's been a great story line and we've really enjoyed it so far.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 10:28 AM   #8
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In reading the credits (much more extensive online than the prodigious ones aired) I was surprised to see one for principal photography in 8mm. Most of the footage was acquired in 16mm film but apparently enough was shot in 8mm to warrant being called “principal photography”. The editor is a film cutter (A.C.E.). The stills weren’t scanned but shot to 16mm on a mechanical rostrum table. I think digital only entered into it for the final transfer. I’m not aware of any 8mm to vid transfer that “looks” HD. Perhaps one of the many experts around here can reassure me otherwise. For me, it doesn’t really detract from the story.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #9
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I thought it was odd as well. We've only watched the first episode, but my gut reaction was that some people like to produce the way they always have, so he was probably more comfortable with 8mm or 16mm footage. It seemed like the interviews were shot to match the footage they were cross-cutting with, and none of them seemed particularly crisp. The entire thing, while nice, didn't end up having much of a visual wow factor. We had some MPEG2 breakup problems on stream scenes on our over the air broadcast, but that's to be expected. I'm interested to see how Episode 2 is.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 11:50 AM   #10
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Here is some four year old footage from Steven Dempsy to compare with what they did in the National Parks project. I was hoping to see exciting footage like this:

Yellowstone By Steven Dempsey On ExposureRoom
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Old October 26th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #11
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I saw part of this projected at a film festival (Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado), and I have to say that it was one of the least visually interesting pieces in the festival, although certainly Ken Burns is a very good historian and a good storyteller. I don't think this is his best work, though, mostly because the visuals don't live up to the topic. I do think this is a good example where better technology and better use of technology could have served the story.

We hear so many times that image means less than story, but in most nature and outdoors and science programming, I think we are needing technology that can live up to the wonder and beauty of Mother Nature's lighting and imagery...and we're really only just beginning to be able to touch nature's standard.

I've been proselytizing about this: xRez Studio, Crossing Worlds FullDome Movie, Interactive Video Panorama

When this technology becomes affordable, we'll have a National Parks series that can live up to the National Parks' beauty...
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Old October 26th, 2009, 11:30 AM   #12
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Living up to the National Park

Well, to have any camera live up to the National Parks, we would have to put smell vision and several other things. If we as photographers can convince one person to go out and be in the park, our job is done. (well my job is done.)
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Old November 9th, 2009, 03:56 AM   #13
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They showed the first episode of Ken Burns' National Parks series at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival back in September, I think about the same time it was airing on PBS. Played from a Blu-ray disc, which you could tell was high quality from the get-go with a crystal clear and pristine PBS motion logo at the beginning.

Once the episode was underway, I had a similar reaction to many of the visuals. Rather surprised that the most pleasant images were the historical stills from well over 100 years ago. Many of the live action shots were surprisingly noisy and grainy.
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