High Def Resolution Question

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Tod Golden, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. Tod Golden

    Tod Golden Stunt Coordinator

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    I have an RCA HD61W140 which has a buit-in OTA hd tuner. While watching a football game on FOX yesterday, I noticed that it was being broadcast in 16:9 at 720p. However, the actual picture was in 4:3 format with the black bars on the side.

    I then switched to the US open on CBS and it was being broadcast in 16:9 at 1080i. This time the the whole screen was filled. CBS actually advertised that the program was being broadcast in HD. Check this out though. You could hear all the sounds of the match but no announcers. I switched on the cable box (for sound) to see if there were announcers on the cable station and there were. Kinda wierd.

    So here is my question:
    Does the actual program have to be broadcast in HD in order for it to be in the 16:9 format?

    Tod
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    No it does not. West Wing, for example has been shown for the last couple of seasons in 16:9 ratio, but it is not in HD.

    All of the digital t telecasts are in 16:9 format, although often you get a 4:3 frame inside the 16:9 telecast, accounting for the bars. I don’t know what happened to you yesterday, but Fox telecasts in 480p. Watching my Dallas Cowboys go down to defeat yesterday, I had a 480p picture (not SD in 480i—but not true HD either) that was usually a full 16:9 picture, but sometimes on replays and when the announcers were being shown during breaks, was a 4:3 picture in the 16:9 frame.

    Same thing at the Open, which CBS did telecast in HD. The match was a full 16:9 picture, but some shots of the announcers were a 4:3 picture inside of the 16:9 frame. I had no problems with sound.

    Your cable company may not have been providing a good signal.
     
  3. Tod Golden

    Tod Golden Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the response Lew.

    I happened to be watching these programs via the tv's OTA HD tuner. It must've been that this particular game was in the 4:3 format. As for the open, there must've some sort of bug in the tuner because at no time did I see a shot of the announcers and no commentary.

    When you refer to digital telecasts does that include digital cable and satellite or do you mean HD? Supposedly I have digital cable but none of the programming is in 16:9. I have to set the tv to stretch mode in order for the picture to fit the screen. My current cable box only has composite connections and the typical coax cable. Would switching to a box with S-Video give me the 16:9 format and a better picture? As it stands now I am disappointed with the picture quality of my current cable setup.

    Tod
     
  4. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    There are basically two formats right now: NTSC (analog) or Standard Definition (SD) and ATSC (digital to include HD). NTSC is what you get on all of the older SD stations and most satellite and cable channels. It is a standard, 480i, 4:3 frame and is telecast in a 4:3 frame, regardless of whether you receive the signal Over The Air (OTA), via older, analog cable, newer digital cable or digital satellite. Remember the signal begins exactly the same regardless of how it is delivered in the end. NTSC standards call for 480 interlaced lines and a 4:3 frame. When you see some shows (like West Wing or letterboxed film on TCM)) telecast in widescreen, what you are really getting is a 4:3 frame with a widescreen picture inside the frame. Which is why people who have a 16:9 set commonly zoom the picture to fill the screen—otherwise they get black bars at the top and bottom, and sides.

    ATSC is the new digital standard. It actually permits 18 different formats, including the two current HD formats being telecast: 720p and 1080i. It also includes some formats that are being telecast that are not considered HD, such as Fox’s 480p telecasts and formats that might used some day in the future, but are currently not being telecast anywhere, such as 1080p.

    All ATSC telecasts are 16:9 in format, regardless of which of the 18 allowed standards are being used. As no networks yet telecast their entire lineup in 16:9, this means that when a show (such as Letterman) is being telecast, it is in 4:3 format in both the NTSC and ATSC telecasts. If you tune into Letterman on a NBC local, digital station, you get the 4:3 signal in a 16:9 box. It will be actually telecast in 1080i (at least in my area) but this is upconverted by the network and station from the 480i telecast.

    I hope that this helps and does not further confuse the issue.

    The networks really have two choices for their HD material, when they telecast on NTSC. They can show the whole picture in a letterbox format, or they can crop the picture (just as in a pan and scan movie) and only show the 4:3 portion of the picture, losing the part on the sides. This is pretty much how HBO does all of their movie telecasts, for example.

    And a final note, sometimes the network or the local station forget to switch to HD and we get an HD show in SD.
     
  5. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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  6. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  8. Tod Golden

    Tod Golden Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow. Thanks for the information. It all seems so confusing, but what the heck. All I can say is, it truly is an experience to watch a HD broadcast of a Sunday or Monday football game. Especially one that fills the screen of a 61" television.

    Thanks again for the information. Great site with knowledgeable people.

    Tod Golden
     

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