HD v SD to make DVD

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Ford Prefect
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Hi Folks,
I haven't tried this yet as I'm waiting for my HD cam to be delivered but some of my colleagues are deep in discussion about the above.
One says it's best to record in hd, edit in hd, then down-convert to DVD, because you will get a better quality DVD, while the other says there's no technical merit in that, so you might as well record in SD, edit in SD, then convert to DVD and for a given size of movie, say one hour, the results will be the same.
So is there any technical difference in the end result?
Regards

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003

Technically, I'm not sure there's a definitive answer to that - it will depend as much on individual cameras, software etc as on which method you use. In general, my understanding is that the downconvertors in low/mid end cameras don't do as good a job as software conversion, so my gut feeling would be shoot/edit in HD, then downconvert for the DVD.

That would, of course, also have the benefit of giving an HD master, which may be useful in the future.

If the prime requirement is the SD DVD, it would also be recommended to shoot 720p/50 rather than 1080i - that avoids a de-interlacing step before the downconvert - 720p/50 should allow an SD field to be made from every progressive frame.

glyn.jones
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This has been discussed many times in these forums and the consensus seems to be that an HD camera is optomised for HD shooting and in SD mode will perform worse than a comparble SD camera. Also the in-camera HD to SD transcoder is nowhere near as good as those available in your editing softwear. I always shoot and edit in HD and then use Procoder to down convert to SD MPEG2. The other point is why bother with the expense of an HD camera if you are only going to use it as an SD one.

Glyn Jones 2 Canon XH-A1s Canon XA10 Canon HV30 DVC build EDIUS NX HD PC running Edius 6.06 magicalmomentsvideos.co.uk

tom hardwick
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glyn.jones wrote:
The other point is why bother with the expense of an HD camera if you are only going to use it as an SD one.

There's a good point, and that is 16:9. Few SD cameras were proper 16:9 - even the PDX10 was a halfway-house. Also newer cameras tend to be far better ergonomically. The Z1 is streets ahead of the PD170 in this dept.

The other point is dropouts. If you downconvert between chips and tape (i.e. switch your HDV camera to shoot in the SD mode) then dropouts will be far less damaging. If you have a once-only chance to get this footage, you're safer shooting in SD.

tom.

Smithnc
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Joined: Oct 26 2002

Yes but the (SD) DVDs I made with the PDX10 appear much sharper than those made with the Sony AE1, (using Vegas).
!

Nick

SimonMW
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I've always got better DVDs out of HD cameras than SD. I've heard all the technical reasons and arguments about why an SD camera is better for SD DVD's, and I understand them fully. However my practical experience of it is completely different. I also find it silly often when I am told that I am wrong, purely from a technical standpoint. Technical specifications and numbers do not make a good picture.

Really though, just go with what you have. Shoot HD and down convert using software that is known to do a good job. Don't believe the hype that you *have* to have some super duper £100k piece of hardware to do a decent down conversion. You simply don't. As long as your camera is set up well in the beginning, and you use quality software to do the job and used correctly you will be happy.

sleepytom
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it depends on the cameras / lenses...

Shooting on a Z1 will not produce a better picture on your DVD than shooting on a broadcast SD camera (digibeta or whatever). Shooting on a PD150 will not produce a better picture on your DVD than shooting on an HDCAM camera would.

At this point in time people seem to generally be quite confused with these things, I've seen directors demand "HD" cameras on DVD shoots where we had planned to shoot on multiple CCU controlled DSR570s. The job ended up being done on Z1s and needless to say looked rubbish and was a hard edit because of non-exposure-balanced cameras without a master timecode. In the end the two magic letters of H+D won over the considered advice of the video professionals working on the job. It seems increasingly hard to persuade people that actually doing a good job on a broadcast SD system will look a million times better than a guerilla shoot on a load of little consumer cameras which happen to have the magic letters on the side of them.

Mainly people (directors / producers) are confused because they don't understand anything about the actual standards for TV. The argument for shooting HDV to get an "HD Master" of the video "for the future" is irrelevant as HDV has never been acceptable as a Broadcast HD acquisition format. Nothing shot on the Z1 will ever be usable for real HDTV broadcast so get over the 2 little letters and choose the kit that will produce the best footage.

Having said that the Z1 et al don't produce better footage by shooting SD, so i'd say if you have to use HDV cameras then shoot and edit HDV then down convert the finished product via software. Just don't con yourself into thinking that you have an HDTV master by doing this!

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Alan Roberts
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PDX10 and A1 are not comparable in any way. The PDX10 is a full SD 3-ccd recording to DV, while the A1 is a single chip recording to HDV. There's no comparison.

There is no HD camera on the market, at any price, that will make pictures at SD as good as a similarly priced SD camera. Repeat, no camera, at any price. Down-conversion is difficult at the best of times, doing it in a camera is mildly silly when there are far better ways to do it in software. But even Carbon isn't a patch on a Snell Alechemist, which itself isn't a patch on shooting at the right resolution in the first place.

If you have an HD camera, shoot HD, ingest HD, edit HD, export HD. Take it down to SD only mwhen you have to and be prepared to spend a lot of money on the down-conversion, there is no way to do it well and cheaply. Carbon or Procoder do a decent job, but nothing like as good as not having to do it in the first place.

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fuddam
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well, just to bring a little balance to the situ ;) , there's a film which just made the circuit and is raking in mega millions around the globe: CRANKED: HIGH VOLTAGE. Now, this is projecting on 35mm, and will no doubt make its way to TV screens down the line. No, not talking about a BLAIR WITCH-quality shoot.

They shot it on 3 cameras: the EX1 (for slo mo shots), the Canon XH-A1 (using the 24f format!) and Canon HF10 (consumer grade cam costing US1000). Their justification for this was the need for extreme shots on a lowish budget, and shooting on a larger cam would have negated this - too dangerous for the cam, and cam too bulky. With these smaller cams, they were able to throw, drop, trash cams en masse, getting 'impossible' shots :D

you can see a pretty cool shot of the HF10 here, with the DOP jumping off a bridge, followed by Jason Statham :D http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4280912640/tt1121931

As we all know, the demands of a partic shoot can benefit from something like HDV over HD etc, and provide excellento images if handled well.

While I bow in deference to Alan's mathematics, what interests me is the number of pros who shoot on HDV and downconvert in software to SD, not simply because of the 16x9 but because they swear it looks better than footage originated on SD cameras. No, not talking about Joe-average who prob couldn't tell the difference........

It's currently still academic for me, since most of my material is still shot on SD, whether DV or digibeta etc. I hire the odd EX1 occasionally.

tom hardwick
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sleepytom wrote:
The job ended up being done on Z1s and needless to say looked rubbish!

I realise you're speaking in relative terms here but shooters who get 'rubbish' out of a Z1 - in whatever mode it's fired up - need to go back to school.

Richard Payne
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Anyone using EDIUS should have a look at this method to downconvert using Virtual Dub http://www.videoproductions.com.au/html/virtualdub-hd-sd.html

I would like to agree with Infocus that in my personal experience 720 50p footage converts to SD better ( and quicker ) than 1080i.

Personally I think that downconversion is a really big issue. You only had to watch the Olympics in HD, and then switch to SD to see how shooting HD and Broadcasting SD affects the quility under some circumstances. The wide shots looked terrible in SD.

SimonMW
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Alan, while I respect your knowledge, you aren't actually using cameras yourself for shoots and having to do such down conversions and direct comparisons and intercutting between all these different cameras on a day to day basis.

Why is it that people such as myself, and many others that I know in a similar position, are using their EX1's, EX3's, XLH1's etc instead of their DSR-570's, PDW-510's etc which are gathering dust on the shelf? It's because they are getting better results from those cameras, even when they are downconverted for an SD DVD or the web.

Or at the least they like the aesthetic result even though the 'technical' result might not be as good in your view.

Quote:
While I bow in deference to Alan's mathematics, what interests me is the number of pros who shoot on HDV and downconvert in software to SD, not simply because of the 16x9 but because they swear it looks better than footage originated on SD cameras. No, not talking about Joe-average who prob couldn't tell the difference........

It does look better. Miles better in many cases. I have shots that look ill defined and muddy on my PDW-510 when compared to downconverted EX footage from exactly the same location and setup for example.

I realise that from a technical standpoint aliasing is an issue when down converting. But to be frank in the vast majority of shots this isn't an issue unless you are shooting things like ventilation grilles, or slow panning shots of a modern building etc. Even then I haven't noticed many problems.

