Originally Posted by TVOD
I think Fox's aggressive muxing is partly to blame. It's oriented more towards efficiency than PQ. Their system will probably be locked into MPEG 2 HD long after mezzanine approaches have migrated to better codecs. Dropping the SD feeds, or changing them to a newer codec will help.
I think you hit the nail on the head. Just goes to show Fox's continued disregard toward their viewers. First they go anamorphic widescreen, saying that is good enough. Finally they were shamed into going real HD (being shamed into real HD obviously wasn't the sole reason). Secondly they kill programs without giving them a real chance, making viewers wonder if they should even bother with Fox programs, since the odds are they'll get pulled anyway. Lastly, when they do go real HD, they use a transmission method that compromises PQ, because they are trying to stuff 20 pounds of manure down a 10 pound pipe.
I will give Fox high marks for the ATSC/splicer distribution method, as it provides the cleanest transition to/from net that I've seen anywhere.
But, because each transponder has to support a max of 4-HD and 4-SD streams, PQ is suffering. That said. during weekday primetime, they should be able to reduce the mux configuration to 2-HD and 2-SD per transponder and still provide the coverage they need on the primary bird. At 73+ Mbps on each transponder, they should be able to pump out HD at the max average and fix the encoder so that the macroblocking doesn't occur. As I said, if Warner Bros. can set their encoder right, so can Fox.
Unfortunately Fox is stuck with MPEG-2 for the life of DTV, since that is the codec that is locked into the standard. So the HD feed is stuck there, because the ATSC is generated in LA. As for the SD, sure, they could go to MPEG-4, but then they'd either have to replace the Wegner 5000 receivers or provide an external box to decode the MPEG-4 stream. Not worth the expense, since SD is being turned off in a few years. That fits in with your last suggestion, i.e., drop SD. Once the analog is turned off, all the stations will need is the HD feed, so the SDs can go away. That will give bits back to HD. Will it help? No idea.
The point is, Fox engineering can do something about it now. But, as viewers we need to scream louder about the poor PQ they are sending out.
I'd love to know if our local thread Fox affiliate engineers have had any discussions with network engineering about the PQ and what the net's response has been.
I'd be happy to eat crow if Fox is going to have the PQ fix by the time the new season starts in a month.