ESPN HD/ESPN 2 HD Picture Quality Improving? (5/2011) - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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post #61 of 480 Old 11-05-2010, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by sebenste View Post

PTG: Can you or someone point to a thread on AVS tell me how/where to get a calibration disk?

Try http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=948496 for a free one.

Or search the web for Digital Video Essentials.
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post #62 of 480 Old 11-05-2010, 05:51 PM
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Bulls/Celts game tonight is absolutely awful on E*.
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post #63 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by primetimeguy View Post

Bulls/Celts game tonight is absolutely awful on E*.

Yeah - lots of pixelation on their scoreboard, the bottom line, not to mention the game itself. Quality definitely seems to be worst than last year during the regular season. (Was watching on E* as well) Living in Chicago, I was able to flip over to CSN Chicago and the picture quality was better than ESPN (but not by much!)
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post #64 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by zippyfrog View Post

Yeah - lots of pixelation on their scoreboard, the bottom line, not to mention the game itself. Quality definitely seems to be worst than last year during the regular season. (Was watching on E* as well) Living in Chicago, I was able to flip over to CSN Chicago and the picture quality was better than ESPN (but not by much!)

That's interesting. I would've thought CSN Chicago would have totally blown away ESPN (this would just be a hypothesis on my part since I don't get CSN Chicago).

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post #65 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Watching Illinois/Michigan in college football, and dare I say, the picture quality looks great. The only video noise is coming from when the camera pulls back with the crowd, and even then, there's not much. Every shot that's on the field, looks pretty crisp with no "swimming" grass. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best, I would give it a 9.

And the FOUL!
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post #66 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 10:28 AM
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I've seen CSN in the city, and also out here in the suburb where I live (both Comcrap), and it doesn't look all that good to me on either. It's pretty bit-starved.

I was watching a baseball game on a 42" plasma with a buddy in a bar in the city while eating a burger the season before last, and even he, who's anything but a techie type, was complaining about how awful it looked from the microblocking.

I remember also commenting that it looked like "widescreen SD" to me (I told him I had it at home in SD on Dish, and I really couldn't see any difference. And to equate it with SD Dish is pretty bad for something that's *supposed* to be HD, believe me).

It also appears similar to me at my BIL's out here, although I've never seen it quite as bad with the artifacts as that night. I don't see it very often, though.
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post #67 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

I've seen CSN in the city, and also out here in the suburb where I live (both Comcrap), and it doesn't look all that good to me on either. It's pretty bit-starved.

I was watching a baseball game on a 42" plasma with a buddy in a bar in the city while eating a burger the season before last, and even he, who's anything but a techie type, was complaining about how awful it looked from the microblocking.

I remember also commenting that it looked like "widescreen SD" to me (I told him I had it at home in SD on Dish, and I really couldn't see any difference. And to equate it with SD Dish is pretty bad for something that's *supposed* to be HD, believe me).

It also appears similar to me at my BIL's out here, although I've never seen it quite as bad with the artifacts as that night. I don't see it very often, though.

I remember seeing a couple of years ago, CSN would tend to present their road games in widescreen and at the beginning of those telecasts, CSN would mention at the bottom of the screen that "this game is available in widescreen." I would have to say after hearing your take on it, I'm glad that 4SD (our quasi-RSN in San Diego which does Padres games) presents every game in 1080i HD. They don't pass it for HD and present it in widescreen like quality. And its been that way for every road game the 2007 baseball season. Before that, 4SD would broadcast every home game, road game at NL West ballparks, and interleague game in Anaheim and Seattle in HD. I must say I'm extremely thankful for that.

And the FOUL!
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post #68 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Wellman View Post

Watching Illinois/Michigan in college football, and dare I say, the picture quality looks great. The only video noise is coming from when the camera pulls back with the crowd, and even then, there's not much. Every shot that's on the field, looks pretty crisp with no "swimming" grass. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best, I would give it a 9.

I wouldn't call it great so our scales must be different. Still visible mosquito noise and 50yard and endzone cams are bad. I would give it about a 7.5, watching on E*.
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post #69 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by primetimeguy View Post

I wouldn't call it great so our scales must be different. Still visible mosquito noise and 50yard and endzone cams are bad. I would give it about a 7.5, watching on E*.

Looks pretty good on FIOS. Some minor noise in the grass during motion but it cleans up nicely once the camera movement stops. Good level of detail without being excessive. Nice color and contrast.
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post #70 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 03:14 PM
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For a network that generates so much revenue, you'd think they would put more effort into their picture quality.
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post #71 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 03:40 PM
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NW/Penn St (actually on ABC here, by ESPN) is about as soft a picture you can get and still call it HD. I'd call it blurry rather than unsharp.
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post #72 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay Stew View Post
For a network that generates so much revenue, you'd think they would put more effort into their picture quality.
This is a somewhat of an erroneous comment. As previously discussed so much goes into why one image might look good over another and it has almost nothing to do with money invested once you get into these high levels of production. Avatar cost 250 million dollars and it looked like crap when I saw it because the theater had a bad print, but it would be unfair to say that FOX or James Cameron don't care about quality or didn't spend enough money on their product. Now I can critique the merits of choosing to shoot HD over film in the case of Avatar but the bad print issue at the local multiplex is out of their control. What you see at home as it relates to live HD sports is the same way. There are some issues that can be traced to production and some that production has nothing to do with.

The PQ on ESPN is hit and miss admittedly but for a million different variables some of which other networks simply don't have to contend with. And like I've said before if you pay close enough attention ALL the sports broadcasters have PQ issues. NBC SNF looks good but Notre Dame looks like crap. CBS Football looks good but basketball is another story. ABC College Football is hit or miss, but the NBA Finals looked great. FOX's baseball is so-so but their BCS PQ was exceptional so its all a mixed bag.
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post #73 of 480 Old 11-06-2010, 07:24 PM
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NBC's Notre Dame coverage has improved greatly compared to a few years ago. Any remaining deficiencies I would blame on lighting/shadow issues due to day games, and how badly NBC O&Os abuse the HD channel with 2 SD subchannels and mobile DTV. Even with those problems, I would rank NBC a solid second or third in overall PQ on college football.

Calling ESPN's quality "hit or miss" is being rather generous. They "hit" on maybe one game per week, and "miss" on the rest. Watching the Texas-K State game on ESPN2 right now and there are obvious MPEG artifacts in place of the field, and I'm watching on FiOS with no recompression. I can't imagine how bad this looking on a provider that recompresses like E*.
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post #74 of 480 Old 11-07-2010, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ABCTV99 View Post

The PQ on ESPN is hit and miss admittedly but for a million different variables some of which other networks simply don't have to contend with.

Please explain why this is so. ESPN controls the production of the games right? If they don't, why not? Their name is on the product. And shouldn't they be working with the providers to ensure that a quality product is delivered to the customer that is paying for cable/sat?

For the money that's paid, the profit they make, and the dominance they have in sports on pay TV, the product should be way better than it is.
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post #75 of 480 Old 11-07-2010, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ABCTV99 View Post

And like I've said before if you pay close enough attention ALL the sports broadcasters have PQ issues.

The point you seem to be missing is that ESPN's PQ is, on average, noticeably worse than all of its competitors. And, unlike the broadcast networks, ESPN doesn't have to deal with subchannels, which is the reason (at least in my area) that certain broadcasters (like WJLA in DC) have absolutely terrible picture quality.

Also, we've got people here watching on FiOS, so we can exclude provider recompression as one of the causes too. Accounting for nearly all the variables, the point of this thread is: ESPN is doing something wrong and don't seem bothered by it because it has been going on for years now.

