[opendtv] 20060304 Schubin's Saturday Stuff (Mark's Monday Memo)

  • From: Mark Schubin <tvmark@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tvmark@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2006 22:29:37 -0500 (GMT-05:00)

     Here are some very efficient (low-administrative-cost) relief organiza=
tions (all have four-star ratings from CharityNavigator.org):
     Americans may also call the Red Cross at 800 HELP NOW (800 435-7669).

Sorry about the delay.  Once again, I was on the road and couldn't collect =
ads.  I hope to get to them in next week's memo.  FYI, there will be no mem=
o the week of the 27th, in honor of the solar eclipse.

- Follow-ups:

     - ***The Technology Retreat***, February 21-24 in Rancho Mirage - Well=
, it happened, and, from all accounts I've heard, it was pretty spectacular=
 (I think so, too).  I mentioned the seminars in the last memo, with Charle=
s Poynton noting that LED illumination could solve many LCD problems, incre=
asing contrast ratio, reducing motion issues, and increasing color gamut.  =
But in the displays supersession, Martin Euredjian of eCinema Systems pooh-=
poohed the idea (he also suggested that SED was being held up by legal issu=
     I was particularly taken by the presentation of Jed Deame of Teranex i=
n the displays supersession.  He presented test signals and good and bad re=
sults for a huge range of issues having virtually nothing to do with color.=
  He's offering the signals on a DVD for a nominal fee.  Panasonic's Peter =
Fannon dispelled myths about plasma TVs (and noted that in 2005 slightly mo=
re HD models were sold than ED, a reversal of the previous year), and Sony'=
s Gary Mandle pointed out that the tiny liquid-crystal cells in LCoS system=
s don't suffer the long switching times of larger, direct-view LCDs, so the=
y can offer frame rates on the order of 200/second, making alternate-mage 3=
-D easy.  He also noted that 4K imagery is already available (more on that =
     The Technology Year in Review noted that this was the first since the =
introduction of the VTR in 1956 -- 50 years ago -- without a new videotape =
format being introduced.  It also noted that, for the price of Jed Deame's =
DVD ($29.95), you can buy a complete camcorder at a CVS drugstore.  The cam=
era discussion ranged up to the Red 4520 x 2540.  There was also a presenta=
tion of relative visual sizes for everything from a movie screen to a mobil=
e phone, which led to a discussion of why Fox created an original version o=
f "24" for the latter rather than repurposing the broadcast version.
=09The broadcasters panel had Richard Friedel of Fox showing the problems o=
f overscan even in this era of fixed-pixel-grid displays (he also noted tha=
t the next mobile-phone version of "24" will star Kiefer Sutherland (the fi=
rst one didn't), and it's episodes will last three minutes rather than one.=
  Then came a period when the station people praised the networks and the n=
etworks praised the station people until ABC-affiliate KESQ general manager=
 Bob Allen was asked how he felt when he learned that ABC was making "Despe=
rate Housewives" available for downloading and responded "like my wife was =
sleeping with an engineer."
     Azcar's Tom McDonough gave an overview of technology for TV over mobil=
e phones, concentrating on the two broadcast systems being offered in the U=
.S., Modeo's DVB-H and Qualcomm's MediaFLO.  Then MPAA CTO Brad Hunt did an=
 update on content protection, including the MovieLabs work on preventing c=
amcorders from working in movie theaters and the Coral Consortium plan to a=
llow different rights systems to interoperate.  He noted that Toshiba's $49=
9 HD DVD player might be superseded on the low end by Sony's Blu-ray-equipp=
ed PlayStation 3 for $399.  He discussed both the interim and longer term A=
ACS agreements, the latter of which calls for no analog HD outputs after 20=
11 and no analog outputs at all after 2013 (but no digital-only is allowed =
in the interim agreement).
     A lively discussion of "no analog HD" after his talk led to an unsched=
uled presentation the following day of what 960 x 540 compared to 1920 x 10=
80 actually looks like.  The pictures were posted to the participants' web =
site, along with other presentations (keep checking; more presentations are=
 being added all the time).  We then barged into the demo area to see such =
treats as the Olympus Octavision camera (3840 x 2160 with 2/3-inch imagers,=
 shoulder mountable), Genoa Color Technologies' five-primary LCD (which can=
 show Salem cyan and Kodak gold) and their processing for more ordinary dis=
plays, Panasonic's 2K processor for D-5 and their HVX200 camcorder, Sony's =
XDCAM HD, the Cine-tal and Iridas LCD monitoring system, Clarity Image's de=
monstrations of lip-sync issues, Blu-Laser Cinema's optical-disk-based libr=
ary (which appeared in stories about the retreat on the local ABC and Fox n=
ews), Fujinon's new half-inch and 1/3-inch lenses (as well as their new ran=
ge of 2/3-inch), Neural Audio's stereo/5.1 converters, For-A's dual-link HD=
-SDI (4:4:4) switchers, and much, much, MUCH more!
     As usual, Thursday began with loud argumentative breakfast roundtables=
.  I sat in on the rights management one, which ranged from plugging the op=
tical hole (shooting a TV screen with a camcorder) to different filters use=
d to make down-rezzed 960 x 540 most restorable to 1920 x 1080.
     Then came the spectacular acquisition session, with Olympus describing=
 their 4K camera and NHK their 8K camera and display (with 16 times the num=
ber of pixels of 1080-line HD).  The imager's 4.2-micron-squared sensors le=
d to a discussion of the relative merits of resolution and dynamic range.
     Sam Nicholson of Stargate Digital showed how even relatively low resol=
ution imagery can be stabilized and combined to form ultra-high-resolution =
virtual backgrounds for compositing (he demonstrated with HDV-shot footage =
in a Moscow subway station serving as a background for actors in Montreal).=
  That was followed by a panel covering the history, present, and future of=
 3D, explaining what costs more and what isn't so bad.
     Then came the luncheon seminar on small-format acquisition with extens=
ive discussions of diffraction (1/3-inch HD imagers are limited to 75% red =
MTF at even f/1.8) and lenses (smaller format imagers require HIGHER lens q=
uality for equivalent MTF).  One image, superimposing an MTF curve on an in=
verted contrast-sensitivity function, flabbergasted at least one of the hig=
h-ranking engineers in the audience.
     Next came the digital-cinema sessions, with many speakers dedicating t=
heir presentations to the late Dick Stumpf, who was, indeed, worthy of all =
the praise.  In the digital-cimema packaging session, Wade Hanniball noted =
that Universal has no plans to release in 4K or 96 kHz audio and won't encr=
ypt its trailers, but Paul Saccone described Warner Bros. 4K distribution t=
rials in Japan.  Tom DeFanti showed pictures of a 200 megapixel display (19=
20 x 1080 is two megapixels)!
     The Compact team (headed by one of the largest players) beat both Regu=
lar and Large (headed by one of the smallest players) to win the Fenway Par=
k championship.  Topless pictures were shown at the registration desk.
     After more argumentative breakfast roundtables on Friday (I sat in on =
one on A/V storage using a distributed-data principle quite different from =
RAID), Dow, Lohnes attorney Jim Burger covered everything going on in Washi=
ngton from the analog cutoff date to the Grokster decision.  Then Universal=
's Jerry Pierce offered an amazing presentation.  He played a "Saturday Nig=
ht Live" commercial spoof he had downloaded and got the audience laughing s=
o hard they were gasping for breath; then he pointed out that what they had=
 just seen on the giant screens was just 320 x 240.
     After an extensive tutorial on long-GOP editing, perhaps the two most =
important (and most embarrassing to the industry as a whole) presentations =
followed.  Graham Jones of the NAB showed how to use the active format desc=
riptor to FINALLY solve the mixed-aspect-ratios problem.  Producers can spe=
cify what is to be done on a field-by-field basis and can even indicate wha=
t portions of the image (if any) they wouldn't mind a viewer's losing.  The=
n Bill Hogan and Michael Smith gave a presentation on a problem less close =
to being resolved: lip-sync.  At one point, Hogan showed a photo of images =
with burned-in time code being displayed on CRT, LCD, and DLP-based screens=
; when the source was frozen, three different numbers appeared on the scree=
ns fed from the same source.  And there was more!  I especially liked the i=
dea that carrying grain through from pre-compression to post-decoding can a=
llow a much lower bit rate to provide comparable subjective quality.  Gary =
Demos, who was recently awarded the motion-picture Academy's Sawyer award (=
<http://tinyurl.com/zlfga>), polished up with a tutorial on layered lossles=
s coding.
     I've left out most of what was there, and I apologize to those I've om=
itted.  I offer only the thought that I might have been paying too much att=
ention to you to take good notes.
     Here are some views from others who were there:
     This next one is from Shoot:
     This one concentrates on Brad Hunt's presentation:
     I'm pretty sure there will be more:

     - The FCC's Video Competition Report has finally been released.  I hav=
en't had a chance to look it over completely yet, but one interesting tidbi=
t is that multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) have claimed m=
ore than 85% of TV households since June of 2004, which means the old analo=
g cutoff date at the end of this year might have worked.  Cable's percentag=
e has finally dropped below 70%.  Only direct-broadcast satellite has grown=
 among MVPDs:

     - DTT-related U.S. legislation other than analog cutoff - Broadcasting=
 & Cable says it's unlikely that everything stripped from the budget bill w=
ill get considered this year:
     The "broadcast flag," however, is said to have a good chance of being =
     There was extensive discussion of authorized copying not being allowed=
 on the OpenDTV Forum this week:
     The thread name changes here:

     - Blu-ray and HD DVD -
          - Warren Communications News went back and forth about whether a =
firmware upgrade was or wasn't required for HD DVD interactivity and whethe=
r or not it mattered.
          - They noted that image-constraint (960 x 540) labels would be re=
quired under AACS for any disks that have that and, later, that four major =
studios have sworn off image constraints (perhaps after seeing the pictures=
 at ***The Technology Retreat***).
     None of the stories are still on the site:
          - Here's information on the Blu-ray launch on May 23.  The story =
is from Reuters:
          - Here's a story on recent business developments:
          - And this more-technical article is titled "Sub-Par Wars":

     - Pre-NAB announcements:
          - Panasonic:
          - Harris:
          - Snell & Wilcox:
          - Grass Valley offering financing of equipment and services (this=
 story is from Broadcasting & Cable):
          - Grass Valley's products:

     - More dueling surveys -
          - According to a Scripps Networks survey, "Women would pick an HD=
TV set over a toaster, a day off or a new pair of Manolo Blahniks" (shoes).=
  Only a weekend getaway (choice of 42%) beat an HDTV (29%).  This story is=
 from Broadcasting & Cable:
     Meanwhile, a Jupiter Research survey found 52% of consumers would swit=
ch providers for a better price, but only 6% found HDTV to be a desired fea=
          - RBC Capital Markets asked 100 wireless-service and content prov=
iders what consumers wanted to do with mobile devices; 63% said watching TV=
 or movies, and 72% said consumers would put up with ads for reduced fees. =
 But RBC's survey of 1,001 consumers said only 23% wanted to watch TV on a =
mobile device, and only 20% would put up with ads to lower costs:

     - Flash memory capacities - Warren Communications News reported that 4=
GB Memory Sticks were shown at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show. =
 The story is no longer on their site:
     At the same show, Sony introduced the HDPS-L1 viewing device with a 72=
0p output:

     - May 1 -=20
          - Neither the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nor the Nat=
ional Association of Broadcasters (NAB) updated their lists this week.
          - Doug Lung's RF Report notes that the FCC CDBS database listed 8=
67 licensed U.S. DTT stations as of February 21:

- While that 867 figure is finally more than half of the 1722 the FCC has b=
een using for DTT, it's still less than half of the number of full-power U.=
S. analog TV stations.  The FCC just released figures for those through the=
 end of the year:
     - UHF commercial  782
       VHF commercial  588
       UHF educational 254
       VHF educational 126
       total          1750
     - Then there are low-power Class A:
          UHF   484
          VHF   108
          total 592
     - Then there are other low-power:
          UHF   1643
          VHF    502
          total 2145
     - And, finally, TV translators:
          UHF   2714
          VHF   1823
          total 4537
     - That adds up to a grand total of 9024 U.S. analog TV transmitters.

- The FCC is requesting $500,000 (out of $302,542,000) in its fiscal 2007 b=
udget to educate consumers about the DTT transition:

- In New York, the co-owned Fox and UPN DTT outlets have been carrying each=
 other's programming, but now the ABC affiliate in Bowling Green, Kentucky =
will be carrying Fox programming on its DTT station, and I don't think owne=
rship has anything to do with it:

- International news:

     - DVB is studying a next-generation DTT system, DVB-T2:
     Their next generation satellite system, DVB-S2, has been very successf=
ul.  Another study, according to the article, is about satellite-to-mobile-=
devices service.

