BBC HD and now C4 HD

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StevenBagley
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I missed this yesterday...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7002966.stm

Apparently the BBC Trust have given indication that they are in favour of a permanent BBC HD service and C4 have announced they intend to launch an HD simulcast of C4 by December...

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Yes, it was in the Guardian as well. The issue now is how to do it, because the BBC's committed to broadcasting "on all platforms". Clearly Freesat is ok, but channels in Freeview will be a problem. One possibility is to close BBC4 and/or 3. If they do that, I'll lose all my favourite tv viewing, because BBC4's now my channel of choice most of the time. Another plan was to transmit HD overnight, but they've been told that's not on.

I'm now considering what lcd to buy and how to move the furniture to get it in. Andy Quested (BBC HD pusher) has been nagging me for quite a while to do this, and I've consistently told him that I'll do it when there's a Radio Times entry for HD channels (and when the BBC coughs up all the dosh it owes me).

I'll be leaning on my spies to see how things are going.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I'm now considering what lcd to buy and how to move the furniture to get it in.

I'm in the same boat, and intend to actually spend money in the next month or so. (Gulp!) At present I'm leaning towards the new Sony 3000 range, and probably an "X" - apparently the extra money buys better scaling, processing etc rather than display, and may even be more visible for SD display than HD.

But what does intrigue me is that this model is advertised as having a built in HD tuner for Freeview. Presumably what that really means is H264 capable, in addition to the obvious. Does this mean that in the bandwidth can be found, the tech specs for transmission are already there, or is Sony off on a bit of a flyer?

Alan Roberts
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Bear in mind that UK spectrum is bundled into 8MHz channels, and that's unlikely to change unless there's a major upheaval. So, terrestrial HD has to fit into 8MHz. Current thinking is to use H.264 (I still think that's a shame, wavelets would be far better even tough using more grunt to code and decode) so a digiboz with 8MHz and H.264 is fairly certain to work.

I wouldn't buy just yet, not until decisions have been made on how to package the HD (i.e. what gets deleted to make space for it, knocking out all the x+1 channels would make enough space for one HD channel :))

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I wouldn't buy just yet, not until decisions have been made on how to package the HD .........

My advice for a while has been not to buy anything unless you have to, and as far as home TVs go, that's the situation I shall be in - I need a new TV. Even if the tuner unit is no use in the future, it's obviously possible to then get a set top box, and it does have a lot of advantages over sets of only a year or two back - full 1920x1080 res, 1080p support etc.

SimonMW
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Quote:
One possibility is to close BBC4 and/or 3. If they do that, I'll lose all my favourite tv viewing, because BBC4's now my channel of choice most of the time.

Ahh, but if those same programmes are broadcast in HD...

A lot of the stuff on BBC3 and 4 is to encourage people to get Digital. Those same programmes could be used to encourage people to get HD. Even though it might piss a lot of people off at the same time!

infocus
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The process of BBC HD seems to have got another step forward:

http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=0&id=2708

Alan Roberts
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That's the essence of the news story of a couple of days ago.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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The big problem with Digital TV, is that we didn't switch analogue off earlier enough to make switching to the current system worthwhile...

We are in 2007, about to start the process of switching all TV to a system built on and designed for 1997 technology (CRT displays, DVB-T transmission and MPEG2 encoding) when the current state of the art would involved Fixed-pixel displays and H264 encoding. By the time, digital switchover has happened in 2012, we'll be starting all over again to move to DVB-T2 (which if I remember the displays I saw at IBC correctly would get the bandwidth up to 48Mbit/s), and wavelet encoding with everything HD.

Depressing isn't it... In fact, I suspect we'd be better migrating away from terrestrial transmission altogether, bring back the BSB squarial or similar technology as a compact dish and pull everything down from FTA satellite where there's lots of bandwidth.

Steven

GG
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Yep we are launching a 24 hour C4 HD channel before Christmas.
We are putting in the gear for it right now and our transfer area has been kitted out with some shiny new HDCamSR machines. To start with it will only be on Sky, channel 140 in the Sky epg, but we are looking at getting it on Freesat as well. We are going to transmit as much of our content in HD as we can, but where we can't source the material in HD we will up-convert.

