Adventures in High-Def
If you've checked out the whimsical Corwin recently on the cable and satellite channel Animal Planet - where he's often seen holding snakes up close to the camera (director of photography Mauricio Velez has learned to point his 2-million-pixel Sony high-definition cam "just out of striking range") - you've probably noticed that his show is letterboxed. For the last year, The Jeff Corwin Experience has actually been produced for high-definition TV, but Discovery Networks has been showing it in standard resolution on Animal Planet. The images are still widescreen, so they have to be shrunk and letterboxed to fit a standard squarish TV. To see the program with all its fangs - and hear the 5.1-channel soundtrack - you have to plant yourself in front of a widescreen HDTV set tuned to Discovery HD Theater.
How do you like being the poster boy for HDTV? When I talk to my mom [who watches the letterboxed Animal Planet version on a conventional TV], she says, "What happened to your show? There are these black lines all around you. Did they get a cheaper camera, or is something wrong?" Actually, it's the same type of camera they shot the latest Star Wars on, and when you watch the show in high-def it's unbelievable. I remember when we first got the camera, we sprinkled dust in front of the lens and you could see the individual particles.
The challenge is to get high-def shows out to people so they know this technology is available and they can have a much more rewarding and entertaining time watching The Experience. HDTV is magic.