Filmmaker Randall Dark: How Ultra HD 4K Can Change Lives

Watching starving children in 4K will "touch your heart in a way that it’s never been touched before," said cinematographer Randall Dark at the recent LG Electronics 4K Ultra HD launch.

Filmmaker Randall Dark (left) and "The Big Guy," Jeff McAdams
Julie Jacobson · October 26, 2012

Randall Dark is an acclaimed filmmaker who loves two things: technology and storytelling.

His latest film Seadrift vs. The Big Guy was shot with 14 types of cameras, from iPhones to GoPro underwater sports cams to the latest in 4K (more on the imaging technology here).

I never heard of Dark or the movie until a couple of days ago, when his name appeared as one of the VIPs attending the big LG Electronics 4K Ultra HD launch party yesterday at Video and Audio Center in Los Angeles. He and his crew were at the event to promote 4K technology and amuse customers by filming them in 4K (amusing, indeed).

But he sure knew me. I happened to mention him in my story about 4K, which happened to be about 4K and porn, which happens not to be Dark’s genre. Certainly I didn’t mean to suggest he was an adult filmmaker, but apparently some of his friends and relatives inferred that.

When I met him, he laughed about it and thanked me for the visibility. “Anything to get attention!” he said.

Anyway, I have to say Dark was the most interesting guy at the party (the most interesting girl, Monica Aguirre, tends bar when she’s not chasing down bad guys as a PI and bounty hunter on the reality show “Bounty Wars”).

First, he gave the most interesting presentation during a press conference vis-à-vis all the practiced pitches (video below).


Randall Dark at LG 4K Launch, Oct. 25, 2012 (apologies for the shaky cam)

He tells of the frustrations of shooting HD for so many years, and “even though we shot in this incredible resolution, the display technology was inferior to the imaging technology.”

And when he shot his last couple of documentaries in 4K, “my biggest concern was: How will anyone see 4K technology? And all the sudden LG is coming out with the ability to take images that we create as storytellers and show them in the best way possible.”

He also is thrilled about the prospects of watching his older films, produced with inferior technology, in a much better light.

Thanks to built-in 4K up-conversion capabilities, the TV can take films he shot “five, six, seven, eight years ago … and convert it and display it in a way that’s never been seen before. So the content I’ve been creating for 25 years looks better on this display. I can’t wait for consumers to see sports in 4K.”

More than that, though, Dark thinks 4K technology can change lives, like the starving kids he’s filmed in Africa and the Dominican Republic.

“[When] we see children that are starving and we tell stories about them and you see them in 4K,” he says, “I think it’s going to touch your heart in a way that it’s never been touched before.”

The ‘Seadrift’ Story

Dark’s previous 4K flick featured starving children.

This time around, he says, “I wanted to be funny.”

Seadrift and The Big Guy, which debuts Saturday, Oct. 26 in Ojai, Calif. (tickets here), is just that, at least judging by the trailer (below).


Seadrift and The Big Guy movie trailer

The story is about the Texas Water Safari, the “World’s Toughest Canoe Race” from San Marcos, Texas to a little town called Seadrift 260 miles away over raging waters and brutal portages.

The event draws about 150 athletes and accomplished paddlers every year.

The eponymous “Big Guy” is not one of them.

He is Jeff McAdams, Randall Dark’s business partner. He is indeed big.

I met him yesterday at the 4K launch event. Besides being big, he smokes, drinks beer, and hadn’t been in a canoe since the Boy Scouts.

Now juxtapose his story with that of a few zealous, competitive, well-trained athletes and you can imagine the comedy. There is some major tragedy, too, I learned when I met McAdams and Dark at the LG event.

“It makes you laugh, it makes you cry,” Dark says.

Today, there really are only two complaints about 4K Ultra HD displays: the high price and the lack of content (compare that to the objections to 3D!).

You want content? You got your content.

Order the $15 “Seadrift” download via the movie’s Kickstarter page.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

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