It is silly I think to suggest SD for SD and HD for HD at all costs. Face it, much of the video we shoot these days goes to the web! What next? Shoot Fisher Price for the web, SD for DVD, and HD for BD? ;)

Software these days is very good. You just have to put up with rendering times to do it well. Compressor for example has a lot of options for scaling, including performing anti-aliasing. It slows the rendering speed considerably, but to say that the only way to do things well is with an Alchemist is just not helpful, and not in any way realistic given the way that people on these forums are usually asked to shoot video and display it.

Alan Roberts
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Down-conversion from an HDTV camera using anything other than the very best and most expensive converter will build aliasing into the pictures, and those aliases will show up when you try to compress the pictures. Read what Richard said about the Olympics, hes right, so right in fact that a panic happened in the BBC when they noticed it (after I prompted them).

It is always a mistake, a big mistake, to judge pictures in the edit. That's not where they end up, they end up on a tv set at home. If what you do in the production process prejudices the performance of the chain, don't do it, or try to find a better way to do it. You always have to keep that in mind, the edit isn't the final result, the viewer's experience is

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fuddam
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well, seems the point is those who are shooting for broadcast specifically, and those who have other means of distribution - dvd etc

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
I realise that from a technical standpoint aliasing is an issue when down converting. But to be frank in the vast majority of shots this isn't an issue unless you are shooting things like ventilation grilles, or slow panning shots of a modern building etc. Even then I haven't noticed many problems.

But they are also very visible on things like hair. I've seen aliasing artefacts from a Z1 shot in DVCam on a simple interview in the guys hair and it did not look pretty. There was nothing I could do at that point of course, but if the interview had been shot on a DSR450 it would have looked a lot nicer.

And I've had to mark shots (shots of Blists Hill, Ironbridge, again shot on a Z1) as unusable simply because the downconversion artefacts are too distracting. And this was in the edit suite off the master tape on a CRT fed via SVideo. I dread to think how that shot would have looked by the time time they'd been MPEGed for DVD and played back on a flat screen via a deinterlacer.

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Thanks Steven, that's my point, it's nothing to do with broadcasting, it's to do with getting the pictures to the viewer. I don't care how that's done, I care about the pictures.

And having tested 54 different HD cameras, I can assure you that not one of them makes a decent job of down-conversion if it makes a decent job of HD. The few exceptions that make decent SD are the ones that don't do justice to HD.

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Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Steamage
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As usual, context is everything.

SleepyTom makes some very good points, as does AlanR.

Down here at the bottom end of the budget/production scale, my personal experience is similar to SimonMW's. DVDs produced from HDV footage shot on a Canon XH-A1, edited as HDV in Avid Liquid 7.2 and down-converted by the same program right at the end of the process, then played back from a cheap Philips DVD player via S-video/SCART on a Panasonic 37" 1080 LCD TV look at least as good as, and often better than, DVDs produced from DV footage shot on an XM1. Down-converting HDV in-camera to feed my old non-HD NLE (Liquid 5.62) resulted in less good results (generally less sharp) compared to the XM1.

My recent experiments with the camera set-up show that this is probably the most important factor in the image quality of my finished product, and it's much easier to mess it up than to improve it! Getting it right in-camera is so much better than trying to fix it later in Liquid.

Since I can only justify owning one camera at a time (OK, two: I have an HV20 as a spare/input-deck), the XH-A1 scores heavily over the XM1 because it gives me gorgeous 1080i HDV and is still capable of quite acceptable DVD output, so long as I'm careful about the production work-flow. I wouldn't expect any of my stuff to find its way onto the BBC HD channel, though I suspect it wouldn't look any worse than anything else on narrow-band Dave!

Mark @ Steam Age Pictures - Steam trains on video in aid of railway preservation societies. Latest release: "Mainline 2012, LMS Locomotives", on DVD or Bluray Disc.

Alan Roberts
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It's not do with real sharpness, but with artificial sharpness. The spatial aliasing that poor conversion brings occupies the subsequent data compressor excessively, producing compression artifacts which might look like noise from a distance. So, to make decent output, you need a much higher data rate than had you done the conversion properly since you have to code all the aliasing as well as the picture.

When you play out a DVD via component, composite or Scart, you're going out through a set of dacs to make the analogue signal. Those dacs should have box-car compensating filters after them, but few do (no DV kit does, not DVD player that I've seen either, you have to go up to full broadcast kit before you get those filters) and that makes the pictures quite a lot softer than they should be, you'rre hiding the artifacts and the detail. Play the same DVD out on an upconverting HD player, via HDMI, and you'll see the differences.

Justs because it looks ok when you view it doesn't mean it's going to be ok for those who have spent more on the kit.

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Arthur.S
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Getting back to Mr Prefects original question; My non-technical answer:
Since going HDV, I've found that keeping to HDV all the way through the capture/editing process, then rendering to MPEG-2 for DVD to finish, produces better quality than down converting to SD in the camera first. I guess it's because the camera is having to do that 'on the fly', whereas a good encoder will just render at the speed it needs to. It also produces better quality pics than shooting SD in the first place. Almost imperceptible, but definitely better. (I think. :) )

Daniel Browning
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Down-conversion from an HDTV camera using anything other than the very best and most expensive converter will build aliasing into the pictures, and those aliases will show up when you try to compress the pictures.

Alan is right. I think the reason why so many shooters like the HD-originated SD stuff is principally two-fold:

  • Their SD camera can't shoot progressive.
  • They like aliasing artifacts.

If the delivery format is progressive SD (e.g. DVD on upscaling player), but the SD camera can't shoot progressive, then that would be a big advantage in favor of the HD camera. Of course, there are also SD cameras that can shoot progressive; but that doesn't stop videographers from comparing interlaced-vs-progressive when they meant to compare SD origination vs HD origination.

The second factor is that aliasing artifacts are highly desired by many people, including camera operators. They describe the look as "sharp", "crunchy", "pop", etc. Other people, such as myself, dislike the false detail. In any case, HD origination often results in stronger aliasing artifacts, so this is seen as an improvement by many viewers.

Alan Roberts
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I won't argue with any of that, except for the

Quote:
produces better quality pics than shooting SD in the first place

part because that places a value judgment on two different cameras working in different ways. It's actually very hard to measure the differences in any meaningful way, so the set-of-the-pants, gut-feeling approach ias as good as any :)

And the comment about aliasing being liked has always been true, aliasing makes the pictures look sharper than they actually are, but then causes mayhem in the compression, which is largely uncontrollable.

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Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Gyr
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FWIW when I switched from a Canon XL1 to the XL-H1 I naively assumed that an SD DVD produced from the XL-H1 would be at least as good (and hopefully better) than one from the XL1 (my reasoning was that you were starting with a higher quality master with the XL-H1). For conversion I use ProCoder set to Mastering Quality.

It's been disappointing to find that the XL1 wins for SD, so in that respect my subjective judgement is in line with Alan's test results.

However it is interesting that there are quite a few people (not just on this forum) who say they get better SD from their HD cameras than they did from a similar SD one. Perhaps it can be explained by cameras, subject matter etc.

SimonMW
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I think we're talking about two seperate things. I was never referring to the camera doing the downconversion, but to shoot in HD, edit in HD, then downconvert out output using really good software.

Using software such as Compressor which can also apply an anti-aliasing filter produces great results.

SimonMW
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Quote:
It's been disappointing to find that the XL1 wins for SD, so in that respect my subjective judgement is in line with Alan's test results.

Depends how Procoder handles things. Compressor on the Mac allows fine tuning of sharpness and antialiasing on downconversion. The only trouble is that you have to render out small selections to see what is happening as the frame controls effects cannot be seen in the preview window.

sleepytom
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I think a big factor is the wishful thinking (err wishful seeing?) of people who have recently spent a load of money on new kit! I wonder how many of the people who insist that there HD cameras look better on a DVD than SD cameras have actually done blind viewing tests where they didn't know which cameras shot which sections?

Without such a test the marketing hype and size of overdraft will have as much influence on your preference as artefacts and errors(!)

I also suspect that the majority of people here are working on short productions which end up being quite high datarate DVDs. If your encoding 2 pass at higher than normal bit rates (bigger than 6000kbs) then the MPEG2 compression can cope with the HD downconversion artefacts better than lower bitrate MPEG2 as used in DTV transmission. People aiming at feature length DVDs or broadcast bitrates will probably notice the compound artefacts from HD source much more than people with the luxury of higher bitrate distribution.

But then i could also just be wrong, actually I probably am so anyone who has any old SD broadcast cameras they have sitting around on the shelf gathering dust is right to not use them any more in favour of newer HD cameras, actually your better off freeing up some of your shelf space by sending the useless old SD cameras (and their "awful" SD lenses) to me for safe disposal ;) DXC50s and DSR570wsp are especially bad and can even damage the output from newer HD cameras just by being stored in the same room as them. You really should send them directly to me where they will no longer cause you any issues!!

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infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
There is no HD camera on the market, at any price, that will make pictures at SD as good as a similarly priced SD camera. Repeat, no camera, at any price.

I think the words of Alans that are getting overlooked here are a similarly priced SD camera. Like needs to be compared with like.

I've recently had to intercut a two camera shoot using a DSR500 with an EX1 (in 720p/50 mode), end result required in SD. The comparison was highly interesting. Raw, the EX footage looked better on a full HD 42" than the DSR500 footage, but after downconversion the EX material looked softer than the DSR500, which seems to go against logic. (My own theory involves the difference between resolved detail and mtf, but who knows?)

Practically, the end result worked pretty well, but it showed that a moderately priced HD camera, downconverted, couldn't match a more upmarket 2/3" SD native camera. If I'd downconverted something like a PDW700 to intercut with a PD170, I suspect the HD camera would have looked far better than the SD native.

sleepytom
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yeah that was my experience comparing EX1 against DXC50 both connected via SDI, EX1 either down converting in camera or via a Folsom Imagepro HD. The EX1 simply isn't comparable to a 2/3" camera. Its not really a fair test as the lens on the DXC50 cost more than the whole EX1! I didn't have an HD monitor with me so I didn't get to do the test the other way round, shooting HD on the EX1 and upscaling the DXC50 to match. I'd be really interested to know how that would compare? I'm not even willing to guess how it would pan out.

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RayL
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sleepytom wrote:
I also suspect that the majority of people here are working on short productions which end up being quite high datarate DVDs.

Hmmm . . . . . . .

A lot of people who use this forum work on events - weddings, theatre shows, sport. These are hardly short productions. Might be interesting to run a poll sometime.

Ray L

Alan Roberts
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Tom's got it right. Anyone who's bought new kit is going to view the results with rosy glasses, including me. I have a Sony A1 and use it for hobby stuff and am happy with it, but my old DX100 beats the socks off it for SD. But, again, this isn't comparing like with like since the DX100 was priced at £2.5k in 1999 (I didn't pay that much) while the A1 was priced at £1.5k in 2007. And the DX100 is 3ccd while the A1 is single cmos, and the DX100 is SD while the A1 is HD, and so on.

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Richard Payne
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I remember when I first saw shots from my Sony HC1 next to shots from my old TRV-950 and realised they didn't look as good on my 28inch CRT, I was gutted. At least they were widescreen.

I managed to convince myself over the years that the HC-1 was better, mainly by not looking at the old footage ;-)

I should add in HD on my Plasma the HC-1 footage is much better.

SimonMW
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Quote:
I've recently had to intercut a two camera shoot using a DSR500 with an EX1 (in 720p/50 mode), end result required in SD. The comparison was highly interesting. Raw, the EX footage looked better on a full HD 42" than the DSR500 footage, but after downconversion the EX material looked softer than the DSR500

Depends on how the downconversion was done. In Compressor you have to do a fine balancing act between the sharpness and anti-aliasing filter in the Frame Controls section. I have also had to intercut footage from an EX1, but this time with a PDW-510, which is an even better performer than the DSR-500. My results were different. The footage from the EX1 looked more defined and actually cleaner, which surprised me because the 510 is very quiet indeed. Incidentally I am referring to how the footage looked after mastering to a DVD.

Could it be down to the chroma sampling? Even though it is still 4:2:0 on the EX HD image there is still a lot more information to work with. Perhaps it is similar to the way that 4:2:2 originated footage from, say, a Digibeta camera looks better on a DVD than 4:2:0 DV from a DSR-500? Better stuff in, better stuff out.

It is annoying that I find this to be the case, because I would much, much rather be using the 510 than the delicate plasticky EX.

tom hardwick
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Richard Payne wrote:
they didn't look as good on my 28inch CRT, I was gutted. At least they were widescreen.

And that's of huge importance. There's a lot of talk here about how good the old SD cameras are and I'm not disagreeing - it's just that the majority of that footage was shot 4:3.

Once that 4:3 footage is stretched, zoomed and distorted to fill a modern 16:9 screen, the picture quality takes a massive hit. OK, my TRV900 and DX100 footage looks wonderful in 4:3 but it looks kinda daft and horribly square in this day and age and I'm often tempted to try and fill my 16:9 screen.

That's when even pretty ropey in-camera down-converted Z1 footage (read: soft, artifacty) looks miles better.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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But you're comparing apples and pears, the cameras are different, with different processing, different sets of menus, different sets of controls. There's no way you can make an objective judgment based on viewing programme material, it has to be done on test. What you're reporting is an impression, an opinion, based on a very limited set of material. Do the tests properly and you see the differences loud and clear. Simply using two cameras without having done any scientific testing to set them up will always give random results.

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DAVE M
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I keep moaning about the lack of new SD cameras.

I now have 3 x 150/70's and a Z7

All I wanted was a widescreen camera with some decent glass and controls but the manufacturers want us to go HD(v) I've never made a bluray and don't intend to.

I often wonder about the real reason for shooting (say weddings) on HD - is it to future proof? or just beacuse it's a pain to down convert and it's a new thing for the train spotter in us all. I bet most couples never ask for a wedding in HD once it's been delivered in SD

tom hardwick
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DAVE M wrote:
I bet most couples never ask for a wedding in HD once it's been delivered in SD

If you shoot it right then content will be all. They can send a 20p DVD to their friends all around the world and know that it can be played in laptops, desktops, upscalers, ancient 4:3 CRTs, you name it.

If it looks blurry or is shot 4:3 they might well have cause to complain. If you miss out important parts of their day: ditto. But handing them a Bluray (as of April 2009) means you're hugely restricting the film's audience - and that's not something that will endear you to them.

By all means offer the Bluray option, but remember the ubiquity of the common-or-garden DVD. It's this very fact that has ensured its survival these last 12 years.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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Quite right. BluRay is still a niche market, and may well ever remain so if on-line distribution takes off. The humble dvd is still a good option, provided the source material is sufficiently alias-free for the compression to make a good job of it.

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SimonMW
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Quote:
I often wonder about the real reason for shooting (say weddings) on HD - is it to future proof?

Future proofing is one aspect. I don't shoot weddings so I don't know that market. However for what I do I often need to use footage from previous projects and the possibility of the footage being projected at conferences etc is high.

You give what the client asks for, but it is also your job to educate them about what is possible, and to demonstrate it to them. I like the idea of bunging in the WD Media Player as part of the deal. Who would turn that down? So many people have HD capable TV sets these days, they just lack the hardware to play things back on it. If you have an HD camera it seems madness to me not to push that as part of your service.

When you consult with and meet up with them, it would be an easy thing to make a demo with a split screen SD and HD image to show them on their plasma etc.

sleepytom
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The vast majority of conference projections are running at 1024x768, most plasmas used in conferences are 720p or lower resolution.

I can see a clear advantage for shooting progressive for corporate, but i don't see any point in shooting 1080i. Just in terms of the playback and projection / plasma costs going to 1080 would at least double the costs of the AV hire.

I think we are also very much into nobody-cares territory here. I cannot imagine that many couples would be interested in HD versions of their wedding video, if the cost of getting a copy they can watch involves spending £100+ on a media player. Ultimately people want the memories recorded on a format they can share with their friends and family who couldn't make it, if it looks better than youtube then they will think that's a bonus. But the subtle differences between HD and SD should (i hope) not matter too much to newly weds.

In the corporate world the HD up-sell might be a bit easier, after all people are not spending their own money. But it troubles me that people often seem to be selling the concept of using "HD" when they mean a Z1. I guess its just a fact of life that people will pay more for "digital" or "HD" because they equate these terms with "better" because of the mass marketing hype. The worst cases are when people who have an actual budget that would pay for a quality Broadcast SD shoot with decent lighting and the attention to detail that would make a good end product. The video company upsells them an "HD" package and then shoots on equipment which is far inferior, pocketing the money saved from using cheap HDV kit, and delivers a product which looks nowhere near as good as it should / would of if it had been produced as a professional SD production.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Alan Roberts
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Mostly agree with that. But increasingly there are proper 1920x1080p displays on the market, my tv set is one such. And the difference between good HD and good SD is very clear, even my wife now comments on it. Times are changing, HD penetration may be slow, but it's accelerating, and when the general public can afford a proper HD display (I paid retail price for mine, and I'm retired) they start to see that much of what's claimed to be HD clearly isn't. Again, my wife now comments on it programme by programme.