Given how much money they spend on HD productions every year, you'd think they'd care a little bit more about how the end product is being transmitted to viewers.

To borrow your Avatar analogy, it's not Fox's fault that one theater got one bad print. But it would be Fox's fault if every theater in the country got a bad print. That seems to be what's going on with ESPN.


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post #76 of 480 Old 11-07-2010, 03:40 PM
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Another theme I see quite often is the comment that "well, it's looks great leaving the truck", to paraphrase the post made by Rakesh.S earlier in the thread, who cares if it looks good at the truck? How many viewers watch the broadcast at the production truck? That seem to be the fallback/safety position of the insiders/professionals that comment here and the thing is, nobody cares what it looks like at the truck, the only thing that matters is what we get on our screens. Makes you wonder why they even spend all that money on equipment and talent just to send a crappy looking picture out to the viewers. Of course, this will never be fixed until it's the advertisers that are the ones complaining as they are the real customer, viewer complaints carry very little weight in this area, especially with something as chronic as ESPN picture quality.

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doesn't matter how much you spend on fancy gear at the headend/mothership. If the end result is a blocky, muddy picture, what difference did it make?

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post #77 of 480 Old 11-08-2010, 01:56 PM
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Games go through another compression stage than content originated at the studio. The feed from the production truck is sent out either via-uplink (most common) or by fiber optic (mostly big events or Monday Night Football as fiber isnt available at every venue) and this requires the signal to be initially compressed before getting to integration in Bristol. If there's a place the signal can fall apart its during this stage and then again on the way to your home.

Except that normally the bitrate on backhauls are usually much higher than ATSC rates. They typically range from 40 Mbs to around 100 Mbs for MPEG 2, and JPEG2000 and uncompressed are gradually being used more on the fiber. I'll admit that I'm not familiar with what ESPN uses though, but one would hope they aren't cheaping out with insufficient bitrates.


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post #78 of 480 Old 11-08-2010, 07:17 PM
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I have Comcast in Chicago and don't notice any problems. Most of the time it's usually consistent. Closeups and graphics are definitely better, but I don't ever remember 'swimming'. This makes me kind of nervous since I'm switching to DirecTV soon because I'm sick of other problems I'm getting with Comcast. I wish more people would say what they're using (or at least put it in their sig or something if not wanting to post it every time)

Granted I don't have an amazing setup or huge screen, so that probably helps, but you can still tell it's solid/noticeable compared to SD.


Also, just curious, for you people with problems, how do commercials look compared to the programming? Not sure on all the technical aspects like everyone here, very much a novice in that regard, but wouldn't that give hints if it was the provider vs the network?
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post #79 of 480 Old 11-08-2010, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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...Also, just curious, for you people with problems, how do commercials look compared to the programming? Not sure on all the technical aspects like everyone here, very much a novice in that regard, but wouldn't that give hints if it was the provider vs the network?

I've pointed this out on this thread a couple of times, shows from ESPN studios, highlights in general, and commercials look great. Live sporting events seem to be hit or miss.

BTW to everyone: How is the PIT/CIN NFL Monday Night Football game look? I'm watching the game on Slingbox at work, so I'm not able to watch it at home and make the usual criticisms and or observation. However, I'll make those criticisms and observations later on since I'm recording the game just to criticize, observe, and report.

