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More DirecTV HD coming?


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#41 ONLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:51 AM

You would be incorrect.While the transition from analog (be it U-matic, S-VHS, Betacam) is a paradigm shift, the transition from one digital format to another shouldn't have to be so painful. The CNN story suggests that because of the tools that they use, the editing tasks shouldn't be a difficult a transition.DAs aren't necessary in a digital environment; that task is accomplished with Ethernet switches. The only thing that has to change with the cameras is the new, much larger flash cards. The cameras still have the same zoom, focus and iris controls; probably even the same lenses and microphones.

The science of editing and switching hasn't changed all that much from the end-user perspective unless you're still shooting tape. I've been doing non-linear for years and while the software has changed, the underlying principles of video editing haven't.

I'm not insisting that the change is a simple matter of driving in a new van and going to work, but for ENG purposes, it isn't a whole lot more if you have people that are willing to move forward. It is made even easier once the crews see the benefit of being able to edit a package on a modest notebook computer in the same room where the news is being made.

The demand for HD content is there and they need to get to work fulfilling that demand. This isn't the leap from vidicon tube to CCD. This is a change in aspect ratio. DirecTV will need a lot more HD content to accomplish their goals and they shouldn't have to fight with entrenched engineers to get it.


Think about going from standalone DOS to networked windows. DOS was very, very mature, solid, well known. Networked windows was completely different in many dimensions.

Replacing every bit of very well known, solid, mature technology with unknown immature technology is not easy. There are little things that NOBODY ever expects to be a problem. Read the station engineers' posts on avsforums local threads. You'll see horror story after horror story about "Dolby encoder died", "Audio sync failed", "complete plant rewiring", etc. Interoperability testing in the field leads to very cool troubleshooting issues--but cool ain't the term for what the producers/owners/viewers are during the real-time problems.

Its very much like the late 50's and 60's all over again...

Cheers,
Tom

Go Packers!

My real treasures: 5 Grandchildren - S, D, M, M, C ; Now 5! Great-Grandtibbers - B, H, J, A, and M (Born 7/31/2011)


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#42 OFFLINE   Happy Camper

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:56 AM

First: Harsh makes me laugh, but I am old enough to have actually watched Edward R. Murrow.

Second: A good friend of mine comes from a family which owns controlling interest in a company which operates several network affiliate television stations. His take on this is "It's not particularly 'easy' to make the switch, but it's not rocket science, either. Mostly, it just takes a decision to do it, the commitment of capital for improvements and upgrades and time. Not all components you really want for the switch are always immediately available. We are making the investment in the inevitable, and our ratings have bumped slightly on local HD programs where we have made the switch. Mostly, stations don't want to spend the money and their staff complain about change. Couple this with the arrogance of broadcasters thinking they can get the digital deadline pushed back forever, and you don't have a lot of incentive for station owners to change."

#43 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 10:04 AM

Think about going from standalone DOS to networked windows. DOS was very, very mature, solid, well known. Networked windows was completely different in many dimensions.

It is my contention that going to HD is like transitioning from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 as opposed to the transition from the command line to Windows.

Replacing every bit of very well known, solid, mature technology with unknown immature technology is not easy.

Many of these stations have been digital since inception. I'm not prepared to buy this argument

Read the station engineers' posts on avsforums local threads. You'll see horror story after horror story about "Dolby encoder died", "Audio sync failed", "complete plant rewiring", etc.

Again, it comes down to the engineers. These kinds of problems existed at one level or another since the beginning of video. Back then, it was failing vacuum/vidicon tubes and a bad relay or reed switch or some downstream key character generator opening a subspace channel to Vger.

#44 OFFLINE   Badtz

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 03:57 PM

I'm lamenting that the broadcasters seem to treat the transition to HD like it is something more than bumping up the size of the storage system and upgrading some equipment.


It's true that switching to HD is, at the most basic level, just upgrading equipment. You don't edit differently, you don't switch differently, you don't shoot differently. All of that is true. But you're making it sound like switching to an HD newscast means just loading new codecs and software into your current digital equipment, and adding some more digital storage. It's not that easy. You can't just take your 601 digital router and do an HD upgrade. You need all new gear, and you have to either integrate your current infrastructure into it all, or blow it all out completely.

