Read more of this week's HD Notebookhere.
While HD World is only three years old, this trade show has doubled in size—both in terms of attendees and exhibits—since its inception. This year's event, being held Oct. 15-16 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, expects to see a 25 percent increase in attendance above that of last year, and more than 225 exhibits by the most prominent vendors in the broadcast and media fields.
HD World—which has become a well-respected source of information about HD production, acquisition, origination and distribution systems—attracts high profile professionals from media companies, telcos, government and enterprise firms.
The floor scene at last years HD World show HD World has been "co-located" with two other shows—SATCON and IP Media—all of which are owned and organized by JD Events, in Trumbull, Conn.
SATCON is a seven-year-old show devoted to content delivery over satellite, fiber, and hybrid networks; while IP Media is a show that explores new business models and technologies for content creation and distribution over IP networks including the Internet, IPTV, mobile video, corporate and government networks.
This year, JD Events has united the three shows under a single umbrella, "Content and Communications World" or CCW. While last year's visitors were able to move freely between the three shows, Michael Driscoll, vice president and event director for JD Events said this year's conference offerings will be more intertwined. This will provide attendees access to a very broad range of topics and technologies and a chance to get all their questions answered.
"At a time when networks and stations are increasingly offering HDTV programming, and consumers are buying HDTV sets in greater numbers, there are many challenges and problems arising from the need to handle and intermix HD and SD formats; and distribute HDTV content to broadcast, online, mobile and other media outlets," Driscoll said.
"In our first two years, HD World focused heavily on sports technology and the challenges of producing live HDTV sports broadcasts," said Driscoll. "But today, since sportscasters have sorted out many of their technical issues, this year's show features them speaking on panels with a broader focus, including emerging areas of HDTV, including HD news production, content exchange formats, and the future of content distribution."
He added that CCW is a forum where industry professionals can share insight and strategies about what has worked for them and where they see things going.
Tandberg Television is among the exhibitors that have supported HD World and participated in the panel discussions and events. This year, Matthew Goldman, vice president of technology for compression systems for Tandberg Television, which is part of the Ericsson Group, will present a tutorial on "Video Compression Advances for Contribution and Distribution." This takes place on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. Goldman considers HD World a very worthwhile opportunity to meet industry peers and prospective customers.
"At past HD World and SATCON shows, we found that—compared to larger shows like NAB—it draws a smaller audience, but a very focused audience. At HD World, now CCW, we are able to meet many executives, including senior engineering decision makers from prominent media organizations in the New York area," said Goldman, "As they shift their operations to HDTV, their interest is in the sweet spot for Tandberg Television. With a high number of decision makers attending, we're always pleased to exhibit there, and if we have expertise, we volunteer that."
EXAMINING END-TO-END HD TRANSMISSION
As broadcasters increasingly utilize MPEG-4 AVC compression for its significant bandwidth savings, Goldman's tutorial will examine the impact that concatenation—multiple stages of compression—has on the final picture quality.
A typical live broadcast can involve three stages of concatenation. First the signal is encoded locally, perhaps at a football stadium or other remote location, and then back-hauled to the network where it is decoded to baseband. In stage two, which is front-haul, the network re-encodes that signal and distributes it to its TV or cable affiliates, which in turn decode it back to baseband. Then in stage three, those local broadcast affiliates encode the signal yet again for transmission to consumer receivers, which decode it for display.
"ATSC dictates that emissions, or the final broadcast, must be compressed in MPEG-2 at no more than 19.4 Mbps," said Goldman. "But in back-haul or front-haul situations, broadcasters are not limited to MPEG-2. They can now use MPEG-4 AVC, which is a more efficient compression scheme capable of using significantly less bandwidth than MPEG-2 for the same picture quality or sending more services in the same amount of bandwidth.
Goldman said that the primary reason for this change in compression schemes was to carry high-definition signals in the same bandwidth that's used for SD.
"But the question is," said Goldman, "what is the impact of repeatedly converting between different MPEG formats and bit rates? The goal of this tutorial is to give station managers a good overview of the issues involved, while imparting a deeper understanding to technical engineers."
He plans to build his presentation around real world, practical examples, showing how video content looks before and after concatenation.
LOOKING AT HD NEWS
As stations migrate their operations to support HDTV, for many the question remains, at what point does it make sense to offer local news in HD? And what are the key issues to consider when implementing an infrastructure to support HD news?
On Wednesday, Oct. 15 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Lewis Zager will moderate a panel discussion entitled, "High Definition News: The Next Revolution in Broadcast News Operations," which is part of the HD World program track.
Zager is a Falls Church, Va.-based broadcast media technology consultant. He previously worked for WETA-TV and PBS, where his responsibilities included organization of the technology agenda for several PBS Technology Conferences.
Panelists for this HD news session include: Marty Faubell, vice president of engineering for Hearst-Argyle Television; Bob Hesskamp, Turner Broadcasting corporate vice president of CNN broadcast engineering and system technology; Chris Lane, vice president of engineering and technology for WETA; and Delbert Parks, vice president of operations/engineering for Sinclair Broadcasting.
"Since this is a broad-based topic, I'm planning to focus the discussion on one of the most pressing issues in HD news—backhaul," Zager said. "Many stations find it extremely challenging to incorporate SD video into their native HD newscast as well as to transmit live HD pictures from the field."
He added that the selected panelists would also be relating the hurdles faced by their stations and groups in migrating to high-definition news broadcasting.
"They will also share their insight as to how stations can justify the shift from SD to HD news by weighing such factors as the cost to upgrade the infrastructure, the potential increase in ratings, and delivery of a better, more competitive news product," he said.
FORUM OF IDEAS
When planning the CCW shows, JD Events asks industry professionals about the biggest issues they are facing in their jobs, and this feedback inspired topics and themes for the panels and events.
"This year, one of the biggest issues they volunteered is the problem of content exchange formats, and how to make all the different formats all work together," Driscoll said.
A one-hour panel discussion titled "Content Exchange Formats for HD Acquisition, Distribution and Archiving," is set for 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15. It will examine the benefits and drawbacks of integrating different HD file formats, such as ProRes 422, DNxHD, MPEG-2, DVCPRO-HD and AVCIntra, throughout the broadcast chain. Panel members include Ed Delaney, vice president of operations at the YES (Yankee Entertainment and Sports) network, and Bruce Goldfelder, director of engineering sports for CBS.
Driscoll said that the majority of attendees come from the eastern seaboard, including N.Y. media executives who can grab a cab and spend a few hours or more at the show without disrupting their workweek with out-of- town travel. But it also attracts attendees from all over the country as well as some international guests.
"One major show a year is not enough for these people, so HD World has filled a long needed void for a powerful media solutions event in New York, giving people from all over the country the opportunity to learn new strategies, network with their peers, and see new technologies," Driscoll said.
HD World attracts many attendees from the Atlanta, Ga. area, especially from CNN and Turner. This year, the opening keynote address will be given by Scott Teissler, chief technology officer and digital technology strategist for Turner Broadcasting and CNN, at 9 a.m. on Oct. 15th. The focus of Teissler's talk will be CNN's plans for providing coverage of the elections in HDTV, as well as multiplatform content delivery.
"One of the biggest challenges we face in organizing these shows is getting high-level speakers to fly in and put themselves up in hotels at their own expense just to speak on a panel for one hour," Driscoll said. "But, because of the coveted media audience we attract, the compelling sessions we offer, and the opportunity to network with their peers, they feel there's enough value here that it's worthwhile to attend and participate."