or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Programming › Some "True HD" movies on HBO not HD?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Some "True HD" movies on HBO not HD?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I know not everything is HD on HBO, so before I watch a movie I look it up using their online schedule. In general, I will only watch a movie if it is labeled as "True HD". Here's HBO official description of "True HD":

Quote:


Why are some shows marked with a "True HD" flag on the HBO schedule?

Programming that is created in 1080i HD is labeled "True HD". Any program not originally produced in HD is upconverted by HBO to the 1080i format.

That seems pretty clear. If the studio/distributor has created an HD transfer, and HBO has licensed that HD transfer, the programming is supposed to be labeled as "True HD." If that is NOT the case, then the programming is NOT "True HD", and it has been upconverted in some manner chosen by HBO.


The following are just a few examples of recent "True HD" airings on HBO/Cinemax channels and their SD equivalents. Note that this is only meant to be a comparison of picture completeness, not picture quality. The SD channels are from a low-quality source, and the HD images have been downscaled to 640x360 for this posting, so a direct comparison of picture quality would not be accurate here.


The Panic in Needle Park - 1971 - OAR 1.85


SD (4:3 open matte)


"True HD" (1.78 framing)



Mother - 1996 - OAR 1.85

Removed - Is HD after all, SD is open matte.



The Black Scorpion - 1957 - OAR 1.37


SD (4:3, close to 1.37 OAR but appears slightly zoomed)


"True HD" (4:3 expanded slightly on sides, cropped noticeably at top and bottom)



When looked at up-close, the "The Panic in Needle Park" is lacking detail rather badly. I don't think I've seen a DVD before that is lacking detail as much as it actually. I suppose the movie could have been filmed to look that way, but that would make it useless to create an HD transfer to begin with.

"The Black Scorpion" has an OAR of 1.37 according to reviews for the film. IMDB claims the OAR is 1.85, but I didn't see any evidence to support this elsewhere. In any case, the SD version has more picture on the top and bottom while the "True HD" version has more picture on the left and right. I would guess that neither of them are really framed properly. The "True HD" version looks to me like a high-quality SD transfer from a slightly different section of the original film that has then been zoomed in. It looks quite good, but the same is said of the DVD transfers of the film. In my opinion, it doesn't look like HD compared to other old movies I've seen on HDNet Movies.
post #2 of 15
Old, old, old news.

It's well known that HBO usually does not offer theatrical films in original aspect ratio. Instead, they crop and zoom the image to fill the 16:9 image area.

All that 'True HD' means is an HD film transfer, not OAR.

Here's an AVS topic from almost 5 years ago that discusses HBO issues, including OAR: http://archive.avsforum.com/avs-vb/s...hreadid=374357

And there's a link in that topic discussing OAR on HBO and others from 2002......
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:


Ken H: It's well known that HBO usually does not offer theatrical films in original aspect ratio.

I am well aware that. That was not the subject of my post.

Quote:


Ken H: All that 'True HD' means is an HD film transfer, not OAR.

I am aware of this too. My post is specifically addressing the fact that they are labeling films as "True HD" that are NOT from HD film transfers.

They aren't just zooming/cropping HD transfers to fit 16:9 displays as we know they do. They are also zooming/cropping upscaled 4:3 SD transfers to fit 16:9 displays and calling it "True HD." There's a big difference between the two. Cropping OAR to 16:9 is not nice and calling is "True HD" is misleading, yes, but my post is about them outright lying by flagging programming as "True HD" when all they have is a 4:3 SD transfer as source material.

Hopefully this difference is clear now.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Brief follow-up. I'm surprised I wasn't corrected on this immediately.

HBO seems to be airing open matte versions of "The Panic in Needle Park" and "Mother" on their SD channels, which would explain the SD versions having more picture than the HD versions. I knew that the frame is often opened up a bit for things like 2.35 -> 1.78 and 1.85 -> 1.78 but I never realized any films were opened up all the way from 1.85 to 1.37 instead of doing pan-and-scan for SD. That's a big lesson learned.

"Mother" is probably actually HD after all, but I still have no reason to believe that "The Panic in Needle Park" is an HD transfer since it looks like a mid-grade DVD blown up.
post #5 of 15
No, those "HD" versions are true HD. I can tell even with the reduced resolution shown here. And I am in the transfer business as well so I know what I am looking at. It's not just the sharpness. The SD version on both examples is much coarser. Look at the edge transitions too. The SD version has much more ringing.

