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New 16:9 HDTV = Bad Satellite Picture?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by KenRen, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. KenRen

    KenRen Stunt Coordinator

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    OK, just picked up a Pioneer SD-643HD5 "64" HDTV at a great price (Costco, of course). Now my Direct TV satellite feeds look horrible.

    It replaced a "50" 4:3 Hitachi Ultravision analog set. On this set, I got fantastic Direct TV pictures and really good DVD (though obviously letterboxed) pictures.

    I am using a 5 year old, Sony Direct TV box and s-video connections. Though the Pioneer has supposely good stretch modes, none of them give me a clear picture, certainly not what I was accustomed to with the Hitachi.

    I am not interested in spending a bunch of money to upgrade to HD with Direct TV for only one or two channels, including the expense of getting HBO (which I don't want anyway). I live in an area where HDTV OTA broadcasts are years in the future, if ever. ha And, no digital cable even remotely in the plans for my area.

    Anthing I can do to get a better picture with satellite? New box with components out?

    Or, is this the price of stunning DVDs, having to watch lackluster TV (about 80% of my watching time) in between the DVDs?

    (Sung to Dire Staights "MTV" hit)
    I WANT MY HGTV!!!!!


    KenRen
     
  2. Cliff Olson

    Cliff Olson Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the same issue, KenRen. Nothing that I know of, other than "chopping" off the sides will make your picture look better. When in 4:3 mode, satellite is pretty decent looking on my Mitsu 16:9 TV (65"). It's just hard to get used to the smaller viewing area!

    BTW, I actually bought this TV primarily for watching DVDs [​IMG] I expected the OTA and Directv to look like s**t, but it's even worse than I expected [​IMG]
     
  3. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    I have a Pioneer 533 and use DTV, so I will offer my views. I think your TV is just a bigger version of mine.

    Yes, standard sat channels can look crappy. That said, it does vary from channel to channel and day to day. Some stuff (Speedvision F1 races, for whatever reason) has been looking really good lately, while certain other channels (Travel for example) look pretty bad all the time.

    Part of the problem is when you blow up a SD signal, you see that the original PQ is sometimes not that great. Now its bigger, and looks worse.

    I do have a Progressive DVD player, and an OTA HD box. A good DVD (the new Star Trek Nemesis) or a great HD broadcast will spoil you for everything else. No SD picture, be it cable, sat or OTA is ever going to look as good as that.

    As for your set, what settings are you using? I know that out of the box, it looked horrible. For my DVD component input, I use the Reference Theater preset, and Film color temp setting. I then calibrate with Avia. Also turn off black level, SVM, flesh tone, etc. If you have not calibrated with Avia or VE, you are not going to see what the set can really do. Lastly, have you done the multi-point convergence? Mine was pretty bad out of the box. That helps sharpen the pciture quite a bit.

    Anyway, I transferred the DVD settings to the S-Vid sat input. They did not look as great with DTV (although it is program dependent), so I made additional tweaks by eye. As I said, some stuff looks OK, other stuff looks like crap. Its the nature of SD NTSC, I guess.

    Interseting though, in that my other TV is a 32" Sony, also tweaked with Avia. I always thought it looked good, but now that I am used to a good progressive image, I am not so thrilled with its PQ anymore.

    BGL
     
  4. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Ken, could you be a little more specific as to what is bad about your picture? I don’t question that this is the case, only some definition might help.

    Also how are you viewing SD, 4:3 signals on your set? In 4:3 mode or some other mode?
     
  5. KenRen

    KenRen Stunt Coordinator

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    Et al,

    Yes, I started with the Ref Theater mode, DVD input, and calibrated with the Avia disk. Set the SVM off, black level off, true cinema on, color off, all the standard things I hope.

    Then I transferred those setting to my sat input. I did turn off pure cinema, black level on, and color on. Then, I lowered the contrast and brightness by eye (no need to tempt torch mode viewing for a TV show).

    Convergence all done, though it was really close out of the box. Did have to adjust a couple of the upper left points a little. Center was dead on.

    I have found that I am in the zoom mode most of the time. Can't stand the strech modes when watching some of my regular shows. Guess cinema wide would be OK if I was watching a movie. But, if I want a movie, I go to the DVD.