But I like the idea of giving a media player as part of a package. Distribution them ceases to be a propblem because the client can just copy the file onto a USB memory and give/sell it on, no need for a shiny disk.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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In Tescos last week, (why don't they bail out the country?), I couldn't help noticing a large area devoted to Sky HD, with a rolling demo on a large screen and very loud voice over.
Mr and Miss about to get married will notice that too, and Mr's PS3 might already of played a couple of blu-ray disks. I would also imagine if you looked at the age range most likely to be getting married and cross checked that with the age most likely to be aware of HD you would find a large area of overlap.

SimonMW
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Quote:
Again, my wife now comments on it programme by programme.

This is important, and something that I have noticed a lot of recently. In the last year or so I have had a number of conversations with people who are not technically aware commenting on how much better HD is than SD via over the air broadcast on Sky HD or Freesat. A lot of them hate having to watch SD transmissions now.

I think that HD is very much in the minds of the masses. They are generally aware of it, and in many cases have seen the difference. It is just accessibility that is slowing it down. I know a lot of people still do not want a dish on the side of the house. However a lot of people use BBC iPlayer, and if the HD on that ever improves in resolution over what it is now then I can see it reaching a tipping point.

sleepytom
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Alan Roberts wrote:
But I like the idea of giving a media player as part of a package. Distribution them ceases to be a propblem because the client can just copy the file onto a USB memory and give/sell it on, no need for a shiny disk.

Isn't HD web streaming the way to go with this though? OK the quality isn't as good as you'd get from a full res high bitrate file but it is simple and affordable and means the video is worldwide viewable. This has been the way i've been working recently, offering online / streaming versions of productions as well as DVD / tape based masters. Vimeo offers a decent quality and a very good price point, but i can also offer custom formats hosted on private servers if that's what people want. More often than not i'm finding the music and fashion clients are most interested in the online versions, they don't really want a DVD at all.

I'm not disputing Bride and Groom will be aware of HD format - even my mum asks me if she needs to get an HD telly sometimes. I'm disputing that the B+G would be willing to pay a significant sum extra for the relativity small increase in quality. (that's not to say you can't blind them with the magic HD letters)

I can see how a media player could make a great memento of the day, even better if all the photos were on it too. I guess its all about how you sell people the concept.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Arthur.S
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Alan Roberts wrote:
they start to see that much of what's claimed to be HD clearly isn't.

I've become increasingly disappointed with movies on Blu-ray. The difference between a good quality DVD upscaled and genuine Blu-Ray can be marginal. Some films - such as 'Cloverfield' are a complete waste of time being on Blu-Ray. (Quite apart from the film being err...average). Watched 'There will be blood' on Blu-Ray a couple of weeks ago. So much of the film is shot out of focus that my eyes hurt! Pointless. I guess this is because they're not actually shot in HD? Eventually it'll all filter through, but at the moment it still feels very much like a halfway house. Are there any cinemas with HD projectors for instance? A while back, there was a lot of talk re movies being downloaded via broadband to the cinema for HD. I think setup costs were prohibitive though.

sleepytom
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SimonMW wrote:
This is important, and something that I have noticed a lot of recently. In the last year or so I have had a number of conversations with people who are not technically aware commenting on how much better HD is than SD via over the air broadcast on Sky HD or Freesat. A lot of them hate having to watch SD transmissions now.
.

Really? I have a virgin HD box here and whilst their is a difference between SD+HD channels it is pretty subtle. But then I have "only" a 32" telly (1920x1080 samsung LCD) and i sit too far away from it. Maybe i'm just too middle class to get really into the the chav mindset where your TV should be the main focus of your living room? I would need a TV at least 4 times the size of my 32" to be sat at the optimal HD viewing distance without rearranging the furniture.

Also comparing the poor SD picture which comes out of the samsung LCD with the old sony trinitron CRT widescreen SD TV I can't help feeling that at least some of the jump in quality which people notice is less to do with HD being good, and more to do with lots of HD LCDs being really rather rubbish when it comes to playing back SD footage.

It would be nice to have a side by side comparison of Analog BBC on a good CRT TV, Freeview on an HD LCD and BBC HD on an HD LCD.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

SimonMW
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Quote:
Isn't HD web streaming the way to go with this though?

Only part of it. For those of us with poor connections HD over the internet realtime is fantasy.

Quote:
The difference between a good quality DVD upscaled and genuine Blu-Ray can be marginal.

Trouble is though, Arthur, is that the examples you gave illustrate a problem with the productions in question, not the difference between HD and SD. Good HD far and away blows SD out of the water. Witness the IMAX sourced shots in The Dark Knight as a prime example of this. No upscaled SD DVD could even come close to those sequences. You can't put detail into a picture that wasn't there in the first place.

Quote:
Are there any cinemas with HD projectors for instance?

Yes. Most of the Vue cinemas are now using digital projection AFAIK. Even my local one in Worcester upgraded.

Quote:
whilst their is a difference between SD+HD channels it is pretty subtle.

Depends on the programme, compression used, and source camera. You have to be careful because some of the so-called HD channels often just upconvert SD footage a lot of the time. So be careful of what you are comparing.

On the other hand watch Planet Earth and witness the true HD shots compared to the SD broadcast. There is a momentous difference, not a subtle one.

Regarding the size, with HD yes you do have to be mindful of the size and the distance that you watch. If you sit far away and do not have a large enough screen then of course, yes, HD may not seem much of a leap. However this is an issue with your setup and your viewing preferences, and not a way of judging/comparing SD with HD.

With a decent display, correct viewing distance, and good source footage nobody in their right mind would suggest that HD was only a marginal improvement over SD.

Quote:
HD LCDs being really rather rubbish when it comes to playing back SD footage.

In some cases yes. But on the other side of the coin it is possible to say that consumer CRT's cover up many of SD's shortcomings. That said, my JVC CRT TV shows up all imperfections in not so good pictures. Feed it something good, such as the IMAX sourced Super Speedway DVD and SD can look superb. Although the HD version would still put it to shame.

Alan Roberts
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When watching Planet Earth, just remember that quite a lot of it was shot on Varicam at 960x720. It looks startlingly good because of the way the cameras were set up, which is the result of a lot of work by me (plus a lot of subsequent work by NHU). It isn't just about pixel-counting, there's a lot more to it than that.

And the web will have to get enormously better/faster for proper HDTV to be delivered real-time. Don't hold your breath.

Many of the HD displays on the marker are actually rather poor. I toured local shops with my test material, sitting on the floor plugging into set after set and rejecting them. One shop selling up-market did not have a single set I would tolerate at home, the one I chose came out on top under testing, and I'm happy with it.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DAVE M
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I had an interesting conversation about bluray the other night with someone who's just bought a bluray company. (ok so his company bought it)

His son listens to an ipod, watches Youtube, and has watched dodgy DVDs that have the audience get up in the middkle of a film, walking past a screen.

ergo - if it's cheap people will watch low quaility and be happy - even to the extent of prefering the poor sound of mp3.

but also... The credit crunch means that fewer people go out. They stay in and spend some cash on a home video set up.

but do thay buy a bluray - PS3 or an upscaller?

sleepytom
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SimonMW wrote:
Only part of it. For those of us with poor connections HD over the internet realtime is fantasy.

Fast broadband has higher penetration than HDTV though does it not? The great thing about the net is that you can offer multiple formats to cover the range of connections people have. Maybe is because i'm from the south east but the way they totally messed up freeview roll out here has not filled me with confidence that HDTV transmission will be arriving to non-enthusiasts very soon.

SimonMW wrote:
Good HD far and away blows SD out of the water. Witness the IMAX sourced shots in The Dark Knight as a prime example of this. No upscaled SD DVD could even come close to those sequences. You can't put detail into a picture that wasn't there in the first place.

put another way, to get the most from HDTV requires not only top quality playback equipment but also superb acquisition equipment in the hands of very talented people. Poor quality HD equipment in the hands of less skilled operators won't make the most of the format. (doh is that not the same for SD? and indeed any recording format from film to fisherprice pixelvision?)

