Maxell Makes HD Documentary Practical

(click thumbnail)STUDIO CITY, CALIF.

The goal of a documentary is to document reality, which often runs contrary to the forcibly controlled medium of motion picture film.

Due to the cost and the limitations within the aesthetic itself, creating a situation in which reality can simply "happen" is nearly impossible. However, with the use of high-definition video, these parameters have been greatly relaxed, allowing us to get closer to truth than usually possible with film.

My recent documentary, "Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark," is a good illustration of the unique benefits of HD production. With the freedom allowed by my HD camera, and some Maxell HDCAM videocassettes, I was able to capture the story of an artist who triumphs daily over severe dyslexia.

The subject of the documentary was my older brother, Shayne, who is a prominent Canadian sculptor. Raised in a time when little was known about dyslexia, Shayne was simply categorized as a "slow learner."

Consequently, as an adult, Shayne reads and writes at a second-grade level. The documentary explores his battle to master this lifelong learning disability, while becoming a contemporary artist with international renown.

Shot primarily on 40-minute Maxell HDCAM cassettes and edited exclusively on Maxell HDCAM, I was able to use HD technology to overcome many of the obstacles inherent to documentary production. Because HD costs less to shoot than film, and because the logistics of shooting HD are simpler, I had greater flexibility as a director.


HD allowed me to roll the camera all day long while conducting the interview, and enabled me to try new things as I saw fit. This method helped Shayne achieve a greater level of comfort and assisted us in depicting the spontaneous moments that provide a true, unique glimpse into his identity and character.

With Maxell's HDCAM, I had no worries about tape failure and I knew the images would be captured in crisp, beautiful color. The only thing I had to concentrate on was Shayne.

Another advantage of HD is the time saved with camera setups. When shooting on HD, I know exactly what I'm getting by looking through the viewfinder and glancing at the monitor. The sound is also fed directly into the camera and is synchronous with the video.

As a result, preparation time-especially with lighting and sound setup-is significantly decreased. This allows for more flexibility when moving from location to location.

"Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark" is the first of a 13-part series, each of which will feature an artist and the major handicap or obstacle that each battled in order to achieve success. The artists to be profiled include sculptors, painters, actors, musicians and photographers. "Artist in the Round: Shayne Dark" was produced by Kristen Cox and edited by Jayme Wing; post-production facilities were provided by HD Vision Studios.

For more information, contact Maxell at 201-794-5900 or visit