Small, HDV camcorders to have limited role in HD ENG roll out, says author

As local news engineers and station managers begin contemplating an HD future for news acquisition from the field, affordability and availability of adequate bandwidth will be among the biggest challenges to be faced, according to the author of a new report on HD ENG.

Industry consultant Tore Nordahl, who authored the recently released “HD ENG News Technology for TV Stations,” said HD ENG offers stations the opportunity to grow market share as viewers continue to invest in HDTVs. But doing so won’t come easy.

The high cost of HD ENG cameras must be overcome, he said, and stations have a role in setting the price.

One lever stations can use is voting for lower-cost alternatives with their capital budgets, he said. Cameras with 1/2in HD imaging devices are “good compromises” between 2/3in CCD and emerging CMOS cameras and pro-sumer and consumer HDV camcorders with 1/3in imaging devices, he said.

One-third camcorders don’t offer the sensitivity required in ENG settings, especially one in which stations are trying to emphasize new and improved HD quality products. Lux specifications for such cameras are in the 1.0 or higher range, while 2/3in models offer sensitivity as low as 0.01, 0.02 or 0.03.

The compression technology currently used in 1/3in HDV camcorders will introduce encoding and decoding delays that many stations may find unacceptable for live shots, he said.

New compression techniques, such as the intraframe wavelet scheme being employed by the new Motion JPEG2000, will likely play an important role in the future, he said. Such approaches will be able to compress HD material to 50Mb/s or 60Mb/s. At that data rate, stations will have to use the 7GHz or 13GHz bands where the 25MHz-wide channels were needed for that data rate to exist. These transmissions will most likely be at 7GHz, he said.

However, 1/3in HDV camcorders are appropriate for field applications where stations can be assured of adequate lighting, and live transmission is unnecessary, he said. In fact, such cameras can play an important role in extending the reach of newsrooms and offering stations an affordable way of gaining experience with HD news acquisition at this formative stage of development.

For more information on the report, visit

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