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Posted 1st December 2011

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Ah, nothing I like better than picking tiny holes in articles I otherwise agree with:

Zelda: Skyward Sword – The Great Graphics Debate

“If a piece of art was once brilliant and stirring – if it truly was such – no technical advancement or passing of time can take that from it.”


“The old, classic, black and white movies (like Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane or Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2) are no less captivating and memorable now that HD cameras are the standard.”


Now, it’s worth bearing in mind that the term “HD” is relative. Back in the 30s, the 405-line Marconi-EMI television system was considered HD, compared to the Baird systems. And what we think of now as HD will be stupidly low-res compared to systems 80 years from now. But right now, when talking about HD, we’re generally referring to 720p/1080p/1080i.

Being an analogue medium, 35mm film obviously doesn’t translate directly into pixels – and how many it is equivalent to can be a controversial question. Still, scanning at 4k is common for 35mm – or, in other words, higher than current HD formats, not lower. That’s how Blu-rays are released of films decades old, after all.

Of course, most people have been used to viewing this material at VHS/DVD quality. But “HD cameras”, as this article calls them, have been in use for 100 years – Citizen Kane and included. And yet the number of people who think that things were only shot in HD from the 90s – or even 2000s – onwards is slightly alarming. Regardless of what’s been going on with home formats, films have been shown in high-definition in cinemas for decades upon decades.

And if all this seems obvious, bear in mind that it’s a mistake that I’ve seen constantly when people discuss old films. Well, I have a link I can smugly point to now. You do too. Treasure it.

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RABicle on 1 December 2011 @ 4am

He should’ve just played it safe and said that it’s no less captivating now that COLOUR picture is the standard.

Tommy HÃ¥kansson on 2 December 2011 @ 11am

Will 1080p really be considered very low res in 80 years from now? How much higher than that can the human eye notice? I really don’t know.

EltonBM on 2 December 2011 @ 12pm

Wonderful! This post made me remember an old article from Insomnia I think, about this HD trend in games-even if we can see crystal clear, it’s also important to know what we see-better resolution don’t bring us better models or textures, only resolution.
You can make a Pitfall in HD if you want.

John Hoare on 2 December 2011 @ 3pm

Tommy: good point, and maybe “stupidly low res” is a bit overboard. Having said that, experiments have already been taking place for years for the next step in HD. And some PC gamers would scoff at running games in 1080p…

All depends on what size TVs we all have in 80 years. I never thought in 2011 I’d have a 40″ widescreen telly. What size will people have in 2091?