NBC's non-HD redux

Dear editor:

I was reading the Broadcast Engineering August 2007 Feedback column as I flew home from a recent NBC Sports assignment at the Deutsche Bank Golf Championship in Massachusetts. I am employed as a freelance video technician with both CBS and NBC, covering many golf events each year.

CBS and NBC truly have two distinct technical philosophies with regards to the technical savvy they employ. There is the professional network (CBS) and the “do something to get by” network (NBC). As with all things in broadcasting, budgets probably drive the bottom line. NBC hires NEP to provide the HD production facilities, which included the ND3 and ND4 production trucks at the Oakmont U.S. Open Championship in July. These are fine 1080i facilities with state-of-the-art technologies. Sony provided the HD cameras.

What sets NBC in a distant second place behind CBS is NBC's reliance on SD cameras for handheld cameras and mobile hard cameras. NBC still relies on BVP900 and BVP950 to be upconverted to 1080i and cut into true HD content. I don't know if NBC's RF vendor, Total RF, has yet to provide reliable RF equipment for NBC or if the network is just not willing to pay for the technology. Total RF is also responsible for all the fiber optics laid on a golf course, covering all audio, video and HD cameras. NBC's attitude is to give this work to someone else rather than train its own employees on the new technology. Maybe NBC management thinks the average viewer is too stupid to know the difference between cameras?

CBS, on the other hand, hires NMT to provide HD production platforms that are equally as refined as the NEP trucks. NMT and NEP's trucks are both equipped with Sony HD cameras. What propels CBS to the forefront of the technology is its commitment to a complete HD production. CBS hires BSI to provide all the RF camera audio facilities — tasks that BSI does extremely well. BSI does not provide the fiber for cameras or field audio, thereby keeping its technicians focused on their craft — RF.

CBS management takes pride in its technicians by training them in new technologies and by keeping work within the domain of CBS. CBS has embraced an efficient master plan for golf. Fiber is run directly from the mobile unit out to the camera location. At each end of the fiber, CBS installs optical interfaces from Telecast, adds local power at the camera end, and within a matter of minutes of establishing links on the fiber, the camera is up and functioning. This is not the case with NBC. Total RF had total jurisdiction on fiber and all the Telecast equipment. When NBC has camera or audio problems, there are too many outside influences. This results in less-than-speedy problem resolution or sometimes the comment, “Not my problem.”

As one of the technicians that sees golf from two network perspectives, I thought this would shed some light on the visual eyesore.
Name withheld by request

DTV information is available — at a cost

Dear editor:

I read the June 26, 2007, article titled “CEA publishes DTV interface standards” in the Broadcast Engineering e-newsletter HDTV Update. What the CEA is doing to help the consumer is great, except for one thing. While it has published standards designed to help viewers (a vast majority of whom are already confused when it comes to this subject) set up and control DTV accessories, the CEA doesn't make it easy for the consumer to get the information found within the standards because it charges consumers for the information. Making the information publicly accessible at no cost to the consumer would be a much better way of helping the consumer.
Joe Gombos
Low voltage designer
JBA Consulting Engineers

LEO VISION graphics

Dear editor:

I read the article “Virtual graphics” in Broadcast Engineering World July 2007, and I am surprised it did not mention LEO VISION.

LEO VISION pioneered and invented the virtual enhancement in 1990. The company also developed live virtual concepts such as virtual editorial tools and virtual advertising.
Serge Dulin
Virtual imaging department manager

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