Set designers beware: HDTV will reveal your work in great detail

New research by ntl:Telewest and Emmy award-winning set designer Eve Stewart shows that many of our favourite shows could be disgraced as poor set designs are revealed in high-definition.

The survey found that 23% would change channels if the programme they were watching had an unconvincing or unrealistic set. The rest of the survey sounds like it may have been conducted after viewers watched "Prisoner: Cell Block H" as the biggest culprits were lack of authenticity (33%), shaking walls (28%), poor period detail (10%) and obvious gaps and joins (8%) - presumably in the set not the acting.

Eve Stewart said "Filming in high definition is the biggest challenge to set designers since the advent of colour. As the ntl Telewest research illustrates, viewers are much more sophisticated now and demand ultra-realism in both TV programmes and films. We have had to rethink the quality of our scenic work, rather than relying on old camera softening effects. HDTV offers a deep field of focus and sharp detail, so it's like staring at a set through a microscope. It involves a lot more time, preparation and money to ensure the audience buys into what they're watching."

Presumably old shows will get away with things to a certain extent - even with upscaling, detail is not going to become apparent. Moving forward, however, designers had better watch out, because SD techniques sound like they just won't work on HD.

As a side issue, apparently the Match of the Day set was designed specially for high-def viewers, including on-location work at the World Cup, and though it makes little difference to standard-def viewers, it could make a huge difference to HD viewers. Gary Lineker's shirt isn't going to save the day over wobbly sets.

So, we've had news that some actors are deemed not attractive enough for HD - now it's the turn of the furnishings. What do you think?

Oh, and if you're interested in what survey respondants thought the best and worst sets on British TV shows were, head over to Tech Digest.

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