Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Presidential Debate #3 in HD

Tonight is the last of the three presidential debates and like the previous debates it is being broadcast in glorious HD. The candidates for this debate will be sitting at a table facing each other which should provide the opportunity for some good HD closeups.

HD Makeup
High definition is all about looking good on camera and there are actually companies that specialize in HD makeup. It was thought that because of the age difference that HD would play a big factor in the Obama, 47 vs. McCain, 72 presidential debates. Surprisingly McCain looked good in the previous debates. I'd say he looked 15 years younger thanks to the hard work of his SFX crew. With enough high resolution zoom though excessive use of HD makeup could become visible, so keep your eyes open tonight.

For tonight's debate, both sides have requested that air-conditioning vents be placed above their candidate in order to prevent sweating. Excessive perspiration played a role in the televised 1960 Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate. With HD, beads of sweat will easily be visible and this time around they strangely may even add a human element. The American public may be a little wary if one of the candidates comes across as a cyborg. HD makeup plus perspiration may equal smudges, runs, and/or blistering. So again, keep your eyes open tonight.

The previous debates were simulcast in HD on all of the major networks (FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS). This provided the opportunity to compare the picture quality of the different networks since it appeared that they all were fed the same official audio/visual HD feed. So I switched between the Bay Area HDTV channels carrying the debate to see who had the best quality. Both KTVU-FOX and KGO-ABC are broadcast at 720p and they were noticeably softer than the other 1080i stations. The picture quality of both KPIX-CBS and KNTV-NBC looked about the same but the KPIX-CBS station banner was obnoxiously large and bright. KQED-PBS has a slightly sharper picture, an extremely minimal station logo in the corner, but unfortunately it suffered from a lip-sync problem which I found annoying. The only explanation for KQED's signal quality was that they were accidentally adding a small time delay to the audio and either artificially sharpening the picture or the other 1080i stations were doing some mild filtering.

So after determining that KNTV-NBC's picture quality, small banner, and correct lip-sync made it the winner I decided to stop surfing, be a maverick, pop open a cold one, and just watch the debate.

Post Debate Update
Just finished watching the debate. This update section will have a lack of political commentary as if I watched the debate with the sound turned off. The focus will be on the HD aspects only.

The air conditioning seemed to be working correctly. No sweat beads or perspiration were visible on either candidate and no HD makeup accidents occurred. Actually neither candidate appeared to be wearing that much HD makeup.

McCain was very brightly illuminated with a cool color temperature which made his skin appear translucent. I was fascinated by the red and blue textures of the veins and arteries beneath the surface. Something seemed wrong with McCain's face; parts of it didn't move as if over-Botoxed and a large bulge on his lower left check occasionally throbbed. It could of been the bright lights but McCain at one point was blinking five times a second. He probably blinked 10,000 times during the whole debate, it was that distracting.

Thanks to NBC's split screen presentation of the HD broadcast McCain could be seen furiously scribbling down notes and making contorted faces of disbelief while Obama was speaking. Obama's behavior during the debate was very cool, calm, and collected while McCain's behavior appeared neurotic.

HD made all these little nuances that much bigger but will any of it make a difference when it comes election day? I doubt it.

No comments: