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This weekend was the first time that I was able to have friends witness an HDTV broadcast. I happened to have some friends drop by during CBS's broadcast on Saturday of a college football game in HDTV (I think it was Georgia vs. Georgia Tech).


As an experiment, I had the HDTV broadcast on when my friends entered the room. None of them seemed to notice anything right away. I then asked them if they noticed anything different about the picture they were seeing. They weren't sure, but one said it looks really good. Nobody seemed overly impressed.


At that point I said "watch this": I then changed the input on my TV (a Mits 55819) to my regular analog cable, already set to CBS. I waited for a long shot when the teams are lined up before the snap (where the difference to the HDTV shot is really dramatic), and told them to keep the cable picture in mind, and then flipped back to the HDTV input.


In unison, they all said "wow." The wife of my friend said: "that is a major difference." I flipped back and forth a few times after that. At that point, they all "got it".


So I think the key to popularizing HDTV is NOT just showing an HDTV feed in a store. The store needs to show side-by-side comparisions of regular analog broadcasts with the SAME broadcast in HDTV.


It seems most people just accept a picture for what it is, either good or bad -- but don't really focus enough on picture quality to realize what HDTV can do. I believe my friends are like most people and although they liked the picture they saw originally (and perhaps thought it was just a good TV), it didn't really have much of an impact until they could compare it to what they were used to seeing -- at the same time.


So I think a good picture alone won't sell HDTV to the masses. It has to be a good picture (HDTV) compared to what they would normally be seeing without HDTV. That is how I would sell an HDTV set if I owned a store -- set up two large screens side-by-side. Each TV show the same broadcast -- one in HDTV, one in analog.


I think just having banks of TVs showing HDNET (as is done in Circuit City right now), doesn't do that much. The masses need a simultaneous comparison.


What do you guys (and gals) think?


Eric
 

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I agree -- particularly for large screens. When people walk up to a 42" or 60" plasma showing a HD feed, they sometimes aren't overly impressed because the "pixel size" is about what they're used to, it's just a bigger image. Showing how big the pixels they're used to would be on a monitor that big really helps to illustrate the difference.
 

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It bothered me personally (still does some). Only a few shows (Insects on Discovery, etc.) that had a wow factor. Otherwise I need to describe how it's not-crappy like cable/satellite. I have a Pioneer 643 with Dish 6000.


To suggest on this forum I didn't get a 'wow' from HD was like sacrilege ;-). There are still many shows that I think look nice, and much better than the SD counterparts, but still aren't 'wow'.


Try explaining to your friends that 'yes it's HD, but it's really shot on film with an intended grainy/dark look...' Or better, like during the Masters golf, the feed would swich between SD and HD, and the HD would still have EE, etc.


In fact, I specifically went to CEDIA to try compare my HD image to those around the show. I ended up deciding that my image compared very favorably with the better images in the Garden of HD delight, and was obviously outclassed by the high-end CRT front projection systems being driven by DVHS, etc. But I can expect that for 20x the price. And it was completely different source material. Alias, in example, was grainy and unimpressive in that arena as well. I saw tons of grain in many of the sources. A bunch of contouring on the plasmas, etc.
 

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The last thing that resellers want is for customers to realize what a lousy picture they're going to get when they hook a big-screen up to cable, since that's the input the vast majority of customers will be using. Resellers are making a considerable amount of money these days selling big-screen TVs; they're making squat selling HD tuners (if they even have any in stock). If I knew how bad my cable picture would look, I doubt I would have have bought the HDTV.


The high-definition picture in the store only becomes important when the customer comes back unhappy about the fact that he/she just spent two grand to get a big, lousy picture, and wants to know why his/her picture doesn't look like the one in the store. There are a lot of "if's" at that point - the salesperson has to be able to explain all the issues with implementing HD (programming availability, antennas, etc), the customer has to be willing to shell out $400+ (and potentially some frustration) for a couple hours of HD a day, etc. They're not going to risk a $2000+ sale by opening up that can of worms at the start.


And I agree with Mark - there is very little HD programming that will make anyone say "wow" (since its usually transferred from film). Film-sourced HD programming doesn't look fantastic; the thing that makes it unique from cable is that it doesn't look awful.


