Published by: Larry Bloomfield &
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May 30, 2000
Tech Note - 057
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RE: Tech Note #56
Michael Brinkman of Panasonic here:
In the USA, HD is defined as either 1920 x 1080 (at various scanning
schemes), or 1280 x 720p/60. Because the naming convention is a
bit confusing (and different from the past), many people do not
realize that the most commonly employed HD format today, 1920 x
1080i/60, means only 540 vertical lines are displayed in each 1/60th
of a second---we used to call that 30-frames per second (60 half
pictures, or fields, equal 30 full pictures, or frames, per second).
One of the reasons that 720p looks good is that 720 V lines, a full
frame, are displayed 60 times a second.
Humans are more sensitive to vertical
resolution than we are to horizontal resolution. The 720p
format definitely has lower H res than 1080, but we don't seem to
notice it much. (And, readily available monitors cannot display
the difference.) Sony has made good use of the fact that humans
will give up H res in their HDCAM format. HDCAM can only record
about 75% of the 1920 pixels, but like the 1280 H pixels in 720p,
the picture still looks good. Panasonic's just introduced DVCPRO
HD uses similar pre-filtering techniques as HDCAM does to make portable
Bottom line is that both HD formats
look very good. 1920 x 1080, recorded on a VTR that can capture
that resolution, has the largest pixel map, but the 60-full frames
per second of the progressively scanned 720p format handles motion
better. Users should make their choice accordingly. NBC and CBS
prefer 1080, ABC and FOX (when Fox does HD) prefer 720p. Many people
now say that 1920 x 1080--the large pixel map--at a true 60-frames/second
progressive---the frame rate/structure of 720p--is the ultimate
solution. That goal will probably be achieved in a few years, but
it isn't technically possible for camera/VTR's at this time.
As you know, Panasonic makes and sells
480p equipment so I will not claim to be neutral here. That said,
I have had a lot of opportunity to study 480p pictures. Here's a
little review: 480 progressive records 720H X 480V, at 60 full frames
per second using the 16X9 aspect ratio. The 720H x 480P format is
NOT HD, but the results are stunning none the less. When viewed
from a distance of 4 or 5 picture heights away, highly qualified
engineers routinely mistake 480p originated pictures, particularly
after upconversion to HD, for pure HD. Handled well, 480p gives
much of the HD bang, for a lot less buck. The biggest limiting factor
to wide use of 480p has been a lack of peripheral production/post-production
equipment. Manufacturers can only make so many things at one time,
and most concentrated their early efforts on building 1080 or 720
compatible products. This year will see the introduction of a number
of 480p products which will likely lead to wider use of the format.
Again, 480p is not HD, but it elicits a very HD-like response from
BTW, the now years old quote that:
“480p is a TAD better than NTSC" came from one engineer who had
never seen our equipment. In fact, I have not seen that quote published
for a long time. There are a couple of things wrong with it.
First, the term NTSC correctly refers to composite pictures, not
component digital pictures. One of the great advantages of DTV is
the fact that any component digital picture, even 480 interlace,
is noticeably superior to NTSC. DTV transmission lets us deliver
to the home a picture very similar to what we see in the post facility
or television station. Therefore, even 480i is far more than
"a tad better than NTSC." Now, I have never encountered anyone who
feels that 480i looks better than 480p. Thus, 480p must be far superior
to NTSC. If you haven't seen the difference
between NTSC, 480i and 480p, find a
Panasonic salesperson and ask them to set up a demo for you.
Finally, the once popular terms Extended
Definition Television (EDTV) and Advanced Definition Television
(ADTV) are rarely used anymore. If I remember correctly, 480progressive
would qualify for inclusion under those proposals based on picture
quality and aspect ratio. I can't remember if the EDTV spec required
the use of 18mHz (960 H pixels). If
so, then neither 480i nor 480p in 16:9
Jim Mendrala Responds:
Mr. Brinkman is generally correct
in his assumptions. The sweet spot for 720p is about the same for
1080i. Therefore the picture would look about the same. As for 480p
yes it should look a little better than 480i and at 4 to 5 picture
heights one should see a slight difference. At the 480i sweet spot
of about 8 to 10 picture heights I don’t think there would be any
significant discernable differences in picture quality for any of
RE: Tech Note #056
480P is 1/2 D1 resolution and is a
tad better than VCR quality. We transmit 352 x 480 MPEG-2
over one T1 line. This will give a better picture than MPEG-1
but is VCR quality without stereo audio and also no SAP. 720P
is considered SDTV and up to four of these will be transmitted in
the same space as a HDTV channel, which is 19.39Mbps.
The actual number will be based on
the compression bit rate required for the video image. Typical DVD
video is compressed at less than 5 Mbps, so you could fit four SDTV
channels in the HDTV space.
Ralph P. Manfredo President &
CEO Broad Band Networks Company (BBNC)
(Ed Note: In a subsequent e-mail,
Manfredo corrected the above and said that he means 480p not 720p.)
Jim Mendrala Responds:
720p is 1,280 x 720 in a 16:9 aspect
ratio. 480p is 640 x 480 in a 4:3 aspect ratio. He says that four-720p
videos can be transmitted over one channel using statistical multiplexing
and that is possible. I think Manfredo is confusing wide screen
480p which is not 720p but 480p like on the DVD format. Jim
RE: Tech Notes #056
I am not sure I agree with your assessment
of 720P vs.1080i.
The confusion over the differences
between different HDTV formats is in large part due to the technically
incorrect and exaggerated performance embodied in the very name
given to the first generation of interlace HDTV which is called
1080 interlace. The 1080 interlace name was chosen more for its
historical similarity with legacy analog standard definition technologies
and is essentially an analog marketing description rather than a
technical description. One
technically correct and temporally
normalized description of this signal is 1920x540x60 (1920 horizontal
pixels by 540 vertical pixels scanned 60 times every second). The
1080 interlace description is misleading in the ITU-R BT.709-3 standards
document because the 1920x1080 interlace raster is identified as
2:1 scanning … here 2:1
means that the 1080 vertical lines
are divided by 2: 1080/2= 540. When 1080 interlace is properly characterized
as 1920x540x60, it is recognized that 1280x720x60p (1280 horizontal
pixels by 720 vertical pixels 60 times every second) delivers greater
vertical resolution than 1920x540x60 (720 is better than 540).
Interlace proponents claim
falsely that 1080 interlace delivers
full spatial resolution (1080 lines) while at the same time delivering
full temporal resolution (60th of a second). For this reason, the
term 540/60i to describe the 1080 interlace signal should be used.
George Coles, Video Products Group
Jim Mendrala responds:
I agree with Mr. Coles in that the
1080i was chosen for its historic similarity with legacy analog
systems but interlace is interlace.
1080i at 30 frames per second with
60 fields is not the same as 540p at 60 times per second. The scanning
of a 1920 x 1080i image at 30 frames per second is done with a raster
that has 1125 scan lines. 1,125/2 = 562.5 scan lines per field insuring
a proper 2:1 interlace.
Remember that with an interlaced picture
you have to deal with the Kell factor, which is generally 2/3 of
the number of scan lines. Thus in an SDTV signal 525 scan lines
produces a vertical resolution of 340 lines and 1125 scan lines
produce a vertical resolution of 720 lines. In the above example
an SDTV 30 frame image with 60 fields has a resolution of about
480 x 340 and a HDTV 30 frame image with 60 fields has a resolution
of about 1280 x 720.
Confusing the issue is the new 1920
x 1080p 24-segmented frame video called 24sF or 24-segmented fields
per second. In that scenario the image is captured and read out
as all odd lines in field one and all even lines in field two. When
reassembled into a 24-frame image it is progressive and the Kell
factor is eliminated.
From Roy Trumbull
(Ed Note: Roy Trumbull is
a well known and respected television engineer in the San Francisco
Bay area and is Assistant Chief Engineer at KRON-TV)
Several things have bothered me about
the transition to DTV. There has been no mention of a date by which
TV set manufacturers must include a digital tuner. The emphasis
has instead been on setting interoperable standards for over-the-air
and cable signals in receivers. I don’t see how the deadlines for
conversion can be met without such a mandate.
If a cable operator wishes to use
the higher quality digital signal instead of the analog signal at
some distant location, a receiver that has an NTSC output has no
mechanism to deliver the line 21 closed captioning information.
