HDTV in Europe

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Alan Roberts
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I'm starting this new thread because the topic on HD abroad has veered to HD in Europe, and the UK in particular. The situation at present is that there is a bit of turmoil over standards. EBU TQE has pushed for 720/50p, and the DTG met to discuss it this week. The EBU has plumped for not being didactic:

===============================================

“EBU Technical Recommendation R112 - 2004
EBU statement on HDTV standards
EBU Committee First Issued Revised Re-issued Technical Committee 10.2004
Keywords: HDTV, Emission, progressive scanning, interlaced scanning

The EBU Technical Committee recommends that EMISSION standards for HDTV should be based on progressive scanning: 720p/50 is currently the optimum solution, but 1080p/50 is an attractive option for the longer term.

Although there are strong technical arguments in favour of progressive scanning for emission, the EBU Technical Committee recognises that some broadcasters might wish to broadcast 1080i programme material.

As consumer electronics equipment (e.g. set-top boxes and displays) will accept both 720p and 1080i formats, broadcasters will be able to select either of these formats – even on a programme-by-programme basis.

Taking into account that production and emission standards do not need to be identical, further EBU studies on PRODUCTION standards for HDTV in Europe are in progress. This work is not intended to result in a recommendation for a single standard for HDTV production. “

=========================================

Most of the HD production in Europe at present (and there's lots of it) is in 1080/50i, but 1080/25psf is an international programme exchange format because we down-conveert it easily to SD, and the Americans pretend it's film and show it at 23.978 for ease of conversion to NTSC. There's much less 720p production kit around, although it has some spectacularly good features, like the variable-speed Varicam, and the fact that it records on ordinary DV tapes rather than specialised new-format tapes.

There are several HD transmitters in Europe, all on satellite, but none is yet a real "broadcaster" as such; they show one-offs, special events, promotional loops and so on. We are still a couple of years or so away from any real broadcasting in HD, although Sky have signalled intent to cover the next World Cup in HD as a "super subscription", China will do the next Olympics in HD, and the BBC has stated that HD production will be the norm by 2010. And you'd be amazed at how many feature films are either shot in or posted in HD, it's the major growth area for HD at present.

New kit is appearing all the time, even at consumer level, the JVC HD10 works at HDV-1 (720p) and the new Sony FX1 works at HDV-2 (1080i), both are aimed at the consumer market, not the broadcaster. Professional versions of both are expected soon.

Over to 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.

cstv
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just a quick link to the HDTV Abroad thread that Alan refers to...

Alan McKeown
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One of our favourite HDTV series of programmes broadcast on HD-1 is “Tracks Ahead” (originating from Milwaukee Public Television).

These are indeed “model” productions of their kind for magazine programmes, in this case about interesting railways around the world and model railways.

http://mptv.org/Trax_main.htm

Alan

cstv
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With the aid of BitTorrent I've been watching the next series (or possibly the one after that!) of Without A Trace. The TV rips i've been downloading are from HD broadcasts in the states by CBS. The file's are only 624x352 with a datarate of 1.1Mbps but they look really rather good! I've been wathing them full screen on my 17" TFT but if you leave them at 100% they look fantastic!

I personally think it looks better than Channel 4's broadcast of Without a Trace on Freeview watched on a 14" panasonic... could just be my imagination though...

mark.

StevenBagley
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Presumably XViDs?

I've been doing the same with the new ABC series 'Lost' (which I heartily recommend btw) and I agree the quality is very good. They are derived digitally from the HD transmission and while not upto Freeview standards (many more artefacts and less detailed). I have been known to convert them to 25p anamorphic DV files to watch on the TV too and so I"m almost comparing like for like...

It does show how modern codecs should be able to deliver HD at UK broadcaster friendly bitrates — in fact I seem to remember that homechoice in london are switching to MPEG4 for their TV over ADSL service to improve the picture quality.

Steven

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by StevenBagley:

It does show how modern codecs should be able to deliver HD at UK broadcaster friendly bitrates — ........

Lets just hope that's what happens - rather than yet more shopping channels....... ;)

Can you let us know where we can find samples of the series you mention?

cstv
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not sure about "samples" as such, but i've been downloading using bit torrent, with trackers from lokitorrent.com.

oh, and yes, they're XVIDs.

Alan Roberts
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Reasons why pictures that started out as HDTV look better than SDTV even whenthey're downconvetred to the same SDTV standard:

1 : Resolution You can regard the HDTV origination as an "oversampled" source for the SD output. This means that the camera has more pixels than is needed for SDTV (talk about stating the obvious..., but bear with me). So, the camera produces not just more resolution, but the resolutiuon that it produces within the bandwdith of SDTV is at higher level. So you get higher amplitude real detail in the picture, right up to the edge of the SD bandwidth. So the pictures look sharper.

2 : Detail The camera, since it is delivering an HD signal, doesn't need much "detail enhancement" to make a nice picture, so the controls are usually wound down quite a lot, or even switched off. So there are no silly ringing edges around high-contrast edges. The pictures look "clean".

3 : Contrast HD cameras are not dramaticallyt better at capturing high contrast than are SD cameras (at least top end SD cameras), but they tend to have more controls in the gamma-correction, that let you define the transfer curve to capture more stops than can be done easily in an SD camera. For example, a digibeta camera can capture about 7.5 stops, using a normal gamma curve. I can stretch that to 10.5 stops by twiddling the controls. An HD camera can capture about 7.75 stops, using a normal gamma curve. I can stretch that to 11-12 stops by twiddling the controls (I've actually managed 13 stops on one camera). So you get less crushing of shadows and clipping of highlights, looking more like film (don't confuse that with film-motion). That travels all the way through the chain, even down to VHS. You get the benefit all the way.

4 : Film effect In SD, when video cameras are used for drame to get a film effect, the interlaced output goes (at best) through a S&W ARC or equivalent to produce the familiar (and, in my opinion, nasty) jerky motion. This tends to drop the vertical resolution somewhat. At worst, the pictures go through some nasty bodge box that throws away half the fields and replicates the remaining ones, this looks really horrid. In HD, you can set the camera (all of them, except the new Sony HDW730) to shoot in progressive format, so you get full vertical resolution. Again, the downconversion is clean and looks very nice, although you have to be careful if the output is going out on interlaced tv, there are knobs and settings in the down-converters that let you get a good comprimise.

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.

cstv
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Was BBC's Rod Stewart at the Albert Hall shot in HD?

Alan Roberts
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Don't know, I've had no contact with anyone in the BBC for 10 days now. Nothing personal, I've retired :D

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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And so it begins...

The public advertising of HD services in the UK -- page 121 of this weeks Radio Times has a competition to win a flat panel Toshiba TV (can't remember the exact details and the RT is at home and I am in the US listening to presentations on digital documents -- including one discussing the MTF of mobile phone cameras and using them to do 3D capture of documents to OCR) and states that it is suitable for the HD transmissions due to start in 2006

Steven

Alan Roberts
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2006 is the start year for Sky in HD. It's the year of the World Cup in Germany, which we all believe will be covered in HD. None of this should be read as implying that any other broadcaster will be emitting HD by then. Although, ...

Watch this space, I'll be posting news on HD as and when I get it, subject to limitations imposed on me by commercial confidentialities. I have one announcement in the pipeline, awaiting approval for publication.

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.

cstv
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Just noticed this while browsing Keene's site...

A successor to DVI, the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), is now becoming more commonplace amongst high-end Home Cinema equipment. Essentially a digital scart, HDMI combines the digital picture signal of DVI and adds audio capability.
* Up to 5Gbps transfer rate
* HDTV transfer with 2.2Gbps (HDMI to HDMI)
* 24 bit per pixel
* Absolute digital conversion

not too impressed to be honest... just because it's a "digital scart" doesn't mean they have to make the same mistakes. How hard is it to put some screws on it? i'm sure average joe consumer can cope something like that, surely?

also noticed the word "molex" on the picture (see link) is that related to the 4-pin molex used for hard drive power connectors?

i don't really see the problem with DVI anaway... if they're not increasing the bandwidth or the rubustness, what's the point?

mark.

Alan Roberts
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The problem with DVI is that it came out of the computer display connectors ragbag, and isn't really up to the data rates. It was never intended as a long-term connector, it was always going to be superseeded. The new connector handles the higher frequencies better. "Molex" is a maker's name.

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.

Alan McKeown
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I think I agree with Mark.

I am using a 5 m long DVI-D cable to connect HDTV receiver to projector at 1080i with no problems. The feed goes via a DVI-D switching unit. The connectors are robust and look well engineered mechanically. I very much like the positive screw fixing.

DVI-D cables for 1080i HDTV are available up to at least 25 m. If both sections of the connector were used I would think they could handle 1080p.

In contrast, The HDMI connectors look flimsy, with no screw fixing.

I do not have any need for a digital audio feed on the same cable as the video feed. HDTV displays do not good loudspeakers make!

Alan

Alan Roberts
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Could it be that HDMI is being designed down to a price?

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.

cstv
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true, but it just looks like a cheap immitation of an xbox controller!

DVI is a really nice connector - it's pin layout makes it quite easy to tell which way up it goes, and it's a good solid connection. I can't help that HDMI is going to end up like the 4-pin firewire connection... cheap and fiddly!

the upshot is that it carries audio, although people are now coming to realise that if you spend 2 grand on pictures it probably worth spending a few bob on audio too. this has resulted in the audio and visual elements of TV being split, so why have a cable that carries both...?

mark.

cstv
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just seen infocus's comments over in the US part of this thread and noticed the mention of plasma screens... it seems that panasonic are getting reading to release the new 7 series version of their TH42 42" plasmas. Anyone care to place a bet on it being native 1080...? ;) they'd have to be pretty stupid not to after all!

mark.

how big was the one you saw btw, infocus?

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by cstv:
how big was the one you saw btw, infocus?

I THINK it was 60" - it certainly seemed bigger than any flat screen I've seen before. Does that sound right for a price of $20,000 in the US? By and large I thought the LCD screens looked better than comparable plasmas.

Seeing what was happening over there makes the reasoning for a lot of things a lot more obvious. HD displays and receivers are starting to be sold to consumers in some quantity, but overall there is the problem of features taken for granted in SD not currently being so easily available in HD - such as home video cameras and time shift recording! Hence, for the US market, HDV and Blu-Ray are overdue. In general I found TV matters over there to either be in advance of what I'm used to (consumer HD being the most obvious), or well behind - clustered in amongst a LOT of US camera crews, Beta SP still seemed by far the dominant format.

cstv
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sounds about right, we had a 61" (IRRC) in the office a few weeks back and they are BIG! not quite as big as the 84" neodigm i've seen, although that's technically made up of 4 panels...

the analogue situation in the US accounts for a large chunk of the incentive to go to HD, but i'd never really thought about the temporary step backwards that they'll have to take in functionallity for the improvement in quality...

camcorders and video recorders are a problem, but i suppose the same's true here of digital tv. we've had it for a few years now but only now are we getting boxes that take that digital singal and record it "as is" without pumping it through a DAC, down an analogue cable and then through a ADC! With any luck by the time we get HD broadcasts the US will have tested the recording kit for us adn we'll be able to benefit from all of the new developments they'll have come up with :D

just think, we're almost certainly never going to see HD consumer video tape recorders! (unless you count HDV decks & camcorders) do you think people will still refer to it as "taping" something though? in the same way as anyone with a camcorder reacons they're "filming"...

mark

Alan Roberts
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There's a new Sharp 45" lcd tv set gone on sale in Japan a week or so back. It's native 1920x1080 and they're expecting it to outsell plasmas because it's cheaper and better. If that happens, we'll have displays of about the right size for Europe, in 1920x1080, at least 2 years before HD is broadcast here to the consumer at large.

By the way, I heard a little while ago that the ITU has rejected a proposal to get 720/50p adopted as a standard. The reason I heard quoted was that there was insufficient support for it, even in Europe. That doesn't stop any nation broadcasting it, but it will an awful lot harder to get kit made for it. I don't know why the support for it fell away, apparently the UK didn't appear at the meeting at all. Clearly, something's going on, and I don't know what it is but I'm trying to find out. This news was embargoed until the middle of last week, but I've heard nothing more since so I feel free to announce it here.

I might get into trouble for this :D

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.

Alan McKeown
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Quote:                  
“There's a new Sharp 45" lcd tv set gone on sale in Japan a week or so back. It's native 1920x1080 ..... If that happens, we'll have displays of about the right size for Europe, in 1920x1080,”

45” diagonal seems too small. A 45” diagonal 16:9 screen has a height of about 22”. Optimum viewing distance from a 1920 X 1080 picture is about 3 picture heights; 66” in this case. That seems a very short viewing distance, even for European-sized homes.

I think I recall a report claiming that the average viewing distance was 108”. If that is the case, it suggests an optimum screen size for the average European viewer of 74” diagonal.

Alan

cstv
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75.7" actually - if Mr Robert's calculations (page 8) are correct... which is why it's arguable that we don't really need 1080p in the UK since average viewing distance is limited by the size of our rooms to about 3 metres. 720p is much more sensible only requiring a 50.5" display at 3m.

There again, what's the harm in having extra resolution that you can't see?

I'm glad you mentioned viewing distances actually Alan, because it leads me to back to the 42" plasma i mentioned a few posts ago. 42" is pretty much what you want for our current SD pictures but is, as Alan McKeown says, too small to show 1080 or even 720 properly at a sensible viewing distance. I've no doubt that the marketting bods will fail to mention this... ;)

oh, and 66" / 165cm is conveniently the viewing distance i have in my bedroom at the moment for my 14" CRT TV. I'm sure i could squeez in 45" LCD if someone gave me one though! :D

mark.

cstv
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just a quick note while i've possibly got you looking at AR's "Rel" white paper: I was looking at pioneer's website yesterday and noticed they've got what appears to be a consumer guide to HD. They suggest that 480p is roughly twice as good as 480i, and that 720p and 1080i are about 5 times better than 480i. This roughly ties up with Alan's Rel values but does a difference of one Rel denote a doubling of perceived image quality? (i understand it as a decernable difference in image quality, rather than a doubling)

Either way, how did pioneer work these figures out?

mark.

Alan Roberts
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Pass. :D But I never made any claim about the visibility of one Rel, only that it relates resolutiions to each other. I guess that 1 is visible, more likely that 0.5 is, but I couldn't be sure of that.

But the viewing distances quoted as standard across the world assume that we won't change our habits when HD comes along. I doubt that view; at present most of our viewing is on big boxes that fit into corners because they're deep. When we get flat(ter) panels that are bigger and thin, it'll make more sense to rearrange the furniture, certainly I'll be doing so, and then the viewing dstances will change, probably reduce. So it could esily be that assumptions on display sizes have to be re-assessed.

And if you're using WHP092's data, just note that some observer(s) would not have been satisfied with anything less than 2K while others couldn't see better than 480. It's all there in the figures.

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.

cstv
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Well, it's taken 3 days and 1.5GB of downloading via bit torrent but i've finally got my hands on Pioneer's HD Promo Showreel... It's 1080 which my PC and display aren't really up to, but certainly i gave it a go!

It's a couple of minutes in length and features various fruit, veg, animals, cars and buildings in France... there's also a woman with a rather large chest who plays a lead role... good to see Pioneer aren't stereotyping ;) Oh, and it's so sharp it'll take your eye out! the detail is incredible! They don't seem to be selling the high contrast capabilities though. there are a few shots with a good range of contrast, but not many. The majority of it is really light to show off the high detail. No sound either... :(

mark.

Alan Roberts
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Highly lit and low contrast is the Japanese production style. You have to come to Europe or the US to get good contrast :D

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.

cstv
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maybe you could go teach 'em a thing or two... ;)

does seem a bit odd though considering that 1024 distinct levels for each colour that their plasma's can supposadly display...

mark.

Alan Roberts
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Indeed

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.

Alan McKeown
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"The Nibelungen" in High Definition on Sat.1 Television

"Crystal-clear pictures of Siegfried, Brunhild and Princess Kriemheld. Join us in watching The Nibelungen. A HDTV/SDTV Simulcast of the Sat 1 TV Event of the Year.

ProSiebenSat.1 Produktion and SES ASTRA will simultaneously broadcast in HD and SD via ASTRA 19.2° East on the 29th and 30th of November.

Just six weeks after the first simultaneous broadcast in advertising financed German Free-TV of high-resolution HDTV (High Definition Television) in parallel with conventional digital standard resolution, ProSiebenSat.1 Produktion and SES ASTRA have arranged yet another HDTV/SDTV Simulcast. On 29th and 30th November, "Die Nibelungen - Der Fluch des Drachen" [The Nibelungen - The Curse of the Dragon], the "TV Event of the Year" on Sat.1, can also be received via ASTRA 19.2° East in the new, high-resolution HDTV standard.
Sat.1 viewers with suitable receiving equipment can experience this epic two-part movie about Siegfried, Brunhild and Princess Kriemhild in crystal-clear picture quality. The visual experience will be completed by Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, providing viewers with true cinema quality in the living room. Technically speaking, the broadcast will be simulcast in parallel to the SD signal, the film being played out in HDCAM SR (1080i/50 Hz) and delivered to an MPEG-2 HD encoder with a data rate of some 1.4 gigabits/s. The DPC (Digital Playout Center) based in Unterföhring, Germany, is responsible for the re-multiplexing, the modulation and uplink of the HD signal and ensures that the signal is DVB-conform. The symbol rate is 22 MS/s. The HD broadcast of "Die Nibelungen - Der Fluch des Drachen" can be received via ASTRA Transponder No. 31 on frequency 11.671 GHz."

Alan Roberts
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The production of "The Little Prince", shown yesterday on BBC2, was shot in HD using HDW750s. I was paid to help them get the look they wanted. They got it. I got paid

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.

infocus
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Have we mentioned the plans of the German "Premiere Channel" here before? From the latest "High Definition" magazine: ".....on 1st November next year. The Munich-based pay-TV operator will transmit HDTV content on three specialist channels for sport, film and documentaries."

Alan, on the 30th October you posted "I have one announcement in the pipeline, awaiting approval for publication." - even if you still can't say what it is, any idea when we can expect more news?

infocus
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The latest DVD replacement battle news here - also relevant in that phrases such as "Next-generation DVDs can record an entire film in high definition format, ensuring sharper pictures." are now used in the UK, rather than "20 hours of video" etc, such as has been used in the past.

Alan Roberts
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Sorry, still no clearance, you'll have to wait.

The battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD has taken a new turn, Hollywood has come down favour of HD-DVD even though it has a rather lower data capacity per disc. The reasoning is that HD-DVD has better anti-piracy possibilities.

http://www.elitestv.com/pub/2004/Nov/EEN41ab4e974733b.html

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.

Alan McKeown
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This 45 minute programme is well worth watching if you have access to HD1. It was shot in HDTV, not on film. The picture quality, lighting and general production values are superb. And the subject matter is fascinating.
HD1 are showing the English-language version.

Alan

"The Jewels of the dark

Show times (CET)

02/12 17:30

05/12 16:00

The jewels of the dark

A documentary film directed by Philippe AXELL"
 
“Speleologists devote all their spare time and energy to this strenuous activity, which for them is more than a passion:  It's a way of life. But what drives these men and women to enter the gapping chasms, the narrow passageways, to brave the mud, the cold, the darkness?

The discovery of concretions, also called speleothems, so beautiful and fragile, could be the quest, the treasure sought by speleologists. Treasures jealously hidden in this underground world where so much remains to be discovered.

Accompanied by a specialist from the Subterranean Laboratory of Moulis (France), a team of speleologists and cinematographers uncovers some of the biggest Calcite crystal concretions found in Europe. 

For the first time, a camera is allowed to penetrate the secret network of Orgnac in France, where strangely shaped crystals called Helectites defy the laws of gravity.

Continuing its search for the most unusual cave minerals, the team traverses the immense chasm of Cabrespine to discover the superb coral-shaped Aragonite crystals hidden there. 

At a secret location somewhere in the Eastern Pyrenees Mountains, accompanied by its discoverer, they capture on tape a rare glimpse of the largest known Aragonite and Hydromagnesite deposit in the world.
 
Undoubtly the most beautiful cave of Europe. But what can be done to protect these jewels?

 
The images of cave interiors made possible by the use of HDTV technology are completely unprecedented.
 
Never before has it been possible to adequately light and shoot the magnificent mineralogical wonders found in Europe's nether world. The images captured by Philippe Axell and his team are unknown even to the professional speleologists who frequent Europe's cave networks, as their knowledge of the caves is limited to what is visible using the primitive lighting equipment generally available for cave exploration.         

Many of Europe's most magnificent cave sites are strictly regulated and will not be accessible to film crews again for decades to come. Authorization to film several of the caves featured in the film was granted only because this production was shot with HDTV equipment. The cave environments are so sensitive that repeated exposure to lighting and filming crews could easily destroy what has taken millennia for nature to create.”

Alan McKeown
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Live HDTV transmission this Saturday, 04 December.
From 15h30 to 17h30 GMT continued 18h00 to 20h00 GMT
Stade de France
on HD1  

“The Race of Champions

Show times (CET)

04/12 16:30

06/12 20:00

The Race of Champions pitches the best circuit racers against the best off road drivers in the world to determine who is the fastest!

Sixteen rally drivers and racing drivers will compete in a series of knockout heats in their own division to determine their class champion.

Then, in a shootout to determine who is the master of motorsport, the winners from the two divisions, rally and racing, will go head-to-head in a super final.

The winner is rewarded with the title as “The Champion of Champions”.

Participants

• Michael Schumacher, 7-time F1 World Champion
• David Coulthard, Winner 13 F1 Grand Prix’s including Monaco GP 2003.
• Jeff Gordon, 4-time NASCAR Champion
• Jean Alesi, 3rd F1 World Championship 1997, 201 starts in GP
• Kenny Brack, INDY 500 Winner, IRL
• Jimmie Johnson, 2nd NASCAR 2003
• Mattias Ekstrom, DTM Champion 2004, Winner Gr.N Swedish Rally 2004
• Heikki Kovalainen : 2004 World Series by Nissan Champion
• Sebastien Loeb, 2004 World Rally Champion
• Marcus Gronholm, World Rally Champion 2000 & 2002, winner 2004
• Colin McRae, World Rally Champion 1995
• Armin Schwarz, European Rally Champion 1996

 

http://www.imp.mc/rocwebsite/index.htm

Alan McKeown
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“BSkyB to support dual formats for HDTV.

BSkyB has confirmed that it is building its High Definition TV (HDTV) broadcasting system to be able to support both the 720/P/50 and 1080/I/25 formats. Its HDTV set-top decoder box, due to be launched commercially in 2006, is also being specified to be able to handle both of these formats.

Broadcasters using the digital satellite platform will be able to choose whether to broadcast in 720/P/50 or 1080/I/25.

BSkyB believes that a progressively scanned picture format is better suited for the delivery of HDTV to the large screen, flat panel displays (mostly plasma or LCD) that are increasingly prevalent. These displays are progressively scanned and 720/P/50 is currently the maximum progressively scanned format that is deployed in consumer decoding and display devices expected to be widely available over the next few years. However, BSkyB acknowledges that, for some types of programming, the higher screen resolution offered by the 1080/I format may be preferable.

BSkyB continues to evaluate the new advanced compression coding systems, H.264 (also known as MPEG-4 part 10) and VC-1 (the internationally standardised version of Microsoft’s WM9 CODEC). An announcement about which CODEC BSkyB will use for its HDTV service will be made in due course.

BSkyB’s HDTV set-top decoder will be equipped with an HDMI (High-bandwidth Digital Multimedia Interface) as its primary means of connecting to an HD display.HDMI can also be connected to DVI equipped displays using a suitable adapter cable. It should be noted, however, that as most HDTV content will be protected by HDCP (High Definition Content Protection),
most HDTV content will only be capable of being viewed via display devices which support HDCP carried over HDMI or DVI.

SES (Astra), BSkyB and other European Pay-TV operator, with EICTA (the European Information, Communications and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Associations), have defined recently an “HD ready” label for HDTV sets and display devices. This label is intended for use only on display devices which are capable of displaying picture formats of 720/P/50 and
1080/I/25 and include HDMI or DVI with HDCP.”

infocus
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I don't know how to feel about that last post - pleased because at last mainstream broadcast HDTV in the UK really does now seem round the corner, but sad because.... why does it have to be BSkyB that's setting the pace? I don't really want a sat dish on my house, or to give money to BSkyB, but this may well make me do it.

Closer to home, I noticed in my local Sony store that all the new big flat screens make a point of saying "HDTV ready" on their tags. I don't know if this is the official definition, (as above) but it does show how HD has moved up the agenda in the high street. Also noticeable was this store using the inbuilt Freeview tuners to drive the display pictures, rather than a poor RF feed around the store. A quantum leap up from the average store, but you couldn't half see the artefacts now - I wonder how much they were due to Freeview itself, or scaling within the display.....? Roll on HD.

cstv
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I agree; it's sad that once again, as with digital tv, it's sky that are making the advancements rather than the beeb. Partly because i like the bbc but more importantly because they're more likely to do it right and not charge silly money for it.

i assume sky wont be considering dirac as a codec for their hd broadcasts? no offence to wm9, it's one of the best codecs around, but it's still microsoft...

mark.

StevenBagley
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Quote:
assume sky wont be considering dirac as a codec for their hd broadcasts?

Last time I looked at the dirac website -- it wasn't even running in real time on a PC at SD rates, let alone in embedded silicon for HD.

Ideally, the chip that is placed in will be capable of both MPEG4-AVC and VC1 decoding (As well as MPEG2 for SD )

Steven

infocus
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If Sky do use H.264 or VC1, it does mean that they will be transmitting HD for comparable bitrates to that used for SD on Freeview. Makes you think, doesn't it? As for all these codecs, surely there must be a theoretical limit to how low one can go with bitrates, dependent I suppose on picture content and movement.

Alan Roberts
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News.

There was an attempt, a few weeks ago, to get 720/50p adopted by the ITU. It was thrown out because there was "not enough support for it at the meeting." Apparently the UK wasn't even represented there.

In the meantime, Sky have decided that their HD system will be able to carry 1080/50i, 1080/25psf, and 720/50p. That gets them out of having to install standards conversion; it's the logical way to go.

You can expect to hear much more about European HDTV plans in the next few months, because the bids for the next Olympics will have to include coverage and broadcasting in HDTV.

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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I see BBC1 is showing 'Pride' this christmas (27th, 18:35) -- though obviously not in HD

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Correct.

The things to look for, that will be obvious even in SD, are the contrast handling and the lack of "video-ness" of the pictures. The cameras were set up to my prescription (or very near it, I know John Downer did a lot of local tests) and so managed to capture around 11 stops (that's at least 3 more than Digibeta normally does, but 3 less than film normally does). So you'll get detail in shadows as well as in the sky. And you should see very little detail enhancement, because the cameras don't need it, so the pictures look clean and relaxed.

At least, that's what the rushes looked like when I saw them (it must have been 2 years ago).

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.

infocus
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Well, what a difference a year makes!

In January I commented on a report on BBC Online( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3252992.stm ) giving the news that Japan had started DTT transmissions - it quoted that "The UK, US, Sweden, Australia and South Korea already have the technology."

In fact, what Japan was introducing was High Definition terrestial broadcasting, and was technologically well AHEAD of the UK, rather than playing catch up!

Just now look at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4065565.stm and it seems that BBC ONline have now caught on to HD - even admitting that European TV technology is falling behind other parts of the world - "Now the TV set is taking another leap forward into a crystal clear future, although those in Europe will have to be patient."

Most of whats said in the article won't come as too much of a surprise to anybody who's followed this topic - what's notable is that it is now being said publicly, and even by the BBC, tacitly admitting it's currently being left behind - "For now, broadcasters like the BBC are working on their own HDTV plans, although with no launch date in sight."

Slightly more encouraging are these comments -
"The BBC will start broadcasting in HDTV when the time is right, and it would not be just a showcase, but a whole set of programming," says Andy Quested, from the BBC's high-definition support group.

"We have made the commitment to produce all our output in high-definition by 2010, which would put us on the leading edge."

Alan Roberts
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I've just got back from a RTS Colloquium on HDTV, where I did a session on history and theory of HDTV.

I heard Phil Laven (ex BBC, now EBU) say that he could see no reason for standards-conversionj of mprogramme material for transmission, implying that the "standard" for Europe could/should/might include all the ATS offerings plus 720/50p. That would mean we could get US imports, shot mat 59.94i, transmitted and shown as 59.94i rather than goiung through the mangle of a standards conversion. For my money, that has to be the best news yet. He also hinted that the reason why 720/50p was recently rejected by the ITU was objections from the USA and Japan, but wouldn't be any more specific.

I also heard Graham Plumb (ex BBC R&D, now in core management at TVC) confirming that production will all be HD by 2010. What I'd heard before was only an observation, that HD would be the norm, rather than an intent, by then. So we're confirming the move to HD production.

But Brendan Slamin (ex BBC, now DTG) hinted that 2012 for terrestrial broadcast of HDTV (because analogue channels will be freed by then) will be too late, HDTV will have moved on. And I 100% agree with that.

Peter Fannon (a VP at Panasonic USA) confirmed that of the 36 "standards" in the old ATSC Table III, only 4 are in regular use:
1080/59.94i
1080/29.97psf
1080/23.98psf
720/59.94p
so, if Europe throws its needs into the ring, we add:
1080/50i
1080/25psf
720/50p
and have "only" seven standards to worry about. I'd be very happy with that.

There was lots about the nuts and bolts of HDTV, but little that I need to relay here.

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.

JohnColby
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What sort of bandwdth/transmission speed is necessary for HD - would any of the existing broadband connections cope? Or do we all have to wait for fibre?

This question was asked of me today and I realised I have no idea.

John

Alan Roberts
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The projections for bit rates are, using either H.264 or VC-1 (if it gets full ratification at SMPTE) about 8Mb/s in 5 years time, which is when it would have to do it for real. At present, there are only software codecs for both, which strain a high spec PC to do in real time (and only for 720/50p as yet). Broadband has no hope unless you're within 400 yards of the exchange, but Peter Fannon said that US cable can do it now using "near VOD" (i.e. when you select a channel, it signals the sending end to change the single channel it's sending you, he claimed they could get about 400Mb/s to work). And that's without fibre.

The problem is that cable's ubiquitous in the US and much of mainland Europe, but only a small minority in the UK. Cable passes within 1200 yards of my home, but there's absolutely no way it'll get here in my lifetime (we only got gas 10 years ago).

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.

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alan Roberts:
But Brendan Slamin (ex BBC, now DTG) hinted that 2012 for terrestrial broadcast of HDTV ....... will be too late, HDTV will have moved on. And I 100% agree with that.

Would you care to elaborate on that, Alan? Even a "moved on" version will need to be transmitted, and did Mr Slamin have any thoughts about how or if it could be achieved before then?

And no mention of 1080p50 as a "Holy Grail" for the future?

Alan Roberts
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Not a "moved on" variety of HD, but Brendan suggested that the market will be fully satisfied with HD being delivered by satellite/cable/DSL before the terrestrial channels are freed from analogue. So it may be too late for terrestrial HD. Sky will start by 2006 for the football, other services are inevitable . DVD carrying HD will hit us in the next 12 months, albeit as a format war, and HD-ready displays are with us now, there's a 50" HD plasma in the Sony UK catalgue. 74" plasmas are in shops in the US now.

1080/50p as a "holy grail" is an apt description. It's what all the engineers really want (ok, 60 in the US), but I suspect we'll be stuck with the flavours we're considering now until the next big change, which could be a decade or two away. Don't hold your breath (the bean counters still want lots of channels).

What I predict we'll get is a ragbag of formats for transmission/distribution. There's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't have systems and displays that can cope with everything from SDTV to 720 and 1080 in i or p at rates from 24 to 60. "It's only software". Since standards-conversion is the hardest and most expensive single operation in tv, it's the first thing that should go. Prin Boon (Snell & Wilcox, and a long-term colleague of mine) smiled quietly when we were talking of this. he readily appreciated that the loss of sales of professional kit would easily be overtaken by the massive sales of high quality scalers for displays (which is where they should be in my opinion). Interstingly, the official BBC line is the exact opposite, that the pipeline should be fully specified and all material forced to fit it, standards converters galore. But I think the market will not go that way.

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.

infocus
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Understood. In an ideal future world it would be good (IMO) if SD went away - fell between stools - and the consumers choice was between HD for the main TV in the house, and a very robust less than SD resolution signal for mobile and portable reception. (I hear talk of DVB-H trialled, so maybe that's coming?)

To me the big disadvantage of satellite/cable/dsl is that it "anchors" the TV within the house to a greater extent than terrestial and I don't see it as an option for 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc sets come switch-off. However, in the model I suggest above, so what? The main HD 60" screen in the home will be "anchored" anyway, most probably to the wall with big bolts, and the bedroom/kitchen 2nd TVs will benefit more from robust, aerial free reception than HD quality pictures.

In Mondays "Independent" ( see ) Greg Dyke talks about the subject of analogue switch-off, and at last the extra sets issue is starting to be publicly acknowledged as the huge problem it is. The articles worth reading in full, but especially:

Quote: "On top of that, thousands more people who believe they have "gone digital" will suddenly discover their second and third television sets won't work unless they buy a box for every set. The reaction among the public to being forced to go digital might well not be a pretty sight.

The question is whether the politicians will keep their nerve or, as Jowell did over gambling, change their policy at the last minute because of pressure from national newspapers and parliamentary back-benchers."

Which I don't believe is quite what the BBCs position was on the matter when Mr Dyke was its Director General, and is a long way from the rosy Freeview promotions currently being shown, which presumably he was responsible for commissioning. Could it possibly be that the first person has publicly said that the Emperor has no clothes on?

Alan McKeown
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Posted by Alan Roberts:                     
“The projections for bit rates are, using either H.264 or VC-1 (if it gets full ratification at SMPTE) about 8Mb/s in 5 years time, which is when it would have to do it for real.”

If 8 Mb/s is genuinely adequate for HDTV will there then be any real need for blue laser technology for high definition DVDs?

As I understand it, present-day red-laser DVDs can store about 37.6 Gb per layer.

37.6 Gb / 8 Mb/s = 4.7 ks = 1.31 hours

So a two layer disc could store 2.62 hours of HDTV.
Which is adequate for most feature films.

A Blu-Ray disc can store about 200 Gb per layer.

200 Gb / 8 Mb/s = 25 ks = 6.94 hours

6.94 hours per layer seems unnecessarily generous.

Alan

Alan Roberts
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The 8Mb/s figure caim from BBC R&D, refering to terrestrial OTA HD. It's the equivalent figure to that used for terrestrial OTA SD at present. So, you can probably assume that arftefacts will be visible and some of the viewing populace will complain about it. Nobody's saying that 8Mb/s is adequate for HD at present; the hint is that with 5 years of development, it might be.

Big DVDs aren't limited to video. The industry currently sees the growth market being in games, not video. DVD video's already just about saturated so growth is only through replacments, the real growth is in opeing new markets and that means the games consoles.

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.

infocus
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I took the 8 Mb/s as a minimum, a bit like the 3-4 Mb of some Freeview channels today. Just as DVDs today use higher bitrates than much broadcast TV, so is this not likely to be the case in the HD future for HD films on disc?

Therefore, although 8Mb may be possible, figures of 16Mb or higher may be desirable, so we come down to figures of 3.5 hours per layer or less. Having said which, I suspect codec and blue laser technologies have been developed in parallel, and indeed ended up giving more than absolutely necessary. Blu-Ray is also intended as a computer storage medium (as DVD, CD), so the quest for storage capacity is not solely to do with High Definition DVDs.

Alan Roberts
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Indeed. You got it right about Freeview etc.

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are both certified for MPEG2, VC-1 and H.264, so we can expect the bit rates to vary quite a bit, depending on the codec. Currently we've got an 8Mb/s ceiling on DVD, which often codes much less than the full 576 lines, while Freeview always has to code 576 lines, down to about 2.2Mb/s for somew services. You can expect to see the same sort of differentiation in any new services, for the obvious reasons. Europe has a lot of nations, each will want their own services, so planning the spectrum is going to be a nightmare unless each nation keeps its existing analogue channels. But there's already a lot of talk about reallocating the "taboo" channels after analogue shut-down, so we might get another 50% available on top of the closed analogue channels.

Of course, all this depends on the bean counters not wanting to shift tv off Bands IV and V altogether, and that's a political decision that hasn't been made yet.

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.

cstv
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I'm not sure about the other one, the name of which escapes me, but the Blu-ray spec has a data rate of just 36Mbps... does anyone else think that's a bit low for a format of the future? I realise this might be slghtly off topic, but while we're discussing blue laser technology...

As for HD, i'm becoming more convinced that a better option would be for the terrestrial broadcasters to move further into the sattelite arena. They could ditch Sky and have all the bandwidth they wanted. So what if people have to invest in a dish to receive HD? They don't have to receive HD, they can keep watching SD on digital terrestrial.

Alan Roberts
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36Mb/s is fine for HD. The US transmitted rate is 19.63 for all flavours. Remember that it's inter-frame compression, whichever compressor's used. 36Mb/s is actually contribution quality for HD broadcast.

Ditching Sky would be a political hot potato that no government would even consider. The Murdoch press is far too powerful to risk annoying like that. But there's plenty of bandwidth spare on satellite, that's why Sky are starting soon, and HD1's trundling away as well. The only problem with putting HD only on a bird is that there's a pretty big majority in the UK that won't consider installing a dish under any circumstances, about 60% at the last poll IIRC. But, they might well be the people who wouldn't consider HD either. If HD comes on satellite, and not from Murdoch, I'd install a dish tomorrow. But it won't, so I'm safe for now. I suspect we'll see significant moves into broadcast during 2006, with some European networks going HD by 2008. And I expect Scandinavian to lead.

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.

cstv
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If HD comes on satellite, and not from Murdoch, I'd install a dish tomorrow. exactly my point Alan. I would think at least half of that 60% who object to satellite are really objecting to Murdoch! Which is why we should try to get away from Sky.

I still can't really see me being interested in HD for everyday broadcasts though... By all means shoot on HD but since a lot of the advantages are replicated even when downsampled to SD, i'm happy with that for most applications.

Films, certain docos and the odd drama i can see as being worth it, which is why just switching one (terrestrial) channel to HD would do me... if BBC 3 and 4 are suposadly so bad, why not scrap the 2 of them and replace them with BBC 34; the HD channel? :D assuming we don't get the bandwidth back from analogue.

Of course, sport has it's place in the HD grand scheme, but i don't really watch enough of it; F1 and the odd rugby union match...

mark.

Alan Roberts
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Personally, I'd scrap any two channels for one HD as long as I keep BBC4, it's what I watch for preference, like the current series on Light, Mark Steel, foreign films. BBC's already departed from Sky, to go in clear.

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.

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alan Roberts:
The only problem with putting HD only on a bird is that there's a pretty big majority in the UK that won't consider installing a dish under any circumstances, about 60% at the last poll IIRC. But, they might well be the people who wouldn't consider HD either.

Was it Homer Simpson who stated that 64% of people didn't trust 57% of statistics? ;) Jokes aside, polls can be made to give whatever result you want, depending how you phrase the question. If I was asked tomorrow if I'd put up a dish, I'd answer no - if I was asked if I'd put up a dish to receive BBC & ITV in Hi-Def, I'd answer yes.

I suspect few people wouldn't put up a dish under any circumstances, it just depends what the gain is from doing it. Some months ago I posted about seeing a public demo (from a PC to a Sagem set) in a large branch of Comet. A few weeks ago I had to go to the same store, and whilst there went to look at the TVs. Sure enough, the demo was still running, with a young couple looking at it, who unprompted said to me "They say you won't be able to get it at home until 2006." It turned out their TV had bust, they were shopping for a plasma as a replacement, had seen the one in question, and been disappointed to find that if taken home they wouldn't get the same quality.

I believe the trials such as that are "toe in the water" exercises by the retailers, and the feedback they are already getting is extremely positive. Since they exist to make money and sell goods, they are likely to be extremely keen for other broadcasters to follow the lead of Sky, and I would put a big bet that the terrestial broadcasters are going to start coming under intense pressure (from manufacturers and retailers) to broadcast HD in a timescale shorter than foreseen by Alan. Any takers? In the past the BBC took a very dim view of being upstaged by such matters as breakfast TV and 24 hour News, and lost no time in responding in kind. Would News 24 have started when it did, had it not been for Sky News? HD is just the latest example of this.

I made a posting after returning from IBC in September - "I've just got back from IBC a hour or so ago, and an article in the IBC newspaper caught my eye - you may be interested in going to http://hugecgi.com/cgi-bin/ibc_dailynews1.cgi?db_id=22655&issue=4 where a certain Andy King talks about HD and the BBC. And even mentions a certain OB truck......."

I'll requote from that article - "Asked where the BBC might be when the UK starts HDTV transmissions in 2006 (by BskyB), King stressed the BBC is already working extensively in HD. .........."The BBC has no official view just yet: but a special strategy committee, and I sit on it, is due to make its recommendations by March 2005 with a plan and timetable. 2006 isn't just about what Sky might do, it's also the World Cup," explained King."

Ok, maybe I'm adding 2 + 2 and making 1080, but I can't believe Kings comment about the World Cup is a meaningless aside, given the context, and does it really seem feasible that the committee will recommend not a lot for 3, 4, 5 years?

Incidentally, would 1080/48p not be a second "Holy Grail" standard, especially in the States? Still look excellent on TV/video projector, but convert very nicely to film for the cinemas that remain old fashioned enough to still use that? And if displays are migrating to a native 1920x1080 as seems likely, surely 720 is destined to whither on the vine anyway?

Regarding the RTS Colloquium - most of your quotes, Alan, relate to BBC plans. Was anything said there about what ITV think? (If anything.)

StevenBagley
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Quote:
itching Sky would be a political hot potato that no government would even consider. The Murdoch press is far too powerful to risk annoying like that.

Interesting segment from the report on the BBC's future from the DCMS (as reported here

"The BBC should work with other providers to create an alternative free satellite option, similar to Freeview"

Presumably that's as an alternative to sky...

And I agree about BBC4, very good channel, I'm always watching stuff on that (even though according to the marketers I should be wanting to watch BBC3

But I wish they'd done a better job of filmising 'Light Fantastic' the flickering near horizontal diagonals are really distracting from an otherwise excellent series.

Steven

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by StevenBagley:
Quote:
"The BBC should work with other providers to create an alternative free satellite option, similar to Freeview"

But what could they do to make it different to Freeview, and what extra attraction over Freeview could it have to make anybody want to take it up? Ooooh, thats a difficult one. ;) Any suggestions?

StevenBagley
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Quote:
But what could they do to make it different to Freeview, and what extra attraction over Freeview could it have to make anybody want to take it up? Ooooh, thats a difficult one

Erm can't think

Presumably one sensible thing they could do would be to make sure that all the channels were grouped in one frequency band and with one polarization so that it'd be very easy to hang multiple FreeSAT boxes off one dish. In fact, I do wonder if it wouldn't be possible to resurrect the old BSB Squarial, just so that FreeSAT looked different to Sky.

Steve

Alan Roberts
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Andy King was at the RTS. I've known and worked with/for him for several years. The BBC's plans are, at present, only for production in HD, not for broadcast. The reason's simple, there's no spare terrestrial bandwidth to broadcast it. That doesn't mean there won't be a launch in the next few years, but it can't be terrestrial.

ITV were there (Simon Fell), a bit non-commital, but clearly interested in HD and making programmes for sale abroad, just as we all are. There were 2 BBC speakers presenting (Simon Gauntlett R&D, Andy King BBC Resources), plus me (ex BBC), and Brendan Slamin (ex BBC, now DTG). Prin Boon (Snell & Wilcox, Paul Kafno (freelance producer, ex Thames), David Klakowski (the Home), Peter Fannon (VP from Panasonic). There was a Q&A session with Phil Laven (EBU), Simon Fell (ITV), Graham Plumb (BBC), Peter Fannon (Panasonic).

The free satellite service is already there, that's how BBC stuff gets out now since they broke with Sky. But I don't know how much spare capacity there is on that system. There are several thing sot sort out before starting, like agreeing the format and coding so that STBs can be made in quantity. Sky were invited by the RTS but sent no-one, not even as attendees, so they're keeping very quiet about plans. We do know that they're going to support 720/50p, 1080/50i (and therefore 1080/25psf). Sky's STBs will be the first bulk sales, and may well be the de facto standard for the rest of Europe if it takes off.

BTW, 1080/48 isn't a standard at all, anywhere. When Americans show 1080/24p on air, they play it at 23.98 and "2:3 pulldown" it to get to 59.94 and it looks awful. I've never understood why they like it, but the fact that they do means we've at least got a world-wide frame rate we can settle on, 24 and 25 (both will play at 23.98 and 2:3 gets to 59.94i, or at 25 to get to 50i; the semitone pitch change is usually accepted, but the 0.1% change is automatically corrected in the vtr).

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.

cstv
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Even though there's no immediate way for the BBC to broadcast HD, if sky went HD, is it likely that the BBC would jump on board with an HD/SD multicast via Sky's HD system? I have a feeling E4 would want to get involved very quickly given the oportunity since a lot of the US imports they show are shot in HD.

I can't work out if that would be good idea or not. I would prefer a rival to Sky's dominance which Freeview was supposed to be but it was always going to fall down on the bandwidth front. I realise that BBC broadcast on a free sat system already, but they're locked into using Sky's coding system (probably not the correct term) so that Sky viewers can BBC watch on Sky boxes... IIRC...

