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post #1 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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What is a broadcast studio doing to convert NTSC video into HD? It may not look as good as HD camera video, but it looks much better than SD. How do they do it and is there some way I can do it to my NTSC video via my PC?

VP's clean up a signal, but not to the extent that I see when studios convert NTSC to HD ATSC.

Am I looking for something I can never afford?
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post #2 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 01:23 PM
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I would guess that they have access to the material in a much higher quality than what you have available, i.e. no (or less) MPEG noise, or no analogue noise. Broadcast quality NTSC is a lot different than what you're seeing. Add to that some high-performance scaling, and you don't have a chance. Baiscally, perhaps they aren't really cleaning anything up - they just have access to the stuff before it got dirty...

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post #3 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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If the original material was film based, then the studios could start with the original and convert to HD with easily more detail. But, most of the studios are starting with video tape (or disk) of NTSC camera source material. I don't believe most TV programs start with film. Their schedules don't permit the time and expense to process and convert film to video.

Therefore someone is converting NTSC video from 480i to 1080i and it looks better than simple scaling. Does someone know what it is they do to achieve this?
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post #4 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:17 PM
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Probably using a Snell & Wilcox or a 6RU-type device.
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post #5 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:19 PM
 
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I don't believe most TV programs start with film.

why?
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post #6 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus View Post

why?

Because they have to produce an hour every week and film digitization takes too much time. I'm guessing, I don't know. Are you saying you do know that most TV shows use film and convert?
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post #7 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Neuland View Post

If the original material was film based, then the studios could start with the original and convert to HD with easily more detail. But, most of the studios are starting with video tape (or disk) of NTSC camera source material. I don't believe most TV programs start with film. Their schedules don't permit the time and expense to process and convert film to video.

Therefore someone is converting NTSC video from 480i to 1080i and it looks better than simple scaling. Does someone know what it is they do to achieve this?

Still, the NTSC video material that they have available directly from the master tapes are of much higher quality than the NTSC video you're looking at. If you think what you're seeing on your telly is the same quality as the broadcasters have available in their studios, think again...

That said, they often do a bit more than simple scaling, it probably often involves some level of noise reduction and sharpness enhancement, of a quality similar to what is available in Silicon Optix Realta-based processors (if you are to believe S.O.'s advertising, at least - my guess is the pro world is still in front). Were you to have noise reduction and sharpness algorithms of the same quality on your PC, _and_ access to broadcast-quality material, you probably could do just as well on your PC. But basically, you probably have neither.

I actually just did a comparison today, just for fun, of a DVD played back at 480i, and an HD-DVD version of the same film downscaled to 480i. The difference is _massive_, mostly due to the higher compression of the DVD version. You could _never_ upscale the DVD version to a quality anything similar to downscaling the HD-DVD version and upscaling again. It's basically the same thing with your comparison, you're comparing a degraded NTSC upscaled to HD, to a broadcast-quality NTSC upscaled to HD and then delivered to you with minimal degration. The degration in quality from the studio to your display is basically less - or at least less visible - in HD than in digital. So, what you're seeing is probably not as much about a difference in the quality of upscaling, as a difference in the degration of picture quality from the studio to your display.

What I'm trying to say is: Very few people have actually seen the full potential of the NTSC system, what you see is mostly whatever is left of the NTSC picture quality after the quality degration the picture suffers on its way to your house. A lot of people would say that DVD shows the maximum potential of the NTSC system - this is not at all true. If you want to see the full actual potential of NTSC pictures in a perfect world, try downscaling HD to 480i. That's basically what a good, broadcast grade mastertape in the studio's should look like (probably rarely does, but anyway...) Imagine upscaling that _back_ to HD, and it will surely look a whole lot better than upscaling your regular NTSC material?

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post #8 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axatax View Post

Probably using a Snell & Wilcox or a 6RU-type device.

Okay, what is a Snell & Wilcox?
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post #9 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:30 PM
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By the way, I don't know much about what is transmitted on the US HD channels, but a lot of the material that's sent out in NTSC, is actually shot in HD. In this case, it's of course just a matter of using the original HD masters, not upscaling. But I guess your question implies that some of the material is infact upscaled?

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post #10 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:31 PM
 
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Quote:


Because they have to produce an hour every week and film digitization takes too much time.

Why would it take too much time?

Quote:


I'm guessing, I don't know.

Ah, nevermind.

Quote:


Okay, what is a Snell & Wilcox?

The name of a manufacturer.
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post #11 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody. I appreciate the feedback. The Forum is a good way to learn about this stuff. I'll Google Snell & Wilcox.
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post #12 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Looks like I want a Quasar Ph.C conversion box. Where does someone go to buy used gear like this?
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post #13 of 37 Old 01-31-2007, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Neuland View Post

Because they have to produce an hour every week and film digitization takes too much time. I'm guessing, I don't know. Are you saying you do know that most TV shows use film and convert?

