"Horrible" consistency in HDTV broadcasts

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Sam R. Aucoin, Apr 8, 2004.

  1. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    If this has been covered in another thread or should be somewhere else, I apologize - MY search did not find anything akin to this subject.

    I have a fully, set-up HDTV theater as far as signals and display devices (Hitachi's latest plasma, Denon's 5900 DVD player, Hughes HD-HTL DirecTV receiver, and VOOM receiver, as well as a top-of-the-line OTA antenna with a rotor for local reception). I say this not to brag, but just to let you know what I am talking about (as I anticipate the statement: "Well tells us what you have, first.")

    Are you all as "disappointed" as I am in the very broad spectrum of quality HDTV programming?

    For example, I had my set calibrated by Gregg - excellent work, so this is NOT a commentary on Gregg's calibration.

    I then (at his suggestion), "re-calibrated" minor things such as contrast, brightness, and color after I received my HDTV components using AVIA and DVE (I did not have any at the time he came - but he nevertheless did an "internal" calibration using an HD signal generator).

    What I mean by "disappointed" is that I can watch an ABC program on one HDTV channel and then go to another, with the same HDTV programming on, and see a picture that is almost like "night and day" different than the first channel.

    My HDTV channel "definers" are consistently PBS-HD (which I receive OTA), DirecTV HD-Discovery, HDNET, HDNET Movies, HBO-HD, sometimes ShowtimeHD, SOME of the VOOM HD channels (especially the news channel).

    The other HDTV programming is such that I feel I would have to re-calibrate my display for every other channel, depending on what program is playing at the time.

    I hope I am not alone with this . . .

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    Regards,

    Sam
     
  2. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    No, you're right. Lots of channels that are "HD" are not actually HD [​IMG] our HDTV affiliate here in KC for NBC broadcasts say, Law & Order in HDTV, but tonight they just broadcast regular "ER" (non-HDTV) over the HDTV band.. and it happens elsewhere too.

    Some channels, mostly the broadcast ones, have a real fit with displaying HD worth a damn.

    Kind of upsetting here.

    In KC, our HD offerings on cable are:

    PBS-HD
    DISC-HD
    HDNET
    HDNET-MOVIES
    CBS
    ABC
    NBC
    FOX (which is just a digital regular signal as near as I can tell)
    HBO-HD
    HBO-WEST HD
    SHO-HD
    SHOW-HD

    Bah. Seriously, I am with you.. I eagerly await the day there are far more "real" offerings in HD
     
  3. Sam R. Aucoin

    Sam R. Aucoin Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris - I don't just mean stations that choose to "falsely" upconvert non-HD signals just to fill the screen of a 16x9 screen (e.g., ESPN HD, and even my local channels that run a continuous "HD" feed).

    I am referring to what seems to me to be a station's or a channel's engineer's inability to "project" the proper signal so that my PBS-HD program of "American Family" looks JUST AS GOOD (referring to contrast, color, brightness, etc.) as tonight's CBS HD offering of "Without a Trace" (which my local station broadcast so darkly that I lost almost ever bit of detail in the night-fire opening scene).

    So, with the above in mind also, is this epidemic or localized to my neck of the woods (south Louisiana)?

    Regards,

    Sam
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    The only thing I usually play with is the "Brightness" when I go from one HDTV channel to another when needed, otherwise, I just live with the inconsistencies between stations.
     
  5. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Those are two different shows, with two different DPs, two different looks, different color schemes, etc.--so, the idea of one looking "as good" as the other isn't entirely accurate. Two DPs can shoot the same landscape and have it come out looking entirely different (color, brightness, contrast).

    If I were you, I'd compare the HD feed of "American Family" to the standard feed to compare HDs excellence or shortcomings.
     
  6. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Chad has it right. I think what Sam's seeing is almost 100% caused by differences in the show's production rather than how it's being broadcast. Navy NCIS is famous for crushed blacks and lobster red faces, while other shows on the same network broadcast by the same local station don't suffer from this. Often all the shows from the same producers will look pretty much the same--all of the Law and Orders look about the same, while JAG, a Bellisario production like Navy NCIS is almost as bad as the latter. CIS Miami has a different look than CSI, however.

    HD just lets one see film grain and other cinematography characteristics much more easily than SD.

    Discovery HD and HDNet are almost exclusively HD-video based rather than film based and thus have the razor sharp "looking thru a window" effect more consistently.


    The only time I've seen anything that looked like a problem at the broadcast end was the first few weeks of HDNet Movies--the black levels were off for a while resulting in a washed out picture unless you turned down your brightness setting.

    As with the flares on the beach at Normandy in SPR and the green tint in The Matrix, what you're seeing on episodic HDTV series is what the producers intended, not a malfunction in the broadcast.
     

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