ABC O&O's destroy HD quality with launch of Live Well HD. - Page 6 - AVS Forum
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post #151 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by CKNA View Post

I agree with most of you said except the part for modulation. There is nothing wrong with 8VSB and it is not dated. You can easily run 2 decent quality HD channels using h.264 in 19.39Mbps.

The encoders for decent H264 at 8Mbs weren't quite delivering late last year - when I was last able to look at them. You still needed around 11-12Mbs for good quality H264 1080/50i stuff - which would allow 3x12Mbs H264 streams in a 36Mbs DVB-T mux. We're aiming for 4 in the UK - which would be nearer 8-9Mbs per service - but I don't know if the H264 encoders are quite there yet - but they will be I'm sure.

Certainly the 12Mbs streams I saw at IBC looked a lot better than the current 16.5Mbs streams we have now with older encoders on the BBC HD DVB-S service (they were carrying the same test material)

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Jury is still out on how well DVB-T2 will work in real life instead of careful testing. There is no commercial broadcasting anywhere in the world that uses DVB-T2. Besides DVB-T2 is not new modulation. It is still COFDM using QAM256 and much higher error correction.

Hmm - it is a refinement of an existing modulation system I guess. We've switched from 2k/8k carriers and 16QAM/64QAM for DVB-T to 32k carriers and 256QAM with DVB-T2, and a more powerful error correction scheme. Apparently rotating the symbol grid has helped improve things even more as well. The BBC R&I (formerly R&D) guys (and gals) are usually pretty "real world" when it comes to RF and modulation tech - they've been responsible for our analogue and digital spectrum planning - and were sort of behind the re-engineering of the UK digital broadcast model that has worked so well as Freeview (when the original ONDigital/ITVDigital pay-TV system collapsed)

Final test trials to refine DVB-T2 have been underway in the UK for over a year now from a relatively low-power transmitter in Guildford I believe - and I believe the London transmitter (which will run as a 7th temporary DVB-T2 mux until analogue switch-off in 2012 in the London region) is up and running. It is a pity they didn't go the whole hog and employ the dual polarisation scheme, and MIMO stuff, that would have delivered an even higher bitrate - but the requirement for a new aerial/antenna (s) (possibly with an active frequency shifter) was a non-starter for the industry. I believe other countries are seriously considering this though - so the research wasn't wasted.

T2 has really been picked up in the UK as it allowed the govt to continue with their plans to sell of the digital dividend spectrum (freed when analogue broadcasting ceases and the TV band is reduced in size) AND provide multiple HD services via Freeview HD. As new TVs and STBs would be required to support HD - it made sense to make the change now.

(Most existing UK STBs and IDTVs only have SD MPEG2 decoders - though a few now have H264 and HD MPEG2 functionality now France and Sweden are using DVB-T and H264 for HD - and other territories just introducing DVB-T are using H264 for SD - Norway, NZ, Ireland, Slovenia, Latvia etc. I believe)

Unless DVB-T2 is a total mess then it would have been shortsighted to embrace a 24Mbs tech when you can deliver 36Mbs in the same spectrum surely - particularly if there is no existing receiver base?

We should see how well DVB-T2 performs in the real world pretty soon - hopefully by the end of the year. I hear Sweden (Teracom) are considering launching a nationwide VHF SFN using T2 - to provide nationwide coverage for SVT HD. Be interesting to see how it works.
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post #152 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by icemannyr View Post

WABC-DT 7.1 looks much sharper tonight and the softness is gone.
It seems at least a meg of bandwidth was taken away from 7.3 the weather sub which is back to looking more like low quality web streamed video feed.
This is from tonight:

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OK; I'll admit that this looks pretty good. Do you know what the average bitrate of 7-1 was last night (or could you check during tonight's Kimmel)?

It would help, at least in the short term, if WABC's settings are sent to the engineering departments of other ABC O&O's. But this probably won't help with fast motion, like basketball or racing. We'll probably see a terrible-looking screencap when the next NASCAR race or NBA game comes on.

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Originally Posted by CKNA View Post

Using h.264 you could do 2 HD channels with acceptable quality.
.........

H.264 is part of ATSC spec since summer of last year.

If I had to guess, if/when H.264 becomes prominent, most networks will switch their primary channels to 1080p, which encodes properly in the 15-18 Mbps range via H.264. So I doubt that H.264 will help like you hope.

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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

The encoders for decent H264 at 8Mbs weren't quite delivering late last year - when I was last able to look at them. You still needed around 11-12Mbs for good quality H264 1080/50i stuff - which would allow 3x12Mbs H264 streams in a 36Mbs DVB-T mux. We're aiming for 4 in the UK - which would be nearer 8-9Mbs per service - but I don't know if the H264 encoders are quite there yet - but they will be I'm sure.

Here in the States, DirecTV (satellite TV) uses Harmonic H.264 encoders for HD national channel distribution. IIRC, they average in the 8-9 Mbps range, and they look pretty good.
____________________________________________________

I'll add this:

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Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

99% of the public won't care, or if they do will just grumble about it, and those who do aren't a loud enough voice to matter.
...

But is someone going to stop watching Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy because the PQ sucks? I doubt it.

You never know.

I found something online about HD Radio and how NPR Labs, Kenwood (a radio manufacturer), and iBiquity (the developer of the HD Radio codec) came together to test HD Radio's audio codec. With HD Radio, a station gets 96 kbps to air whatever it wants, including the potential for multiple stations (kind of like how DTV stations get 19.39 Mbps of room to air whatever they want).

Anyway, the radio companies wanted to determine how low a station could take its bitrate and still get good results in audio quality, with the hope to add multiple audio streams on that 96 kbps area. Towards the end of the report (pdf), it shows the results from two different panels to this question: Would you listen to a station at the given bitrate for a long period of time? We'll focus on the second panel, because it consisted of members of the general public. They found that there's no risk in reducing the bitrate to 64 kbps. At 48 kbps, 5% of the respondents said that they'd turn the station off compared to 96 kbps.

Why have I mentioned all of this? Let's say that ABC has determined that the bitrate settings of ABC proper, under the current 2 HD + 1 SD arrangement, are the equivalent of taking the ABC HD feed back to the audio equivalent of 48 kbps. As a result, ABC loses 5% of viewership. 5% loss in viewers might not seem like much to most, but that's not chump change in such high-profile markets, at such high viewership levels. It's doubtful at best that they'll make that money back with advertising revenue from Live Well. Also, it's highly unlikely that the Live Well channel will make any less money as an anamorphic SD widescreen (over-the-air) station, compared to an HD station.

But, you might say, HD isn't in even half of homes, so ABC wouldn't lose 5% of viewers. Not quite: Note my experience with FiOS. That's SD cable, and cable remains the dominant player (and for all I know, D* and E* also create SD feeds from HD ones). If Ken H is correct, and SD will be created via the HD feeds, poor HD quality translates to poor SD quality on cable systems everywhere. So if I'm at Disney, I don't want to mess too much with ABC's picture, whether in HD or SD: ABC's where the money is. Not Live Well, or whatever other channel that Disney could concoct.
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post #153 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 08:52 AM
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a message to Disney execs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeZCui1nrQg

with love, from AVSforum
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post #154 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by andgarden View Post

So? Technology marches on. Think of it as video over a datacast?

This comment shows a real lack of understanding of the issues involved.

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post #155 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

Here in the States, DirecTV (satellite TV) uses Harmonic H.264 encoders for HD national channel distribution. IIRC, they average in the 8-9 Mbps range, and they look pretty good.

I saw the Harmonic stuff at IBC in September last year. Wasn't that impressed to be honest - the pictures had a "processed" look to them that the Thomson Mustang stuff didn't seem to have. The bit rates were impressive - and there wasn't huge amounts of conventional artefacts on the Harmonics - but the pictures just looked a bit "odd".

(Harmonic stuff has been used for MPEG2 in the UK by some broadcasters - but there have been some adverse comments about the picture quality, and at one point they were used with unusually long GOP lengths which caused issues)
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post #156 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

I'm not sure that would be acceptable to the mainstream consumer would it?

Many have bought HDTVs with built-in ATSC/QAM demodulators and HD MPEG2 decoders - to deliver HDTV onto their HDTV display.

Most people who watch HD do so over cable in the US.
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post #157 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

This comment shows a real lack of understanding of the issues involved.

You confuse lack of understanding with lack of patience. The current ATSC standard is ancient, and unless we want more insanity like 2x720p in MPEG-2, something's going to have to change.

Of course, in all probability, with h.264, the broadcasters would just try for 3x720p.
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post #158 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by StudioTech View Post

You have to remember the FCC only mandated stations go digital. Every station in the country could've just continued broadcasting 480i 4:3 (like many smaller stations are) and have been done with it. Let's face it. HD was a bonus of this transition. The NAB probably would've thrown a fit if they were to mandated to provide HD. In fact, some in the FCC would prefer if *all* stations multi-cast. (gasp!)

FLAG ON THE PLAY!!!

The whole point of this transition was HDTV ... not multicasting (or even digital.)

The Devolution follows:

1) Japan creates analog HDTV system (in the 1980's.)

2) After much deer in the headlights inaction, the US eventually decides an HDTV system is the way of the future.

3) Engineers figure out that a digital based HDTV system would be "better."

4) Other engineers and bean counters figure out that they *might* be able to grab more money by broadcasting multiple lower resolution "channels" instead of HDTV.

5) FCC and Congress are conned into allowing the current sorry state of affairs.

... I'd better quit before 'The Hulk' shows up ... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry ....
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post #159 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by andgarden View Post


Of course, in all probability, with h.264, the broadcasters would just try for 3x720p.

Now you are getting the point.

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post #160 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by spwace View Post

No, h.264 is not part of the ATSC standard and is incompatible with the existing receivers.

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Originally Posted by andgarden View Post

So? Technology marches on. Think of it as video over a datacast?

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Originally Posted by CKNA View Post

You better check your facts. H.264 is part of ATSC spec since summer of last year.

http://www.atsc.org/standards/a72.php Current receivers are not compatible but, they could split bandwith and h.264 would just show as blank screen on old receivers.

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Originally Posted by spwace View Post

Now that you mention it I do recall that change, but broadcasters are not going to send their main channel in a format that most people can't receive. The percentage of h.264 capable receivers would have to be near 100% before that would happen.

h.264 is part of ATSC standard A/72, which is NOT what the FCC adopted. A/72 is there for other countries who want to start broadcasting digitally using the ATSC system. As has been mentioned, it would not be backward compatible with current receivers, but I guess someone could distribute STBs that do support h.264 along with the service (a la USDTV.)

h.264 will be part of the mobile/handheld (M/H) portion of the new ATSC standard, which will be added to the US DTV standard.
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post #161 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by hphase View Post

h.264 is part of ATSC standard A/72, which is NOT what the FCC adopted. A/72 is there for other countries who want to start broadcasting digitally using the ATSC system. As has been mentioned, it would not be backward compatible with current receivers, but I guess someone could distribute STBs that do support h.264 along with the service (a la USDTV.)

h.264 will be part of the mobile/handheld (M/H) portion of the new ATSC standard, which will be added to the US DTV standard.

A/72 is part of DTV standard and broacasters can use it if they want, but nobody does for now as there are no receivers. When it was approved ATSC comitte was actually saying to FCC to assign new channels in some markets so stations could start switch to h.264 after analog shut off.

Yes A/72 was added to also give new ATSC markets option of using AVC but not the only reason.
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post #162 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

OK; I'll admit that this looks pretty good. Do you know what the average bitrate of 7-1 was last night (or could you check during tonight's Kimmel)?

It would help, at least in the short term, if WABC's settings are sent to the engineering departments of other ABC O&O's. But this probably won't help with fast motion, like basketball or racing. We'll probably see a terrible-looking screencap when the next NASCAR race or NBA game comes on.

