OK, now that I've got a few minutes to get my head out of the HD racks, let me bring everyone up to date on Fox 12 and UPN 49's HD project that many of you have, um, "noticed."
As of 4:15 PM Sunday, our Fox splicer is timed so that net/local switches are clean without upcuts nor repeats. From here on out, if Fox is sending it in HD, we'll be switching to it. Sorry for all the stream interruptions, the only real way to see what's being transmitted is to transmit it and look at the return MPEG stream for anomolies, and when the network loads new settings, it takes the splicer offline momentarily. Normally, we'd bypass it, but that gets to be a pain after about the 30th time you do it, so we decided to live with the interrupts.
Local audio - I know, it's very, very low. We're looking in to it aggressively. For those who are interested, the new HD encoders we're using are, for some reason, not paying attention to the REF LEVEL settings for the digital embedded audio we're feeding them. The audio is at proper levels going in to the endcoders, it's just not being encoded at the proper level. We're going to continue to chase this on Monday with the manufacturer - I'm hoping for a software upgrade to fix it.
Friday night's issues with Enterprise were being caused by a balky video processor here at the studio - it all worked fine in offline tests, but when we put the signal on the air, we were seeing nasty instabilities in the MPEG stream that were causing our transmitter to alarm and "flip out" on us. It took a while to find the problem, which ended up being a single $10.00 cable with a bad connector! Until we figure out the audio encoder issue, audio on UPN 49 is going to be low on both local and Net programs because all of the KPDX content goes through the local encoder as opposed to Fox's splicing method, which effectively takes the lcoal encoder out of the circuit during Net events.
I want to take a moment to thank all of you for your support, suggestions and above all, patience with this. As many of you know, we're still doing this in "off" time between other projects and most of the people working on it are our engineering staff enthusiasts with HD sets at home. We're finding better support now from our bosses, even though Neilsen still can't measure how many of you are watching, because we no longer wanted to be the only stations in Portland not broadcasting HD.
See, sometimes viewer pressure (and, I must admit, peer pressure from the other station engineers) works - we have pride to protect just like everyone else.
We'll continue to work the remaining problems this week and hopefully have enverything ironed out before next weekend and the World Series.
One favor I'd like to ask of any of you who'd care to participate - I'd love to hear from you about what you're seeing in the OTA program guide being transmitted by 12 and 49. We obviously know what we're sending, and can decode it on a couple of receivers here, but we get varying levels of accuracy from the various receivers. If you'd like, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
and let me know if your program guide is accurate and complete (you should be getting correct show times, titles and, for most shows, episode descriptions) and what recveiver make and model you're using. We'd also be interested to see if your particular setup is properly decding the EIA-708 HD/Digital closed captions we're sending, which are being translated form the analog EIA-608 captions on the regular stream.
Again, thanks for everyone's ethusiasm for this project.