     - Here's an overview of HD in Europe:

     - More than ten million Freeview receivers (integrated and set-top com=
bined) have been sold in the UK, and the service is now said to be in 6.4 m=
illion homes.  This story is from Reuters:

     - Here's the latest look at UK household penetrations (similar to the =
FCC competition report) from regulator Ofcom:

     - Here's the latest from Russia from RedOrbit:

     - Here's the latest from South Africa:

     - Here's the latest from Malta:

     - Maybe New Zealand will get a Freeview-like service:

- Toshiba is said to be dropping CRTs and analog tuners:

- Netgear has equipment for carrying HD over power lines:

- Based on figures from CEA, sales to U.S. dealers of non-H/DTV television =
sets for the first five weeks of 2006 were down 20.2% from the same period =
in 2005; my ten-week running average was down 22.4%.  For the first six wee=
ks, they were still down 20.2%, but my ten-week running average was down 23=
.6%.   It's still too soon to judge anything from the 2006 figures.
     Sales of so-called non-flat-panel "Digital Televisions" to U.S. dealer=
s for the fifth week were 125,155 units, for the sixth 131,549, and for the=
 first six weeks 874,087, revised, again (compared to 1,378,878 for sets no=
t called "digital" by CEA).  Based on CEA's new system, the "digital" figur=
es now include flat-panel TVs.
     "Digital Televisions" (most of which still appear to be HDTV displays =
without DTT-reception capability) accounted for about 35% of the TVs sold t=
o U.S. dealers through the fifth week this year and 38.8% through the sixth=
 week.  It may be worth noting here what that means.  About 61% of the TVs =
sold to U.S. dealers in 2006 were still plain non-H/DTV direct-view TVs wit=
h picture tubes.
     To qualify to CEA as a "Digital Television," a display need only be ca=
pable of dealing with at least 480p; it need not be capable of either recei=
ving digital signals or displaying them.  It is now a requirement that all =
new TVs 25-inch or up imported or shipped interstate have DTT reception cap=
ability.  CEA says about 82% of the "digital televisions" sold in 2005 were=

- DVD news: According to CEA's figures, sales of DVD players to U.S. dealer=
s for the first five weeks of 2006 were UP 22.4% from the same period in 20=
05; my ten-week running average was up 4.6%.  For the first six weeks, they=
 were up 34.6%, and my ten-week running average was up 12.7%.  The 2006 num=
bers are still too few to show any solid trend, but the ten-week running av=
erage seems to indicate a second wind for DVD players.

- S. Merrill Weiss will receive the NAB Television Engineering Achievement =
Award this year:
     At the Technology Retreat, it was disclosed that, among his many other=
 accomplishments, he programmed a UNIVAC as a kid.

- Upcoming Dates (DTV and non-DTV):
     - March 9, Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, HD Expo <http://ww=
     - March 15-16, International Trade Center, Washington, D.C., CEA Enter=
tainment Technology Policy Summit <http://www.ce.org/events/event_info/defa=
     - March 21-23, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego, DisplaySearch fla=
t-panel display conference <http://www.displaysearch.com/usfpd2006/>.
     - April 6-7, Las Vegas, IEEE International Symposium on Broadband Mult=
imedia Systems and Broadcasting <http://www.ieee.org/organizations/society/=
     - April 9-11, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, the National Sho=
w (NCTA2006) <http://www.thenationalshow.com/?ref=3DnctaMenu>.
     - April 22-27, Las Vegas Convention Center, NAB2006 <http://www.nabsho=
     - April 28-30, Early Television Museum, Hilliard, Ohio, 2006 Early Tel=
evision Convention <http://www.earlytelevision.org/2006_convention.html>.
     - *May 17, Film Row Cinema, Columbia College, Chicago, HD Expo <http:/=
     - May 20-23, Porte de Versailles, Paris, 120th AES convention <http://=
     - *June 5-9, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Calgary, Albert=
a, Canada, WABE/SAIT Broadcast Training Seminar <wayne.watson@xxxxxxx>.
     - June 7-9, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Infocomm <http:/=
     - June 27-29, Javits Center, New York, Entertainment Technology Allian=
ce <http://www.etaexpo.com/>.

* - new or revised listing


PS  Permission is granted to forward this or any other Monday Memo.  Next w=
eek's memo will be late.  Again, there will be no memo the week of the 27th=

Have a question about the memo?  Before contacting me, please try the FAQs =
and glossary in the second postscript to the January 5 memo:

You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways:

- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at 

- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
unsubscribe in the subject line.

Other related posts: