World technical and scientific knowledge doubles every 14 months to every five years. The broadcast industry is a highly technologically driven profession, which, owing to the rapid application of digital technology over the past decade, finds itself at the shorter end of that change cycle.
Since receiving that technical school diploma hanging on the wall, how many of these doubling cycles have you been through? Keeping up with the rapid changes in digital technology can be a full-time job in itself. Given the ever-changing technology landscape, staying at the top of your game requires dedicated effort. Equipment manufacturers often provide valuable resources to aid broadcasters in their pursuit to maintain technical proficiency.
Self-serving materials vs. educational ones
Virtually all manufacturers offer some type of formal or informal training materials that are specific to their own products. While there can be some educational value in these materials, let's face it: The underlying message is understandably self-serving and promotional. However, some manufacturers provide excellent reference texts and tutorials. These materials are made easily available as downloads from company Web sites or can be obtained in physical form upon request. These materials enable users to read or study at their own convenience, which is a major benefit.
DTV guide for engineers
Rohde & Schwarz offers a 400-page textbook called “Digital Television: A Practical Guide for Engineers,” written by Walter Fischer. The book is extremely well written and quite comprehensive, as it covers everything from the basics of MPEG to ATSC, DVB-T and ISDB-T.
The chapter on OFDM is perhaps one of the clearest, easiest to understand explanations of that technology that I have ever read. You can request a copy of this book by calling a company sales representative.
HD basics and beyond
There are downloadable references available that you can easily organize into a technical reference folder on your PC. Harris, through its Videotek subsidiary, offers “HD Basics and Beyond: A Primer for Video Professionals.” The 52-page PDF file is basically what its title says — an HD primer.
In addition, the company offers numerous white paper downloadable PDF files and PowerPoint documents that cover a diverse range of DTV topics. To find these resources, do a search for “white papers” on the Harris Broadcast Web site.
A glossary worth bookmarking
A veritable trove of technical information is available from the Snell & Wilcox Web site. Under the “Community” section of the site, go to the “Knowledge Center,” and browse through the white papers and presentations. There, you'll find numerous technical references well worth downloading.
Another useful resource can be found in the “Engineering Guides” section of the Knowledge Center. “An Engineer's Guide to Compression” by John Watkinson, for example, is a 93-page PDF that represents an excellent treatment of its subject matter.
Before you leave the site, check out the glossary section. It's incredibly comprehensive and well done. I recommend bookmarking this page.
Quantel's Web site includes the “Digital Factbook,” a 154-page reference work edited by Bob Pank. It uses a glossary format but goes into much lengthier detail than typical glossary definitions. To find the “Digital Factbook,” go to the “Library” section of the Web site.
Whether printed text or in the form of downloadable files, there are free, high-quality tutorial and reference materials available. Putting together your own study and reference library is just a few phone calls and mouse clicks away.
Anthony R. Gargano is a consultant and former industry executive.
Send questions and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org