SimonMW wrote:
Most of the Vue cinemas are now using digital projection AFAIK. Even my local one in Worcester upgraded.

interesting use of the word "upgrade" equates with the general view that you seem to be putting across where digital = better, HD = Better, new = better, without any consideration that previous systems can produce good results, sometimes even better results than the latest digital systems. BTW the digital cinema standards are generally based around 4k projection systems and require at least a 2k projector to be up to the DCI spec. So it is not really true than cinemas are moving to HDTV projection.

SimonMW wrote:
On the other hand watch Planet Earth and witness the true HD shots compared to the SD broadcast. There is a momentous difference, not a subtle one.

I don't really agree. The differences are not IMHO momentous. Momentous would be the difference between colour and black and white film. A few more pixels and slightly improved colour reproduction is not momentous. If it was momentous my non technical friends and family would be actively commenting on the improvement. They haven't, because like most people they don't care how many pixels the program comes in, they spend half their time watching re-runs of 4:3 shot shows stretched out into fatavision on cheap widescreen lcd TVs in all of the glory of Dave's bottom of the barrel share of the freeview bandwidth.

SimonMW wrote:
Regarding the size, with HD yes you do have to be mindful of the size and the distance that you watch. If you sit far away and do not have a large enough screen then of course, yes, HD may not seem much of a leap. However this is an issue with your setup and your viewing preferences, and not a way of judging/comparing SD with HD.

Its an issue with the majority of peoples viewing preference / setup. What is telling about MY setup is that in spite of having access to some top quality equipment, and a professional interest in the technology i still don't want to see my whole living room dominated by TV / Film. I could have a 64" screen if i wanted one, it would be just about big enough for my current sofa position. I don't want a TV that big, nobody does. If i was building a home cinema in a dedicated room then yeah sure I'd have a huge screen, but i'm not, and neither are the vast majority of people.

SimonMW wrote:
With a decent display, correct viewing distance, and good source footage nobody in their right mind would suggest that HD was only a marginal improvement over SD.

I agree that if you set the variables so that HDTV has perfect conditions for viewing it then it can look very good. However I don't think that matters at all. Most people don't have the desire to seriously change their living habits to get the most out of their TV viewing.

SimonMW wrote:
But on the other side of the coin it is possible to say that consumer CRT's cover up many of SD's shortcomings. That said, my JVC CRT TV shows up all imperfections in not so good pictures. Feed it something good, such as the IMAX sourced Super Speedway DVD and SD can look superb. Although the HD version would still put it to shame.

But the HD version would only put it to shame after you have rearranged the furniture so your now sat right in front of the screen, or installed a TV so massive that it dominates the room. Most people don't want to do these things and so they will never see the full quality of HD.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

StevenBagley
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sleepytom wrote:
interesting use of the word "upgrade" equates with the general view that you seem to be putting across where digital = better, HD = Better, new = better, without any consideration that previous systems can produce good results, sometimes even better results than the latest digital systems. BTW the digital cinema standards are generally based around 4k projection systems and require at least a 2k projector to be up to the DCI spec. So it is not really true than cinemas are moving to HDTV projection.

Remember that cinemas generally project from film prints that are several analogue film generations away from the digital intermediate. So even if the digital projection systems aren't capable of matching the best that 35mm can offer, they are very much an upgrade from what cinemas usually show. I seem to remember reading somewhere (although I have not been able to find the reference since) that the resolution available from an average showing at a cinema wasn't that different from a 576i DVD... Certainly, my local cinema multiplex doesn't look that hot most of the time :(

Steven

SimonMW
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Quote:
Fast broadband has higher penetration than HDTV though does it not?

Yes it does. However recent research proves that people still prefer to sit in front of a proper television. iPlayer on Freesat will be a step in the right direction, but the UK needs faster broadband speeds and needs to sort out the problem of bandwidth overall. iPlayer is already causing problems for internet providers, and that was before HD came along on it.

Quote:
digital = better, HD = Better, new = better

It is. Have you ever seen a film print after it has done the rounds through various cinemas? Do you know what the cost is to distribute film? Even the large Hollywood producers would be glad to get rid of that expense.

Plus digital projection is heading towards 4k. This would mean that people could see 35mm master quality versions of films rather than distribution print quality, which is far inferior.

Quote:
So it is not really true than cinemas are moving to HDTV projection.

I didn't say that it was. What the cinemas show via project is still HD, just not 1920x1080 etc.

Quote:
The differences are not IMHO momentous. Momentous would be the difference between colour and black and white film. A few more pixels and slightly improved colour reproduction is not momentous.

We have no point of reference for your viewing other than the fact that by your own admission you have a 32 inch TV and sit a long way away from it. That would explain why you have the view that you have. Also, as Alan points out a lot of PE was shot with 960x720 Varicams. There is a noticable difference between 720 and 1080 on decent equipment. "A few more pixels" equates to roughly 1,658,880 pixels difference if we are talking about 1080 HD. Now obviously whether the camera being used at the time can actually fill that with useful detail is another matter. Certainly you can make good use of that with CGI generated films such as Ice Age.

Quote:
If it was momentous my non technical friends and family would be actively commenting on the improvement.

Again it is down to viewing circumstance. My non technical, non video industry connected friends and girlfriends are noticing the difference. A lot. A lot also depends on your eyesight! That is one factor that is often overlooked.

Quote:
I don't want a TV that big, nobody does.

Increasingly a lot of people do. That's why they make them and sell them. I think the last time I looked it up 42" was pretty much the average size sold now. Some find ways to fold the TV's away on wall brackets, or wall recesses. Makes no odds. It is clear that you personally do not want a large TV and that is entirely your choice. Its just that you can't expect to get the best out of HD with a small TV size and sitting a long way away from it. You shouldn't be surprised that you aren't seeing much difference.

Quote:
Most people don't have the desire to seriously change their living habits to get the most out of their TV viewing.

I think the uptake of SkyHD and Freesat HD shows to some degree that this is increasingly false. You don't have to seriously change your viewing habits to watch HD.

Quote:
Most people don't want to do these things and so they will never see the full quality of HD.

Technology is changing fast. TV that is integrated into your wallpaper is a practicable and demonstrable application. With such things in mind you may not have to be able to see a television at all soon. The trouble is that your assumptions are not accounting for developing future technology, or the financial facts. That Bluray has a relatively slower uptake than DVD is not a reflection of people not wanting HD. As I mentioned the uptake of SkyHD shows that there is a demand.

Also it is pretty much impossible to get an SD only televlsion now, so it only stands to reason that those capabilities are used.

I will say that HD needs to be shot in a certain way to really show it off. Witness the way that IMAX films are composed. Subtle camerawork and time to take in the detail. With lots of camerawork, especially handheld, the HD effect is totally obliterated through motion blur etc.

Daniel Browning
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Arthur.S wrote:
Are there any cinemas with HD projectors for instance?

Yes, believe it or not, there are actually some cinemas that haven't yet converted from film projection to digital 2K projection systems (2048x1152).

Most of them are in third-world countries, because they are still working on more basic necessities such as clean water and distributing UN food supplies. They must make do with mostly film projection in the mean time, despite the antiquated technology and poor image quality.

Places that already have basic infrastructure in place, such as an electric grid, running water, and at least one paved road should have already upgraded their projection systems years ago.

For example, I live in a city of only 160,000 people, so we did not get our 2K digital cinema until just five years ago. It may be hard to believe, but as recently as 2002, I was forced to attend projections of actual film, with resolution that's hardly any better than a DVD in my own living room, to say nothing of the jitter, missed focus, aging release prints, etc.

Thankfully, the passing of time has eased the pain of those traumatizing memories. If I were ever to travel abroad to an area that still used such backwards technology, I'm sure it would all come flooding back. I'm glad that so far my travels have only taken me to places in the world that have such basic amenities such as rail transportation, museums, and 2K digital cinema.

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
I will say that HD needs to be shot in a certain way to really show it off. Witness the way that IMAX films are composed. Subtle camerawork and time to take in the detail. With lots of camerawork, especially handheld, the HD effect is totally obliterated through motion blur etc.

Which is why we need a higher frame rate... :) And I don't mean 50p either, which is effectively what we have now with frames dropped.

Steven

SimonMW
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Well, 50p would be a good step forward! 100fps would be interesting. The TV manufacturers at the moment seem determined to give us this whether we want it or not with those horrendous frame interpolation things they put on TV's now (and even more annoyingly enable by default on some sets!)

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
Well, 50p would be a good step forward! 100fps would be interesting. The TV manufacturers at the moment seem determined to give us this whether we want it or not with those horrendous frame interpolation things they put on TV's now (and even more annoyingly enable by default on some sets!)

