1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Digital Broadcasts, A Conversation With A Chief Engineer at the BBC

Discussion in 'Satellite TV, Sky TV & FreeSat' started by Kevo, Jan 11, 2002.

  1. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,355
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    I know i've posted this as a reply in the 'Films and TV' (Indy Jones thread) section, but as it has more to do with Digital TV in genearl, I think it deserves a thread of it's own.

    I've just rang the BBC to complain about the pic quality of Raiders of the Lost Ark on DTV and they eventually put me through to one of their chief engineers.

    And here's what he had to say about it and more.....

    I quote (his name with held as requested)

    "The BBC were well aware BEFORE transmission that the tape of the film (Raiders) for Digital TV was UNFIT for broadcast. It has too much grain, dropouts and cross-talk etc etc (tech jargon)"

    He was reading from a 'daily log' of known technical faults and he was shocked that it was broadcast. Normally programmes are pulled if they get reports like this. He couldn't give a reason why it was not pulled.

    He also said that there were two different versions, one for analog (P&S) and one for DTV (Digital WS Transfer), which is the norm.

    He was most helpful and we drifted on to other digital TV subjects.....

    He reckons analog will probably NEVER get switched off as there are just too many sets out there and the quality is FAR SUPERIOR to digital and always will be.

    "Digital pic quality will get a lot worse as more channels come on-line before it gets any better, and it will never equal that of DVD or analog".

    He totally agreed and sympathised with me that the pic quality on DTV can be very varied and sometimes sub-standard.
    He got very technical about transponders, bandwidth etc

    Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound

    "This is likely in the future if there is sufficient demand.
    It seems to be gaining popularity on Sky+ and with Hi-Fi/TV consumer products at the moment.
    But it will be technically impossible to do it terrestrialy, only via cable or Satellite"

    2.35:1 Cropping to 16:9

    "We (BBC) feel there would be a severe backlash if borders remained in 16:9 transmissions as people feel they have bought a WS TV to eliminate the 'very same' borders on their 4:3 TV.
    We have to cater for the majority and we are not a
    'Home Cinema' provider so as to show a film in all it's glory like the theatre or DVD".

    I must stress that his tone was sympathetic and he was extremely helpful and very kean to talk in detail.
     
  2. mjn

    mjn
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2001
    Messages:
    17,651
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Herts, England
    Ratings:
    +4,562
    well at least you got to speak to somebody who knew what they were talking about!!

    Rather than the general muppets you end up speaking to!
     
  3. swarrans

    swarrans
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2001
    Messages:
    404
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    Ratings:
    +0
    Sounds like an interesting conversation you had (and as also observed, very different from the people we normally have to speak to in "Customer Care").
    I'm very into Home Cinema and I know this is probably spitting in most people's "Holy Grail" but I have a lot of sympathy with his view about 2.35:1 broadcasts versus 16:9 - I've got a 16:9 32" widescreen TV and there are times (and some movies) when I think I'd rather have the whole screen filled versus 2.35:1 black bars. 16:9 is for me, a resonable compromise for most movies -- there are some that I'd prefer to see in their original state however.


    Simon (standing by for hate mail!!)
     
  4. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,355
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    So you like it cropped some of the time, but not all of the time!
    Unless you've seen the film before, how would you know which would be better, if you had the choice?

    Like most people, I'll have the correct ratio everytime.
    Especially if it's an older film (pre-video era) when Directors made betterd use of the WS frame.
     
  5. swarrans

    swarrans
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2001
    Messages:
    404
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    Ratings:
    +0
    I know, I know Kevo, I'm strange like that!
    On balance and on reflection, I guess I can only agree with you, it's just that even with a 32" widescreen the picture seems SO small when it's 2.35:1....
    What I really need is a huge plasma or projector and then I wouldn't care!

    Simon
     
  6. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,355
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    Swarrans

    One of the reasons why I upgraded my 32" to a 40" RP TV.

    I watch a lot of DVD films and as you are probably aware the majority of films are shot in 2.35:1 and this even smaller height annoyed me no end.

    The fact that I was used to the height of a 28" 4:3 TV didn't help matters.

    I know a 32" WS is wider but I just couldn't get used to the height which is approx the equivalent height of a 25" 4:3 TV and 20" 4:3 TV when watching 2.35:1.

    The 40" gives me an approx height of a 33" 4:3 TV and 28" 4:3 TV when watching 2.35:1, which suits me fine. I'm more than happy now :)

    Sorry if i've gone overboard with the numbers and equivalents!
     
  7. simon1

    simon1
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2001
    Messages:
    917
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Teesside
    Ratings:
    +58
    I, for one am glad about the BBC's attitude re 2.35 & 16:9.

