Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Party’s Over

Last Wednesday Andrew Patrick from Epson dropped in to talk with our members about digital printing. He had with him some absolutely astounding pictures - this thumbnail is a small piece of one advertisement for The Stylus Pro 3800 printer, printed on that printer using Epson glossy paper and eight colour Ultrachrome K3 ink technology. The photograph was taken by Douglas Dubler, NY. A computer screen simply can't do justice to the colour and dynamic range of the actual print.

Andrew told us that the current inks and papers give a 42% wider colour gamut vs. Silver-halide based printing. Even inexpensive printers with today’s inks can offer this quality. And the estimated life of the print now exceeds that of silver-halide based colour processes by a factor of 5 to 6 times! For the first time, I felt in my heart that our silver-halide based processes have quietly slipped into history.

The resolution of modern digital cameras, and their dynamic range when shooting in raw mode, exceeds the capabilities of the old film processes in moving from exposure to print. The cameras, films and papers of our youth are now more sentimental than relevant to today’s photography. Andrew noted that even prints created in the past decade would have more detail and depth of colour reprinted today with modern inks and papers from the same digital file.

Silver-halide (and early digital) are becoming the artifacts of the collector and photographic historian. It was great fun, but the party’s over.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bye-bye Network TV

The digital revolution has been a hard task master for those industries and companies that didn’t react promptly to the new environment. Witness photography, with many giants now gone or shadows of their past glory. Now our national TV networks say they are in trouble. They spent their money buying rights to import foreign shows to broadcast over the air with local advertising. Today cable companies offer these same programs from local and foreign sources as well as fresh cable-only sources, some even owned by the networks.

TV advertising is dwindling forcing the networks to cut costs and search for other sources of revenue. On the cost side, the smaller stations are being closed, and local programming, including news, is being eliminated. For revenue, the networks are pressing the CTRC to allow carriage fees - charging the cable company and its customers for the right to receive by cable programming now offered free over the air.

Which leads to the question, “What value do we get from the networks today?” Local news? No - cut back and trivialized by attempts to “entertain” the viewer. National programs? Not much - most programming funds are spent competing for foreign programming. PVRs and on-demand services are freeing us from network driven schedules while DVDs and the web let us view missed episodes of favourite shows.

If you eliminate over the air transmissions, our networks have nothing to offer that isn’t already available from other sources. And over the air transmissions are necessary for less and less of our population. Cable serves the larger communities while satellite services bring 100s of channels to remote communities. Our networks are lumbered with soon to be obsolete transmission facilities, and incapable of creating much fresh content. Another Kodak moment? (image copyright Corel Draw 9)