If I had to guess, if/when H.264 becomes prominent, most networks will switch their primary channels to 1080p, which encodes properly in the 15-18 Mbps range via H.264. So I doubt that H.264 will help like you hope.

Here in the States, DirecTV (satellite TV) uses Harmonic H.264 encoders for HD national channel distribution. IIRC, they average in the 8-9 Mbps range, and they look pretty good.
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I'll add this:

You never know.

I found something online about HD Radio and how NPR Labs, Kenwood (a radio manufacturer), and iBiquity (the developer of the HD Radio codec) came together to test HD Radio's audio codec. With HD Radio, a station gets 96 kbps to air whatever it wants, including the potential for multiple stations (kind of like how DTV stations get 19.39 Mbps of room to air whatever they want).

Anyway, the radio companies wanted to determine how low a station could take its bitrate and still get good results in audio quality, with the hope to add multiple audio streams on that 96 kbps area. Towards the end of the report (pdf), it shows the results from two different panels to this question: Would you listen to a station at the given bitrate for a long period of time? We'll focus on the second panel, because it consisted of members of the general public. They found that there's no risk in reducing the bitrate to 64 kbps. At 48 kbps, 5% of the respondents said that they'd turn the station off compared to 96 kbps.

Why have I mentioned all of this? Let's say that ABC has determined that the bitrate settings of ABC proper, under the current 2 HD + 1 SD arrangement, are the equivalent of taking the ABC HD feed back to the audio equivalent of 48 kbps. As a result, ABC loses 5% of viewership. 5% loss in viewers might not seem like much to most, but that's not chump change in such high-profile markets, at such high viewership levels. It's doubtful at best that they'll make that money back with advertising revenue from Live Well. Also, it's highly unlikely that the Live Well channel will make any less money as an anamorphic SD widescreen (over-the-air) station, compared to an HD station.

But, you might say, HD isn't in even half of homes, so ABC wouldn't lose 5% of viewers. Not quite: Note my experience with FiOS. That's SD cable, and cable remains the dominant player (and for all I know, D* and E* also create SD feeds from HD ones). If Ken H is correct, and SD will be created via the HD feeds, poor HD quality translates to poor SD quality on cable systems everywhere. So if I'm at Disney, I don't want to mess too much with ABC's picture, whether in HD or SD: ABC's where the money is. Not Live Well, or whatever other channel that Disney could concoct.


Actually Directv uses Tandberg and Harris Netvx h.264 encoders besides Harmonic.
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post #163 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by andgarden View Post

Most people who watch HD do so over cable in the US.

Yep - but just because most people receive HDTV via cable, doesn't stop some people watching it OTA.

They have invested in reception equipment (i.e. ATSC 8VSB HDTVs) in good faith that a standard chosen by the government/legislative process (i.e. 8VSB ATSC with MPEG2 being selected as the US OTA standard) will be compatible with it.

Without providing a phased upgrade path that is acceptable to both broadcasters and consumers - there isn't much more that can be done as I see it.

Any country chosing a DTV system now would not chose MPEG2 as its encoding system hence the addition of H264 to the ATSC specs. There are also 25/50Hz frame rates optionally available as part of the ATSC spec should a 50Hz territory decide to adopt the standard - though I don't think any have. The ATSC standards have to include H264 and 25/50Hz standards if they have any hope at all of being adopted in the countries which have yet to adopt a TV system - such as large parts of South America, Africa and some parts of Asia. (China has selected its own system)

Many countries now adopting DVB-T and ISDB-T are deploying their systems with H264 (Norway, Ireland, New Zealand, Latvia, Slovenia with DVB-T - along with partial use in France and Sweden, where there is a mix of MPEG2 and H264 on DVB-T, and Brazil is using H264 for ISDB-T) - but in countries that launched DTV early - like the UK, Australia, the US and most of mainland Europe, MPEG2 is still widespread. (In some territories - where the original standard was SD MPEG2 only, H264 is being introduced only for HD broadcasts where a new STB or IDTV would be required anyway)

The UK is unusual, at the moment, in being one of the few countries to introduce a new DTV modulation system - or a new variant - with DVB-T2.
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post #164 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

[J]ust because most people receive HDTV via cable, doesn't stop some people watching it OTA.

