General Hospital's much anticipated HD debut took place today, April 23, 2009. When General Hospital debuted the new hospital set last week fans noticed that the lighting had improved, but many of the actors appeared much more orange than before. Because I'm a bit of a technophile I thought I'd write up a review of General Hospital's HD premiere.
Plasma vs. LCD: I am watching today's episode in two forms. I'm typing this on my laptop, which has an LCD monitor and a HD TV tuner card installed. The screencaps used in this post are from my laptop and its HD TV tuner card. At the same time, I am watching the show on my HD Panasonic plasma so that I can compare the two formats.
On my LCD laptop General Hospital did not have the orange tints that appear on my plasma or when watching General Hospital on a normal TV. The picture is beautiful and it definitely adds to my enjoyment, from a visual standpoint.
On my plasma, General Hospital actors appeared much more orange then it did before General Hospital was filmed in HD (though not broadcast in HD) and soft premiered when the "new" sets of the actual hospital debuted last week. In order to compensate I had to adjust my TV's Brightness settings. I added +20 to the Brightness in order for it to appear the exact same way it does on my LCD laptop monitor. However, in the end I set the plasma at +10 instead of +20.
General Hospital vs. Other HD programming: The reason I set my TV at +10 instead of +20 is because prior to General Hospital's debut in HD I had never noticed actors appearing orange on other HD programming such as Gossip Girl, LOST, Castle or The Young and the Restless.
I love watching The Young and the Restless in HD. It makes the show lush, beautiful and only adds to the pleasure of watching such a well written show. When I tested today's episode of The Young and the Restless with the +20 setting it made the actors and sets appear washed out and a bit unnatural. I also tested the +20 setting against ABC's primetime series Castle. Like The Young and the Restless, Castle appeared washed out.
I do not profess to be an expert in filming or the lighting of TV shows. This review is from a consumer standpoint. As a consumer, when comparing General Hospital to these other HD shows I wonder if the actors and sets appear more orange because of General Hospital's choice in color palettes, or possibly a different configuration in lighting.
The Young and the Restless and Castle both use darker color palettes and do not use as many shades of orange, tan and yellow on their sets. General Hospital's Metro Court, Sonny's mansion, the hospital and other sets such as Jax and Carly's house all rely heavily on those three colors, in some form. Other sets, such as the docks or the parking garage where Jerry's car exploded, do not have the same color palette. While the actors still appeared orange it wasn't as noticeable as when at the hospital, Jax and Carly's house or Sonny's mansion.
Summary: All in all I'm glad that General Hospital did the upgrade to HD. It is possible that some viewers, such as myself, will need to adjust the setting on their TVs in order to make it appear less orange. I would be very interested in learning whether or not other Daytime Confidential readers noticed those changes affecting the appearance of other HD programming, as I did with The Young and the Restless and Castle. One potential unintended benefit for Steve Burton fans is that should he ever take his shirt off again, the episode and screencaps of the scene will be in HD.
Hopefully, now that ABC has brought General Hospital into the world of HD they will focus on improving its writing.