50p will blur identically to 25p film, the BBC R&D research suggests we'd need to go much higher than 100p to accurately capture HD motion. Of course, then there's the small problem of light levels... :)

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Nice one :D

I recall seeing a report on cinema projection, carried out in the US, when there was industry discussion about whether digital projection was needed or not. The conclusion was that although the original 35mm negative could resolve up to 8k pixels-worth horixontally under optimal circumstances, but by the time it had been printed to intermediate and then on to distribution stock, there was little content above about 1k pixels-worth across the screen. Staying in digits meant that 4k processing would make sense, and is the reason why digital projection makes so much sense.

Big displays are being sold by retailers to the general public. 42" is the average size for the last 12 months. But, to get the best of HD on such a display, it has to be genuinely 1920x1080p, viewed from 1.5m (3H), and to have the overscanning scaler switched off. That's how I watch HD when I do watch it, for SD, I sit back at about 3.5m (about 7H).

300fps is just about adequate to generate and show alias-free motion, but 600 would be better. Sadly, work on that project has now stopped.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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Quote:
Of course, then there's the small problem of light levels...

I'd hate to think what a film like Munich would be like at those sorts of framerates!! Especially if they go ahead with smellyvision as well! Probably end up with half the population going to councilling sessions!

sleepytom
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SimonMW wrote:
Yes it does. However recent research proves that people still prefer to sit in front of a proper television. iPlayer on Freesat will be a step in the right direction, but the UK needs faster broadband speeds and needs to sort out the problem of bandwidth overall. iPlayer is already causing problems for internet providers, and that was before HD came along on it.

Recent research? care to link to it? who carried it out? Amongst my friends and relatives ownership of computers is far higher than ownership of TVs, this probably is atypical but even then i tend to watch iplayer on my laptop in-spite of having it available on my V+ box. (mainly down to the terrible user interface of the the virgin STB)

Quote:
Have you ever seen a film print after it has done the rounds through various cinemas?

i wasn't saying film is a better medium for cinema distribution than a less fragile and expensive digital format. I was saying that even the best 2k projection isn't as good as 35mm can be under ideal circumstances.

Quote:
Plus digital projection is heading towards 4k. This would mean that people could see 35mm master quality versions of films rather than distribution print quality, which is far inferior.

So this 35mm master is better quality than can be seen on a 2k digital projector, this proves my point that digital != better, persay.

Quote:
We have no point of reference for your viewing other than the fact that by your own admission you have a 32 inch TV and sit a long way away from it.

I don't sit "a long way away" I sit about 12- 14 feet from the screen. I'd be surprised if many people who own 32" TVs sit much closer to them than i do. I've never seen anyone with a 32" TV who sits the recommended 3-4 feet from it. If i put a sofa in front of my TV so that my viewing distance is 4 feet i have nowhere to put a coffee table and i can have a maximum of 2 people watching the TV at once. This simply isn't practical for a vast majority of households.

Quote:
Again it is down to viewing circumstance. My non technical, non video industry connected friends and girlfriends are noticing the difference. A lot.

well either you have a very large TV or you have your room setup so that people are sat really close to the screen. This is the kind of antisocial living room arrangement that will create conversation about the TV. Exactly why i don't have a 64" plasma in my front room.

Quote:
It is clear that you personally do not want a large TV and that is entirely your choice. Its just that you can't expect to get the best out of HD with a small TV size and sitting a long way away from it. You shouldn't be surprised that you aren't seeing much difference.

i don't consider 32" to be a small TV. Having grown up watching a 12" B+W set 32" seems really big.
I'm not surprised that i don't see a massive difference between HD and SD because i understand that i sit too far away to really be able to resolve the resolution. However lots of people simply don't understand that they have to sit so close to the screen. They have seen "HDTV" on a 64" or bigger in dixons, complete with the split screen (simulated) SD source so they can see just how much better it is. They stand a couple of feet from the huge display telly and are really blown away by the quality of the digital source fed direct from the the special HDTV demo computer which is playing back some super saturated example footage. They then go and buy a TV which actually fits in their living room, sit "too far away" (or as they would call it, where they have always sat to watch telly on their old smaller SD set!) They plug in their skybox and are slightly disappointed that the stunning HD quality is not quite as good as they remember from the shop floor.

In the end they don't really mind too much as it is the stories and information conveyed by the TV that they actually enjoy, not the picture quality or the saturation of the colours.

Quote:
You don't have to seriously change your viewing habits to watch HD.

well you do have to sit really close to the screen to be able to notice the difference. or you could get a massive telly. Most people seem content to not really change their viewing habits and thus not really be able to see that much of a difference between SD+HD.

Quote:
As I mentioned the uptake of SkyHD shows that there is a demand.

yes but it is a small demand driven mainly by the fact that the HD box is half the price of the SD sky+ box.

Quote:
Also it is pretty much impossible to get an SD only televlsion now, so it only stands to reason that those capabilities are used.

where do you go shopping? In my shops they still sell 14" CRT screens!

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

SimonMW
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Quote:
Recent research? care to link to it?

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Research_25/Don_t_get_too_excited_over_internet_TV.asp

Quote:
I was saying that even the best 2k projection isn't as good as 35mm can be under ideal circumstances.

But that's a moot point because a distribution print will never be as good as the master, and then on top of that there are projector focus issues and gate weave to contend with which further reduce perceived resolution. Only with digital projection is there any hope of projecting anything close to master quality. Put another way, it is the digital distribution that will allow the full quality of 35mm to be appreciated.

Quote:
This simply isn't practical for a vast majority of households.

Which is precisely why you need a larger TV in your situation to get anything out of HD. The choice is stark. Either you want to get the most of of HD in your current seating arrangement, and that involves getting a much larger television, which you say you do not want. Or, you are happy to sit at a distance that doesn't give you the benefit so you may as well stick with SD.

Quote:
I'd be surprised if many people who own 32" TVs sit much closer to them than i do.

That's part of the problem. If you sit too far away you don't get the benefit. All it takes is to educate people. If they like having a big TV and don't mind sitting closer then they can. If they are like you and do not like that sort of setup then nobody is forcing them to get HD and a large TV.

At the moment at 12ft you are sitting almost 10 screen heights distance away, so it is no wonder you can't see much difference between HD and SD! That's just how it works.

Quote:
i don't consider 32" to be a small TV.

There again that's your personal perception based on your previous TV's. But to a younger person who has grown up with 28-32" TV's they will seem small in comparison to 42". Yes, a 32" is big compared to a 12" Bakelite, but it isn't realistic for watching HD from 12-14ft away.

There is a reason 42" is pretty standard. Because it fits within the average living room and HD can be seen easily from normal seating positions. It's a good overall size. Many people are after a cinema style experience.

Quote:
However lots of people simply don't understand that they have to sit so close to the screen.

Yes, this is a problem. But then people are often confused by technology and how to use it properly. Nothing new there. But it isn't all people...

Quote:
Most people seem content to not really change their viewing habits and thus not really be able to see that much of a difference between SD+HD.

Who are these 'most people'? Almost to a one all my friends who have gone the HD route and who previously had not much knowledge of it, can't stand watching SD now. These people who can't tell the difference don't tally with my experience.

Quote:
In my shops they still sell 14" CRT screens!

I meant outside of Peckham Market ;)

sleepytom
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I guess i'm starting to see why we have different opinions about this stuff. The people you quote as being unable to stand watching SD are people who've gone to the trouble of buying an HD system and sitting close enough to it to see the HD quality. These people fall into the category of early adopters who are into film / cinema, they have a vested interest in appreciating the HD difference and are willing to setup their living room (or dedicated cinema room) to make the most of it.

The "most people" that i refer to are people who haven't invested in HDTV (still a huge majority of the UK population, never mind the rest of the world!) These people generally aren't that bothered about the technical aspects of their viewing beyond being able to follow the story in their favourite soap. As such splashing out on a huge TV and sitting really close to it isn't something that appeals to them. DTV switch over will possible encourage some of these people to go out and get a new telly, but even then it seems likely that a large percentage will not end up owning a TV which provides an HD viewing capability (by which i mean one which is big enough that they sit close enough to, rather than one which has enough pixels)

I think it is important to take this into account, we as content producers should not only be concerned with the needs of the few that have adopted HD but should also consider the way that the average viewer watches TV. The slow takeup of HD playback (blueray) is of extra concern to people making domestic products (wedding video and the like) as without a viable HD distribution format all viewers will be viewing DVDs.