The only way to do this is to recover the data from the analog signal
and insert it on line 21 from the digital receiver using a device
called a “data bridge”.
Captioning, as implemented in a DTV
signal, has no relationship to line 21. During the transition period,
when line 21 information is being ported over to a DTV encoder,
it would make sense to set a flag bit so that a DTV receiver or
set-top box outputting NTSC video would know that that information
was to be inserted on line 21.
(It would be a little more complicated
than that. An association of the captioning with a specific program
within the data stream also needs to be established.)
The upconversion of NTSC video to
1080 or 720 lines is a poor way to introduce the public to digital
television. Noise in source material is handled very poorly by encoders
and regular NTSC programs and news stories are rife with noise.
An upconverter that changes 4:3 to 16:9 produces nasty artifacts.
As the added lines add no additional resolution, it makes much more
sense to stick with native 480 and 4:3.
Another benefit to staying in a signal’s
native format is that the conversion from upconverted 480 to1080
back down to 480 is not without its perils. Lip-sync, which is already
marginal in DTV, has a nasty habit of creeping during a reverse
conversion. When the viewer stays on the same channel for a long
period, the lip-sync slip can be quite annoying. Roy
SID 2000 Draws 6600 People to Long Beach to Look at
Revolutionary Display Technology.
By: Jim Mendrala
The trade-show portion of SID 2000,
The Society for Information Display's annual International Conference,
Symposium, and Exhibition, ended in Long Beach, California, on May
18, 2000 with 240 mostly upbeat exhibitors packing up their high-tech
wares and counting the sales leads they had acquired over the previous
three days. The
exhibitors had 425 booths, up 5 ½
percent from last year.
The first microdisplay-based rear-projection
TV sets, a look at Kodak/Sanyo’s stunning organic LED display, and
the news that hundreds of thousands of portable electronic devices
will be using microdisplays by year's end brought home to SID attendees
just how different electronic products of the near future will be.
A variety of products – from rear-projection
television sets and data/graphic projectors to lightweight headsets
and bright viewers for digital cameras and camcorders – will be
introduced from now through the end of the year and beyond.
Attendees were buzzing because, in
addition to the impressive evolutionary improvements expected in
the information display industry, they saw products and prototypes
that promise – or threaten – to disrupt traditional market structures.
Among the most impressive of the paradigm-busting displays was a
5.5-inch organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) display from the team
of Kodak and Sanyo. The display could be used as a viewfinder in
outdoor ENG cameras that could actually be suitable for use in sunlight.
The bright, slender glass sandwich was driven by thin-film transistors
and row/column drivers made of low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS)
and fabricated directly on the glass substrate. As a result, the
only connection to the host system was a 25-conductor flat cable.
Said consultant Alan
Sobel: "That Kodak/Sanyo display knocked
my socks off!" But it's still a prototype. A 1.8 or 2.0-inch version
should appear as the viewfinder/monitor on Kodak and other digital
cameras between now and Christmas of 2001.
Ultimately, OLED developers believe
the technology can be used to make large direct-view displays at
costs much lower than that for liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) and
plasma display panels (PDPs).
Another approach to large inexpensive
high-resolution images is projection based reflective microdisplays
– displays less than an inch on the diagonal. Texas Instruments'
DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) has had that arena to itself for
several years, but an alternative technology, ferroelectric liquid
crystal display (FLCD) from Displaytech, Inc. is emerging. Displaytech's
LightCaster FLCD Microdisplay, which had been under development,
is now starting to be
sold to OEMs in volume. Samsung Electronics
will be using three of the FLCD devices in its new line of large-screen
HD-ready FLCD Tantus televisions. The line will include a 43-in.,
m/n HLK436W, as well as a 50-in. HDTV, m/n HLK506W, powered by three
0.78-in. LightCaster FLCD microdisplay panels. The 43-inch model
is 15 inches deep and the 50-inch model is only 18 inches deep.
Texas Instruments’ DMD™ will be featured in Panasonics' new HD-ready
DLP set, m/n PT-52DLP, that was seen by many at the recent NAB2000
and scheduled to be introduced in
the 3rd quarter of this year.
