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Using HD in a Video Installation

I just wanted to share my technique for showing HD video in an installation.  I started working with HD in 2008 and had to figure out a way to install it when I was in a group show.  The gallery (Art in General) informed me that there was a new device that could play back HD files from a USB drive.  That device is the WD Media Player which they seem to have changed the name to WD TV.  I prefer WD Media Player since it has little relationship to a TV for me.

The WD Media Player is basically just a way to play H.264 encoded quicktime files on a monitor at up to 1080p resolution without having a computer involved.  Who wants to leave a laptop/desktop (or several) running in a gallery for a month?  I also have no idea how I would be able to burn a Blu Ray disc without going to a post house, plus a PS3 or Blu Ray player are both much more expensive than the WD Media Player.  So I had three videos installed in a recent show with three WD Players running and looping everything playing at 720p (the constraint of the monitors/projector, not the player).

So, to get everything running you just need a WD Media Player ($70 on ebay, $100 new), a USB thumb drive (under $20 depending on capacity), audio cables (either digital optical or RCA), an HDMI cable (this is how you get the HD video), and an H.264 encoded quicktime file.  Set the menu to loop playback and you're ready to go.  There is a slight black pause and audio drop, maybe half a second long when it loops but you get something similar with a DVD player, depending on the player.

So, this is my technique.  I'm curious what other people do when they want to install HD video.

Replies to This Discussion

  • Reply by Barry Anderson on April 23, 2010
    For the past year I have been using the pretty much the exact same set up. It's so much easier to deal with than Blu Ray and the WD box is so small it can usually be hidden behind flat panel monitors (which is what I normally use in my exhibitions). I am a bit disappointed that they are abandoning the first gen HD player for the newer WD TV Live, which comes with Ethernet capabilities. I know that it will be useful for many consumers (and probably some artists) but for me it's not worth the extra money.
  • Reply by Deleted Member on April 23, 2010
    Yeah, it seems like the ethernet thing is an attempt to compete with Apple TV or something. I guess that's the bigger market than us artist's using it for installations. As long as they keep the rest of the functionality intact, including the looping function, I'm happy. Although I'm sure they charge more for the ethernet capable model.
  • Reply by La Alta on April 23, 2010
    Thank you Mores!
  • Reply by Deleted Member on April 30, 2010
    Anyone ever gone the Blu-Ray route when exhibiting video? I'm just curious what was involved if you did.
  • Reply by Deleted Member on May 3, 2010
    It's confirmed! I just went to MOMA to see the Marina Abramovic show and they were using both WD Media Players and Apple TV's to play video. These media devices seem to be taking over for DVD players in standard museum use. I saw these players being used with both HD and Standard-def monitors in the show.
  • Reply by Barry Anderson on May 3, 2010
    I used Blu-ray for about a year before switching to the WD TVs. Blu-ray is fine but is ultimately much more expensive than the WD TV. At the time I had to buy a $500 burner, upgrade to CS4, and then use fairly expensive media ($20/disc) Many of the prices have come down since then but even a cheap Blu-ray player is more than a WD TV. The one thing that I think is better about using Blu-ray is that you can "program" the disc to start and loop itself like DVDs and not have to go into the menu every time like on the WD TV.

    Mores McWreath said:
    Anyone ever gone the Blu-Ray route when exhibiting video? I'm just curious what was involved if you did.

  • Reply by Barry Anderson on May 3, 2010
    I've used Apple TVs for playback a couple of times myself and they can work great. However, they are ultimately the most expensive solution and don't have any better quality than WD TVs or Blu-ray.

    The last 3 video exhibitions I've seen at museums or art centers have all used WD TVs.

    Mores McWreath said:
    It's confirmed! I just went to MOMA to see the Marina Abramovic show and they were using both WD Media Players and Apple TV's to play video. These media devices seem to be taking over for DVD players in standard museum use. I saw these players being used with both HD and Standard-def monitors in the show.