They have invested in reception equipment (i.e. ATSC 8VSB HDTVs) in good faith that a standard chosen by the government/legislative process (i.e. 8VSB ATSC with MPEG2 being selected as the US OTA standard) will be compatible with it.

Without providing a phased upgrade path that is acceptable to both broadcasters and consumers - there isn't much more that can be done as I see it.

So far as I am aware, there is no requirement that any OTA broadcaster provide any HD content at all. Nor, to my knowledge, is there any requirement that they use all or most of their bandwidth to broadcast ATSC defined video. This is why datacasting is allowed. So, if the broadcasters wanted they could very well move to h.264, so long as they leave some ability to receive an MPEG-2 broadcast.

Congress and the FCC could (and probably should) have set more standards for what could be done with the bandwidth, but I do not believe that they did.
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post #165 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKNA View Post

A/72 is part of DTV standard and broacasters can use it if they want, but nobody does for now as there are no receivers. When it was approved ATSC comitte was actually saying to FCC to assign new channels in some markets so stations could start switch to h.264 after analog shut off.

Yes A/72 was added to also give new ATSC markets option of using AVC but not the only reason.

The FCC adopted A/52 (audio) and A/53 (video.) The FCC did not adopt A/72, so I do not believe it can be used in the US.
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post #166 of 354 Old 04-30-2009, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

Yep - but just because most people receive HDTV via cable, doesn't stop some people watching it OTA.

They have invested in reception equipment (i.e. ATSC 8VSB HDTVs) in good faith that a standard chosen by the government/legislative process (i.e. 8VSB ATSC with MPEG2 being selected as the US OTA standard) will be compatible with it.

By "most people", what he probably means is that *he* watches HDTV via cable, and therefore doesn't care if those of us watching OTA HDTV get screwed over.

In any event, I'd take exception to his statement -- a bit over half of US households are connected to cable, with the remainder split between satellite and OTA. Some of those satellite viewers use OTA for their locals, since OTA generally looks better than what passes for HD on the DirecTV/DISH locals.

Also, cable, satellite, and OTA viewing rates do vary dramatically from market to market. Here in Dallas/Fort Worth, fewer than half of the households subscribe to cable (in fact, cable is down to 45% here) -- and it would be interesting to see what percentage of satellite households are relying on OTA HD reception. While OTA probably doesn't make up the majority of HD viewing to our local stations, I suspect that the percentage is more than high enough that broadcasters would be very wary indeed of blowing us off.
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Originally Posted by Thomas Desmond View Post

By "most people", what he probably means is that *he* watches HDTV via cable, and therefore doesn't care if those of us watching OTA HDTV get screwed over.

In any event, I'd take exception to his statement -- a bit over half of US households are connected to cable, with the remainder split between satellite and OTA. Some of those satellite viewers use OTA for their locals, since OTA generally looks better than what passes for HD on the DirecTV/DISH locals.

Also, cable, satellite, and OTA viewing rates do vary dramatically from market to market. Here in Dallas/Fort Worth, fewer than half of the households subscribe to cable (in fact, cable is down to 45% here) -- and it would be interesting to see what percentage of satellite households are relying on OTA HD reception. While OTA probably doesn't make up the majority of HD viewing to our local stations, I suspect that the percentage is more than high enough that broadcasters would be very wary indeed of blowing us off.

My point is that the limitations of the current digital broadcast standard in the US are already limiting the quality of the HD that many people who rely on OTA are seeing. The silver lining of my suggestion would be that you could probably get an inexpensive STB with a recent reception chipset.

But I do take Ken H's point that moving to h.264 would likely not get us better quality--just quantity.
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post #168 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hphase View Post

The FCC adopted A/52 (audio) and A/53 (video.) The FCC did not adopt A/72, so I do not believe it can be used in the US.