Another novel approach to color splitting
and color combining came from ColorLink Incorporated. This
new innovation called the ColorQuad is designed specifically for
3-panel projectors to provide higher performance in low f/number
systems. The ColorQuad, m/n BK-7, has the ability to achieve high
performance with low cost. The ColorQuad has a
color gamut that is wider than the
SMPTE 274M colorimetry. It also has the ability to notch out the
yellow and cyan light typical from the new ultra-high performance
(UHP) lamps, which is essential for a good color gamut. The color
coordinates for the ColorQuad with a UHP lamp at f/2.5 from their
data sheet is Red at CIEx=0.65, CIEy=0.35, Green
at CIEx=0.31, CIEy= 0.67, and Blue
at CIEx=0.15, CIEy=0.04 on the C.I.E. 1931 chromaticity diagram.
ColorLink also has ColorSelect filters.
These filters use stacked retardation films for producing polarization-based
color manipulation filters. These polarizing filters allow high
transmission as well as narrow transition bandwidths and high color
contrast. With the input linearly polarized, the slope of the bandpass
from 10 to 90 percent is ~15 nm. This makes it ideal for color management
in projection display systems. The spectra characteristics for the
filters offer high peak transmission and high color contrast, along
with narrow transition bandwidths and flat profiles that are usually
associated with dichroic splitters and are nearly insensitive to
the incidence angle.
One microdisplay will be all that
is needed to produce flicker-free, perfectly registered color pictures
with a large color gamut and full motion imaging. The old 1940s
CBS idea of field sequential color with a rotating color wheel has
been updated. Since the new microdisplay devices are so fast, sequential
RGB can be applied to each field several times per field. ColorLink
and Displaytech both demonstrated flicker-free sequential color
illumination, using ColorLink's ColorSwitch to switch the RGB to
each field at the rate of 360 times per second or 6 times per field
for a 30 frame interlaced images. The results were very impressive
considering it was a prototype.
It was only in comparison to these
revolutionary technologies that the showing of wide-format, high-resolution
22-inch AMLCD displays suitable for HDTV by Samsung and others could
seem conventional. Samsung was also pushing Active Matrix Liquid
Crystal Display (AMLCD) with their homegrown "SXGA+" format – 1400x1050
pixels. Reportedly, the motivation is to provide displays that look
distinctly better than the "commodity" SXGA (1280x1024 ) AMLCDs
are being produced by Taiwan’s aggressive new AMLCD manufacturing
facilities, while avoiding the higher cost and addressing challenges
of UXGA (1600x1200).
SID 2000 also gave the Society for
Information Display an opportunity to install its new officers and
committee chairs. New President Aris Silzars (Northlight Displays)
promised to build on predecessor Tony Lowe’s achievements, and aggressively
expand the Society’s role and membership in the international display
design, manufacturing, and product integration communities.
SID is an international society devoted
to the advancement of display technology, manufacturing, and applications,
with headquarters at 31 East Julian Street, San Jose, California
95112. For more information, visit their website at: www.sid.org.
BIGGEST Lies Yet
(ED Note: Craig Brikmaier runs
Pcube Labs, hosts an online forum, OpenDTV and is a regular contributor
to Television Broadcast Magazine.)
I questioned the outrageous claims
in the press announcement from the CEA, in which Gary Shapiro contends:
"According to figures released by the Consumer Electronics Association
(CEA), early sales of digital television (DTV) outpace those of
color TV, video cassette recorders (VCRs), and digital broadcast
satellite (DBS), combined.”
One of the specific LIES that I questioned
was the claim that DTV sales are outpacing the uptake of DBS. The
facts about sales of DBS systems in the first three years appear
to be wrong. Could someone from DirecTV please refresh our memories
about the date when this service first began a commercial venture
(not the private testing phase) and how many receivers had been
sold within three years of that data?
I have since taken a few moments to
do a bit of research on the subject. The following is extracted
from the research archives at the Sky Report:
“DirecTV, U.S. Satellite Broadcasting
and Thomson Consumer Electronics sell the first DSS (Digital Satellite
System) offering in Jackson, Miss. By the end of the year, DirecTV
acquires 320,000 subscribers. DirecTV also launches its DBS-2 satellite
from Cape Canaveral, Fla., into the 101-degree position.