In the past the BBC took a very dim view of being upstaged by such matters as breakfast TV and 24 hour News, and lost no time in responding in kind
I'd love for the BBC to pioneer HD broadcasting, the use of license fee money doens't bother me. Unfortunately technological pioneers almost always regret going first because 6 months down the line the rest of the world is using a different, much better standard and it gets very expensive to rebuild your system to match.
Take NTSC for example... as i recall that came before PAL, spot the difference. ;) Or is there some other reason why PAL is so much better?

I'd be much happier to let Sky go first and make the mistakes so that the BBC can learn from them and make a fantastic HD system.

Alan, do you know if the bbc broacast playout center at the White City Media Village is "HD ready" as it were? I assume it is since it's a digital, tapeless system but you never can be sure with these things... ;)

And indeed, BBC4 rocks! I too should be watching BBC 3, but i don't really want to watch repeats of Eastenders... :D Light Fantastic's been fascinating, although much of it (for me) is recapping everything i learnt from my intensive Local Heroes watching over the summer when UKTV Docs had it on not-stop... hehe... and the John Peel tribute stuff they've been showing has been wonderful! In fact, BBC4 is the ideal channel to make HD!

StevenBagley
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Quote:
Alan, do you know if the bbc broacast playout center at the White City Media Village is "HD ready" as it were? I assume it is since it's a digital, tapeless system but you never can be sure with these things...

Didn't the BBC demonstrate it by playing a HD channel out to IBC in September -- I seem to remember seeing some pictures grabbed off satellite of Blue Peter in HD.

Here's the press release. As for pictures:

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/screen.php?category=24&type=bbchdtv
http://www.hdtvtotal.com/gallery-thumbnails-album-33.html
http://www.ic-zaps.tivi.pl/search.php?ch=BBC%20Broadcast%20HD%20Demo

Hmm, Blue Peter, The Mysti Show, and Shoebox Zoo -- maybe CBBC will be the first to go HD

Steven

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Posted by cstv:
“I realise that BBC broadcast on a free sat system already, but they're locked into using Sky's coding system (probably not the correct term) so that Sky viewers can BBC watch on Sky boxes... IIRC...”

The BBC are not locked into Sky’s encryption system in any way. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to have anything to do with Sky to receive BBC programmes via satellite.

I use the HDTV receiver to receive BBC programmes. It is connected to the projector by an all digital connection (DVI-D) which no standard Sky digibox has. This gives a marginally better picture and I have the satisfaction of knowing that Sky is not involved.

Alan

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by cstv:
Unfortunately technological pioneers almost always regret going first because 6 months down the line the rest of the world is using a different, much better standard and it gets very expensive to rebuild your system to match.
Take NTSC for example... as i recall that came before PAL, spot the difference. ;) Or is there some other reason why PAL is so much better?

An interesting point, and not too simple. The advantage to being first is it gives you the opportunity to set the stage, and done correctly corner the market. The disadvantage, is as you say, get it wrong and others have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Much more important in the commercial world - remember what happened to BSB?

The PAL/NTSC comparison is interesting. Leaving colour (and color) aside for a moment, don't forget US viewers enjoyed better quality pictures (and no irritating line whistle) than the UK for several decades after the war - remember it's a case of 525 versus 405, not 625. Then we've had the advantage for 3, 4 decades, are now losing it big time as the States goes HD, and in the future....? As far as the colour goes, then yes, the States lost out. You may think that at least they had colour for 15 years when we didn't. In fact, for the late fifties, early sixties, little was broadcast in colour, and few people owned colour receivers anyway. Not that much was actually WATCHED in colour in the US until about the time it started to become popular over here.

The lesson which may be learnt is that it's not a good idea to tie yourself to a standard too far ahead of when it's likely to become popular. Take what has now evolved into Freeview. Starting so early it is a 2k system in the UK, but an 8k system in Europe, and it's a fairly small number of old boxes that are likely to keep us 2k for an indefinite period. The problem isn't the expense of rebuilding your system, but the legacy of all the existing kit which will only receive your original broadcasts.

All that said, I think HDs time has come, and it will become popular fairly soon after BSkyBs launch, with the way the flat panel market is going. Equally, it's probably a good thing HD-MAC didn't happen in the nineties - that could have been our NTSC, little watched for 15 years, then saddling us with a system inferior to the rest of the world come the time of mass acceptance.

Quote:
Originally posted by cstv:
Alan, do you know if the bbc broacast playout center at the White City Media Village is "HD ready" as it were? I assume it is since it's a digital, tapeless system but you never can be sure with these things... ;)

From the Press release linked to by Steven Bagley, quote: "Chris Howe, BBC Broadcast's Head of Technology says, "Even though our client's HD strategies are still being formed today, the Broadcast Centre is ready when the consumer demands it tomorrow. Our HD capabilities will enable any broadcaster to transmit from this resilient and state-of-the-art facility on various platforms at a competitive price.""

In other words, yes.

Alan Roberts
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BBC's playout centre is all server based, and therefore can cope with HDTV now. It already plays out far more than just the BBC output, so it's perfectly possible to do HD at any time. There's a lot of HD production going on already, but none of it reaches the playout centre as HD, only as SD downconversions. The problem with the BBC going into HD broadcast is the issue of channel space, and agreeing formats. Both of those are political issues, and, since I'm no longer directly connected with the BBC, I've no inside knowledge.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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Alan McKeown
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A recording of the 2005 New Year’s Day concert from Vienna is to be broadcast in HDTV on HD-1, commencing at 19h00 GMT on Saturday, 01 January.

(It is being broadcast live on HD-E but not on HD-1)

For the visually deprived, it is also to be broadcast live on SDTV BBC-2 commencing 11h15 GMT.

Alan

infocus
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This report about the latest news in Blu-Ray development may be of interest. If (in the future!) you may have a Blu-Ray and HD display in the main room, but other DVD players elsewhere (portable?) this could answer the "do I buy the Blu-Ray or DVD version of that film" question.

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Indeed so. The proposal is to have a 3-layer disc with SD on the top, HD on two lower layers. It also seems that players are going to appear that will play both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, thus entrenching the divide rather than eliminating it. Ho hum.

BTW, pride went out on BBC1 yesterday. I was impressed with the picture quality, although the animation didn't quite live up to my expectations, and the story line was a bit trite. But an enjoyable watch anyway.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alan Roberts:
Indeed so. The proposal is to have a 3-layer disc with SD on the top, HD on two lower layers.

Isn't it the other way round? Quote:The inner DVD dual layer can store up to 8.5GB of standard definition video signals. During Blu-ray reproduction, blue laser read the outer BD layer, while red laser read the inner DVD dual layer during DVD reproduction. The triple layer structure was made possible by the development of a high-performance reflective film that reflects blue laser used for Blu-ray reproduction, but is transparent to red laser used in DVD reproduction.
Which I took to mean as two lower layers of SD, exactly as a normal DVD, with a single HD layer on top of them, the latter transparent to red laser light - so a current player is unaware it's anything other than a standard two layer DVD.

Alan Roberts
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You may be right, I can't remember the details. I'll post again if I get accurate details.

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.

Alan McKeown
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For HDTV travel and golfing enthusiasts:

“On the 5th of January HD1 brings you the first episode of the on Course golf series. During 13 episodes LPGA professional Debbie Steinbach and travel specialist Johnathan Brownlee take you to golfer’s paradise. The most exclusive golf courses will no longer have secrets for you. First up are courses in Palm Springs (California), Scotland, Saint Andrews and Wales.”

Show times (CET)

05/01 20:00

06/01 16:00

08/01 16:00

Alan McKeown
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We watched the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna on HD-1.
Interestingly, BBC-4 was also showing a recording of the concert at the same time as HD-1 so it was possible to switch between them for comparison.

Apart from the obviously reduced definition, the really big difference on BBC-4 was the multitude of artefacts on fine detail which spoiled the SDTV transmission. These were completely absent on the HDTV version which was for practical purposes just about perfect.

Alan

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Some of you may recall my attempt last October to view “Pride- the law of the Savannah” in HDTV when it was broadcast by ProSiebenSat. I received an excellent picture but no audio.

http://www.dvdoctor.net/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=29;t=001312;p=7#000264

I duly reported this apparent audio problem to the makers of the HDTV set-top-box (STB), Quali-TV in the Netherlands and received an e-mailed reply which, while courteous, gave the impression that the absence of audio might be down to “operator error” !

It came as a considerable surprise therefore to discover that the latest (24/12/2004) software upgrade for the STB has as the first item under “bug fixes”:

“Fix the problem of No audio when selecting the Dolby soundtrack on German channels” !

Alan

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“- Transmission in MPEG4:

From June 2005 onwards Euro1080 will start transmission in MPEG4 on both HD1 and HD2.

MPEG2 transmission will be guaranteed untill January 1st 2008.”

infocus
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And after their ignorance of a year ago, (about the start of DTT transmissions in Japan) this from BBC Online is an indication of how the subject is becoming much more high profile. To quote: ....now Hollywood is preparing for the next revolution in home entertainment - high-definition. High-definition gives incredible, 3D-like pictures and surround sound.

Just a shame the BBC seems to have no transmission plans for a long time, and Sky is being allowed to take the crown in the UK. At least others than Alan Roberts there do seem to be becoming aware of the subject now, to judge by that article!

Alan Roberts
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Don't misread the BBC's intentions. At present, it can't afford HDTV because it can't see a revenue stream from it, only increased costs. The BBC's quite happy to let Sky get it started because it means Murdoch takes all the risks. Virtually all development in broadcasting in the UK has been led by the BBC, it's a xchange to see someone else sticking his neck out, particularly at Charter renewal time.

BBC's been well aware of the implications fo HDTV for a long time, 15 years at least. But the priorities have been getting the digital roll-out to work, and coming to terms with analogue switch-off. Trust me chaps, I know quite a lot of the people involved in all this, and have been advsing them for a lot of years. They're well aware of the situation and are deeply involved in making sure that Sky gets it right first time.

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.

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alan Roberts:
The BBC's quite happy to let Sky get it started because it means Murdoch takes all the risks.

And equally may reap all the glory, and take the rewards if it's successful?! Should the BBC really be happy about that? Murdoch has a very good track record of quantifying risk, to date.

Alan Roberts
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Murdoch's going to get the rewards from subscription anyway, there's no way any of the national broadcasters are going into that market. What Sky will do is to determine if the market is hungry enough for HD in the UK. At present, only the satellite broadcasters have enough bandwidth to do HD, it isn't possible on terrestrial until analogue switch-off and maybe not even then if the channels are sold off at a premium. So it's natural for a satellite broadcaster to dip his toes in the water first. Exactly the same's happening in France, Germany, Belgium, Scandinavia....

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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Quote:
What Sky will do is to determine if the market is hungry enough for HD in the UK.

Of course, that assumes the people who want HD want to watch Sky's content...

As it is Sky's content doesn't interest me in SD so I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay for it in HD.

On the other hand if the BBC/C4 were to announce HD, along with an HD licence fee supplement then I'd be interested.

On another note, does anyone know if C4's 'Anatomy for Beginners' was shot with HD cameras? It certainly had some of the image characteristics I've seen on HD stuff before (smooth detail, sharp near-horizontal edges double imaging of vertical movement similar to the Euro2004 stuff)

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Steven, I'm with you on allegiances to Sky, I don't want to pay him anything I can avoid and am not much interested in any of their channels. I'd also be happy to pay a supplement for decent channels, your mix of BBC/C4 matches my wishes as well, provided the compression performance matches the resolution better than it does at SD at present.

