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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By far I'm realizing that BASKETBALL is the worst broadcasted sport in High Definition. Football, baseball, or any outdoor sport usually looks great in HD, but after a long football season and watching some basketball a lot lately, I"m wondering why it is that basketball is so poorly represented on TV. Is it the lighting in these arena's? Is it because most of it shown on ESPN 720P which is typically inferior to 1080i broadcasts on CBS? Is it the distant camera shots? The reflection of the wood floor? Why do I think basketball is crap in HD?


Anyone care to agree or disagree?
 

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Poor lighting doesn't help, but I think that it's more due to the nature of data compression in mpeg2.

Mpeg2 was never good at scenes with many fast moving unique dynamic elements because there's not much data to carry over to the next frame, so when trying to attain a low output bitrate suitable for 3-12Mbps broadcast bitrate you get bitstarving and macroblocking. If you look at static shots- freethrow's, time-out huddles, etc there's no bitstarving, macroblocking or artifacts because the encoder is just cruising along because it can carry 90% of the data from one frame to the next, but on turnovers where the teams go coast to coast with lots of unique changing scenery (the bench, fans, etc) all the weaknesses of data compression kick in.

Most likely the feed from the arena to the distributor (cable co, satellite co, FIOS, etc) is pristine and free of artifacts, it's the distributor's encoding settings that are introducing the problems.
 

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Any baseball game featuring a close-up of Hideki Matsui.
 

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I think some of its the nature of the sport, some of its just not enough bandwidth. I flipped thru 3 games last night between ESPN/ESPN2/and CBS-C. The game on CBS-C looked really terrible, as does everything on that channel, at least on DISH. The Big East game on ESPN was very dim, the Big-12 game on ESPN2 though looked pretty good. On CBS's broadcast channel basketball usually looks really good except when the camera's pan, then theres massive blocks everywhere, but thats the same as football.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by replayrob /forum/post/18299171


Poor lighting doesn't help, but I think that it's more due to the nature of data compression in mpeg2.

Interesting. What compression do they use with the other sports that look so much better? It seems to work pretty with football when the QB throws long passes down the field and the camera pans with it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl /forum/post/18299694


Interesting. What compression do they use with the other sports that look so much better? It seems to work pretty with football when the QB throws long passes down the field and the camera pans with it.

It's still MPEG2, but with basketball, the crowd is closer and the shots are tighter during fast motion. That's why the encoders have trouble keeping up.


With football, the close shots put the backgrounds out of focus and the crowd is generally not lit as well, so the detail isn't there to cause compression issues in the first place. You'll usually only see compression issues during low shots with players directly in front of people on the sidelines.
 

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Reminds me of the old chestnut 'there's no such thing as bad sex'.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV /forum/post/18299731


It's still MPEG2, but with basketball, the crowd is closer and the shots are tighter during fast motion. That's why the encoders have trouble keeping up.

Really? On a typical basketball game in 16:9, the camera will be statically aimed at the center of the half court with one side of the non-4:3 area on the empty backcourt and the other side on the stands and photographers. The only significant camera movement I see is a zoom to the basket if someone goes up for a layup.


In football, as soon as the play starts the camera starts moving trying to follow the play, not to mention the countless replays of everything.

Quote:
With football, the close shots put the backgrounds out of focus and the crowd is generally not lit as well,

I think the sun does a great job of lighting the crowds in stadiums that don't have roofs. All those daytime SEC games on CBS looked fantastic.


Also out of focus areas will actually make macroblocking more apparent since the blocks stand out from the soft detail. We have the same problem with compression in photography: a clear blue sky will reveal every digital artifact an image can have. Even though in theory it should compress wonderfully, our eyes are even better at seeing small details in smooth backgrounds.


It could be that the smooth basketball courts (vs. the rough turf in football) are making the artifacts more apparent.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl /forum/post/18299874


Really? On a typical basketball game in 16:9, the camera will be statically aimed at the center of the half court with one side of the non-4:3 area on the empty backcourt and the other side on the stands and photographers. The only significant camera movement I see is a zoom to the basket if someone goes up for a layup.


In football, as soon as the play starts the camera starts moving trying to follow the play, not to mention the countless replays of everything.

You obviously aren't watching the same basketball I am.


First, there is empty space on every HD game, no matter the sport. That's the nature of center-cutting. However, with basketball, the crowd is nearly always in the picture during any action. That's a lot of detail to compress.


