Shortland Street Goes Blue Chip from Monday

You’re not in standard definition now, Dr Ropata …

There will be a big hike in TV2’s primetime HD content from Monday, when flagship hit Shortland Street starts to screen weeknights in 1080i.

That will add another two-and-a-half hours a week of HD programming to TV2’s schedule – and nearly triple that when the serial’s week-old midday re-runs and Sunday omnibus are added.

TVNZ warns the extra detail and clarity will provide more realism than viewers are used to seeing, particularly with injury and surgical scenes – most notably one that’s pending next week of an operation Gabrielle undertakes.

The HD upgrade also means the coffee machine in the cafeteria has had to become functional so steam could be seen rising from it.

Lighting was redesigned to give actors’ eyes more sparkle, and there will be more more scenic shots of Auckland and of urban life generally.

But viewers shouldn’t expect a radical new look.

“I don’t think the audience will be thinking, ‘Oh my God — what have they done?'” South Pacific Pictures managing director Chris Bailey says.

“It looks sharper in the right places It makes you realise that watching SD is like looking through a plastic bag and is therefore it’s easier to watch.

“Because we have much more control on the pictures than we’ve ever had, we have the ability to get a great look.”

Bailey says saying Shortland Street in HD has been on the agenda for two years.

“We have had a transition plan in place for that time. Because we shoot all year with a three-week break at Christmas, that meant only one opportunity to rebuild — and that was Chrisrtmas 2010.

“We ran a parallel operation for a week in November last year to try out new systems and we tested various new pieces of equipment in the system whenever we could – but in all that time the normal day-to-day machine could not stop.

“So our engineers had three weeks to strip out and rebuild over December/January – this was a nerve-wracking time because then there was no going back.”


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