Originally posted by Charles Cole
As an engineer at heart, I agree with you on the compression issues. I'd like nothing better than to offer full bandwidth HD to you guys.
That's very good to hear. Appreciate your willingness to address this issue, which is VERY frustrating for us.
Have to say I agree completely with Paul+Doc's posts on this issue. Couple of add'l thoughts.
#1.) I really think stations should be following ATSC recommendations on this issue, and should be sending the 16x9 ATSC format that "matches" what they are doing with muliticasing/datacasting, regardless of what their Net is sending them. If it really is the case that better encoders in the future improve things, then the ATSC recommmendation should be revised when those newer encoders are used -- I haven't seen it yet, though, and as they say, seeing is believing.
1080i = NO mullticasting, NO datacasting beyond what is available as oppurtunistic bandwidth.
720p - HD+1 SD subchannel is fine. HD + Datacasting that used, say 4.39 Mb/s(non-oppurtunistic bandwidth) of the 19.34mb/s available I think would be fine too. In other words, 14~16Mb/s for HD should be fine with 720p. I'm not saying I can't see the difference between what WDTN-DT/WCPO-DT gives us as compared to if they give it the full bandwidth available(such as WDTN-DT did at first), but, I find what they are doing HD wise+1 subchannel presently acceptable.
I'm not sure this is a ATSC recommendation, and I KNOW it isn't HD, but I think 16x9 480p ATSC format+ 2 SD programming services would be fine. I'd certianly much rather have HD, but if a station is going to send 2 SD programming services alongside HD, and therefore limit HD bandwidth to 11~13mb/s or so, I personally would rather see 480p 16x9 than HD full'o' compression artifacts.
Of course, the severity of the problem also often involves how "bandwidth demanding" the source material is. So, if say WKRC-DT would just switch to 720p for HD football/sports/etc, it would be an improvement -- But, then again, I've seen artifacts be a problem during "CSI", too.
While technically, I suppose you could still call it HD, if it is plagued by compression artifacts such as what we get during HD Football due to limited HD bandwidth from WKRC-DT/WHIO-DT during CBS Football, or just about anytime(even during upconverted widescreen programs) from any of the 3 current local PBS DTV stations, it just doesn't Look like HD anymore. Except when "stuff" doesn't move.
I can see the problem on a 17" PC monitor being Fed HD, from several feet away. Of course, it's much worse on my larger 38" HD display.
#2.) You guys are talking about "HD capable" displays and viewers, but I would submit that viewers will benefit who own any display that can support any higher rez than 480i 4x3 SD. 16x9 content sent via ANY of the 16x9 ATSC formats is an improvement over 16x9 content letterboxed inside a 4x3 frame, via ATSC or NTSC. There are 16x9 480p "ED" sets, and there are 4x3 HD and ED displays which support the full "rez" of 480p/i 16x9 ATSC formats via "vertical compression", and I'd think 16x9 sent as ATSC HD format would look decent(although not HD) on those sets too.
Granted, presently, most of the sets out there ARE 4x3 480i SD only sets, and, unfortunetly, there are even quite a few HD/ED capable sets which are being used for NOTHING excecpt to display 4x3 SD programming(perhaps besides your occasional, so called "anamorphic" DVD.) There should be fewer and fewer of the latter, as they finally figure out they are not really "seeing" HD or anything that closely approximates HD, and these folks(hopefully) really "upgrade" to HD. And in the future, due to tuner mandate and Plug and play agreement, HD/ATSC capability(for OTA AND digital cable in most circumstances) will be "built into" sets.
I'm thinking that in the future also, many, if not most 25" and above displays will have will have some "enhanced capability" to display resolutions greater than just 480i 4x3 SD. I could be wrong though.
16x9 sent as letterboxed inside a 480i 4x3 frame is definitely "low resolution" or, "low definition". Granted, we all know what DTV transistion is all about, but there is an oppurtunity here to improve television, and I'd like to see more of that happening. I don't personally call HD full of compression artifacts at 11mb/s or so an improvement.
#3). Certianly, I'm going to choose to watch a station which broadcasts 1080i at 18mb/s over the same programming at 480p at 11mb/s. However, I would CERTIANLY also choose the 480p station at 11mb/s vs. 1080i(or 720p for that matter) at 11mb/s -- probably even 15 mb/s if demanding source material such as HD football was being broadcast ..... HD just doesn't look like HD if it's full of compression artifacts, or if HD is "softened" to make compression artifacts less noticable ....