And the FOUL!
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post #80 of 480 Old 11-08-2010, 08:33 PM
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I still think something at ESPN has recently changed. I don't recall ever seeing the amount of macroblocking/artifacting going to/from graphics and replays that I do now. I'm watching on E*.
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post #81 of 480 Old 11-08-2010, 11:28 PM
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E* issue. Whatever ESPN's faults, I've never seen any blocking on the graphics under normal circumstances. The only time I can ever remember seeing any compression artifacts on the graphics was when the feed from some game flaked out and the video looked like a laser show with dozens of lines moving across the screen. The encoder just couldn't handle all of it, and the bottomline was completely illegible because it was so blurred. On the other hand, it's no secret that E* is hurting for capacity and just keeps cranking up the compression in order to fit more channels.
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post #82 of 480 Old 11-09-2010, 06:27 AM
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Agree, very likely could be an E* issue.
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post #83 of 480 Old 11-09-2010, 08:02 AM
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ESPN; they don't care. They don't have any respect for any sport fans; less care about picture quality.
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post #84 of 480 Old 11-09-2010, 09:50 AM
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Whenever I record ESPN-HD on my DVR (D* HR20-700) I get a lot of pixelation. It seems like every two to three minutes I see this. Once in a while it gets so bad that it loses the audio and I have to rewind the recording and it finds the audio but the pixelation still shows. I don't see this when I watch stuff live and my signal strengths are all strong. I was thinking it was my DVR hard drive, but it is only ESPN and I wonder if it is due to something they are doing with the signal. Any others see this?
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post #85 of 480 Old 11-11-2010, 09:51 PM
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the nuggets lakers game on TNT-HD right now looks fantastic..this is what every sports broadcast should look like.
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post #86 of 480 Old 11-11-2010, 11:20 PM
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ESPN; they don't care. They don't have any respect for any sport fans; less care about picture quality.

Not true at all.

This past week Northern Illinois University played Toledo here in DeKalb, IL. I was on a safety team and got to tour the place the day before the game. Rest assured those were Sony cameras and lenses, and everything else they used was top-notch stuff too. I will say this: it is IMPOSSIBLE for ESPN to have that many production trucks. They contracted this game out. I can tell you, though, that the video quality was typical ESPN; I was watching espn3.com which was in 16:9 HD as I was getting it on a 1080p monitor. It looked OK. But the equipment and truck was no slouch: it was great equipment, all the way. I'm more than guessing that in the truck, it looked jaw-dropping.

So yes, "it's great leaving the truck" isn't an excuse for the end user, but more than likely, the issues you are seeing aren't coming from the truck. It's at ESPN, and how they compress the video before sending it back out to you.

I remember when NBC upgraded their backhaul to MPEG4 and essentially got double the bitrate to their affiliates. This happened just AFTER the last winter Olympics, but before they started replaying everything with weekend specials. Those replays of the Olympics looked considerably better than when it was live! As they say, it was fine leaving the truck. With a ton of live feeds coming in, they probably have different paths to go through to get the games to the right places, with different equipment depending on the game and receiver they have to pick it up.

BTW, IIRC correctly, ABC and FOX upgraded their encoders and backhauls
recently; we know about NBC, and CBS, yikes-o-rama. The head of CBS has repeatedly stated for his owned-and-operated affiliates, quality is job #1, no subchannels, and cram as many bits as you can for the best picture to the viewer. And you can tell. But ESPN has a much larger plant and far more complications to get 'er done. Give them time. They can't replace equipment every year, though I bet they wish they could!

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post #87 of 480 Old 11-11-2010, 11:45 PM
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Minor nit, but NBC switched their distribution to affiliates to MPEG4 in November 2008, just before the week 13 Bears/Vikings game. it did make a noticeable difference in PQ, as comments in the thread show.
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post #88 of 480 Old 11-12-2010, 06:17 PM
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The Boise State-Idaho game on ESPN2 HD has the same white sparkles on it that MNF had a couple weeks ago. Not a camera-specific thing either. Picture is also very soft overall.
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post #89 of 480 Old 11-12-2010, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
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The Boise State-Idaho game on ESPN2 HD has the same white sparkles on it that MNF had a couple weeks ago. Not a camera-specific thing either. Picture is also very soft overall.

Watching on E*. Swimming grass everywhere!
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post #90 of 480 Old 11-12-2010, 08:26 PM
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I'm watching on Uverse and it looks good[no sparkles or swimming grass].

If a movie or concert video or a TV show isn't on blu ray it darn well should be.

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