BB
 

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Why is it that people will go to a movie theater to see the "great pricture quality" of a film there, and they never seem to notice the film grain at all. Yet, when you sit them in front of an HDTV that actually has the resolution and capability of letting that same film grain show through that was always there in that movie you saw in the theater, it's somehow really terrible looking? Call me stupid, and maybe it's just a difference in the screen size, but I just don't get that.
 

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hmmm...i haven't had that problem. i've shown friends hd material (smallville, the pbs demo loop) on my sanyo plv-70 (at ~100") without showing sd cable first, and everyone immediately notices how clear and detailed the picture is. maybe you guys just need to get bigger screens. :)


i agree, alias does look grainy even in hd. cbs seems to do hd best. csi looks great--incredibly sharp.


bob
 

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I agree with everthing said here. I plugged in my sir-t151 for the first time last night, watching American Dreams, Alias (not much), and The Practice. Although there was no "WOW" factor for me last night, I could tell it was better then Directv on my 65". I'm hoping for some WOW tonight with PBS HD showcase and/or CSI.


The retailers are in a pickel with the comparison idea. Will people see the marked improvement in HD on a big screen TV or how bad regular cable really looks.


I've had my 65" for a year now and only used it for DVD's or an occasional football game (embarasing when friends or family are watching. I know what they are thinking: "All that money for a big tv and the picture sucks!")
 

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Quote:
Film-sourced HD programming doesn't look fantastic; the thing that makes it unique from cable is that it doesn't look awful.
Not to get too off-topic, but I've got a number of film clips, Gladiator among them, that disagree with you.


I've seen good HD video and good film HD transfers, and while they do look somewhat different, video was by no means necessarily the better of the two.


I think some of the general reaction does have to do with the size of the image and the quality of what's being displayed. On my 100" wide screen (G15 projector) HD material is stunning, and I've gotten nothing but WOWs from those I've shown my HD demo reel to. That much clarity on an image that big isn't something most people get even at the movie theater -- on even a 65" diag screen, it should be very sharp, but might not seem as different from what they're accustomed to as a theater-size image.
 

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I recently gave my 56" Panasonic HDTV to my parents to install in the living room. However, they have been watching standard analog cable tv, that looks absolutely horrible on this set.


Now, since I just got my Comcast HDTV box installed a few days ago, I decided to let them see some HD programming for themselves by hooking up the box to that tv, and immediately the picture looked great. I asked my mother how the picture looked, and she shook her head and said nothing else.


All in all, not sure if she was wowed by the picture and sound quality. Unfortunately this is the market that HDTV has to cater to, so it's going to take more than 4 years before they turn off the analog signals.
 

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I also found the Garden of HD Delights at CEDIA to be a big yawn in terms of PQ. Most displays looked so-so, at best, compared to the best HD I've seen.

I also believe part of the reason that the public at large isn't overly impressed with HD, is for the reasons stated in this thread plus:


HD has been *******ized by 16:9 displays (many plasma) that really don't qualify as HD in their capability or the program material being displayed. You can can find examples almost everywhere.


HD is old news. It was exciting a decade and a half ago when first shown to the public. But the political fight in congress over the 1125 analog Japanese system vs a US designed digital system, helped to trivialize HD. Combined with the widespread embrace of home computers, the internet, DVD players at giveaway prices, it is no surprise that HD isn't on the radar of Joe Sixpack.


HD will survive and grow. It will take awhile but ultimately the public will accept the superior color and resolution of HD just as they have computers, cell phones, along with the rest of the consumer electronics toys introduced over the last decade.
 

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Well again the masses will be the beneficiaries of this new technology in spite of themselves. Some people would still be content watching B&W TV. My wife asked me to tape a show for her tonight. I asked if she wanted me to tape it in analog or HD, knowing she doesn't like the lack of picture scan on the HD recorder. She said "I don't care". I'm making progress, she used to say analog. Go figure!
 

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zarlor, back to your comment about going to a movie theater for a 'good picture'. Honestly, since getting my setup, I've been disappointed in many movies I've been to. Standing out is Ice Age, the film was so scratched it looked like it was raining through the whole film. Even my wife notices the difference between home and the theater.


That leads to an OT subject. What is the love affair with 24fps? On the big screen the discontinuity of motion drives me crazy. I don't understand what is to like about that look.
 