I work for a local news affiliate. As it stands now, we have 3 router systems for audio and video.. analog, digital, and HD. Our HD router will need to be drastically expanded. We'll need a new audio and video production switcher for our control room. Our studio cams, our master control switcher, our monitors, our editing systems, our microwave intake systems, our field gear, everything. It will all require new gear and new infrastructure. Contrary to what you say, DAs are very much needed in a digital video environment.

Yes, at the most basic level, all you're doing is upgrading your equipment. But the reality is that it requires a lot of planning and hard work. And like others here have said, while you're doing all of this, you still have to do your regular newscasts. It's not an excuse we make because we don't want to spend the money.

I'm looking forward to the day we go to HD newscasts.. it's going to be fun, but it's also going to be a hell of a lot of work. And we're just one affiliate.. I can't imagine what it would be like to transition an operation like CNN.

#45 OFFLINE   wilbur_the_goose

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 04:42 PM

Newshawk is correct about KYW-DT in Philly (a CBS O&O). They did a fantastic job at transition and their raitings have gone way up (they're a traditional #3 in the market).

WCAU-DT (NBC) is now the only local not doing news in HD. Their ratings are decreasing.

Only bad part about KYW is that Larry Mendite's makeup makes him look like somebody from La Cage aux Folles.

DirecTV customer since 1996


#46 ONLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 04:53 PM

It is my contention that going to HD is like transitioning from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 as opposed to the transition from the command line to Windows.

You are welcome to your analogy. I think you are quite wrong, but you can chose as you wish.

Many of these stations have been digital since inception. I'm not prepared to buy this argument

You know you can't make such a broad sweeping statement such as that without presenting your homework. In most of the areas I've lived few stations have been broadcasting less than 40 years.

Again, it comes down to the engineers. These kinds of problems existed at one level or another since the beginning of video. Back then, it was failing vacuum/vidicon tubes and a bad relay or reed switch or some downstream key character generator opening a subspace channel to Vger.


Harsh, your moniker should warn us, but your postings do it justice. I'm glad they define you and not me. You blithely toss aside decades of hard work these engineers had to go through to get to the stage of being able to diagnose "failing vacuum/vidicon tubes, relays, or switches" and equate that to expertise in diagnosing generation #1 HD digital equipment just like that. Equipment that "should" interoperate, but often only just barely does...Not to the level these professionals want to see in their broadcasts these days.

I don't know your background. Contrarian isn't an occupation, so I'm not sure what you have done. But for one who negates the abilities of high tech industries, I'm quite surprised you are now saying "Plug and Pray" is a myth. That things work very well the first time out of the gate.

Let me tell you, they do not always. And these are whole new skills the manufacturers, network and electrical engineers, and the station engineers are learning. Sure they can take some knowledge of previous digital experience with them, but that only helps so far when the new dolby encoder crashes once every two weeks--and Dolby's engineers don't know why.

Regards,
Tom

Go Packers!

My real treasures: 5 Grandchildren - S, D, M, M, C ; Now 5! Great-Grandtibbers - B, H, J, A, and M (Born 7/31/2011)


#47 OFFLINE   morgantown

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 05:23 PM

Despite the legitimate difficulties on the local level (and yes, those are sometimes multiple times harder for a inter/national provider such as CNN) many times the switch is not as extreme when it is a national provider such as HGTV, Food Network or even National Geographic (gasp) as compared to a local affiliate.

National Geographic made the decision to jump 100% to HD, change the studio and make it requisite that programming is only HD for anyone who wants a spot (even though hardly anyone could deliver it that way to the consumer). NG started this years ago IIRC -- as difficult as that may seem.

I do think it is harder for both sides (DTV and affiliates) on the local level. However, for a national feed (again Food Network, HGTV, etc.) that has no real presence other than a possible main studio -- more likely just a edit compiling facility and bank of traveling crews with the requisite gear) the transition is far less a task. Think about the Cartoon Network -- and the majority of channels DTV is really adding on the national feeds.

Of course it seems easier to us channel flippers than those whose profession it is to deliver the content we enjoy. However, the national feeds are (at least in many individual instances) less problematic than the task of switching over the hundreds of local affiliates DTV has already done.