This makes the original question of this thread all the more relevant as it seems likely that the majority of domestic viewers will be viewing SD for some years to come. I continue to question the wisdom of investing in lowend HDV equipment as in my experience better quality DVDs are made from true SD sources.

Most of my work is live music stuff with very low / variable lighting where the Pd170 beats the Z1 hands down everytime. I'm odd in that I'm generally vision mixing live feeds from the cameras to SD projection / LED. This means i have to downconvert in camera for the live output at least. Where it starts to get confusing is with the EX cameras, price wise these nicely fill the gap between Pd170s and proper CCU controller multicam rigs, but i'm wary of using them much because of the rolling shutters and the somewhat unknown quality, the EX1 is also a bit of a pain to integrate into a PPU, its such a shame that they didn't offer genlock and remote iris on the EX1. Also to get the most out of the EX i would have to use HD/SDI mixers which are somewhat pricey still. This extra cost pushes the whole package toward the cost of a proper SD multicam rig with DXC50s triax and CCUs. So far this has resulted in not using the EX range in anger.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

SimonMW
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Quote:
These people fall into the category of early adopters who are into film / cinema, they have a vested interest in appreciating the HD difference and are willing to setup their living room (or dedicated cinema room) to make the most of it.

They aren't. That's the point I'm making. These poeple I know are not Cinephiles or early adopters in any way shape or form. They are people who spend most of the time watching programmes like Holby City and the occasional DVD.

infocus
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Having gone from a 32" CRT to a 42" plasma (yes, it is 1920x1080), then what I've found to be the most important , but little spoken of, element to all this is the difference between CRT and flat screen.

No, nothing to do with technical quality, but in terms of dominating the room, and especially since the plasma can be wall mounted. I was worried that the move up in size would be too much aesthetically, but in fact have found the much bigger screen is actually less obtrusive and has given us about 1 sq m of floor space back! I actually wish we'd gone to a 46".

Room size is about 4 m sq, which I believe from the BBC research is pretty near the mean for UK houses. It means normal viewing distance then tends to be about 9ft - so we again are very close to the BBC assumed "norm".

And my personal feelings are that there is a pretty big difference between normal broadcast SD TV and BBC HD, which would show up even more if I did go for the 46". I'd also tend to agree with Simon that 32" may now be considered on the small side for a main living room TV - certainly with the wall-mount effect.

sleepytom
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SimonMW wrote:
They aren't. That's the point I'm making. These poeple I know are not Cinephiles or early adopters in any way shape or form. They are people who spend most of the time watching programmes like Holby City and the occasional DVD.

I think your just plain wrong about this... All the indications that I have to go on (personal experience and press coverage of reports into HD take up) indicate that it is a small percentage of the UK population who has an HD capable set, and a low percentage of HD sets are connected to an HD receiver / playback system.
http://www.gizmophobe.co.uk/2009/04/07/hdtv-set-to-have-low-take-up-in-2009-uk/ indicates that HD takeup is about 13% of UK viewers. By definition anyone with an HDTV system at this point in time is an early adopter.

The same report also indicates that much of my personal experience and views of my friends and family are not unique at all, only 48% of people surveyed say they think HD makes watching TV more enjoyable. 53% has no interest in getting an HDTV.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

tom hardwick
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sleepytom wrote:
53% has no interest in getting an HDTV.

Thing is the public has no option on this - when they go out to buy their new TV it'll be HD ready right out of the box, whether they like it or not.

sleepytom
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But they won't be able to see HD on it until freeview goes HD which by all accounts is going to take somewhere between a long time and an infinite amount of time.

It really doesn't matter anyway, until their is a popular and viable disk based HD format then most of us will still be making DVDs for clients. I'd be interested to know from some of the wedding guys at what point they stopped offering VHS as an option?

People making broadcast content will be pushed towards HD when their producers switch to making HD, this will happen quite quickly as world wide channels move to HD and the lack of program content makes it easier to sell a program which is delivered in HD. This will probably result in a fall in technical quality of SD programs as large amounts of SD will be down converted HD content. This should help drive the sale of HDTVs somewhat.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

StevenBagley
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sleepytom wrote:
But they won't be able to see HD on it until freeview goes HD which by all accounts is going to take somewhere between a long time and an infinite amount of time.

HD Freeview is due to launch either late this year or early next, but to be honest, DVB-T is in danger of becoming a dead platform. If people were to ask me about HD, I'd point them squarely at SkyHD (if they were happy to pay) and then Freesat (if they weren't). Freeview has been left to become an antiquated joke...

But even so as of today, there are close to 800,000 SkyHD subscribers in the UK. That's people who have actively chosen to subscribe to HD services, and when you factor in Virgin, Freesat and those with alternative arrangements I suspect there are a significant number of HD viewers. Certainly, momentum is gathering behind it -- BBC HD trailers are playing on the main BBC channels, Sky are pushing it like no tomorrow (notice how their adverts have gone from saying 'Lost on Sky 1 and Sky 1 HD' to saying 'on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1'). Certainly, the people I interact with are fully aware of HD being an option.

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Quite so, UK HD viewing is accelerating in the same way that it did in the US. Freesat is a good way to start although only BBC is doing it regularly, ITV in a bit of a joke and Ch4 HD isn't on Freesat yet, nor does it carry much HD (most of it is upconversion). Freeview is rapidly becoming the medium for portables/small teles, Freesat/Sky/Virgin for fixed/big teles.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

sleepytom
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StevenBagley wrote:
But even so as of today, there are close to 800,000 SkyHD subscribers in the UK. That's people who have actively chosen to subscribe to HD services, and when you factor in Virgin, Freesat and those with alternative arrangements I suspect there are a significant number of HD viewers.

Yes there are significant numbers of HD viewers, But bear in mind that the 800,000 Sky Subscribers make up a whopping 1% of the UK population.

I'm not disputing that everything is moving toward HD, I'm simply pointing out the fact that this is not happening as fast as people seem to think that it is. At the moment the only options to get HDTV signal into your home are either expensive (Sky), technically complex and not well marketed (freesat), or expensive with very limited HD channels (virgin).

Until the cheap option becomes really simple the majority of people won't bother with it. We have seen this before with the amazingly slow takeup of freeview, cheap STB solutions took a long time to become popular even though they cost almost nothing and involved very little in the way of installation. We can conclude from this that many people were perfectly happy with 4 analogue channels.

Perhaps the biggest way to get people to move to HDTV would be for the beeb to move some popular series to BBCHD and not show them in SD? Unlikely to happen in today's rating wars environment..

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Alan Roberts
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Oooh, no, not right. The number of subscribers is households, not people. And 100 times 800,000 is 80 million anyway, not the 60 million inhabitants of the UK. There are about 24 million households according to ONS, so the 800,000 figure represents more like 4% of viewers, hardly insignificant.

And Fressat has to be just about the simplest way to get tv into the home after the rooftop aerial for terrestrial analogue. There's nothing difficult about it, it doesn't involve cables in the road or telephone lines. Freesat is now growing far more quickly than Sky has ever grown. Don't take my word for it, look at the industry figures for it. And Freeview now has more viewers than Sky, Virgin and Freesat put together, hardly a minority audience.

Tom, leave your preconceptions behind for a while, the statistics don't agree with you.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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sleepytom wrote:
We have seen this before with the amazingly slow takeup of freeview.

...and the amazingly fast takeup of DVD. OK, VHS had had a pretty good 25 year run, but the shiny disc was so demonstrably superior, compact and easy to use that people even forgave the fact that you couldn't (generally) record onto it.

harlequin
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sleepytom wrote:
technically complex and not well marketed (freesat)

what part of freesat is technically complex ?

and it is marketed by freesat and bbc/itv , and if wasn't marketed well , then sky+ and skyHD would not be getting as cheap as they are.

Gary MacKenzie

sepulce@hotmail.com ( an account only used for forum messages )

Thinkserver TS140 , 750ti Graphics card  & LG 27" uws led backlight , Edius 8

Humax Foxsat HD Pvr / Humax Fox T2 dvbt

sleepytom
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freesat installation requires an external dish, alignment, STB installation etc etc. It is technically complex for the average user (who lets face it finds pluging a DVD playing into their Tv with a scart cable to be way too hard) Until installation services are better marketed then it will remain a minority option. (I get constant junk mail from Sky, Virgin and various broadband suppliers. I have never seen a single printed advert for freesat, never been offered a freesat installation, never seen freesat channel list advertised anywhere)

Even if the viewing capability figures for HD are as high as 5% of the viewers this is still a tiny percentage. To steal a yoghurt slogan the uk is 95% HD Free.