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Mike: I'm with you all the way, on both points. I almost never go to the theater anymore. I easily notice where the film tends to look worse than what I can see at home, the audio is definitely worse and I certainly can't control the volume at the theater, and the snacks at my house are better, cheaper and I don't have to wait in line for them or put up with the crowds and crying babies. And I can take a potty break without missing anything. ;)


That 24fps thing is someting of a mystery to me as well. Modern filmmakers just seem to like that "look". They want their movies to be somewhat surrealistic or have that epehmeral quality that the slower film rate sees to embody. Not to mention it is so ingrained into the Hollywood mindset and general workforce and technology, that it is SOLIDLY entrenched. I'm sure working in other formats probably has extra expenses involved, simply because they would be so non-standard.


Personally I hope we see some fresh new filmmakers come onto the scene that start pushing that technical envelope and look at 30 and 60fps formats and realize that the sharp and realistic look of video can also be used to provide a hyper-realistic look that is just as, if not more, surrealistic as the 24fps film formats we see now. Not to mention the flexibility of digital video formats. But I don't think we'll see anything like that happen anytime soon. I think even the standard HDCams these days are primarily set up for 24fps recording. Blech.
 

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Whenever I give a HDTV demo at my house on my 65" widescreen I always show the HD HBO and then switch back and forth to the SD HBO. Always gets a wow. Then I show them the PBS loop and Discovery HD. More wows. If I am lucky there will be something on with good 5.1 sound. This is ususlly followed by stunned silence.


The other day we were channel surfing and came upon "The Wizard of Oz" playing. It looked terrible in SD but My wife and her friend wanted to watch it from the beginning. I told then I had the tape and I played a few minutes of it. It looked so bad they asked if we could rent the DVD later instead.


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I was having a discussion the other day about film based HD, and I think someone (who?) will step forward and produce some break through work. Just as you are suggesting zarlor. Someone will not just scan (intentional lame word) film and call it HiDef. Someone will step up with the fps available and video and really make something striking and break the mold, so to speak.


I'm just a database guy, I know I won't be the one nor am I able to visualize what it will look like. But it feels like when that happens the real 'wow' factor will be back. It'll set HD apart from 'just really good'.


BTW, HDCams at 24fps cracks me up.
 

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then you are in for alot of laughs as it will be with us for quite sometime.
 

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I really don't understand y'all's problem with 24 fps video or film. Until just recently I worked in the industry-- tangentially; I wasn't an editor or anything-- and I really love the 24 fps look. You guys talk about it like it's a universally agreed-upon fact that 24 fps is inferior, but I don't think that's true at all.


A few years ago, I used to work for a defense contractor building flight simulators. We ran our image generators at 120 frames per second, and the result was a view out the cockpit that, as long as you didn't move your head, was almost indistinguishable from the real thing.


But when I'm being entertained, I prefer the look of 24 fps, whether it's film or HD video. I like the way 24 fps moves, the way it kind of blurs a little bit. It's great.
 

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" The last thing that resellers want is for customers to realize what a lousy picture they're going to get when they hook a big-screen up to cable, since that's the input the vast majority of customers will be using."


SO TRUE, even at high end dealers it's like pulling teeth to get them to show you anything other than HD or a 480p DVD signal, often an animated title. On all the recent demos I did before buying my PJ I insisted on seeing SD, at least to know what I was getting in to...but it was a real fight to get them to show me.


TM
 

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I like the way 24 fps moves, the way it kind of blurs a little bit. It's great.""


i think that is the problem alot of hd viewers have with it. blurs and hd don't mix for many hd fans.
 

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I think 24fps will always have a place, but I'm not so sure that where the majority lies. Do we, the viewing public, like the blur or like the more realistic look? I doubt that it is really up to us since it will be left to the artistic interpretations of those who create these entertainments. And it seems to me that the entertainment industry is probably too closely married to 24fps to really start looking outside of that box for new and innovative ways to work with video and higher frame rates any time soon.


Lucas is making some headway, at least on the digital video front, but I believe that even his SW:E2 stuff was still 24fps.


It's just my contention that an artistic bent and surrealistic feel can still be brought to frame rates and video formats more in line with current technology if some movie company decided they wanted to give it a try. If nothing else it would be one way for some aspiring director to try and set themself apart from the rest of the pack. 24fps doesn't need to go away, but I wouldn't mind seeing it as just another option to use, like filiming in Panavision, or Black & White for the look and feel of it.
 
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