Reader Feedback

Defining a snipe

Dear editor:

I enjoyed your October 2005 article on snipes. Several years ago, I was working with the promotions manager, and we were talking about putting snipes on the air. He had to explain what he was talking about to me, because I did not know what the word snipe meant.

I found a definition on an Internet dictionary, which I copied and pasted below. I didn't find anything good or pleasing about the definition of a snipe, which is understandable considering that having pieces of information placed all over our programming is not pleasant to watch.

By looking at the third definition below, we can conclude that what we are being bombarded with on the tube are malicious underhand remarks or attacks. Snipes do get very annoying.

snipe, intr.v.,sniped, snip·ing, snipes

  1. To shoot at individuals from a concealed place.
  2. To shoot snipe.
  3. To make malicious, underhand remarks or attacks.
    Marty Heffner
    Wichita, KS

Attack of the snipes


I enjoyed reading your October 2005 article “Lower the visual volume” about snipes. The Broadcast Engineering Web site Flash ads drive me nuts. I now resort to deleting most Broadcast Engineering e-mails or cutting and pasting the article of interest into a Word document. Graphic artists, directors, producers and Web authors are obsessed with using every tool someone wants to sell them — often without regard to the moment of truth: the reader.
Richard Dyer
Virginia beach, VA

Street cred


In response to your October 2005 column, I totally agree with you that there is far too much extraneous information being crammed onto our TV screens. However, if you are after “authority and credibility,” I can't help but wonder why you are watching FOX News in the first place!
Ron Whittaker, Ph.D.

14:9 broadcasts

Michael Robin:

I've just finished reading your October 2005 article “The analog-digital hybrid” and was a little surprised that in your discussion of how to cope with mixed 4:3 and 16:9 material and displays, you made no mention of the approach that is used in both the UK and Australia, namely 14:9 letterbox/pillarbox. While the UK is only just about to start HD broadcasting, digital 16:9 SD broadcasts have been the UK norm for many years now, and 14:9 shoot and protect has been the accepted approach by all broadcasters from the outset.

I can't do better than point you to the BBC's own guidelines on the matter, available online at I hope this is of some interest.
Dave Heath

Plasmas vs. LCDs

Michael Robin:

I read your January 2005 article on gamma correction, which I found interesting. But one question came to me when I finished reading it: Why are you so sure that CRTs will be replaced by plasma screens? Instead, I would expect them to be replaced by LCD monitors.

In my opinion, plasmas might behave more accurately in terms of color reproduction and the overall gamut, which is not very satisfactory with LCDs because they use gas tubes for light source, which feature a discontinuous spectrum and are not consistent over time.

On the other hand, plasmas require a complex method to display different light levels (e.g., midtones) because their pixel light source can either be on or off during certain time intervals. Therefore, the human eye would integrate a certain brightness response. This process is suffering a lot when the whole picture content changes from one frame to the other, such as in a camera pan.
Anke Steffens

Michael Robin responds:

The market will decide which replacement of the CRT — LCD or plasma — will prevail. My main concern is that the television standards were developed with CRTs in mind. CRT replacements, such as LCD or plasma, have a different transfer characteristic than what the standards assume, so the whole concept of gamma correction needs to be addressed and redeveloped.

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