'Survivor,' 'Race' Remain Top HD Holdouts



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'Survivor,' 'Race' Remain Top HD Holdouts
Technical Issues Keep Popular Shows Out of Reach -- For Now

"Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" are among the few frequently cited as top "wish list" programs by viewers looking for more HD content.
But according to network and production sources, neither show will convert to HD anytime soon.

"I love the image quality, but the format still has some restrictions that have yet to be overcome," said "Amazing Race" executive producer Bertram Van Munster.

HD fans have long assumed that cost is the main reason a show does not upgrade to HD. While it's true that HD cameras and equipment remain more expensive than that of standard definition, the margin has decreased significantly in recent years. Network and production sources agree that the main concerns now are lingering technical drawbacks to using HD equipment.

"It's not an issue of expensive cameras anymore," said CBS spokesman Chris Ender regarding "Survivor," the producers of which are currently on location shooting the next season. "It's about working out some technical issues with an eye on marrying the technology with a show that has a unique creative process and on-air look."

Shooting a studio production such as "American Idol" or a calm travelogue like Discovery HD's "Sunrise Earth" is relatively simple compared to the rigors of a nonstop competition set in extreme environments.
"We're not in a studio, we're all over the place," Mr. Van Munster said. "Extreme cold, extreme heat, extreme darkness, extreme brightness."

HD cameras are known for lackluster performance in low light, and tend to be larger and heavier than their SD counterparts. Also, digital cameras in general, including HD cameras, are considered more fragile-which could be a serious concern when shooting an immunity challenge in the middle of thunderstorm.

"I got 15 camera crews in three different countries-logistically, to have breakdowns, particularly with a race, you open yourself up to bad television or a lawsuit," Mr. Van Munster said. "So I prefer to wait a season. Or two."

Still, all agree the reality hits will eventually make the upgrade, with "Survivor" probably taking the leap first. While shooting the current season, producers are conducting tests with HD equipment.
But Mr. Bertram wishes fans would simply appreciate the image quality of the show regardless.

"For two years in a row, we got an Emmy nomination for cinematography," he said. "So I don't think we're doing too bad."


SatelliteGuys Guru
May 31, 2005
St. Charles, MO
I understand the logistics of the HD technology. However, when both "Survivor" and "Race" go HD, the shows will be absolutely more enjoyable to watch simply because the scenery will be so stunning. I hope at least "Survivor" goes HD by the Spring of 2007.

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