As long as DTV has the (national) HD programming to provide -- the task of getting it to us is far less difficult than doing the locals. Would it be nice if all the *cable* channels had a HD feed -- sure. Give them time...as long as those two sats make into orbit the most difficult time in the HD transition should be over for DTV. "All" they need to do is get a clean feed and retransmit it.
DTV & NFLST since 97 at least, not looked back yet...

#48 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 05:26 PM

You are welcome to your analogy. I think you are quite wrong, but you can chose as you wish.You know you can't make such a broad sweeping statement such as that without presenting your homework. In most of the areas I've lived few stations have been broadcasting less than 40 years.

I was referring to CNN, SciFi, USA, TBS and other national channels that DirecTV claims to have contracts with as opposed to local broadcast stations. A bad choice of words on my part.

You blithely toss aside decades of hard work these engineers had to go through to get to the stage of being able to diagnose "failing vacuum/vidicon tubes, relays, or switches" and equate that to expertise in diagnosing generation #1 HD digital equipment just like that. Equipment that "should" interoperate, but often only just barely does...Not to the level these professionals want to see in their broadcasts these days.

My main vocation is in computers and I can assure you that in computers, they've made some spectacular paradigm shifts that have left most of the old guard data center people in the dust. Seen any new DEC Vax installs lately? What happened to Data General, Honeywell and Control Data Corporation? Through it all, the users have stayed the same.

But for one who negates the abilities of high tech industries, I'm quite surprised you are now saying "Plug and Pray" is a myth.

I'm not negating anything other than the seemingly outrageous claims of the marketroids. I have every confidence that the hardware and software people are working as fast as they are able with the tools and targets that they can pin down.

And these are whole new skills the manufacturers, network and electrical engineers, and the station engineers are learning. Sure they can take some knowledge of previous digital experience with them, but that only helps so far when the new dolby encoder crashes once every two weeks--and Dolby's engineers don't know why.

Knowing that there will be bugaboos is not a good enough reason to fight the transition. It will happen and dragging it out isn't going to make it easier. It doesn't appear that HDTV will soon be replaced, so any progress that is made should be to the good.

#49 ONLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 05:39 PM

...I have every confidence that the hardware and software people are working as fast as they are able with the tools and targets that they can pin down.
...
Knowing that there will be bugaboos is not a good enough reason to fight the transition. It will happen and dragging it out isn't going to make it easier. It doesn't appear that HDTV will soon be replaced, so any progress that is made should be to the good.


Harsh, I am always glad when you and I end up on the same page. These two statements I heartily endorse and agree with. (And am glad for the clarifications on the others, btw.)

Yes, there are people who still think February 17, 2009 will not happen. And while I agree that timing is everything, the time stop stalling has long passed. :) (Yeah, I'm still going back to the locals with the 2-17-2009, but the nationals will be affected by that date too insofar as people will see the difference and gravitate away from SD to HD, IMHO.)

Cheers,
Tom

Go Packers!

My real treasures: 5 Grandchildren - S, D, M, M, C ; Now 5! Great-Grandtibbers - B, H, J, A, and M (Born 7/31/2011)


#50 OFFLINE   wjHunter

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 01:38 AM

As long as I can get BSG in HD next season I for one will be a very happy camper... :)

#51 OFFLINE   Terry K

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 02:52 AM

To convert completely to HD, look at Today and the fact they spent 3 months converting the studio which was a ground up rebuild.

The big 4 in NYC have gone to HD as well for local news and there IS a cost involved as well as unproven technology. Just because it works great in a fixed studio doesn't mean it will work in the real world.

#52 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 08:23 AM

To convert completely to HD, look at Today and the fact they spent 3 months converting the studio which was a ground up rebuild.

You have to wonder how much of that was installation of HD cameras and how much was the support equipment like robotic camera controllers and prompter equipment. It's not like they have to worry about plugging in viewfinders and intercom equipment like they did in the good old days.

I do public meeting coverage using robotic cameras and our biggest problem has always been the robotic controls and a Pee Cee based character generator that can't seem to hold phase.

#53 OFFLINE   Drew2k

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 09:56 AM

Has anyone seen this article from January 2007? "NBC builds its network HD facilities for Today and tomorrow"

http://broadcastengi...builds_network/


(I read somewhere else that NBC made use of the Today control room when NBC Nightly News went HD.)




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