“PrimeStar rolls out nationwide digital
TV service via a medium-power Ku-Band satellite. The company ends
1994 with about 250,000 subscribers.
“C-Band shipments surge to historic
levels, hitting nearly 85,000 alone in August. C-Band subs total
646,000 for the year.”
“DirecTV, USSB and PrimeStar announce
plans to spend nearly $170 million in advertising in 1995.
“DirecTV launches DBS-3 into its 101-degree
“C-Band reaches its peak with 2.3
“EchoStar launches DISH Network on
March 4. By the end of the year, DISH acquires 350,000 subscribers.
The company also reveals its uplink center in Cheyenne, Wyo., and
launches its second satellite into the 119-degree position.
“DISH Network begins DBS price wars,
lowering equipment prices to $199 with a programming commitment
from new subscribers.
“DirecTV breaks the 2 million subscriber
“DirecTV passes the 3 million subscriber
barrier, while EchoStar's DISH Network achieves the 1 million mark.”
Mr. Shapiro's CEA claims: According
to CEA, if DTV unit sales reach the projected 425,000 in 2000, bringing
total DTV set sales to more than 500,000, it will have outperformed
combined sales of color TV, VCRs, and DBS during the same three-year
time introductory period (445,000). Dollar volume for DTV sales
showed a similar trend.
The information presented above clearly
indicates that DBS (DirecTV and PrimeStar) reached 570,000 subs
in the first year...it took DirecTV only 6 months to reach 320,000
homes. In the first three years the total for DirecTV and Dish surpassed
4 million subscribers.
Apparently MR. Shapiro is having a
convenient lapse of memory. Here's an excerpt from a 1997 CEMA press
“A Million Subscribers a Year Ditch
Cable for Direct-to-Home Satellite “Cable Can't Match Sound and
“LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, March 25, 1997.
Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite systems are drawing more than a million
subscribers a year away from cable, and enabling another 322,000
households to downgrade their cable options to just "basic" service,
according to estimates from a national survey released today by
the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) at the
Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) Show.
“CEMA estimated the growing consumer
preference for DTH over cable now results in a $1.4 billion annual
revenue loss to the cable industry.
"The primary reasons consumers are
opting for Digital Satellite Systems (DSS) and other DTH systems,
over cable are the satellite systems' superior picture and sound
quality and the availability of a greater number of channels," said
Gary Shapiro, CEMA president.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BIG LIE
DSS hardware includes a mini-dish
about 18 inches in diameter and decoding equipment that allow families
to receive an array of sports, movies and other programming in digital
form transmitted directly from a satellite to their homes. DSS was
introduced in 1994 and rapidly gained wide spread consumer acceptance.
More than one million units were sold in its first year of introduction,
making DSS the fastest selling consumer electronics product ever.
According to CEMA, more than 2.2 million
DTH systems were installed in 1995 and 3.5 million in 1996. The
Association estimates that 4.4 million systems will be purchased
in 1997. Prices for DSS hardware, specifically, have dropped significantly
since their introduction and today can cost as little as $199 when
purchased with a subscription to one of the programming services.
Mr. Shapiro, I am submitting these
facts for publication. Please contact Tech Notes if you would like
to explain why you are misleading the FCC, Congress and the American
A sneak attack on our digital liberties
By: Larry Bloomfield
Dan Gillmore is a well-read and respected
Technical columnist for the San Jose Mercury News. I highly
recommend you take the time to go to the following web site and
read his column.
We would have reprinted it here, but
could not get the required permission from the newspaper.
DAN GILLMOR ON TECHNOLOGY
Friday May 26, 2000
Dan Gillmor, Mercury News Technology
Stop this sneak attack on liberty.
As seen from the other side of the Atlantic
From: Dermot Nolan
(Ed Note: Dermot Nolan resides
in the United Kingdom (England) and has been a strong proponent
of DVB. His vociferousness on this matter has been seen in
several Internet forums.)