I am pretty sure that FCC adopted it. When I find the link to the article I will post it.
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post #169 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 07:50 AM
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(Please note: All ABC screencaps in this post are taken from sources that are OTA, or effectively OTA (FiOS).)

I found a report that in five years, the average screen size of an HDTV could be 70". So with that in mind, I thought to take some 720p screencaps, upconvert them to 1080p (since those big TVs will upconvert similarly), and post the results, so you can better imagine what images might look like on truly big TVs.

First, some face shots (especially note the crispness and clarity of a) the hair, and b) the ABC logo on the bottom right of the picture):

Reference (WJLA news program): Original -- 1080p upconvert

NBA game on an ABC O&O: Original -- 1080p upconvert

I upconverted one of cmc1002001's Presidential screencaps: Original -- 1080p upconvert

Here are some examples from a Cleveland/Detroit NBA game.

Reference (from ESPN2 high-bitrate feed): Original -- 1080p upconvert

Now scenes from ABC O&O feeds:

Feed 1: Original -- 1080p upconvert

Feed 2: Original -- 1080p upconvert

I <3 high definition television.
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post #170 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 09:02 AM
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Found someone posting in the Chicago OTA feed, who confused the artifacting on WLS 7-1 with having problems picking up the signal. So that's another person thinking blocking problems are something wrong on their end. Beyond him and that Washington Post reporter, how many more are out there?
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post #171 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 09:24 AM
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The FCC adopted A/52 (audio) and A/53 (video.) The FCC did not adopt A/72, so I do not believe it can be used in the US.

What were USDTV stations broadcasting before the company went under?

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post #172 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 11:11 AM
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What were USDTV stations broadcasting before the company went under?

Standard ATSC.

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post #173 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
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What were USDTV stations broadcasting before the company went under?


Mpeg 2. This was before Mpeg4 h.264 was even finished as codec.
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post #174 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 01:00 PM
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Standard ATSC.

This article said they were broadcasting in MPEG-4. Is this an error?

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post #175 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by CKNA View Post

Mpeg 2. This was before Mpeg4 h.264 was even finished as codec.

When I say "USDTV", I'm talking about the US Digital Television subscription service that some stations sold subchannel bandwidth to. They went under a year or two ago. Some people have already forgotten it existed.

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post #176 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 01:27 PM
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This article said they were broadcasting in MPEG-4. Is this an error?

I think so.

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post #177 of 354 Old 05-01-2009, 03:05 PM
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An update: WABC appears to have capped the Accuweather subchannel at about 1 MB/s and LiveWell at about 6 MB/s. 7-1 now looks MUCH improved.

Viewers of other O&Os should ask their stations to follow WABC's setup.
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post #178 of 354 Old 05-02-2009, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by andgarden View Post

An update: WABC appears to have capped the Accuweather subchannel at about 1 MB/s and LiveWell at about 6 MB/s. 7-1 now looks MUCH improved.

Viewers of other O&Os should ask their stations to follow WABC's setup.

Yeah, seeing the same thing here as well in NYC. The weather subchannel looks much more blocky, like a blown up 320x 240 Youtube video, good they need to take away all the bandwith from there.

Nice to see that they fixed WABC-HD here, the news yesterday was cleaner and the text sharper than earlier in the week when this nonsense began with Live Well HD stealing bits.

CV needs to add H2 HD
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post #179 of 354 Old 05-02-2009, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

When I say "USDTV", I'm talking about the US Digital Television subscription service that some stations sold subchannel bandwidth to. They went under a year or two ago. Some people have already forgotten it existed.


I know exactly what you are talking about.
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post #180 of 354 Old 05-02-2009, 05:02 PM
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just watched this week's Lost on KABC in L.A. via fios. nornally, the jungle scenes in Lost are some of the best looking HD on TV. now it looks like nothing special.

I don't think it'll even do any good to complain to the show's producers. they'll probably just hope you'll go buy their bluray.
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