This edited version of these documents speaks for itself:

Section of Playback article on the Local Heroes HDTV Seminar (Mar 20,2000):
“Canadian Digital Television's Michael McEwan was a keynote speaker at the festival. He stressed that emerging and veteran producers alike should begin shooting in formats that can be converted to hdtv (16mm and Super 16 are not convertible) so that their libraries have a long shelf life in export markets such as Europe.”

Email from Richard Stringer to Michael McEwen (March 27, 2000):
“Michael: I was going to write and comment on your luncheon talk which I attended in Winnipeg March 4th. I wanted to say that I feel you should generalize a bit more when talking about Super 16mm to HDTV distribution. You have to admit there are markets out there which have no problem with Super 16 HD product and some producers, especially on documentaries, prefer to use 16. But your talk seemed to veto Super 16mm as a possible contender and I feel that is unfair and you should mention that there are markets out there for 16. In the meantime, Playback Magazine has edited your statements so that it sounds like you couldn't even transfer Super 16 to HD tape ("not convertible"). I felt that this was too much out of context so I am sending a letter to the editor. But I hope you realize how a blanket statement from your talk can become misinterpreted. I do agree with your comments regarding 35 or HD being the best options when talking about high end productions, but there are so many others levels of producers that attend your talks that I feel you should explain the range of standards a bit more.
This is my letter to Playback: (March 27, 2000):
I have a comment about Cheryl Binning's article in Playback's March 20 issue on The Local Heroes Festival in Winnipeg. She quotes one of the HDTV showcase speakers - Canadian Digital Television's Michael McEwen - as saying that "Super 16mm is not convertible" to the HDTV format. I was at the luncheon speech given by Mr. McEwen and he said that the Super 16mm format would seriously limit your HDTV distribution potential and that producers should only originate on 35mm or HDTV video. I find both McEwen's statement and especially Playback's simplification of it too generalized and misleading.
I believe McEwen's comment is based on the CBS network's opinion that Super 16mm has undesirable qualities for transfer to HDTV. An important clarification here is that CBS would actually accept Super 16mm under"prior arrangement" which means so long as you can justify its use, as with a nature documentary. This is also one opinion from one network on a very debatable subject. If Super 16mm is shot properly and transferred with care it can look better than a neglected 35mm HD transfer. I saw a Super 16mm PBS documentary for "American Experience" transferred on a Spirit scanner at Toronto's Toybox to HD and the pictures were impressive. Documentary producers prefer 16mm for its portability. I co-ordinated a film vs. HDTV test for the CSC and I feel that 16mm did very well, especially with lower ASA stocks. I realize if a producer wants to cater to high end HDTV distribution, they would be wise to follow McEwen's advice and choose a format like 35mm film, but in my opinion, McEwen should realize he is talking to a broad range of producers and perhaps he should clarify that Super 16mm has a place in many genres and HD markets. For Playback to say that Super 16mm is "not convertible" to HD is just not accurate. I certainly do not want to promote low standards, but I believe there will be many HD distribution outlets which will have no specific origination specifications, but rather they will judge a show on content, within the context of image acceptability. Richard Stringer CSC”

Email reply from Michael McEwen to Richard Stringer:
“Dear Richard, Thank you for letting me know your views and the Playback letter. You may well be right that for some genres super 16 may work out. My concern is that if a producer wants to insure a long shelf life and availability to all markets then they should shoot with the highest quality, and with more and more electronic shooting that will be an HD CAM. My sense of things to date is that producers haven't given this as much thought as they should and they need to carefully consider the options. All the advice I'm getting from the US is that to be safe the production community should be using 35mm or HDCAM. NBC and ABC have yet to start airing anything beyond sports, movies and Jay Leno. Fox hasn't made up their mind, and although there have been
exceptions. PBS does advise shooting at the highest quality giving them the option of full HD or down converting. What really worries me is that most of their libraries are 35mm and can be cheaply converted to HD and that just may freeze us out of the game unless we start planning now. This and other issues will be taken up by the Production Working Group and I will of course defer to their wisdom and direction. Once again my thanks, even though you think I was a bit overboard at least we're getting a dialogue going. Regards, Michael”

Email reply from Richard Stringer to Michael McEwen:
“Michael: Thanks for your reply, I think we should not jump to conclusions and we should wait and see how Super 16mm does in the HD marketplace. I myself am more concerned about people trying to up-rez NTSC widescreen pictures to HD. Although the door should always be open to independent producers who do very creative things with small formats. I myself just won a CSC award and got two Gemini nominations for shooting “Exhibit A” a Mini DV format show for Discovery. I appreciate your concerns but please remember there are a variety of production genres which suit Super 16mm, especially documentary, and it would be great if you could supplement your talk to include some support for those shoots as well as Super 16. Already Command Post’s Toybox is transferring 5 one hour docs including “Lost in the Grand Canyon” (WGBH American Experience) for PBS from Super 16mm to HDTV.”

Last Reply from Michael McEwen:
“Richard, Fair enough......consider my remarks amended. Michael”

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