HD Pioneer Randall Dark Opens Production Company

Randall Dark has gone his own way again. After nearly 14 years with HD Vision, he's opened Randall Dark Productions in Los Angeles. His inaugural projects include documentaries in China and music videos for cell phone and iPod screens--all in HD.

Dark said he sold out his interest in HD Vision to Steve Wiener, who became Dark's partner in 2002. Wiener, in turn, has rolled the HD Vision studios and broadcast center into Illuminate, a high-end production/post-pro facility in Hollywood. Dark said he was ready for name "HD Vision" to be put to rest because HD is no longer visionary. Everyone's doing it.

Dark, however, was one of a handful of people shooting high-definition projects in the 1980s, starting with a miniseries shot in Toronto.

"I bought all the first-generation HD gear," he said, including analog open reel VTRs at $350K a pop, and tube cameras. "Then everything changed from 15:9 to 16:9... so I got killed constantly."

At the time, however, Dark was more focused on pioneering HD than turning a profit. He recalled doing live HD broadcasts more than 10 years ago for Network Event Theater. The shows were broadcast via satellite to college campuses and dubbed "broadcast cinema" because d-cinema was not yet a part of the vernacular.

Dark founded HD Vision 1992 in New York, "when HD was user hostile and unbelievably expensive," he said. He eventually moved the business to Dallas to embark on multicamera productions.

"In the early years of HD, we could only afford one or two trucks, so we had to be in the middle of the U.S.," he said.

Dark intends to open offices in Austin, Texas later this year, and in New York a year or so after that, to be "positioned to see what's coming over the next 10 to years."

"The world is going digital HD widescreen broadband," Dark said. "Ten years from now, you'll be able to search for 'Randall Dark Productions,' and get our stuff," which might very well include HD videos for cell phones in China.

"We're in a world where you can close your eyes and imagine it, and you can do it. And now," he said, "it's cost-effective."