I enjoyed your January editorial and agree completely. Broadcasters need to promote the fact that we're offering digital and HD, and more importantly, that it's free! I'm proud to say that my station is an exception to the rule that you've observed. We're a CBS affiliate, and we've been promoting our HD broadcasts since we launched them in early January. We were the first station in the market to carry the Super Bowl in HD, and we made a point of letting our viewers know, even highlighting the fact in our newscasts. And even when we're not broadcasting HD, our digital picture is so superior that our GM watches that at home instead.
I've read lots of complaints about the transition. How the deadline is unrealistic, nobody will buy it, etc. The cable guys have shown us that people want it and they're willing to pay for it. While the transition has not been easy or cheap, our feeling is that if we don't offer our viewers the best in picture and sound quality, the cable and satellite guys will. Like it or not, the HDTV train is coming. And I'm sure you know the old cliché: Get on board the train or get run over by it.
Tables have turned
Your comments in your February editorial are spot on — however, you did not go nearly far enough. The tables will, in fact, “over-turn” and the entire room will be re-done. And this is not a transition of several years — but of only a few. Radical? Look at Kodak and Polaroid having to reinvent themselves. Broadcast manufacturers are now at a precipice.
Consumer devices, software and media will rapidly overrun the existing broadcast standards. When consumers replace their computers this year or next, they will have at their disposal a platform capable of decoding and displaying HD video and HD audio. The gaming industry — always the vanguard — will push for resolutions and frame rates beyond HD. Microsoft's next OS in 2006 expects us to run desktops at 3K × 2K resolution. Intel talks about LCOS projection chips beyond HD. The visual revolution is upon us.
HDV is an interim solution that finally brings HD acquisition to a more affordable level — but it is still a “pro” product and priced too high for consumers. But HD, when available in a compact pocket digital camera for $500, will really change the face of things. My contacts tell me this is “within the year” and being pushed hard by everyone that matters: vendors of cameras, displays, solid-state storage, CPUs and graphics chips. Hmmm. Notice the lack of traditional NAB strongholds.
This is when the industry will really get interesting. Can't wait.
Thank you for your excellent series of articles in Broadcast Engineering. I have a question about 2:3 pulldown. I understand additional frames of TV must be “created” from the frames of film at a ratio of 5 to 4, due to the respective frame rates of 30fps and 24fps. But why is it done in the manner you described, which makes 2/3 pull-down “conversion” necessary to reconstruct the best picture? Why can't they just scan every fourth frame of film twice in a row, instead of the method they do use?
Michael Robin responds:
Old habits are hard to quit.
January Freeze Frame:
Q. What was unique about the NEC SR-10 recorder?
A. The recorder was completely solid state and recorded 34 seconds of video on 1000 chips.
Joseph J. Schwarz Patrick O'Brien