BSOD - a truly unique Microsoft innovation!

stuart621
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GG wrote:
Yep we are launching a 24 hour C4 HD channel before Christmas.
We are putting in the gear for it right now and our transfer area has been kitted out with some shiny new HDCamSR machines. To start with it will only be on Sky,

as part of a package or generally available on digital satellite?

Quote:
channel 140 in the Sky epg, but we are looking at getting it on Freesat as well. We are going to transmit as much of our content in HD as we can, but where we can't source the material in HD we will up-convert.

And cable? No mention of that anywhere.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
That's the essence of the news story of a couple of days ago.

In respect of the news about the BBC Trust and the C4 announcement, yes, but the main point of the announcement from the DTG is a third point about Ofcoms feelings:

quote: "On balance, Ofcom's analysis has found some positive impacts are possible, and that there are unlikely to be significant adverse effects. Therefore, Ofcom has not proposed significant modifications to the BBC's HD service."

Basically, it seems to be another hurdle jumped.

StevenBagley
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stuart621 wrote:
as part of a package or generally available on digital satellite?

I'm certainly hoping it's FTA like BBC HD and Film4 rather than requiring a SkyHD box to watch...

Steven

GG
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stuart621 wrote:
as part of a package or generally available on digital satellite?

And cable? No mention of that anywhere.

Generally available. It will be one of the free channels. If you got a card for just the free to air channels you would get it.

As far as I know, not on cable,,,,yet. I don't think there is the available bandwidth, also I don't think there are any HD capable cable boxes. Unless someone knows otherwise?

BSOD - a truly unique Microsoft innovation!

Smithnc
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Its getting very close for me now.

Does that mean you'd need a Sky HD box to pick up C4? Would they be available for Freesat.

Am I right in that currently the HD BBC transmissions are not on the Sky system you need a different HD box although it uses the same satelitte?

Would you need two boxes to get both?

Nick

stuart621
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GG wrote:
Generally available. It will be one of the free channels. If you got a card for just the free to air channels you would get it.

As far as I know, not on cable,,,,yet. I don't think there is the available bandwidth, also I don't think there are any HD capable cable boxes. Unless someone knows otherwise?

Yes - V+ boxes have been out for a while now.

StevenBagley
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stuart621 wrote:
Yes - V+ boxes have been out for a while now.

Indeed, Telewest where the first provider to launch HD in the UK.

Steven

Bob Aldis
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I'm not sure we should be squandering bandwidth on HD when we are so short of shopping channels ;)

Channel 4 need to sort out their policies for subtitles, not many film 4 films have them.

BoBA

Bob Aldis

GG
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stuart621 wrote:
Yes - V+ boxes have been out for a while now.

Aha! Cheers :)

BSOD - a truly unique Microsoft innovation!

GG
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Bob Aldis wrote:
I'm not sure we should be squandering bandwidth on HD when we are so short of shopping channels ;)

Channel 4 need to sort out their policies for subtitles, not many film 4 films have them.

BoBA

I don't agree with you. I've just looked at the last week of programing and a large percentage of the films were subtitled. I admit 2 films tonight don't have subs, but all the others are subtitled.

BSOD - a truly unique Microsoft innovation!

Lusky
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stuart621 wrote:
Yes - V+ boxes have been out for a while now.

they just need to open the cheque book and get some more HD Channels, although having the first 5 episodes of planet earth in HD on Demand is a good start

John Paul

stuart621
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Lusky wrote:
they just need to open the cheque book and get some more HD Channels, although having the first 5 episodes of planet earth in HD on Demand is a good start

...and the first 8 episodes of Lost. I'm told there's lots more on the way - hopefully this is true.

infocus
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Hardly unexpected, given what's gone before, but nevertheless...............:

http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=0&id=2722

quote: "The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, has provisionally approved the launch of a mixed genre, free-to-view high definition television (HDTV) channel. "

Next stage is the start of the public consultation - if you wish to take part, go to:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consult/open_consultations/hdtv_consult.html

Full details of the conclusions reached by the BBC at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/consult/hdtv/pvt_application.pdf

Alan Roberts
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Latest gleaned info is that the BBC has not, by any means, decided on MPEG4 H.264 for HD broadcast. It's still in the melting pot.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Latest gleaned info is that the BBC has not, by any means, decided on MPEG4 H.264 for HD broadcast. It's still in the melting pot.

