Technical Emmys honor engineering advancements The National Academy of Television-Arts and Sciences (NATAS) held its 52nd Annual Scientific and Technical Advancement Awards ceremony on Oct. 3 in New York, with 27 Emmys awarded for achievements in video conversion, video and audio compression, and picture quality analysis, as well as virtual imaging and advanced battery technology.

NATAS developed the award in 1948 to honor companies, scientific or technical organizations, and individuals for technological developments significantly impacting the television industry through innovation and improvement upon existing methods.

A committee of experts drawn from the manufacturing and user sides of the industry narrows the search for significant contributions to a handful of promising technologies, which vary from year to year. They, and representative products and services, are evaluated at NAB to determine winners in each category.

At this year's ceremony, Panasonic and Snell & Wilcox were honored for their contributions in the area of video format up/down image conversion with color, space, film, television and audio compensation. These developments led to products such as Panasonic's AJ-UFC1800 Universal Format Converter and the Premier range of up-, down- and cross-converters from Snell and Wilcox.

The Centre Commun D'Etudes De Telediffusion Et Telecommunications (CCETT), the Institute for Rundfunktechnik and Philips Consumer Electronics were awarded Emmys for the development of Musicam or MPEG Layer II audio bit rate digital two-channel compression systems.

Six companies received awards for pioneering development of compression plug-in cards used in nonlinear editing systems or video servers to bring full motion, broadcast quality video to desktop computer systems. Winners in this category include Pinnacle Systems, Matrox Video Products Group, Vela, Media 100, Digital Processing Systems and Avid Technology. Advances in this area have led to the development of products such as Vela's Argus and CineView MPEG-2 encoders and decoders, and DPS' PVR digital disk recorder. Orad Hi-Tec Systems received an Emmy in the category of "Implementation of Real-time Virtual Imaging for Live Events on Television," for virtual advertising and sports broadcasting enhancement technology used in its IMadGINE and CyberSport products. Other recipients in the category included Symah Vision, Princeton Video Image, Fox Sports and Sportsvision.

Snell & Wilcox, DirecTV and Philips Broadcast were awarded for developments in preprocessing technology allowing them to deliver high-quality baseband video over digital compressed transmission systems at low bit rates.

Anton Bauer, Frezzolini Electronics and Cine Sixty were honored for their achievements in the category "Development of Advanced Battery Technology for ENG/EFP."

Tektronix, Sarnoff Corp., Rohde & Schwarz, KDD Media Will and the Institute Fuer Technische Universitaet received recognition for pioneering development of picture quality analysis equipment, specifically, to provide objective measurement of digital picture quality.

The advancements in technology represented by this year's awards, and the products and services built on these advancements, have had a substantial effect on the transmission, recording and reception of television. They offer more efficient conversion between video formats, compression technology that brings broadcast quality video to desktop computer systems, preprocessing technology that enables higher quality images to be transmitted at lower bit rates, and equipment that assists broadcasters in evaluating the picture quality they are providing to viewers. Broadcasters will continue to devise better, faster and more efficient methods of bringing content to viewers.