Most prime time eposidic television is film origionated. Reality shows, game shows and multicamera sitcoms are tape based for the most part. The transfer procees is real time for HD video (not counting the human decision time in the color correction process). Only film scanning for theatrical release is less than real time and in fact state of the art scanners can do 2048x1556 12bit RGB in real time 24fps provided you have a disk array fast enough to capture it.

You can't make HD from SD. You can get real close depending on the SD source material. The best sources are component digital masters. Once material is converted to NTSC it has the tell tail NTSC footprint known as "dot crawl" and this can never be totally eleminated. Furthermore NTSC severely limits the chroma bandwidth.

As for used pro gear, there are many sources but it's not "plug and play stuff". These devices use professional interfaces and may require additional equipment to function in a system. I do have some broadcast stuff in my HT but I work in the business as well. Some of this older 1990s vintage SD processing equipment can be had for free from the E-Waste pile at many Hollywood facilities these days.

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post #14 of 37 Old 02-01-2007, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto J View Post


I actually just did a comparison today, just for fun, of a DVD played back at 480i, and an HD-DVD version of the same film downscaled to 480i. The difference is _massive_, mostly due to the higher compression of the DVD version. You could _never_ upscale the DVD version to a quality anything similar to downscaling the HD-DVD version and upscaling again. It's basically the same thing with your comparison, you're comparing a degraded NTSC upscaled to HD, to a broadcast-quality NTSC upscaled to HD and then delivered to you with minimal degration. The degration in quality from the studio to your display is basically less - or at least less visible - in HD than in digital. So, what you're seeing is probably not as much about a difference in the quality of upscaling, as a difference in the degration of picture quality from the studio to your display.

I don't think that was a fair comparision since on a digital display DVDs look much better at 480p than 480i. A good DVD player usually does a better job of processing than the display. I know that is certainly true in my case (actually with an ED plasma, not even HD). But I agree with you, HD downconverted looks far better than SD upconverted. I can copy a high quality HD cable program (such as HBO) to my Panasonic E80H HDD recorder in the 2 hour SP mode (second highest resolution) at 480i and dub it to a DVD-R and it looks very very good, almost as good as a pre-recorded DVD. GIGO.

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post #15 of 37 Old 02-01-2007, 07:19 PM
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I looked it up in my bartender's handbook, A Snell and Wilcox is a double shot of Tanqueray, a dash of bitters, one crushed juniper berry, and a splash of soda. No ice.

Seriously, it is a professional grade brand of deinterlacer/scaler. It was first introduced to the consumer market around the time of the first Faroudjas. It was very very expensive then. Th company is famous also for a moving plate test pattern found on many video test discs.

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post #17 of 37 Old 02-01-2007, 07:45 PM
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post #18 of 37 Old 02-01-2007, 07:48 PM
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post #20 of 37 Old 02-01-2007, 08:46 PM
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post #21 of 37 Old 02-02-2007, 03:30 AM
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Quote:


How do you make SD look HD?

You watch it on a small monitor from a safe distance.
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post #22 of 37 Old 02-02-2007, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Let this poor useless thread die ...

Everybody's input was appreciated. I am curious how much a Quassar Ph.C would cost, but no matter what, I couldn't afford it.

I officially yeild. SD cannot be made to look as good as HD by the average Joe (err, Tim). End of story.

Ultimately, you would expect it is all a software exercise. If you don't care how long it takes, then some kind of image enlargement and enhancement software should be able to take my daughter's old softball VHS tapes and make them look better on my big screen.
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post #23 of 37 Old 02-03-2007, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Neuland View Post


Ultimately, you would expect it is all a software exercise. If you don't care how long it takes, then some kind of image enlargement and enhancement software should be able to take my daughter's old softball VHS tapes and make them look better on my big screen.

Definately! That IS possible, it's just that it will never be possible to do it _as good_ as when you have the original master tape to do it from. That doesn't mean you should give up on improving whatever SD you want to look at, there's definately improvements to be had - just not as much as you were asking for.

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post #24 of 37 Old 02-03-2007, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Neuland View Post


Ultimately, you would expect it is all a software exercise. If you don't care how long it takes, then some kind of image enlargement and enhancement software should be able to take my daughter's old softball VHS tapes and make them look better on my big screen.


Search for HiCon³² made by Fraunhofer Institute. But it will only really work on clean source material
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post #25 of 37 Old 02-04-2007, 03:07 AM
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Stacey,

Are mojitos still that trendy?

Tim Neuland,

1. S&W, Teranex 6U and other devices currently used by broadcasting companies (in the past, I owned a Key digital upscaler that was in use originally by a broadcaster in NY to upscale their stuff a few years ago) usually costs between $10K and $100K... If you have that kind of money to spend, you probably have someone technical do the comparisons for you...

2. Many shows are shot in film today. This is just practical, since film can be converted to more formats (if shows were shot in 60hz video, it becomes harder to sell overseas to a 60hz crowd - but 24fps is universally accepted).

if you look at how long it takes to edit a show, you would understand that the telecine process is not necessarily significant in how long it takes to make a particular show (post-production takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, in audio, video, sfx, editing, music, etc.).

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post #26 of 37 Old 02-07-2007, 03:50 PM
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I am a video editor with 2 HD edit suites.

The SD material you see on your set looks nothing like the material when it starts out with.

Your average SD broadcast material can be found in a few formats
DVCAM, BETACAMSP, Digital BETACAM, ect. (HDCAM and Digital Betacam can support True HDTV using an interface called SDI.. or Serial Digital Interface.)

There is an industrial, or consumer/prosumer version of HD called HDV.. it follows the same resolution(up to 1080i), however it is DV based, and has a much smaller colourspace and heavy compression.

In any case.. if you were to walk into an edit suite, editing SD material off of Digital Betacam.. you'd see detail and colour that *almost* comes close to HDTV in terms of general PQ (It's not of course, but visual.. compared to the end result on YOUR TV.. the source tapes or edit master are miles ahead, even on SD)

In fact, one of my first reactions.. seeing an HDTV off air broadcast on a consumer TV was:
" Wow.. that looks almost like the Edit Master!"

I'm convinced, if I hooked up a Digi Beta machine playing NTSC SD footage shot 16:9 into an HDTV set with a good scaler.. that even with the 480 upconversion, I could fool more than a few people into thinking it was HDTV.

What's my point?

Well, I guess SD can never, ever look like HD.. but, given the right circumstances.. you'd be really surprised how close it can actually get.
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post #27 of 37 Old 02-15-2007, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto J View Post

I actually just did a comparison today, just for fun, of a DVD played back at 480i, and an HD-DVD version of the same film downscaled to 480i. The difference is _massive_, mostly due to the higher compression of the DVD version. You could _never_ upscale the DVD version to a quality anything similar to downscaling the HD-DVD version and upscaling again.

There's another reason for that. DVDs (as do pretty much all SD materical) are vertically softened so that very thin horizontal lines or fine horizontal detail does not flicker on an interlaced display. If you had a horizontal line one pixel thick, it would only appear on only one of the two fields and flash on and off depending on which field was being displayed (on an interlaced display). So there's a slight vertical blur to smear such thing detail onto its neighboring scan line.

HD downconverted to 480P doesn't necessarily have this filtering. If the HD is indeed filtered for this purpose, it would be too thin to matter much in a 480p signal. And I believe most processing equipment doesn't perform this filtering during the downconversion, because it assumes you'll be viewing on a progressive display (since you're downconverting to 480P after all, not 480i).

I believe this is also why a lot of peple comment on how HD looks better than DVD on their EDTV projectors, even though theoretically it seems like it should be about the same quality.
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post #28 of 37 Old 02-22-2007, 04:03 PM
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Just another note on this topic:

I drove to the parents a couple weeks ago. My stepdad had just "upgraded" from a large DWIN CRT projector to a new Sony digital model on his 10' screen. I was watching his HDTV cable signal and it looked pretty good. The comcast ESPN HD basketball game we were watching on his big screen looked much better than the SD channels...but not good enough. I began to investigate...

Cut to the chase: he was feeding his projector with S-Video from the comcast HD box. It looked surprisingly good! Anyway, the problem is now solved (thanks to a quick order to MonoPrice for an HDMI cable), and he now is seeing full HDTV.

The moral of the story is that I was amazed by how good old NTSC can look over S-Video (in this case down-rezzing an HD signal)... YMMV.
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post #29 of 37 Old 02-23-2007, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j8weeks View Post

Cut to the chase: he was feeding his projector with S-Video from the comcast HD box. It looked surprisingly good! Anyway, the problem is now solved (thanks to a quick order to MonoPrice for an HDMI cable), and he now is seeing full HDTV.

You'd be surprised how many people actually have quite capable gear, but never realizes the potential because of mistakes like this...

About the DVD vs. HD-DVD comparison I made, it was actually via Scart-RGB on a CRT display, so it actually WAS 480i... I was quite surprised how easy it was to see the difference. I'd actually go as far as saying that there's quite a few HD Ready LCD's outthere that won't show the difference as clear as the SD CRT! Quite an eye-opener, I'd say... Of course, it points to the fact that these LCD's have a really poor HD picture, but still...

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post #30 of 37 Old 02-27-2007, 07:02 PM
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FYI.... I hated the picture from my SD Tivo (Hughes) on the 50 inch Plasma. It only has svideo, the Sony HD200 was night and day. But now.... I added a DVDO VP50 and I can't believe what is does for that crappy svideo Tivo. The "mist" is gone, the colors are bright, lots of depth and some shows look HD. Yes it was costly but I never realized what I was missing. The VP50 made my SD look (almost) like HD. As for what is does to HD from the Sony.. Nothing short of amazing, looks almost 3D.
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