Monica and John, highly defined.

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

It’s probably just as well that I never saw WXIA’s first night of broadcasting local news in high definition, but by happy coincidence with yesterday’s post, WSB, Atlanta’s ABC affiliate “went high def”, and I got a chance to watch the shakeout on their 11 pm broadcast.

First of all, they appear to have picked up an animation package (the ‘our logo is tumbling out of control’ look the kids love these days) from the same folks WXIA has used…except theirs is blue everywhere WXIA’s is red. The exact same kind of busy little doodads off in the corners of the HD frame to distract you from the fact that there’s no other important content there.

Secondly, there were (inevitably) some technical glitches. They left anchor Monica Kaufman stranded, standing alone on camera for some 30 seconds, during an extended reporter package intro where they apparently couldn’t get the reporter in the live shot’s video. (I don’t think you’re supposed to do that with the diva of Atlanta television. She handled it quite professionally, though.) There were numerous incursions into the 16 x 9 shot of floor manager’s hands cuing and we got to see the details of how Chuck Dowdle stacks the green pages of his script (right, bottom.)

I also think the field photographers are going to have to get used to shooting in 16 x 9 and protecting a good shot in 4 x 3. But that’s just part of practicing making mo’better.

More importantly, though, many of the weather graphics were created with elements that were chopped off the right side of the standard-def picture (I had my trusty SD Sony on as well.) As you see in the top two pictures on the right, aspect ratios can be a pain, but you gotta respect them…or you get ‘Highs Tomorro’. If you’re designing for both resolutions and aspects, you have to think about font size…what looks delicate and classy in HD looks mushy and unreadable in SD. Expect some tweaks.

There aren’t that many local stations doing HD news nationwide…now two of them in our down, next-door neighbors on Peachtree Street, are giving it a shot. O, pioneers…