    On the one hand, part of me is saying 2.35 is the correct ratio, and that's how I should view a film to enjoy it properly - on the other hand, the black bars reduce the height of my 32" ws tv to that of a 25" convential tv, so I have to zoom in which degrades the picture.

    Why, after spending arround £1000 on a widescreen set, would Mr average 'want' solid black bars top and bottom.

    Because many widescreen sets do have flaws in their geometry - these flaws become more apparent and annoying when black bars are displayed.

    At the end of the day, dedicated home cinema enthusiasts can always view DVD in the manner they prefer. Subject to the film maker/distributer.
     
  8. Garrett

    Garrett
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Messages:
    31,503
    Products Owned:
    2
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    The best thief you’ll never see.
    Ratings:
    +4,045
    I like to see the films how they are made, if purely 2.35:1 let it be shown that way. But if programs are made for TV 16:9 is for me. Then there the one where it is made for the theatre with TV in mind, for this it is 16:9 again.

    :cool: Ruby quartz shades.
     
  9. paiger

    paiger
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Sounds like you spoke to a right plonker to me. For a start Analogue WILL be turned off. The spectrum is just too valuable to the government. I remember speaking to a Cellnet engineer when I was switching to Orange. He assured me that digital mobiles would be a resounding failure and that analogue would be around for ever. Good call engineer man.

    Did he give any reason why 5.1 would not be possible terrestrially? I would be interested to hear this one. I do hope he didn't cite bandwidth as the problem.......

    S
     
  10. Duncan Harvey

    Duncan Harvey
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    well I dont think youre comparing like with like when you compare analogue to digital with phones and tv.

    Regardless of the hype, digital tv is still a minority taste, and analogue switchoff can only proceed when the problems of providing a stable service to 99% of the population are solved in tandem with the provision of cheap reliable equipment.

    Dates such as 2005 and 2010 are mentioned, but has any real thought been given to a switch off strategy. It doesnt seem so.

    Far from being a plonker, the engineer sounded like a realist to me.
     
  11. paiger

    paiger
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    9 years is a long time in terms of technology take up. More and more sets will be sold with DTT tuners and as these come down in price, smaller sets will be fitted with them too. I admit that the main problem is one of coverage and something I feel should be number 1 priority. This over everything would help the transition. At the end of the day there will be a small percentage of people who will refuse to change and they will have to be supplied with new equipment at the taxpayers expense. It's got to the point where TV is a right and not a privelidge. Personally I believe the govt. should invest heavily over the next 3 years in getting coverage up to scratch and then give a further 3 years notice as to a switch of date. I'm sure they could give a few incentives to manufacturers to produce cheap FTA boxes and TV's. I'm also sure that if any manufacturer had the sense to see it there is a huge market for a basic FTA box, maybe with a cam slot like DTV's. I would be happy to pay £75-£100 for one upstairs, especially if the UK channels ever go FTA.

    S
     
  12. Kevo

    Kevo
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Messages:
    5,355
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Manchester
    Ratings:
    +144
    Yes, bandwith was the reason he gave.
     
  13. paiger

    paiger
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Maybe someone of a technical nature could clarify but I have been assured by one knowledgable on the subject that DD actually uses less bandwidth than DPL signals. I apologise if I am mistaken of course but I don't think bandwidth is a good enough excuse. Anyone confirm this?
     
  14. Duncan Harvey

    Duncan Harvey
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    isnt it a case that current MPEG 2 uses "musicam" for sound, and it would simply be a case of piggy backing the DD signal on top of this.

    The problem would be that you wouldnt be able to send DD in isolation as you'd need to continue broadcasting MPEG sound in order to ensure that those whose stb's were not DD compatible (ie 99.999% of current stb's) still received a sound signal.

    So whilst I suspect that a 384kbps DD signal (ie based on the lower rate for DVD) wouldnt in itself cause a bandwidth problem, you might be pushing it when combined with an MPEG2 audio stream as well. Probably not an issue for isolated programming, but for a general service there might be problems.
     
  15. Jeg72

    Jeg72
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Messages:
    67
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +1

    I do hope analogue is never switched off. Digital picture quality at present is crap.

    I was watching part of a film the other night on BBC1 and out of curiosity I flicked to BBC1 on Sky. There were a lot of dark moving shots and I have to say the digital version was rubbish - pixellating, blacks coming out as all different shades of grey. At times the picture reminded me of the pc game 'Doom'

    Ive also noticed that the general look of digital pics is inferior to analogue - ie less sharp, colours a bit pasty.

    ITV seems to be the popular channel to slag off but BBC Choice is also ropey.
     
  16. Jeg72

    Jeg72
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Messages:
    67
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +1

    I agree
     

Share This Page

Loading...