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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

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photo by lindsay beyerstein


Too close for comfort

Jesse Jane plans cosmetic surgery to hide
imperfections newly visible.

In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real
Digital Playground

Published: January 22, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 21 — The XXX industry has gotten too graphic, even for its own tastes.

Stormy Daniels says she isn’t sure “why anyone would want to see their porn” in high definition because it makes the picture so crisp and clear.

Pornography has long helped drive the adoption of new technology, from the printing press to the videocassette. Now pornographic movie studios are staying ahead of the curve by releasing high-definition DVDs.

They have discovered that the technology is sometimes not so sexy. The high-definition format is accentuating imperfections in the actors — from a little extra cellulite on a leg to wrinkles around the eyes.

Hollywood is dealing with similar problems, but they are more pronounced for pornographers, who rely on close-ups and who, because of their quick adoption of the new format, are facing the issue more immediately than mainstream entertainment companies.

Producers are taking steps to hide the imperfections. Some shots are lit differently, while some actors simply are not shot at certain angles, or are getting cosmetic surgery, or seeking expert grooming.

“The biggest problem is razor burn,” said Stormy Daniels, an actress, writer and director.

Ms. Daniels is also a skeptic. “I’m not 100 percent sure why anyone would want to see their porn in HD,” she said.

The technology’s advocates counter that high definition, by making things clearer and crisper, lets viewers feel as close to the action as possible.

“It puts you in the room,” said the director known as Robby D., whose films include “Sexual Freak.”

The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on behalf of the movie makers.

The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies.

The movie makers assert that it is shortsighted of Sony to snub them, given how pornography helps technologies spread.

“When you’re introducing a new format, it would seem like the adult guys can help,” said Steven Hirsch, co-chief executive officer of Vivid Entertainment Group, a big player in the industry. Mr. Hirsch added that high definition, regardless of format, “is the future.”

Despite the challenges, pornographers — who distributed some 7,000 new movies on DVD last year and sold discs worth $3.6 billion in the United States — are rapidly moving to high-definition.

One major company, Digital Playground, plans to release its first four HD-DVD titles this month, and plans four new ones each month. In March, Vivid plans to release “Debbie Does Dallas ... Again,” its first feature for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray.