‘The Wire’ creator David Simon explains why HD isn’t always better
Ever since we heard that The Wire would be coming back — and this time in widescreen HD — we’ve felt equal parts joy and unease. Who could turn down another trip through the streets of Baltimore, reformatted for modern televisions? On the other hand, even with a careful hand at the dial — or not so careful — suddenly switching aspect ratios could ruin what the director originally intended for viewers to experience. Luckily, none other than series creator and executive producer David Simon has chimed in about what we can expect to see this time around. Surprisingly, according to his blog post he hadn’t even seen the reformatted version until after the promo started running in September. While he was aware work was under way, he still needed time to review the new version, which may explain some of the confusion about when it would actually air. Check out the blog post for extensive examples of what he means, including video clips (some are embedded below) showing the video as it originally aired, the initial HD cut, and then a second revision undertaken to help preserve the vision of the original shot.
Upon viewing the original HD remaster, there were about a hundred scenes identified where the new widescreen look introduced sync problems or showed some filmmaking equipment that should’ve remained hidden. Simon cites co-producer Robert Colesberry for much of The Wire’s visual storytelling, and says even though it was shot on 35mm, “we composed our shots to maximize a film style that suggested not the vistas of feature cinematography, but the capture and delicacy of documentarian camerawork.” Despite extensive work by the production team, Simon still feels “There are scenes that clearly improve in HD and in the widescreen format…there are some things that are simply not as good”. We’ll have to wait until December 26th to see for ourselves, but if you enjoy it then Simon asks that you pay homage to its original vision by donating to a scholarship fund in Colesberry’s name.
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