HD Will Soon Dominate U.S. TV - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 1 Old 04-18-2007, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
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(OK, in some ways this is a sales pitch interview, and the guy gets a few facts wrong (example: MyNteworkTV is no longer an all-HD operation) but many of his insights are fascinating nonetheless.)

"In a very short time, HD will become the norm, not something special or better."
A "TVNewsday interview with Jeff Rosica, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at Grass Valley

HD production will soon become the norm in U.S. TV, and shows produced in SD will look "substandard," said Jeff Rosica, senior vice president of marketing and technology at Grass Valley.

In this interview, Rosica, who oversees business and advanced product development at Grass Valley, talks about the state of the art in HD, and highlights what Grass Valley has on display at NAB2007.

The television industry has been gradually shifting to high definition production. Who's doing the most interesting work in producing HDTV programming here in the U.S.?

The big four networks have driven high definition production for years, but as equipment and production costs for producing in high definition have come down, other networks have begun producing and ordering programming in HD. On the broadcast side, MyNetworkTV is an all-HD network. On the cable side, the YES regional network is going HD with a stand-alone network as are other networks such as Discovery and Sci-Fi. It's these non-broadcast networks that will continue to drive HD with new programming, making it commonplace.

What percentage of U.S. TV programming is produced in HD now?

For "broadcast" it's about 80 percent of primetime on the combined networks. Overall, full clock, it would be about 40 percent of "original," non-syndicated programming.

What about overseas?

Sports, of course, are a major driver. Witness the major success of the 2006 World Cup. HD coverage is expanding into all areas of sport: the Rugby World Cup in France later this year will be all HD. Grass Valley is building at this moment a new HD truck for a TV Unit in Germany that specializes in winter sports.

Drama in Europe has always had lower budgets than in the U.S., but the use of HD is allowing producers to create very high production values as well as making the content suitable for international sales.

Probably the most dramatic impact, though, has come in documentaries like the epic productions from the BBC Natural History Unit. Blue Planet, a series about the oceans and the creatures that live in them, was made largely in film and HD, and later repurposed into a theatrical feature (Deep Blue) that was extremely popular. Planet Earth (a co-production with Discovery) was shot entirely in HD, in some of the most remote and inhospitable places on Earth, and the clarity of the pictures created the impact of the series.

30 is still a very small number.

Yes but it has turned out to be something of an avalanche. And I suppose in retrospect this is predictable, because as soon as someone in a given market is known to be about to do this, it tends to drive everyone else. Just saying HDeven though the field material for the most part today is actually up-converted from standard definition (SD) 4 x 3 or 16 x 9has proven to be a differentiator in some large markets.

What is Grass Valley's share of HD production equipment sales?

Grass Valley is arguably the de facto leader in HD live event production globally, with HD switchers installed in more than 420 facilities, and more than 1,500 HD GV cameras installed globally.

We hold a very high share of the HD news production marketapproximately 80 percent, by our own estimatesin equipment sales for HD newsrooms.

We expect 2007 to be a watershed year for HD news.

What are the most important issues facing pioneering HD producersthe sports producers, for examplein using the format to enhance what viewers see on TV?

First is the fact that HD is expected. The HD leaders in the U.S. and abroad know that. It's why FOX, ABC, ESPN, NBC and many others are moving more and more of their productions to HD. The impact of HD is huge in sports production.

Second, producers do not want to lose any production values that they have developed in SD, so it is vital that the whole production and post production chain is there in HD. Sports producers, for example, need access to multiple angles, super slow-motion replays, wireless cameras, dynamic graphics. If you are building a new HD truck, it has to have in it all the equipment that would have been in an SD truck.

So they need HD versions of a lot of gear.

Yes. That said, HD does lend itself to a slightly different style of production. In sports, for example, HD suits slightly wider shots, letting the action unfold in front of the viewer, rather than getting tight in to track the action closely. That means when the content comes to be re-purposedinto clips for mobile television, for exampleyou have to take care to reframe the shots to get the best out of the medium.

Even in SD, there are times when you need to do more than HD, when you need to cut faster to generate the excitement that HD's superior resolution creates by itself. We see modern HD trucks frequently specified with two production switchers to allow simultaneous but separate SD and HD cutssomething that is ideally suited to the Kayak multi-format switcher.

The good news is that many of the technological pieces are now in place to support affordable, step-wise or wholesale shifts to HDfrom multi-format and HD-ready acquisition and production gear to new compression codecs that reduce the transmission costs to make HD broadcasts commercially viable.

Commercial viability would seem to be critical.

The keys are affordability, flexibility, and providing ultimate choice. These are particularly important in a market where multiple flavors and formats of HD are in playthough clearly leading to a conclusion with the increased support and capacity for 1080p.

At Grass Valley, we've taken these requirements to heart in the foundational architecture of every product we design. Our solutions range from camcorders and cameras to high-end production and editing systems and ultimately the compression, distribution and transmission devices that bring HD sports productions and live event coverage the last mile.

Do you have the opportunity to see much local TV news in HD?

There are two types of HD news. First, there's HD news where both studio and field footage is in HD. Then there's HD news where only the studio segments are in HD and the field footage is up-converted. Obviously, the latter is more popular since the capital costs are lower. In larger markets, HD news is taking hold and becoming commonplace, and full HD (studio and field) is beginning to become popular as costs come down and existing equipment becomes fully depreciated.

Like everything in a local market, HD will become a promotional tool. As one station converts to HD news, others quickly follow, sometimes being overtaken by stations that go full blown HD with their ENG crews, live reports and helicopters.

How are the local stations doing at producing HD pictures in their news?

Whether their news broadcast is studio-only or full HD, the local stations are doing a remarkable job. What's helped is that the equipment they're using is the same equipment they've used for SD. For example, WFTV in Orlando uses a Kalypso production center for its HD news broadcast. It's the same Kalypso they used when they were producing their newscast in SD. All they had to do was upgrade their switcher to HD. For the operator, there's no learning curve and that makes transitioning to HD easier and less expensive.

Much of the television industry will go to the NAB convention. What will Grass Valley be highlighting?

First, we have two locations at this year's showone in the North Hall (N902), where we'll highlight our Broadcast and Content Distribution & Transmission products and approaches, and one in the South Hall (SL2020), where we'll focus on desktop video editing, as well as products and workflows for live event production and enterprise video distribution. In the South Hall, we'll also highlight our products for high-end post production.

So, we have a lot going on!

If there was one suggestion you could make to the U.S. broadcast TV community about producing in HD, what would it be?

All the elements are now in place. You can create HD programming with all the production values you have always cherished. Digital technology and IT immersion have brought the price down dramatically, so HD is now affordable as well as available.

In a very short time, HD will become the norm, not something special or better. That being said, programs that will still be produced in SD will look substandard. HD is accessible, affordable, and you need to be moving to HD now. Let Grass Valley help you bring your "A" game.

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