Quote:
I think the sun does a great job of lighting the crowds in stadiums that don't have roofs. All those daytime SEC games on CBS looked fantastic.

Except it's rare that you see the crowds once the action starts.

Quote:
Also out of focus areas will actually make macroblocking more apparent since the blocks stand out from the soft detail. We have the same problem with compression in photography: a clear blue sky will reveal every digital artifact an image can have. Even though in theory it should compress wonderfully, our eyes are even better at seeing small details in smooth backgrounds.

That's not always the case. Being out of focus can smooth out the details that make one area of a picture different from another. A big blur of faces or people all wearing the same color shirt compresses much better than individual bodies.

Quote:
It could be that the smooth basketball courts (vs. the rough turf in football) are making the artifacts more apparent.

I would say it's more due to all the different paint patterns on gym floors as opposed to a relatively plain green field with occasional lines breaking it up.
 

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Anything on the local Memphis CBS, NBC, and CW affiliate. They are equal opportunity HD sports broadcast bit starve offenders. They don't discriminate.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeCock /forum/post/18299195


Any baseball game featuring a close-up of Hideki Matsui.

Good thing they didn't have HD back when Andy Etchebarren or Don Mossi were playing. Kids watching the games would have had nightmares for sure.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl /forum/post/18299694


Interesting. What compression do they use with the other sports that look so much better? It seems to work pretty with football when the QB throws long passes down the field and the camera pans with it.

There's not too much fast motion from a distant mid-field wide angle lens following a long pass from up in the press box. You'll more likely notice major macroblocking due to bitstarving during a close up of ball carrier doing a tight rope run right on the sideline with the other team members standing just behind the sideline marker. I've seen it plenty of times this past NFL season. Distant shots are more forgiving, but close zooms with lots of fast horizontal movement with many unique items kill the encoders.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV /forum/post/18299965


YFirst, there is empty space on every HD game, no matter the sport. That's the nature of center-cutting. However, with basketball, the crowd is nearly always in the picture during any action. That's a lot of detail to compress.

But once it's compressed, it's done. It's not changing detail. The crowd is just sitting there. Yes, the camera moves from side to side a little but I'm not seeing macroblocking on the edges of my screen. The cameras in basketball are much more static than in football.


I think the problem is subchannels. Most of the time basketball doesn't require a lot of bits so the subchannels are reaping the low bit rate during these periods. As soon as a player rushes for the basket and the camera zooms in and pans with him, the main channel can't get enough bits to display it properly.

Quote:
That's not always the case. Being out of focus can smooth out the details that make one area of a picture different from another. A big blur of faces or people all wearing the same color shirt compresses much better than individual bodies.

Smooth areas don't always compress better because our eyes have an unfortunate ability to pick out incorrect details in smooth backgrounds. These make them great tests for artifacts in any kind of digital imaging. Surely you've seen the "solarization" artifact in backgrounds with smooth transitions. It takes a lot of data to prevent them from turning into separate bands with obvious blocked transitions between them.


The classic MPEG-2 failure is in football when they follow a running player from a field camera for several seconds. The background is out of focus and smooth but as the shot continues your eyes will notice that the background has changed into 16x16 pixel squares of random colors. The background actually required more bits than the player because it changed more.
 

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so if basketball looks so bad in hd, why does everyone say hockey

is the best sport to watch in hd?


seems you would have the same insufficient bitrate covering motion on a small

playing surface with fans close up in hockey as you do in basketball
 

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Wood grain on a basketball court is a hell of a lot more detail to compress than a mostly uniform sheet of ice or mostly solid green turf.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Another thing that makes basketball so poor are the lines on the court. Do you ever notice how much noise the picture gains surrounding those lines. Its Mosquito noise central around the three point line especially because its a curved live. Also I think the tan playing surface seems to overly warm the color temp of your picture. My TV is ISF calibrated and running the standard 6500K color temperature and those warm hues tend to get over-saturated with those yellow and orange floors. Football the green grass provides the perfect canvas, and HOCKEY the white surface with proper TV Contrast looks great and also provides that great canvas. So that would answer your hockey question I think.
 

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Basketball is bad in HD only because today we still have the picture framed for 4:3. On DBStalk I saw a screenshot of a TNT game and too much of the screen during play is wasted on the crowd.


If only the camera was zoomed in onto the action, framed for 16:9. But god forbid we alienate 4:3 viewers by forcing them into watching sports letterboxed. Ugh.


I miss NHL on HDNet, which was framed for 16:9, something you don't see for any sports today in HD in the US.
 
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