    I do not use the 4:3 mode to avoid the burn-in problem. Besides, it is hard to keep your eyes on the picture in 4:3 mode with those blazing grey bars to the left and right.

    The picure can be described as unclear, with fast movements, such as a head turn on a face close-up, almost looking like the face morphs to the new position.

    Grass blades are now green blotches, stitching on clothing is not visible, and face details like wrinkles, bad make-up, beard stubble, are gone.

    I'm guessing part of this is the zoom mode, but the other modes almost make me dizzy. Will I get used to them?

    Will an upgrade (at least to some component out sat receiver) help?

    Not "dissing" the TV, just looking for more tweaks to improve my TV viewing. (Am I a masochist or what.)

    Thanks,
    KenRen
     
  6. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    The compression used on cable and satellite TV channels can be considerable, giving the problems you described.

    How does it look without the zoom?

    Alternatively the de-interlacer in your TV could be less than stellar. Try feeding in interlaced component video from your DVD player. Trying composite will test the TV's comb filter and color decoder as well.

    Another subtle problem could be that you are getting the full horizontal resolution only in 16:9 mode. Are the grass blades and beard stubble visible then? Let's imagine a 720 pixel wide de-interlacing (and scaling if the display is always 1080i). A poor way of doing 4:3 mode in the 16:9 screen is to use only the middle 540 pixels of the electronics. This will cause visible degradation of analog video on that big a screen even though the effective horizontal resolution is about 440 max. pixels across. The correct method is to de-interlace and scale using all [720] pixels, then compress the 720 pixels to fit the inner 4:3 frame, each pixel being 1/960'th the screen width.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  7. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  8. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    I'm curious as to whether the standard definition DirecTV receivers with component outputs (such as one Samsung offers) offer any improvement in terms of the picture quality of SD content on an HD set....you'd think they'd make things a little better.
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I believe that Brian is correct (and you thought this as well) in his comment on the zoom mode making a marginal picture worse. This is because you are both magnifying the picture and the imperfections in the picture—some of which may well be due to compression.

    I only watch 4:3 material in 4:3, except for ‘talking head’ shows.

    You might want to consider this as an option. Since you have calibrated the set and it is no longer in torch mode and since you appear to watch a fair amount of DVDs, ‘burn-in’ should not be a problem.

    I’d be the last to advocate sending additional money for a couple of HD channels from DirecTV. However if you can get OTA HD telecasts it might be worth investing in an HD tuner (the DirecTV HD tuners will decode OTA telecasts).

    You are experiencing the video equivalent of how bad some records sounded after getting a hi-fi system for the first time. Good reproduction makes a bad source even worse. [​IMG]

    I notice a pretty wide range of video signals from DirecTV.
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  11. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  12. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    You also have the option of doing more extensive calibration to tweak the set even more. Do it yourself or hire a pro to do it. It will improve things a bit more for your satellite.

    Nothing can really improve satellite short of you increasing the bandwidth for all the channels so that there is less compression.

    Images looked better on an interlaced TV set because of the way your brain interprets images with scan lines. Interlaced images are interpreted by the brain into something sharper than what is really there. The brain looks at the interlaced image and interpolates between the scan lines ...

    As a result, a psycho visual effect occurs and you think the image is sharper ... when in fact, it is only an illusion. From the satellite, both TV's give you the same detail that is there in the original signal. Only on the Pioneer, your brain is not required to interpolate between scan lines ...

    You see the image for what it really is.

    An interlaced presentation of a white wall (devoid of detail) always appears to be more detailed than a progressive scan presentation of the same wall. Now why is that? We know there is no detail to the white wall ...

    Regards
     
  13. KenRen

    KenRen Stunt Coordinator

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    Et al,

    Thanks much for the information. With the DirectTv HDTV roll-out, looks like that will be my next purchase (if I can get them to help out a long time customer.)

    I better put some more time into retraining myself on 16:9 too.

    An ISF calibration looks like a good option in the future once I get some hours on this set.

    In case I diidn't mention it, progressive scan DVD look stunning, so no complaints there. (Well, except too stunning somtimes)(I knew I would get a complaint in, tee hee)

    KenRen
     

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