Banish bumps and blemishes: HDTV is watching

Beauty is in the eye of the 1080i and 1080p enhanced scan lines and horizontal pixels on a 16:9 aspect ratio of screen width to screen height.

High-def, as the lingo goes. And it's a brutal beholder.

Last week's digital conversion will surely fuel sales of HD-ready sets, launching new viewers into a TV universe of laser-beam clarity that's lifelike-plus. Our locals are a well-powdered crew, but no imperfection escapes this invasive, penetrating eye.

Jim Snyder, you want to wipe off that lip crud? ... Nicely clipped fingernails, Ben Deci. ... Tom Hawley, is that a birth mark on the left side of your bottom lip, or a bread crumb your napkin overlooked? ...

HD is TV that's stoned. An electronic hallucinogen. Squeezed into unnaturally intense sharpness through hyper-crystalline lines of resolution, it essentially heightens and distorts perceptions. A pleasurable visual lie.

The world isn't as crisp to the eye as HD portrays it. Stare at someone's face. (Can't find Angelina Jolie? Settle for a friend.) Are their features buffed and polished to such a high gloss? Is a ball field's outfield as vividly green as ESPN-HD's camera captures it? Next time you stroll through a South American jungle, inspect a rattlesnake's fangs. Are they as dazzlingly clear as on Discovery-HD?

High-def is the world as we'd love to see it while hating how the world would see us. Where that unflossed sesame seed is a visual crime.

Lookin' fine, Sue Manteris, but perhaps a dab of pancake can conceal the slight dark circles under the right eye? ... Kevin Janison, could you flick that tiny, distracting white speck off your blazer's left lapel? ... One word, Doug Kezirian: Chapstick. ...

Fabulously fake though it is, HD is an overdue leveler between glam news givers and glam-less news viewers.

Attractive, blow-dried/hair-gelled to coiffure perfection, nary a nose hair out of place -- at least in SDTV (standard-def) -- they seem above their audience, carefully cultivated looks enhancing their rarefied status as oracles of information.

But a bit of HD puffiness here, a tiny HD pimple there, a little HD lip crud here and there, well ... welcome to the world of the rest of us.

Distinguished as ever, Gary Waddell, but lookin' a little baggy under the right eye. ... Chris Maathuis, never really noticed before that apparent birth mark that separates your forehead ridges. ... Question, Kendall Tenney: That darkness under the eye -- bar brawl or raccoon imitation?

Appearances aren't normally this column's concern. Petty cruelty already clogs the blogs without dissing who looks chunky in horizontal stripes (one reader wanted it addressed -- let's leave that to high-school girls) and whose cleavage offends (and secretly excites, no doubt) some viewer.

High-def is a DEFCON 1 crisis for some in the broadcast biz, however. That makes it fair fodder this once.

And in the spirit of flaw-revealing candor, this columnist is grateful this column's picture isn't more painfully detailed than it already is.

Mugs like mine belong at below-sea-level def.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at or 702-383-0256.