We often run into people with Resolutionitis. It’s a disease that makes filmmakers think they must have the absolute highest resolution and quality no matter what. But they forget that content is king. If you ain’t got a compelling story, you ain’t got a film worthy of resolution.
Just the other day, a client came to me asking if we should transfer his footage to HDV or HDCAM. Ummm, sorry, but you’re just wasting your money. You could transfer it to VHS from the 1980’s and it would still get just as limp of an emotional response from the audience.
When filmmakers are new to the process or overly in love with their project, Resolutionitis is almost blinding every bit of common sense they every had. The filmmaker will charge up credit cards, call in all of Daddy’s favors at once, and even mortgage a house in order to get the clearest, sharpest picture available! Nevermind that the acting really stinks… because the writing is pedestrian. Nevermind that the story is a jumbled mess and then the production was shotty (due to not paying for a professional crew).
Films on YouTube can have tens of millions of views and launch entire careers, even though the video quality looks like 1969 Moon Landing footage. Speaking of which, the moon landing was one of the most memorable television moments in all of television. Even almost 40 years later, it’s still holds up as about the most emotionally charged footage a camera has every produced. It looked like pure crap: fuzzy, contrasty, poorly lighted (fire the moon as gaffer). But it was the content that kicked all our emotional butts. Since Neil Armstrong took a giant step for television, the media has been repleat with gigantically successful, but terrible-looking, mega-hits.
Remember the “Blair Witch Project?” That film was shot on crappy Hi-8 video and it still grossed tens of millions! Content is king. The TV show COPS has become television juggernaut, using a dash-mounted consumer camera with a plastic lens and no image stabilization. But damn, is it compelling. The examples go on and on. Content is king. Don’t put your house on the auction block just because you need to see your film in its perfect state of flawless resolution.
And if you’re really in love with your film, send the rough cut to a distributor and see if they are completely blown away by your movie. If not, I wouldn’t spend a giant wad on post production. If the distributor’s socks are knocked off, then THEY will gladly pay for more resolution than the filmmaker could every afford on their own. Case in point is the film El Mariachi, which supposedly cost $8,000 until the studio went bonkers for it and threw a million dollars into the sound production in post. Good movies are good movies regardless of the resolution.