In reference to the current modulation
issues in the US, There are two scenarios:
Sinclair WINS: then DVB-T rules the
roost and US terrestrial broadcasting goes forward on a completely
different basis to a fantastic future, which OUTSHINES the original
DVB-T prospectus. Europeans totally jealous!!
Sinclair LOSES: DBS wins. US terrestrial
television dies off over a decade. Europeans laugh.
The current US regulatory and technical
process is too slow to do anything in the face of change: the quick
and the very dead.
Right now in Europe there is total
incredulity that US broadcasters do not summarily dismiss the ATSC
and select a system, which works.
NIHS is a very expensive position
when you are fighting OTHER competitors. Nobody thinks twice
about picking working technologies in other industries. The
general view is you are all too scared: in Europe in the same situation
ten years ago the broadcasters rose up and CRUSHED the CE crowd.
Who's got the balls? The networks should be heard FROM THE ROOFTOPS!!!!!!!
FCC tries to stem area code demand
From: Adapted by Larry Bloomfield from
an Associated press article
Something that could affect everyone,
DTV and Digital Cinema is the explosion of cell phones, pagers and
fax machines - along with a monopoly era system for allotting digits
that is endangering one of the most basic forms of personal information:
the telephone number.
Federal regulators have tried to fix
the problem. Forecasts indicate that we could run out of area codes
within the next eight to 10 years, requiring callers to punch in
more numbers than they do now. The Federal Communications
Commission has adopted rules that would allow states to more efficiently
allocate and manage phone numbers, such as taking back numbers that
carriers are holding but not using. This is an issue that
bears watching. Larry
By: Larry Bloomfield
With the recent tragedy that involved
an ENG truck belonging to the ABC O&O in Los Angeles, KABC-TV
Channel 7, their microwave mast/dish and a local high voltage power
line, it brings up the somewhat backburner subject of safety.
No one wants to see or hear about anyone getting hurt and the reporter
who was involved in the accident will bear very strong testimony
to this fact once her wounds heal.
For the he Latest on the condition
of ABC7's Adrienne Alpert see: http://abcnews.go.com/local/kabc/news/37247_5232000.html
also check out: http://www.engsafety.com/
Note: The Editors and Publishers of the Tech Notes wish to thank
Des Chaskelson, Research Director of SCRI International for his
generosity in posting the Tech-Notes on the SCRI web site. http://WWW.SCRI.com).
Subject: H/DTV Budgets at US TV Stations
Plus SCRI New Reports
From: Des Chaskelson, Research Director
SCRI International (www.scri.com)
Data from the recent 2000 H/DTV survey
of US TV Stations shows that over half of all stations (51%) expect
to spend between $2 and $7.5 million in total on their conversion
to digital; 11% expect to spend less than $2.5M; 7.9% expect to
spend $7.5 - $10M; 11% between $10 - $15M; 16.5% were unsure.
These figures are very representative
of the norm if all parts of the transition are taken into account:
tower, transmission system, studio and ENG/EFP facilities.
The 17% who don't know can take their cue from the $2.5-$7.5M that
most stations are budgeting for.
The full report is available from
SCRI -- online table of contents at: http://www.scri.com/sc_hdtv_2000trends.html
Also, New 2000 Product Reports - Market
Size and Brand Shares for over 20 Product Categories -- http://www.scri.com/sc_bpvm_2000products.html
Coming Soon - Streaming Video Survey
Among Broadcast and Pro Video Facilities send any questions you
would like to see included to: Des Chaskelson firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shots & Food for thought:
1. We’re building a web site so we
can put pictures, when available, with our stories. Many of
our subscribers cannot handle attachments or the enhancements we
can offer there. We will continue to publish the e-mail edition
and it will continue to be on the other web sites, but we hope to
include a place for television’s technical history, trivia, war
stories, pioneer’s Bio's, memorabilia, pictures & the like.
We are open to suggestions. All our back issues will be posted
there as well, along with articles Jim and Larry have written in
the past for the industry relating to these subjects. We are
entertaining the idea of a sponsor, but have not decided on that
as yet. Make us an offer we can’t refuse.
2. With all the news recently about
viruses etc, is there anyway these could impact a
Digital television station’s bit stream?
The Tech-Notes are published for broadcast
professionals, and others, who are interested in DTV, HDTV, Electronic
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