Look at the hair in the B&W images. Sure the HD looks softer but it's smooth and that is due to the increased pixle count. The SD version may be sharper but it's done by accentuated edges which looks coarse and un-natural. Look at the plaster work on the arch. The HD version shows more depth and low level detial than the SD version but the SD shows a more edge information - artificially though.

Just because something isn't sharp and crisp doesn't mean it's not HD. The quality differences may be very subtle such as here.
post #6 of 15
nice to have an expert weigh in here - I to thought the HD versions looked better but I could not explain why
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
It is very nice to have an expert come along. However, the main reason the SD looks unnecessarily bad is that the samples are from Dish Network. They heavily filter/process all of their SD channels before retransmission, far beyond what is necessary for the reduction in bitrate they need. That's why I said in the first post that "a direct comparison of picture quality would not be accurate here." If I had the DVDs of these movies that would be a fair comparison, but I don't. :-/

From what I have observed, they use two different methods of processing/filtering prior to transcoding the video they receive:
1) Identify edges, heavily blur/smear/soften the entire image, and then superimpose blotches of color where edges were detected (to create artificial detail).
2) Soften the entire image.
Also, the video is resized from a 704x480 feed to 544x480, which results in some loss of detail. I don't know if the processing or resizing comes first.

It is easy to tell the difference between the two processing/filtering methods they use since Method 1 yields a far more unpleasant result. Method 1 seems to be used for most channels. The poor edge-detection used in Method 1 causes blotches to appear randomly all over the image, not just on actual edges, which gives the picture an unnatural, noisy appearance. The damage done by Method 1 is most apparent when it is applied to SD channels carrying widescreen or letterboxed content. Overall, both methods do a lousy job of retaining detail from the original SD source, and neither method actually seems to do a very good job of improving the compressibility of the source material.

In this case, Method 1 was definitely used for The Panic in Needle Park, and it was almost definitely also used for The Black Scorpion as well.

I'd love to carry on about this, but this is the "HD" forum so I should probably keep SD PQ discussions to a minimum.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Just to compare the two methods briefly, here's an example of what Dish does to a clean edge with method 1:



and here is a clean edge with method 2:



These are zoomed 2x. You can see that Method 1 not only softens the edge, but it sort of has the edge echoing/reflecting back on surrounding areas of the image due to their terrible artificial edge enhancement nonsense. If you've ever watched a letterboxed movie on TCM or IFC, this effect is especially pronounced. Method 2 has clean, well-defined edges, although they are softened slightly.

Note that the softening done by Method 2 is more apparent on normal images than on the straight edges shown here.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

No, those "HD" versions are true HD. I can tell even with the reduced resolution shown here. And I am in the transfer business as well so I know what I am looking at. It's not just the sharpness. The SD version on both examples is much coarser. Look at the edge transitions too. The SD version has much more ringing.

Look at the hair in the B&W images. Sure the HD looks softer but it's smooth and that is due to the increased pixle count. The SD version may be sharper but it's done by accentuated edges which looks coarse and un-natural. Look at the plaster work on the arch. The HD version shows more depth and low level detial than the SD version but the SD shows a more edge information - artificially though.

Just because something isn't sharp and crisp doesn't mean it's not HD. The quality differences may be very subtle such as here.

Gosh,

You ought to know that you can't tell if something is HD or not by looking at a 640 x 360 image. The absence of coarseness, ringing, and edge enhancement doesn't make something HD. Even 4:4:4 SD is still SD.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by balazer View Post

Gosh,

You ought to know that you can't tell if something is HD or not by looking at a 640 x 360 image. The absence of coarseness, ringing, and edge enhancement doesn't make something HD. Even 4:4:4 SD is still SD.

Sunnyvale, CA?
post #11 of 15
Hi, Ken.

Ya, Sunnyvale. I'm still alive.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by opieant View Post

Just to compare the two methods briefly, here's an example of what Dish does to a clean edge with method 1:


I've seen that on TWC's SDTV "digital" channels too. Some are worse than others. Usually that kind of thing is present more on "digital" channels under 100 than digital channels over 100.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by balazer View Post

Hi, Ken.

Ya, Sunnyvale. I'm still alive.

Sounds nice. Working or still in school?
post #14 of 15
Working. :@
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by balazer View Post

Working. :@

Oh no.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: HDTV Programming
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Programming › Some "True HD" movies on HBO not HD?