Anyway I'm going to help you all with your side of the discussion and go and buy a freesat box. I'm not getting a bigger telly though, but i promise that i'll sit on the floor to watch HD..

Are there any recommended freesat PVRs for sensible money yet?

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

SimonMW
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Quote:
Even if the viewing capability figures for HD are as high as 5% of the viewers this is still a tiny percentage. To steal a yoghurt slogan the uk is 95% HD Free.

A percentage that is growing. That is the important thing to remember. Freesat is very new, but from what i can tell there does seem to be an enthusiastic uptake.

Quote:
Are there any recommended freesat PVRs for sensible money yet?

Yes, the Fortec Star Passion seems pretty good at £150 from Maplin. Has HD component out too as well as HDMI. You can also connect any USB harddrive you wish to record programmes.

Alan Roberts
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Tom, you are most definitely wrong here. There are lots of installers who will do the job for little, and many people seem to be able to do it themselves. Installation of the decoder is simply a matter of plugging in and then reading about one page of the instruction manual. Not exactly taxing.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

I've toyed with a DIY /maplinesque (?!) Freesat set up.

How hard is it?

StevenBagley
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DAVE M wrote:
I've toyed with a DIY /maplinesque (?!) Freesat set up.

How hard is it?

I installed my dish (on the garden wall behind a bush out of sight too) in a couple of hours on a saturday morning. All you need is a compass to get the dish in the right general direction and then use the satellite signal strength meter on the STB to align the dish properly. If you can put shelves up on a wall, then you can put a dish up in my opinion. Certainly, its a lot easier than putting up a new aerial for freeview.

Steve

infocus
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sleepytom wrote:
I have never seen a single printed advert for freesat, never been offered a freesat installation, never seen freesat channel list advertised anywhere)

Judging by the waiting backlist when I bought my box, extra demand is the last thing they want to generate at present!:) The dealer told me (apologetically) that there had been huge interest for Freesat, huge at least for a new product, and nearly all from people wanting HD. (He waqs apologetic because he was saying demand had outstripped supply.)

Quote:
Even if the viewing capability figures for HD are as high as 5% of the viewers this is still a tiny percentage. To steal a yoghurt slogan the uk is 95% HD Free.

But it's trends that are important - no new technology has ever reached mass acceptance overnight. HD is doing very well compared to comparable trends. As late as 1976 my mother was still saying she didn't really want colour TV - when a set was put in front of her it was a different matter.

Quote:
Are there any recommended freesat PVRs for sensible money yet?

Humax without any question. Bear in mind you need at least a dual-LNB and two cables for a sat PVR. (Quad is recommended.)

Alan Roberts
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Tom, like I said, set your preconceptions aside, HD is taking off far more rapidly than you think.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

sleepytom
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i'm not basing anything on preconceptions. I'm basing my views on the world as i experience it.

I just went into town, brought some new shoes and thought that i would have a look at freesat boxes and generally poke around in the town centre shops to look at how these things are being marketed on the high street. Argos has a load of LCD TVs in one of their little displays. They have a very big poster telling people all about the wonderful new technology of freeview (?!?). No mention of HD other than corner stickers on some screens saying HD ready (which on closer inspection seems to mean that the screen is 720p rather than actually being ready to display any of the current or future broadcast HD formats that are on offer). Looking in the catalogue they do sell freesat boxes but don't offer any real information about the system nor did they seem to offer an installation service.
Next the sony centre - i walked right past with just a cursory glance in the window as i assume they still only sell sony products. On to Dixons, Dixons is shutdown without even a message in the window. At this point i bumped into a couple of friends who showed off their new baby to me. I had a coffee and caught the bus home.

Not really very scientific i'll grant you but HD doesn't seem to be big news in the shops of Brighton... Next time i'll try and get to curries, maplins, the little independent Tv shop (yeah we still have one!), and richer sounds. Who knows I might even quiz some of the teenagers that pass for staff in these establishments and see what amusing advice they can offer.

As to the easyness of the freesat install then yes i know that it is really very very simple. But i also know that large numbers of people panic at the thought of plugging in a wire. At this point in time i'm still viewing freesat as an enthusiasts only system. Some what like hotbird / astra - totally possible to watch but requires a bit more commitment than SKY/ Virgin.

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

StevenBagley
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Amusingly, I was chatting to one of the secretaries at uni this afternoon, she was telling me how she and her husband had just moved into their new house and she was excited that they were getting Sky HD fitted this weekend... As a representation of the typical 20-something, they not only seem to know about HD -- but be excited about it.

As for Freesat in the shops -- try walking into John Lewises or Currys or Comet, you can't miss it.

Steven

StevenBagley
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sleepytom wrote:
As to the easyness of the freesat install then yes i know that it is really very very simple. But i also know that large numbers of people panic at the thought of plugging in a wire. At this point in time i'm still viewing freesat as an enthusiasts only system. Some what like hotbird / astra - totally possible to watch but requires a bit more commitment than SKY/ Virgin.

Not really. IF you want Sky or Virgin, you ring them and they come and install. IF you want Freesat, you walk to the shop, buy the box and arrange the install. If you want Freeview, you buy the box, and arrange for an installer to come and replace your aerial if necessary.

It's also the case that lots of houses already have dishes left from previous owners that can be plugged straight in just likely freeview (two friends of mine have just bought houses like this).

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Tom, stop making it out to be difficult, it isn't, it really isn't. Lots of people will tell you the same.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

sleepytom
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ok

Does anyone know why freeview gets better promotion than freesat? is it in some way the preferred option for analogue switch off? or just been around longer?

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Richard Payne
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Hi Sleepy Tom - Brightons to a bit too right on for HDTV. Cycle along to Portslade (Hills), or pop up to Burgess Hill or Haywards Heath to find Freesat ;-)

infocus
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sleepytom wrote:
......i also know that large numbers of people panic at the thought of plugging in a wire. At this point in time i'm still viewing freesat as an enthusiasts only system.

Well - if they panic at plugging a wire in, they're going to panic even if it's an ordinary aerial lead..... :)

Freesat is simply a matter of :
1/Phone aerial installer - ask for quad-LNB installation suitable for Freesat.
2/Show them where you want cables to end up.
3/Give them a couple of cups of coffee, and later pay them money. (Probably not much more than a new terrestial aerial.

4/Go to somewhere like John Lewis and buy Humax PVR for Freesat.
5/Take home and unpack.
6/Plug in two aerial cables, mains power, and HDMI to TV.

7/Switch on and follow (simple) on screen instructions.
8/Switch to channel 108
9/Make another cup of coffee and watch BBC HD.

The most difficult bits are probably negotiating the traffic to buy the Freesat box, and making the coffee. :)

infocus
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sleepytom wrote:
Does anyone know why freeview gets better promotion than freesat? is it in some way the preferred option for analogue switch off? or just been around longer?

Yes, it's been around longer, but it does have an advantage for for all the "other" TVs in the house. The ones in the kitchen, bedrooms etc that are likely to be much smaller, and for which it's convienient to just feed a simple co-ax to. Also worth noting that not everywhere can get Freeview yet, whilst if you live in the UK, can see the satellite, you can receive Freesat.

More and more we're likely to see households with Freesat for the main TV - for HD and even more channels - and Freeview for the rest of the TVs in the house.

sleepytom
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Richard Payne wrote:
Hi Sleepy Tom - Brightons to a bit too right on for HDTV. Cycle along to Portslade (Hills), or pop up to Burgess Hill or Haywards Heath to find Freesat ;-)

haha yeah probably true :)
people in brighton just watch independent short films on there macs whist eating lentils and drinking herbal tea.

maybe i'll go for a day out in mid sussex

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Alan Roberts
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Freeview is an essential part of the legal requirements placed on public broadcasters, they have to broadcast terrestrially, it's in the Charter. Since Ofcom is determined to switch of all analogue broadcasting, Freeview is the only terrestrial alternative, that's why the broadcasters vare pushing it. But Freesat is better.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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StevenBagley wrote:
But even so as of today, there are close to 800,000 SkyHD subscribers in the UK.

Interesting article in yesterday's Guardian (or at least Guardian Online) about Sky's services, I quote:

Quote:
The satellite broadcaster, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire is the largest shareholder, also persuaded 243,000 of its customers to take up its high-definition service after slashing its cost. Sky now has more than 1m households taking HD television.

To put that in perspective, that's 10% of Sky's subscriber base are using HD.

It also means Sky are making £10m a month in HD subscription charges :)

Steven