Sky have yet to announce the content, but we know they'll be carrying the football from Germany next year and probably some first-run major films. I know that they've already got production hardware ready to go.

I pass on Anatomy for Beginners, but I wouldn't be surprised it it were HD originated, there's a lot of it about these days. Sadly, the more people I tell how to get it right, the less my income is, because they learn and do it right next time without paying me for consultations :(

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.

infocus
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From the EBU, more here .

In particular, they talk about the "HD-ready" sticker:
In essence, this HD-ready label can only be attached to displays that meet the following conditions:

have a minimum of 720 horizontal lines;
accepts HD inputs via:
analogue YPbPr, and;
DVI or HDMI;
can accept 720p/50, 720p/60, 1080i/25 and 1080i/30 inputs;
the DVI or HDMI input supports content protection (HDCP).
This breakthrough is very important because it demonstrates that the emergence of two competing formats (720p/50 and 1080i/25) for HDTV in Europe will NOT cause problems for consumers. It also shows that there is no need for a format war: the two systems can coexist peacefully with each other.

Alan Roberts
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There now, isn't that pretty well what I've been saying all along? And since Sky have been involved in that decision, it means that they're happy with the content protection via both DVI and HDMI.

Wonderful. So now you know what to look for in the shops. The very important point is that the digital inputs must support HDCP, or the display will be dark on Sky signals. And note that the display must have all of those options for inoputs, not just some of them, you'll need digits for Sky, anaologue for camcorder.

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.

Alan McKeown
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ProSieben Sat are scheduled to show the following films and "docu-drama" in HDTV in the near future.

“Spider Man”. 13 March 2005

“Panic Room”. 16 March 2005. 21h00 GMT start.

“Fight Club”. April 2005.

“Deep Impact”. April 2005.

“Men in Black 2”. April 2005

BBC factually based drama “Super Volcano”. April 2005.

Video:1080i 50 Hz
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

Transmissions from:

Orbital position: 19.2 degrees East.
Astra 1F, transponder 16.
Carrier frequency: 11.4355 GHz
Polarisation: Vertical
Symbol rate: 22 Mbaud
Modulation: QPSK
FEC: 5/6

Alan

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Beeb (John Varney) has announced that BBC's plans for HD have been accelerated. 2008 is now a target date, for the next Olympics. Probably not able to do next year's footy in HD, but there's space on Freesat so it's only a matter of will and getting infrastructure in place. I expect to be busy for a bit :D

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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HOORAH!

Steven

infocus
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alan Roberts:
I expect to be busy for a bit :D

Hopefully not so busy you won't be able to keep us posted! Do you have any more details, or links to an announcement? Seems good news indeed.

I've just been looking back over past posts, and in particular this thread on the 15th Dec - Andy King's remark about March at NAB obviously could indeed have a lot read into it! On that date I also posted: "......I would put a big bet that the terrestial broadcasters are going to start coming under intense pressure (from manufacturers and retailers) to broadcast HD in a timescale shorter than foreseen by Alan. Any takers? In the past the BBC took a very dim view of being upstaged by such matters as breakfast TV and 24 hour News, and lost no time in responding in kind. Would News 24 have started when it did, had it not been for Sky News? HD is just the latest example of this." What a shame I didn't get to put actual money on it! ;)

Alan Roberts
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You know me by now, I don't guess, I report. I may drop the occasional hint when I'm allowed to but...

I'll ask my usual sources for details and report back. By the way, it was a casual remark from John Varney a year ago that started all this "All BBC programmes will be made in HD by the end of the decade". That comment wasn't made as an edict or command, but as an observation. He was implying that any new kit bought for production by then would be HD-capable, so it would not make sense to originate non-HD. Those comments are still true, but events have overtaken him, specifically Sky and the impending French and German launches this year. The BBC will not be left behind for long. nd that's been made easier by the BBC's move away from Sky and on to "in-clear" satellite broadcasting. HD can't be terrestrial until after analogue shut-off which might potentially clear bandwidth (but I doubt whether it'll be made available for HD unless there's a major push for it).

I have no authority to say any of that, it's my observations based on the comments of others in the industry.

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.

infocus
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Excuse my ignorance, but can you tell us what John Varneys position is within the BBC?

What is obviously of interest to me (and I suspect many others) is how widespread the BBCs HD transmissions will be - will it be just the odd big event, or say a BBC1 simulcast with an increasing percentage of that being true HD? Or initially just a special HD channel with it's own unique scheduling?

I doubt it's possible to overstate the importance of the news. Up until the Sky announcement there was a huge chicken and egg situation of nobody willing to broadcast with no receiving equipment, and few people willing to buy equipment with little material to receive. Sky started to break that situation down, and any announcement from the BBC must smash the circle once and for all. It's the statement of intent that's most important at this stage, to give purchasing confidence. And that's before we even start thinking about HDV, next gen DVD, HD gaming etc.

As far as 2012 and analogue switch-off - well, that's still a long way away. BUT, after this news, my bet now is that by then HD will be so commonplace, at least so far as the main TV in the house is concerned, that SD will be starting to be regarded in a similar way to VHS, once DVD quality started to become the norm. I think there may indeed be a major push to get HD delivered terrestially.

I can see the broadcast TV market going two ways, with SD left in the middle. Up to HD for the main TV, and down to such as DVB-H for handheld reception, and probably good enough for the 14" sets in kitchens, bedrooms etc. Due to that system's robustness, that would also be ideal for the DVD player type of device that was causing such interest in another topic. Current Freeview would seem to fall badly between these two stools.

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Alan Roberts
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He's Mr. Technology, but he has good advisers who, in turn, are well advised :D

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.

infocus
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Well, that's answered my question comprehensively! From the biog, one can assume that if he says something, it carries some weight, and I suspect without the BBC as well as within. But who could those advisors possibly be?

Any comments upon my last paragraph of speculation above?

Alan Roberts
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Couldn't possibly comment, I'm no longer employed by anyone :D

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.

infocus
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I still haven't seen any public statement about the BBC's position, Alan? Any idea about when/where we may be able to see more detail?

Whilst you may not feel able to comment, I've now heard enough (albeit all second/third hand) to make me feel positive that Skys announcement did indeed send seismic waves through a lot of the Corporation. The impression I get is that whereas in the past the BBC was engineering driven, nowadays it's anything but at a high management level. Subjects such as HD mean little to such lofty academics.... until it's a case of a main competitor being seen to gain a commercial advantage! Seems to have the ring of truth, anyway.

Alan Roberts
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I've poked my sources and got non-commital answers. The quote was from a John Forrester article, and "yuou can believe him as much as you ever believe him". I don't regard it as a public statement, yet, but could easily be seen as an intended leak.

When I was still at the BBC, the grand policy, originated at Board of Governors level, was that no extra money would be spent on producing HDTV content, the licence payer should get the full benefit of all expenditure. HD production got going because it was the only way to attract sufficient co-production money, but was sustained because the benefits of shooting in HD, even for showing in SD, are blatantly obvious to all but the blind. Thus, HD got more airing than even I'd hoped for. So, it has risen in the corporate thinking faster than we'd expected.

Sky's announcement wasn't really much more than a catalyst, John Varney had made the prediction "that all BBC production would be HD by the wend of the decade" before Sky went public. It was simply an observation that digital production kit will all be HD or HD/SD switchable by then, so it would make no sense to produce in SD.

The wheels are turning. I've been busily removing chocks and applying grease for years, HD now has motion of its own, all we have to do is wait a little longer

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.

infocus
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Excuse my ignorance, (again) but who is John Forrester, and where was the article?

Alan Roberts
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Sorry chaps, it was Chris Forrester of Broadband TV News, a journalist.
http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/forrester.html

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.

infocus
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Thanks! This forum may also be interested in the relevant text - though the full article text requires subscription. But in brief: Quote: John Varney, the BBC’s Chief Technology Officer, talking exclusively to Inside Satellite, said: “Our thinking has changed in that we’re now asking ourselves how soon we might launch a HD service. We may be looking at something relatively quickly.” Interesting not just for what's being said, but that it's being said at all, and being attributed as a direct quote gives it a fair credence.

Also interesting is how fast the news is coming nowadays, and I'm sure I'm not the only person to have spotted this from the BBC. In particular: quote "It (BT) also sees delivering TV over broadband as a way of getting high-definition (HD) content to people sooner than they will be able to get it through conventional, regular broadcasts."

Alan Roberts
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And don't forget that broadband's growing up fast. I'm on BT at 512k, but the entire network is being upgraded to 1 or 2Mb/s for free. I assume that this means they're improving the connections between exchanges rather than the tatty copper that enters my home. We'll see.

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.

cstv
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oh thanks for that info Alan. we got an email from pipex (isp) a few weeks back telling us that our ADSL is being upgraded from 512 to 1024 between now and the summer. I do wonder if this is possible since we're right on the edge of the limit on the amount of copper between our house and the exchange, 6km IIRC... a network upgrade seems more likely and since we don't live anywhere near the exchange it probably wont make much difference... :(

BT's seminar at Video Forum 2005 on video over IP did look rather interesting. They seem to be interested in narrowcasting rather than broadcasting. In the short term at least, this would fit the bill for HDTV.

mark.

mooblie
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Got the same note from Plusnet - my 1Mbps should be upgraded for free to 3Mbps in April - assuming the line canna take it (Cap'n!)

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Alan Roberts
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BT haven't talked to me yet, but the BTInternet web site gives all the details. Apparently, they'll email all customers who's service can be speeded up just before it happens. I await with interest.

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.

harlequin
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http://www.hdtvtotal.com/module-pagesetter-viewpub-tid-1-pid-678.html

german tv to transmit hd versions of some films starting tomorrow.

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

Alan McKeown
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Quote:
“german tv to transmit hd versions of some films starting tomorrow.”

Scheduled start time for transmission of the first of these films, “Spider Man”, is today (13 March 2005) at 19h15 GMT.

Alan

infocus
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4355665.stm

Quote: "Now the trial will be extended to allow for the on-demand streaming of high-definition TV (HDTV).

New flavours of ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) will be crucial to the delivery of services such as high-definition TV and video-on-demand."

OK, everybodys not going to get it overnight, but even basic broadband has only been around a couple of years, and look at the take up on that. Just wait until HDready Tvs start being bought by default, and then people start to realise what they're capable of.

infocus
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Thinking back to Jan 2004, and the first post in "HDTV progress abroad", BBC Online seems to now have a much better grasp of HD matters. When they link to stories like this straight from the BBC News home page, it must be a sign of just how far things have moved on in barely over a year!

PaulD
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And how far they won't have moved... (80%) :(

"By 2010, 20% of homes in the UK will have some sort of TV set or display that can show HD in its full glory."

"The TV display manufacturers want us to watch HD on screens that are at least 42 inches (106cm). But 50 inches (127cm) is the ideal, according to them."

That's me in the 80% then (without a new house).

StevenBagley
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Article on LG's new 1080p panels

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-8900_7-5884209-1.html

Steve

infocus
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"Sony reps said future Blu-ray players would be capable of outputting a native 1080p signal" I found quite an interesting quote. I wonder how far away "future" refers to?

Alan Roberts
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There's not much point until 1080p material and displays exist. At present there's only one 1080p camera in prototype, and no recorder for the format. That will change if programme-makers see a need for it and are prepared to pay the high prices that 1080p will command. 1080p (at 60Hz) has always been the aim point for ATSC, but there needs to be significant return on investment at 1080i and 720p before anyone can afford to go higher.

