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House HD issue

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by IndyMichael, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. IndyMichael

    IndyMichael Legend/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

    Jan 25, 2003
    For the first 10-15 minutes, the screen had black bars on the top, bottom and sides. Then it switched to 16X9. I emailed my local Fox affiliate last week about So You Think You Can Dance, about it having bars on the side and the GM wrote back they check each show and it was full HD on their end. Is someone at DirecTV not flipping the HD switch, or is something else causing it?
  2. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

    Jul 19, 2005
    Those are almost always local issues...my local FOX affiliate seems to put up an SD graphic for the FOX47 during the 1st minute or so of every show so it is always postage stamped until they take it down...same non HD signal like when they put up a storm warning or amber alert...its the local station that applies the overlay, and many do not have the capability to do it over the HD image.
  3. Rakul

    Rakul Slacker

    Sep 3, 2007
    Agreed, here in the Richmond DMA I think only the NBC stations is able to do an HD overlay. Also stations are always broadcasting in 1080i or 720p even if the program that they put out is downrezed to SD so there is no 'switch' at DirecTV to flip.
  4. rudeney

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    Out local stations often switch into 4:3 SD mode when they need to superimpose weather or other alerts. It's very annoying.
  5. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    The FOX GM is either very technically naive or not being straight with you. Maybe a little of both. He may have not had an internal report that this happened, but rest assured, it does. Also, no local affiliate "checks" FOX network shows ahead of time, except on a rare ad hoc basis. The first time you see them is typically as they stream from the network, so it is also the first time they see them.

    Most stations, although all have switched to digital, are still only built out with an internal path for SD, meaning that HD switching is a layer of auxilary switching on top of the old legacy SD switching they've been doing all along. Something as simple as a typo or a missed line in the automation playlist can cause this to happen, which is typically a missed auxilary switch event (from the SD path to the HD path, or back again).

    For FOX, the station uses an MPEG/AC3 splicer, which means the bit stream is routed around all other local equipment when coming from the network, and spliced to the station's local bitstream for local insertion. FOX currently provides both an HD and SD feed (that soon to disappear). When the station wants to be in HD, they must switch to the HD path, which is typically done whenever going to the network. They also typically switch to an SD path when going away from the network. But the SD FOX signal may show if that layer of switching fails for whatever reason, or if the local station must perform a weather or amber alert crawl using SD equipment.

    IOW, it happens at the local station (almost always), not at the network (maybe rarely), not at DTV (never).
  6. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    That seems puzzling. While I can see this for non-FOX stations, the FOX affils all have the MPEG splicer, which is capable of keying the local legal ID and bug ID over FOX programming in HD. IOW, there should be no reason why they stay in SD to put the legal ID up.

    FOX is also probably one of the few local stations with constant local branding (the corner bug) rather than generic network branding, simply because the splicer gives them this capability. Some stations are starting to do local branding over network, but without the splicer that means they must decode/rer-encode, which can degrade PQ. The Terayon splicer keeps everything in the ccompressed digital domain, so nothing can degrade the PQ.
  7. bdcottle

    bdcottle Legend

    Mar 28, 2008
    In my neck of the woods, it seems to be caused by a lack of technical skill. Both my Fox and CW affiliates (Denver area) seem to mess up programs all the time. They both transmit from the same studio. It’s embarrassing to watch.
  8. prospect60

    prospect60 Legend

    Aug 26, 2006
    Got to be local issue, mine was beautiful HD the entire 2 hours though quite interesting the cinematography going from very soft, fuzzy, washed out with slowly increasing clarity and color saturation as the story progressed. It was almost like the picture was following the Drug Withdrawal and Mental Health improvement.
  9. adunkle

    adunkle AllStar

    Aug 19, 2006
    I was watching Fox 59 also and had the exact same problem on Dish. It must have been a local issue as the timeframe you mention was pretty much the same thing I experienced.
  10. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    If by "it" you are referring to HD that should be HD but is downconverted to SD (by virtue of letterboxing and/or wings being visible) I think it is a leap to condemn them for a lack of "technical skill". Automated Master Control operations are not a matter of skill of any kind, and MC Ops have been reduced to managing a spreadsheet rather than using any sort of skill set. Instead of paying attention to what is happening on air they typically are working hours ahead correcting typos and mis-logged information making sure the running automation playlist will not bite them later, which is a paradigm shift from what the job used to be, which was controlling elements directly as they happen. That took a lot of skill and even some level of art to do really well, along with obvious attention to what was happening.

    There is not really a steep training curve for MC, but there typically is a steep learning curve where it takes a lot of failures to be able to navigate all of the "gotchas" gracefully. Unfortunately, automation is much more difficult to recover from than manual operations when things do go wrong, and what reaches the air can get pretty ugly and deteriorate quickly.

    It is true that some MC operations have been designed by engineers with either more or less ergonomic "skill" than possibly others, but MC is really just like anything else, where the percentage of success is based simply on how well those who contribute to the task (engineers, operators, traffic personnel, management) apply themselves. Level of motivation and attention to detail probably contibute more than any sort of skill. It's not that different than how motivation and attention to detail result in whether the barista will get your Starbuck's order right.

    In duopoly situations such as the one you mentioned in Denver, one of the ways stations save money is by having one operator manage the air feeds for multiple stations. Of course you can't put 8 lbs. of $#!+ into a 5-lb. bag, so the risk they run is that the operator's attention is spread so thin as to overwhelm his level of attention to detail, with inevitable results.

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