For Freeview, I can understand but surely for satellite it has to be fixed since they'd want it to be viewable on SkyHD boxes which are, erm, limited :)

But having seen the Dirac demo at IBC, that over Freeview would be rather nice ;)

Steven

Runaround Who
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Oh Goody - more HD channels. Folllowing on from Sky's HD channels which show films made well before the advent of HD I presume we can look forward to Only Fools and Horses etc 'now in HD'??

www.electrafilms.co.uk Watching life and filming the best bits ...

StevenBagley
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Runaround Who wrote:
Oh Goody - more HD channels. Folllowing on from Sky's HD channels which show films made well before the advent of HD I presume we can look forward to Only Fools and Horses etc 'now in HD'??

Showing films made before HD is no problem, the average 35mm film has more resolution than HD can handle.

On the other hand, 'Only fools and Horses' was shot on SD video and so is not suitable for HD presentation (although TV shot on film can be retransferred for HD, Space 1999, The Prisoner, and Star Trek have all had this treatment)

Steven

Alan Roberts
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You'd be really amazed at just how much tv content is already available at HD. Feature films are a very variable feast though, some are really good when scanned at HD, but there's lots out there that are really poor even at SD, it all depends how old they are, and how many printing process the production went through, a film shot on 35 and processed 4k before printing back will be great in HD, but anything made entirely optically will be dire.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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I heard that Jaws looks amazing in its HD version. Some grain can actually create an illusion of more resolution in some cases.

With the restoration techniques that are available these days, classics like The Wizard Of Oz could well look pretty amazing in HD.

Alan Roberts
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You've used the right words there Simon, "grain can create an illusion of more resolution", up to a point, and then it just confuses. In particular, it confuses video coders that look for motion, e.g. MPEG2 and 4.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

womblingfree
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Are we likely to see cheap HD receiver boxes anytime soon? I don't fancy giving Rupert Murdoch any money or leasing a V+ box but is there any alternative?

An HD Freeview type thing would be great.

infocus
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womblingfree wrote:
Are we likely to see cheap HD receiver boxes anytime soon? I don't fancy giving Rupert Murdoch any money ...............

If you don't want to give Murdoch money, there are FTA satellite boxes available (which obviously won't receive Sky!), but cheap.......? The other question is when we will see such boxes capable of receiving Freesat, but with a built in HDD fo timeshifting. That's even more significant here than in SD - in the SD world there are plenty of DVD, even VHS, recording options.

harlequin
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dreamboxes ( linux pvr satellite boxes )
pci cards for computers

will receive all satellite signals if connected to a dish pointing the right way.

then use software or software/cam units to access the shows you want.

but somewhere along the lines you may have to pay murdoch something , unless all the ''free if you buy a tv licence'' channels go for free to view / unencrypted.

i bought a pci card for my computer which allowed viewing of bbc hd ... needs a very powerfull pc to decode/record it though

Gary MacKenzie

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Alan Roberts
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It seems that the Ofcom approval of Freesat is only the start. The BBC Trust has approved a HD channel, but concomitant on the results of a further study on the impact of it on the competition. The BBC isn't allow to compete with it's competitors, or at least it isn't allowed to win. We have to wait and see what happens. Until then, it's all up for grabs.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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The last I'd heard was as outlined here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/2007/hdtv_provisional_conclusions.html .

From which I'd understood a four week public consultation was underway, but that a green light was considered highly likely late Nov, with a few loose ends such as the immediate overnight Freeview service still to be decided on.

Do I take what you're saying to mean it's got even more complicated?

Alan Roberts
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No, I'm not making it out to be more complicated, just that it isn't just a rubber stamp job. Best is to wait and see. I've got no more information than that, except that my spies have told me that it's not all cut-and-dried.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=0&id=2768

In other words, on the day that the first analogue signals are turned off, Ofcom tacitly admits that Freeview in it's current form is obsolete, and is working on the next stage - which will effectively make all current Freeview receivers as useful as analogue tuners.

StevenBagley
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How do they inted to free an entire multiplex? Current allocations (4 16QAM muxes, and 2 64QAM muxes) gives 120mbit/s of data currently in use (and the data rate is too low as it is). Switching to 5 muxes all at 64QAM would give 120mbit/s but would require power to be increased to maintain adequate reception. Presumably the BBC would move BBC4 (dropping its quality -- since it is often statmuxed in with empty BBCi channels) into MUX1 leaving the radio and BBCi/PArliament streams floating to go elsewhere.

That leaves one mux for HD use, which using DVB-T2 would probably get about 32mb/s bandwidth -- enough for 2 HD channels using H264 and I doubt more advanced codecs such as Diracs could get 3 in less than 36mbit/s.

Hardly the great HD future is it, when you can't even get the five analogue originals all in HD...

Steven

infocus
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The relevant section I believe to be:

"For some time now Ofcom has been developing a proposal which would enable us to clear an entire multiplex and convert this to an improved compression and transmission standard. If we can make this proposal work, then there is a very major prize.

Success would mean not only the doubling of capacity for one universally available multiplex, but also for the first time, a migration path for the entire Freeview platform which would offer an enormous increase in capacity.

"This proposal holds out the prospect of HD services on Freeview, using existing capacity, as early as late 2009 and at far lower cost than any alternative proposal."

By which I assume they are intending that the cleared multiplex will be then assigned to exclusive H264 usage, that this will fuel the takeup of next gen Freeview receivers, and when these become universal, all existing services will switch to H264, hence freeing up capacity for terrestial HD.

Errr...... by 2009!?

I went to buy a a 17-19" TV a few months ago, and wanted one that was widescreen with built in tuner. Was such available? No - all the sets this well known national chain sold at that screen size only had analogue tuners, and apparently that applied to their stores serving the Whitehaven area as well.

I can't take Ofcom seriously.

Alan Roberts
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The problem is that we're still expecting the UK broadcasters to treat their viewers well. That's why we started on the disastrous MAC and HDMAC route, long since occupying space in the dustbin. I was told at the time (about 1988) that we had to evlove the system not revolutionise it. My reply was that it wouldn't work, we need to jolt the viewer with new services and content, not just creep up on him gently. It's entirely laudable to treat the viewer kindly, but it leads to a stifling and slow evolution of the technology.

By comparison, Berlin switched off all analogue 2 years ago. Finland switched off all analogue this summer (220,000 screens went black). Sky bought BSB and closed it overnight, then changed it's service twice, forcing new boxes on its viewers, and is now doing the same again with HD.

This technology is developing continuously. We can't continue with the old way of staying true to the tv set you bought and used until it died, only then replacing it. The current stats for tv sales show an average 7 year life of the set, but I've still got one I bought over 25 years ago, and it still works and I still use it, so there have to be people replacing much more frequently than 7 years. And that's probably because of fashion changes, or the desire for bigger pictures, or for HD. Either way, people are happy to upgrade, if they weren't happy with this situation Dixons (sorry Currys Digital) would have shrunk far more than it has.

Don't get me wrong, I'll not be happy when my old analogue tv goes black, but it's had a Freeview box on it for 3 years so I probably won't even notice. And the cost of improved boxes isn't bank-breaking, so let's have newer and better ones so that we can cen newer and better services.

My 2 pen'orth.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

harlequin
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infocus wrote:

I went to buy a a 17-19" TV a few months ago, and wanted one that was widescreen with built in tuner. Was such available? No - all the sets this well known national chain sold at that screen size only had analogue tuners, and apparently that applied to their stores serving the Whitehaven area as well.

where i am , there won't be digital terrestrial guaranteed ( and no analogue ) UNTIL 2010.

so i didn't care whether my new tv had a freeview receiver built in.

a trip to play.com and i bought this

http://www.play.com/PC/PCs/4-/3348756/LG-M228WA-22-Widescreen-LCD-TV-Monitor/Product.html

set it up last night ............ i like it , i like it a lot.