Incidentally, it's interesting to do the sums on the size of display you need to get everything there is in 1080p. I've got a calculator chart that works it all out for you. For my viewing position at home, 3m from the screen, and with my (measured) visual acuity limit of 0.7 minutes of arc ("normal" limit is accpeted as 1 minute) subtended at the eye, I need only a 50" panel. Anything bigger than that and I'll be able to distinguish the pixels at that distance.

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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Quote:
There's not much point until 1080p material and displays exist. At present there's only one 1080p camera in prototype, and no recorder for the format.

Surely it's for the same reason as DVD players have progressive outputs -- i,e, to make the most of 24psf material which when typically output via the bluray recorder will have 3:2 pulldown inserted.

Assuming that Bluray can (like conventional DVD) carry the frames as 24psf (with information of where to add back the repeated fields) then it would make sense to be able to output this in native 1080p rather than interlacing and then de-interlacing it in the display

So by making the Blueray player clever, the display can be dumber so to speak

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Yes, that works, and Sony are aware of it. I was really talking of electronic origination rather than film, because genuine 1080p origination is going to wipe the floor with film.

BTW, psf is only a nicety for carrying proscan. The image is genuinely proscan, but the delivery is split into interlaced fields to avoid having to invent a new standard. A psf image, delvered in two fields, genuinely reconstructs as a proscan image. So, for all practical purposes, we've already got 1080p, both in imaging and display, but only up to 24, 25, 30Hz, and we really want to get it at 50 or 60Hz.

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.

infocus
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Not a great deal we didn't already know, but this from the "Guardian" has been brought to my attention. In particular:

When the launch (of BSkyB's HD service) was announced last year, it was overshadowed by the simultaneous confirmation that Sky would introduce a FreeSat service, offering 200 channels without subscription to compete with Freeview. "For us at Sky, that was a shame. Internally, we were of the view that, of the two initiatives, HDTV was of greater significance and would have more far-reaching consequences in the long term," said Freudenstein. "I still believe that is the case, even though free digital television and analogue switch-off continue to make bigger headlines."
(Quote from Richard Freudenstein, BSkyB's chief operating officer.)

BSkyB is backing its HDTV gamble with hard cash. When its chief executive, James Murdoch, announced last year that the company was spending £300m on upgrading facilities, many scratched their heads over how many pot plants that sort of money would buy. Now, it is clear that a big chunk will be devoted to the launch of HDTV. Studios and outside broadcast trucks are being kitted out and .......

Even Greg Dyke, the former director general who launched Freeview as a bulwark for the BBC against Sky in the digital age, said recently that it may find it hard to compete once HDTV comes along. The move is a calculated risk for Sky, but given its track record for gambling and winning, few would be willing to bet against Freudenstein's prediction that we will all be watching pin-sharp pictures by the end of the decade.

And I for one would not be willing to make that bet.......

StevenBagley
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Apparently the BBC4 production of 'The Quatermass Experiment' is being shot (live) on HD to be shown this Saturday.

Amusing when you remember that the original was also shot on HD

Steven

Alan Roberts
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And that HD then meant 405 :D

Sky have got this one right, it's far more important for them to get started in HD than nto fight Freeview, because HD will overtake Freeview as displays get bigger and cheaper. Freeview quailty is good enough for 28" crt at 3m, but not for bigger or closer. Displays are getting big enough for HDTV far faster than anyone thought likely in Europe (c.f. http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp092.shtml, which dcoes not express R&D opinion, let alone the BBC or anyone else).

As time goes by, tyhe demand for HD production outside Europe is going to push Europeans into HD in order to stay afloat. That's already happening in drama and wildlife anyway. The fact that Germany, France and Sky will all start HD broadcasting this year should warn you that it isn't going to go away.

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.

mooblie
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Is there no "Freeview HD" migration/evolution/next-generation DTT technology on the horizon?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Alan Roberts
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Not planned at present, but not difficult to do.

France has delayed going terrestrial digital util this year, to good effect. The boxes that Thomson are making for them decode MPEG2 for SDTV (Freeview model) and MPEG4 for HDTV (subscription services). Roll out is expected late this summer. Germany is (IIRC) doing much the same. I think it's an almost perfect solution because MPEG2's well established for SDTV but HD's almost a green-field site in Europe; going to MPEG4 allows coding that's incompatible with SDTV, so you need a new box (good news for all except the viewer), but you can get significantly lower bit-rates with MPEG4 so it makes sense to introduce it at this point. The bad news is that MPEG4 hardware is still expensive to produce (about 400% more than MPEG2 at present), but the unit costs will dive when large-scale production's in full swing.

Sky have not yet formally announced their format, as far as I'm aware, except that it'll carry both 1080 i/25 and 720 p/50.

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.

Alan McKeown
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The “Shadows' Final Farewell Tour” is to be shown on HD-1 on Saturday, 16 April 2005. 19h00 to 21h30 BST.

Alan

Alan Roberts
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This might be an interesting read, it's an American's view of how the Beeb's managing the switch to digits, and lots more...

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0%2C1284%2C67552%2C00.html

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.

infocus
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Well, interesting, yes, but not very accurate IMO. Quote:
"In Britain, the BBC led the charge with something called Freeview, a system for transmitting 30 free digital TV stations and 20 free digital radio stations to the nation's analog TV sets..........Britons have embraced Freeview in spades, and the United Kingdom will likely effect the first major analog switch-off as a result."

Which means the author is unaware of two little things called "OnDigital" and "ITV Digital", and the spectacular failures they were. Whilst the BBC was obviously highly involved with the start of UK DTT, it was not their effort alone, and their channels are still a minority element (albeit an important one) of Freeview. "Britons have embraced Freeview in spades" - ? Considering how long DTT has now been broadcast, the uptake is not THAT big, and rivalled by countries who started DTT much later.

Latest estimates for switch off in the UK are for staggering between 2008 and 2012, with other estimates suggesting slippage. In Japan 2011 is being talked about, in America 2007 - though I'm sure there's room for slippage there also! In each case the start of transmissions was far more recent, which I would read as an indication that DTT in the UK has been far from a runaway success. Indeed, starting early has saddled us with an inferior 2k implementation, unlike the 8k being introduced into most of Europe.

For a different perspective, and IMO a far more accurate one, can I link to Barry Fox in the Economist (and esp the last quarter of the article) - http://economist.com/intelligentlife/leisure/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3930878

Alan Roberts
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I agree entirely, I was just pointing up an American's view of the situation. Americans are pointing to the Freeview situation and comparing it with the ATSC takeup in the US, had ATSC had the same success as Freeview, there would be over 20 times as many ATSC installations as there actually are. They're interested in it, not for its origins, but as an indication of how much better a fundamentally free system is than a subscription system.

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.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
..... had ATSC had the same success as Freeview, there would be over 20 times as many ATSC installations as there actually are.

A lot depends on what is meant by "Freeview" - if you mean DTT in the UK (so OnDigital, ITV Digital and latterly Freeview), that's been about for a LOT longer than ATSC - so hardly surprising there are more DTT installations in the UK than the States. The Japanese situation is even more stark.

I find the whole subject one of putting carts before horses. DTT is (or "could be") fundamentally a good thing, SD or HD, but I feel it should have been an evolutionary, technology based transition, driven by all new TVs, VCRs being mandated to have a digital tuner. A similar process to 405 to 625 line. I feel the BBC in particular has been wrong in emphasing "set-top boxes" at the expense of integrated solutions.

Alan Roberts
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I'm careful in my choice of words. Americans admire Freeview because it's a success in penetrating homes in ways that ATSC isn't. Nor was OnDigital or ITVDigital. It was only when Freeview relaunched it that it took off. That's what the Americans are noticing.

Waiting for all-new TVs would have delayed Freeview etc by at least 5 years. Manufacturers won't make anything they're not sure will sell. And even when the do, they won't price it attractively until they're sure of market size. Boxes are still more popular than integrated sets, even after all these years, simply because they're a darn site cheaper than a new set, and they make use of perfectly good displays onm old sets. No, waiting for integrated sets would have killed it almost completely.

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.

infocus
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Going somewhat off the topic, but can anyone wait for the video version of this - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/4564563.stm ;)

Alan McKeown
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The UEFA champion’s league final between FC Liverpool and AC Milan is to be broadcast live in high definition by ProsiebenSat HD on 25 May 2005.

Astra 19.2 degrees East
Carrier frequency 11.4355 GHz
Vertical polarisation
Symbol rate 22 MS/s
FEC 5/6
Modulation QPSK

Alan

infocus
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Going back a few posts, an interesting bit of news here - http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=0&id=898 .

Quote: "The European Commission said seven countries had announced a switch-off date by 2010. They are: Austria, German, Spain, Finland, Italy, Malta and Sweden. A further six nations had declared a 2012 target: Belgium (in the Flanders region), Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the UK.

So far from a case of "Britons have embraced Freeview in spades, and the United Kingdom will likely effect the first major analog switch-off as a result", it now appears we will be two years behind many other major European countries, in spite of having DTT for far longer (and hence saddling ourselves with an inferior system).

So no, I don't think we've done very well about managing the switch to digits in the UK.

Alan Roberts
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Don't confuse (as the Americans do) the switch to digits with analogue switch-off. Switching to digits is what the consumers have to do, only when they've all done that can the bradcasters perform analogue switch-off.

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.

infocus
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Well - there are two fundamental approaches to inducing consumers to get the digital gear. Make them want to buy it for it's own sake, possibly for extra channels, or gently force them to - say by announcing a cutoff date well in advance, mandating that all new kit has has a digital tuner etc. In the UK the former approach was used, and the original article was enthusing about how successful it had been - "Britons have embraced Freeview in spades, and the United Kingdom will likely effect the first major analog switch-off as a result".

From the EU link, the last phrase is obviously totally wrong, which leads me to question the whole logic behind their argument. Using the "gentle force" approach seems to be enabling many other countries to enact analogue switchoff well in advance of the UK, in spite of starting much later. In practice there's much to be said for using both approaches together - the stick and the carrot. The only conclusion I can draw from the UK experience that relying solely on carrots is a very slow way to go about it.....

PaulD
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Hi
Living in a city where about 60% of external aerials point to non-digital repeater transmitters (the main transmitter 40 miles away in Wales gives better line-of-sight results than the hill-shielded regional main one 14 miles away) I would put the voluntary FreeView change-over day at about 2015 at best. People are more likely to respond to Sky's offer than have aerial installers clambering around over 3,4,5 story inner city roofing - unless someone else pays for it..... :(

Alan Roberts
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I posted the US link out of interest, not as a source of information. To a large extent, it reveals how little the Americans notice of what the rest of the world does, and that they only take any notice of the English-speaking part anyway.

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.

infocus
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A while ago I posted that: "Indeed, starting early (introducing DTT) has saddled us with an inferior 2k implementation, unlike the 8k being introduced into most of Europe."

From Ofcom, it now appears that we may after all get as good as the rest of the Europe - though at the price of some digital gear becoming obsolete at the same time as analogue! See http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=193&id=913 .

cstv
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sounds great! now how can we tell if our STBs support 8k? - i'd assume that most do since they would have been made for a European / worldwide market rather than just UK, but it's be ncie to check. Somehow i don't think it's going to listed in the manual... ;)

mark.

Alan Roberts
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As far as I'm aware, all the DTT decoders work 2k and 8k, but I'll see if I can confirm that.

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.

infocus
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Not all DTT receivers are capable of 8k operation - to quote from the link about the Ofcom statement above: "However, some early DTT receivers, supplied by ITV Digital up to May 2002, and some early integrated digital television sets, will not be able to operate in the 8k format."

And I know that includes my own very early OnDigital Pace box!

I knew that 8k was more robust than 2k, but I hadn't appreciated that a single frequency network was only possible with 8k, and understand this is one of the big reasons for switching over, in spite of it causing some boxes to be obsolete. A single frequency network is, after all, one of the big advantages of COFDM!

(It means transmitters in adjacent coverage areas can use the same channel frequency to carry the same multiplex. Adding of the two signals in the overlap areas will always be constructive. Repeaters can also be placed, and all can be on the same channel.)

Alan Roberts
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Good point, yes it means my Pioneer box will die, no problem.

SFNs make a lot of sense because we can then drastically reduce the number of channel allocations, and maybe release enough for terrestrial HDTV :D

The reason why 8k works better than 2k in COFDM's quite interesting (at least, I think so). In the 8MHz bandwidth of the multiplex, there are notionally 8k individual rf carriers. Some are deleted to avoid interference problems, but let's ignore that. So, the carriers are precisely (near enough) 1kHz apart. So each channel carries data bits that last 1 millisecond. If information arrives at the receiver from more than one transmitter, then, provided that they arrive within +-0.5milliseconds of each other, they all add up and improve the signal strength. In analogue, that would cause disastrous ghosting.

Since radio waves travel at about one foot per nanosecond in air, the interfering" signal can come from 500,000 feet further away than the main signal does, about 100 miles. So the whole country can transmit a multiplex on a single frequency provided that all the transmitters are synchronised, and that's pretty trivial.

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.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
So the whole country can transmit a multiplex on a single frequency provided that all the transmitters are synchronised........

Which then raises the interesting question of regional services! Presumably it then becomes far more sensible to have a national SFN multiplex for BBC2, Ch 4, etc, and one multi frequency multiplex for all the channels with regional variations - BBC1 and ITV1. As opposed to the current situation where all BBC channels are on one multiplex etc.

Otherwise Midlands Today and Look North could get very mixed up.......

cstv
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Alan Roberts wrote:
The reason why 8k works better than 2k in COFDM's quite interesting (at least, I think so).

not just you Alan... i did wonder what the reason was!

just 1 bone to pick... "one foot per nanosecond" ??? Systeme International should ahve you shot! this is the 21st century after all!

"Coded orthogonal frequency division multiplexing" had me a bit confused, but wikipedia soon sorted that out for me! :D

Oh, and before the Scottish, Welsh and Nothern Irish get upset... BBC 2 does have regional variations. ;)

mark.

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Canal+ has begun high definition (1080i) test transmissions from:

Astra 19.2 degrees East
Transponder carrier frequency 12.582 GHz
Vertical polarisation
Symbol rate 22 Mbaud
Modulation QPSK

Alan

StevenBagley
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Live8 being covered in HD apparantly

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds22165.html

Although the Radio Times lists 35 cameras being involved -- presumably not all of them will be HD.

Steven

infocus
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It's a while since I last went into a big electrical store, but had to go to Currys today, and took a look around the TVs whilst there. First thing to notice was piles of leaflets all around the store entitled "HD ready - High Definition TV. The future of TV". Open one up, and the first paragraph reads "What is HDTV? High Definition TV is a completely new format of TV broadcasting that is the biggest change in TV since Colour! It is likely to begin broadcasting via satellite in 2006. HDTV provides: 1 Breathtaking picture quality......." and so on.

OK, nothing terribly newsworthy in the content to anybody on these forums. But does anybody else find it noteworthy that such is being promoted by such as Currys in such a public manner, and so many months before any substantial amount of material is available? I think the leaflets appearance co-incides with the new ranges of big flat screen TVs from various manufacturers, and it's interesting just how many of those on sale now do carry the "HD ready" logo. The leaflet also talks of "ensuring your new Tv will be capable of correctly displaying the Sky High Definition content..... in 2006", which reminds me how quiet Sky themselves have been on that front for the last few months, certainly as regards detail. Presumably a lot is happening quietly in the background and behind the scenes, and I can't help but suspect at some stage a flood of advertising and promotion is about to break forth.

So what about the terrestial broadcasters? The last official statement I heard (at Video Forum) was that "the BBC has no plans to broadcast in HD", though increasing acquisition for sales abroad was acknowledged. Since then, the odd rumour, but nothing official (about transmission) at all. It all makes me wonder what a high powered ITV or (especially) BBC executive is to think if they visit Currys on a day off and pick up the same leaflet. If they don't have plans well in train, they have to face the prospect that Sky will be able to claim the technological high ground (and probably will, very publicly) for some time to come.

HD aside, and although it's been widely predicted, it was still surprising to see how few 4:3 sets were on sale. It seemed to divide into two halves. A shelf full of cheap 14"/maybe 17" 4:3 sets that looked destined for kitchens and bedrooms, and errr, the rest of the store. I'd say that flat screens are now the norm, and I only spotted 4 or 5 4:3 sets with screens of 21" or more - and two of those on clearance offer!

Also encouraging was how many now seem to be sporting Freeview tuners, so perhaps there will be fewer misshapen pictures to be seen in future! And of course the sets will still be happy post 2012. If there's a message for this board, it must be that buying a non widescreen camera now is a bad investment.

infocus
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A little like the first cuckoo of spring, today I saw the first HD TV displaying HD material in a branch of Dixons. The salesman informed me that Sky would start their service early next year, with the BBC etc "fairly soon after". I wonder if the BBC are aware of that......? ;)

mooblie
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It was a long time (some months) after I bought my projector last year that I too noticed a "High Definition" sticker on the front. Doh! I knew it had an HDMI socket, but I didn't connect the two. Slow, or what?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

cstv
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Quote:
HD aside, and although it's been widely predicted, it was still surprising to see how few 4:3 sets were on sale. It seemed to divide into two halves. A shelf full of cheap 14"/maybe 17" 4:3 sets that looked destined for kitchens and bedrooms, and errr, the rest of the store. I'd say that flat screens are now the norm, and I only spotted 4 or 5 4:3 sets with screens of 21" or more - and two of those on clearance offer!

and yet you won't see a small 16:9 CRT... infuriating! the occasional small 16:9 LCD, but not CRT.

Alan Roberts
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Must be at least 6 years ago that Sony made a 14" 16:9 portable. Wonderful little blighter it was too. But I've not seen anything like it since.

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.

infocus
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cstv wrote:
the occasional small 16:9 LCD........

More than occasional now, I'd say, and proportionately increased hugely in the last year to more than 50%. I suspect even small 4:3 LCDs will be a definate minority in another year, and it'll be interesting to see how 14" CRTs go - they're still selling well now because they are so cheap, presumably the capital cost of manufacturing plant has already been accounted for.

I'd expect the decreasing price of LCDs, other flat screen technologies, and impending analogue switch off to finally sound their death knell, but that could well be maybe three years away?

Alan Roberts
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Sounds about right. Philips has stopped making crts, Panasonic's last crt factory closed recently, if my info's right.

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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Details of ntl:s HD capable set top box here

http://www.scientificatlanta.com/newscenter/releases/05Oct20-1.htm

Steven

cstv
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StevenBagley wrote:
Details of ntl:s HD capable set top box here

http://www.scientificatlanta.com/newscenter/releases/05Oct20-1.htm

Steven

well... it almost makes you think NTL might be a good idea... almost.

when they say it's an mpeg4 PVR, i assume it just records the mpeg4 stream that would have been encoded before broadcast. I was under the impression that cheap, usable quality, full-frame (let alone HD!!!) H.264 encoders weren't available yet. certainly not to the extent that you'd have 3 of them in 1 box!

it's nice to see someone's cottonned on to the idea that being able to record more that on thing is good, and being able to record more than 2 things is fantastic!

Alan Roberts
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Joined: May 3 1999

There's to be an announcement tonight concerning the launch of BBC1 simulcasting in HD via sat and cable, plus a Freeview trial in London, details are here

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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Alan Roberts wrote:
There's to be an announcement tonight concerning the launch of BBC1 simulcasting in HD via sat and cable, plus a Freeview trial in London, details are here

Fantastic...

Steven

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003

A question for Alan really, brought to my mind by all the recent discussion about the Varicam in another thread.

Last year after much debate it seems certain that in Europe the capability will exist for 720p/50, 1080i/25 and 1080p/25 (transmitted 1080psf/25) to be used. Is it becoming clearer how much IN PRACTICE each system is likely to be used Europe wide, and in light of the posts above, have decisions been made about this at the BBC? (I assume we can group all the 1080 variants above into one for transmission purposes?)

Alan Roberts
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I know that the Scandinavians want to go for 720p. Also, Sky and the BBC will, I believe accpet and transmit either 720p or 1080i (and 1080psf is 1080p delivered via 1080i, so the "i" nomeclature covers it). I think it goes with the sales for HD-ready displays, UK sales of large numbers of displays at greater than 37" justifies broadcasting 1080 in the UK, I presume that they're not selling such big displays to Scandinavians yet.

The rumours I've heard indicate that the decoding boxes will deal with both, seamlessly, even at programme boundaries. So it could very well be that the broadcasters emits at the resolution of each programme, the chain handling it as though there were no change. I can't really comment much more, because decisions like this will be made after or during the forthcoming experimental transmission period. But Sky will have to deal with the football next year, and I believe that Panasonic have the contract so it's probably 720p. There's also the Winter Olympics in Turin this season, that may well have significant HD content (the Athens games had HD for the US, and Panasonic had the supply contract).

I'm not really in a good position to find out any more than the rest of us these days.

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.

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003

I suspect many people may have already seen this - http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=193&id=1374 - it was also in the Daily Telegraph at least. Quite a powerful alliance?

Alan Roberts
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I suspect all it means is that Sony will get cheaper advertising time on Sky in return for carrying the Sky logo.

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.

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003
Alan Roberts wrote:
I suspect all it means is that Sony will get cheaper advertising time on Sky in return for carrying the Sky logo.

I understand there's a bit more to it than that - at the very least the existence of "package" deals. Buying a "package" being cheaper than items individually, as well as making it more straightforward for not too technical members of the public to watch HD at home.

The concept of one alliance having a camera to home screen presence I think quite significant. My understanding is that in the 1920's manufacturers wanted to build and sell radios - but the problem was what would people buy them for? What could they listen to? So they formed the BBC........

Alan Roberts
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BBC was started by The Marconi Company, as the British Broiadcasting Company, but very quickly got it's charter and incorporated. Not quite the same situation with Sky and Sony, because the industries are both already well established. But the appeal of a single package must be significant.

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.

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003

Both industries are well established, but HD broadcasting within Europe isn't. They both perceive money to be made, (as I see it) and my reading of the announcement is as a once and for all breaking of the chicken and egg situation. The "what's the point of buying the gear if nothings broadcast" and "why broadcast if noones got the gear" dilemma. That was well on the way to going away anyway, but the Sky-Sony tie up just formalises that.

I just find it interesting that the BBCs birth in the twenties was not primarily due to "I want to start broadcasting!!" reasons, but a totally commercial decision to give a reason for people to buy hardware. Initially, WHAT was broadcast was of secondary importance to that ANYTHING was broadcast! Obviously, once the novelty had died away, the content became of increasing significance.

Alan Roberts
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Agreed, but the difference is that in the 20s, neither industry was established, each needed the other. Today, both HDTV and Sony are very well established, HDTV's been the norm in Japan for nearly 15 years now, around 4 years in the US; it isn't a new industry, it's only new to us in Europe (a small, very small, part of the consumer products market).

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.