Gary MacKenzie

sepulce@hotmail.com ( an account only used for forum messages )

Thinkserver TS140 , 750ti Graphics card  & LG 27" uws led backlight , Edius 8

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PaulD
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harlequin wrote:
where i am , there won't be digital terrestrial guaranteed ( and no analogue ) UNTIL 2010....

Hi
Where I am, in central Bristol but in a very small valley , there's no guarantee so far that there will ever be a digital terrestrial service, as there don't seem to be any plans to upgrade or replace the current analogue repeater transmitter housed at the top of a tower block of flats... :(

Whether there's an HD service is pretty irrelevent if like me you can't be bothered to switch the TV on these days for days at a time...

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
.............we need to jolt the viewer with new services and content, not just creep up on him gently. It's entirely laudable to treat the viewer kindly, but it leads to a stifling and slow evolution of the technology.

But we seem to have the worst of both worlds here. Creeping up so slowly that it's obsolescent before it's replaced it's predecessor!

Yes, I agree that if possible the process should be evolutionary - so surely it would have made sense to mandate both digital and analogue tuners in new receivers for the last 4/5 years? So all those receivers at least wouldn't need add on boxes now? Economies of scale would also have brought the prices down more rapidly.

As things stand, it was possible to go into a shop in Whitehaven at the beginning of the week and buy a TV that would be obsolete before the week was out. That's madness.

Alan Roberts
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I agree, it's a daft situation. the problem is that HMG has left it to the BBC to get the conversion done (and even charged it with advertising and paying for it) without providing a budget for it. The Beeb can't issue mandates, that can be done only by regulatory bodies, run remotely by HMG, or by international agreement (like the ITU).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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infocus
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Well, my new Panasonic plasma screen arrived just last week - so I'm extremely glad to hear this! (I even had some cables installed during some building work to be "Freesat ready" :)

The set is very good, but boy, can you see the Freeview problems now!

I know what the next debate will be though - will they have to spoil it by insisting on having a DOG? Shall we get the petition going now.......?

Alan Roberts
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There's still one more hurdle for BBC HD. The Trust has approved it (and, in theory, they could start this weekend) but there's one more internal approval to get, in the form of "deciding not to exercise a veto" as I heard it put yesterday. I can't remember which bit of the system has that veto though, but I donm't expect it to be used.

What I expect to see is a "best of BBC in HD" channel, not a simulcast, but getting ever closer to the BBC 1 schedule as time passes and more HD stuff is made. Eventually, it will become BBC1 and then a new HD channel will launch as a "best of". This is possible only on satellite until full analogue switch-off. Even then, I doubt there will be enough channel space for HD on Freeview at the quality we expect. The tests started at 20Mb/s, they're now regularly dropping to 12Mb/s, and they have to reach 6~8 before they can fit into Freeview. The H/264 coders are still improving at speed, but that's a hell of a lot to expect (and I don't).

This is my opinion, and not that of the BBC, even though I was on BBC premises yesterday, and the people I was with knew that I'd pass on important stuff.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
There's still one more hurdle for BBC HD. The Trust has approved it (and, in theory, they could start this weekend) but there's one more internal approval to get, in the form of "deciding not to exercise a veto" as I heard it put yesterday.

After such public statements today, and from the DG at that, it'd be one hell of a public embarrassment to now do a complete about face............

Alan Roberts
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Spot on, I can't see it being stopped now. But the protocol's there and must be followed.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Lusky
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John Paul

StevenBagley
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Interstingly, the DOG has vanished tonight...

Now this has happened before but usually reappears at the end of the programme but has been missing in action for a while now :)

Steven

dominicwitherow
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I like the way the BBC spokesman is getting all excited about the Queen's Speech in HD! Now that's bound to be better than Planet Earth HD! :D

Alan Roberts
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That confirms what I'd heard last week ("now that the Trust has said yes, we could start on Saturday"). It's only a matter of making the statement. Andy Quested's been pressing me to get a decoder and dish for months now, and I've been telling him that I'll do it when there's a "BBC HD" column in the Radio Times. I still stand by that, but I now know that it'll happen soon.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Ray Maher
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It seems there is even less program content now than there was before looking at the Sky EPG.

Ray Maher