[opendtv] Re: Frames Per Second of 720P

  • From: "John Willkie" <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:14:21 -0700

Boy, it's almost as if you have never talked to broadcasters about M/H.  I
talk to them all the time.  Effectively, most of these conversations are
bound by the ATSC NDA, and since refuting your points would cause me to
define the elephant in the room, we'll have to table talk of the business
model until the candidate standard is released.

The invisible (today) elephant in the room is a very interesting beast.

However, since broadcasters already own (or have licensed) much of the
content, have existing eyeballs, existing transmitters, and can no doubt
license content like sports that arguably can't be transmitted via M/H
without modifications to license agreements, I'd say that they are much
better positioned to provide mobile video to the masses than cell company
upstarts that have to get their video from an intermediary, and intermediary
(like MediaFlo) that has to purchase content from sports rights holders and
networks (at retail rates) that are partners with broadcast stations.

Which reminds me.  I need to get around to addressing the ignorance about
network compensation.  Just one hint on that:  Why do you suppose the CBS
Corporation is one of the biggest creditors in the Pappas TV bankruptcy?
Why, if CBS doesn't get reverse net comp from it's stations, does Pappas owe
CBS money?  A recent posting here mentioned that CBS was thinking about
getting reverse network compensation from affiliates, as if that hadn't been
fait accompli in the mid-1990s.

John Willkie

-----Mensaje original-----
De: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] En
nombre de Craig Birkmaier
Enviado el: Monday, July 28, 2008 6:33 AM
Para: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Asunto: [opendtv] Re: Frames Per Second of 720P

At 10:19 AM -0700 7/27/08, John Willkie wrote:
>This is fun!

Glad you are having a good time!

>One engineering executive in the first group told me -- even though his
>company's stock isn't doing well -- that broadcasters interested in M/H
>think that it will gin up their stock.  Certainly, that's true if the
>services take off.

Broadcast execs are looking for ANYTHING that will help their stock 
price and stop the bleeding in general. The unfortunate reality is 
that it may be very expensive to launch an entirely new service for 
which there are no receivers...yet.

In turn, this begs the question of whether broadcasters can raise the 
money and work together to achieve success in a market for which 
there has been lackluster consumer interest to date.

I'm not giving odds, just noting that simply putting a few new 
services on the air will not be sufficient to successfully launch a 
new M/H service. One of the reasons that broadcasters are excited 
about the potential for M/H is that "their" market research suggests 
that there is a multi-billion dollar market for paid services - e.g. 
subscription TV and PPV downloads.

To date, the cost of subscriptions for the telco mobile video 
services have been a show stopper.

If it turns out that the only viable market is Free to Air for mobile 
receivers, then the question will become: How much NEW revenue can we 
generate from this service? And by inference, is the new revenue 
adequate to offset the start-up costs and still produce new revenue 

>Craig, I'm happy that you think your iPhone screen has more resolution (I
>guess you mean pixels) than an NTSC screen.  In other words, it's better
>than a circa-1948 receiver, and without the curved edges.  I'm also glad to
>hear that while Steve Jobs is sick, he won't tell the details to anyone on
>the record, and it isn't a recurrence of cancer.

It is better than the last 27" CRT display I bought in 1990. I have 
no problem watching and enjoying TV shows and movies produced for the 
screens in the family room and theaters.

Do I do this often?

No. But this suggests that there is something other than resolution 
at WORK here. For me it is the fact that I do not watch a lot of TV 
and movies, and when I do, I typically favor a more conducive 
environment for entertainment than typically exists when i am working 
and mobile.

The point is simple. Your perception that small screens cannot convey 
content designed for big screens has primarily been driven by the 
size and quality of the screens that have been available for M/H 
devices.  Clue - the iPhone and iPod Touch have changed that picture 

>It is you that is out of touch with the reality.  I've been reading about
>and actually watching mobile tv content for several years.  Apparently, you
>have not been doing either, or you weren't taking advantage of the better
>than NTSC resolution of your iPhone screen.

Yes John, like yourself I've been reading about and looking at video 
on M/H devices for years. And I have written about them too. I bought 
an iPhone first and foremost because, as a phone, it is clearly 
superior to anything I have ever used. Second because it provides a 
highly functional web browser with integration for location based 
services, phone functions and mapping functions. Third because I can 
sync it with my music library and load high quality photos into it 
that I use to show clients my work. And last, because there are times 
that I do want to view video when there are no PCs or TVs around.

>Without exception, everything I have read about or seen in mobile tv was
>either hard to see, or was shot "close-in."  This has been addressed in

Yup! And the market research on Automatic Teller Machines indicated 
to the banking industry that nobody would use them because they would 
not trust a machine and wanted a real person handling their money.

Given the limitation of most first generation video capable phones, I 
would write the same thing...

Not very useful.

>Perhaps you have read too
>much about Apple instead.  I attended a private summit just last week where
>this "new difference" was discussed.  I would suggest that you engage in
>some reading on the subject -- or better yet -- try to watch "ER" on your
>iPhone, to see what happens to 16:9 video when shown on a mini 4:3 screen.

It's called letterbox. Works just fine. But many shows are delivered 
in the 4:3 aspect ratio because most shows are still protected for 
the much larger 4:3 viewing audience.

>Last time I checked, the responsibility of dps ended the moment they
>captured an image to video or film.  They largely are clueless about
>realities beyond that.  Remember the ASC trying to halt the DTV transition
>because they weren't consulted (and didn't discover) the 16:9 issue until
>well into the game?  (They didn't hold things up for even a day.)

Correct. They simply decided to stop hitting their heads on the wall 
built by the vidiots who insisted that we needed "one aspect ratio to 
control them all." So instead of trying to get the TV guys to move to 
a wider screen aspect ratio, they decided to start releasing 
everything in the projects native aspect ratio. As a result almost 
every movie you can rent or buy today on DVD is letterboxed on a 16:9 

>At this summit I attended last week, one guy who works closely with dps
>their concerns as a reason to not do Active Format Description!  That was a
>riot, since AFD is the only way to prevent their worst nightmares from
>realized in homes!  They are totally and utterly clueless about the
>realities beyond their viewfinders.

AFD is another unintended consequence of trying to introduce a new 
aspect ratio while still delivering the same content to millions of 
legacy receivers. If the TV industry would simply accept the reality 
that programs will be delivered in MANY aspect ratios this problem 
would not exist. The simple solution is to fill as much of the 16:9 
frame as possible, and forget about the folks who are still using 
legacy sets.

This is exactly what YOU suggested for my iPhone - letterbox the 
widescreen stuff into the 4:3 display. The difference is that the 
iPhone display has enough resolution for this to work, while 
letterboxing a 16:9 TV show on an old 4:3 CRT display tends to make 
that old small screen look even smaller.

Of course, broadcasters COULD embrace 16:9 and start using it for 
more than prime time.

>But, you are missing the point.  There's a world of difference between
>framing an XCU (extreme close up) for dramatic effect and making a whole
>presentation that way.

Correct. That's why your position is so nonsensical. There is no 
reason to change shooting techniques for mobile entertainment. NONE!

>One of the first content companies to present their content in mobile tv
>MTV, in the form of MTV Mobile.  They found within a few broadcasts that
>they couldn't just repurpose their standard content because 1) the images
>were just too small to see on small screens and 2) the :30/:60 form was
>too long for mobile video, where people just don't have the linear time to
>watch that length of content.

More brilliant market research.

Could this have been influenced by the devices that were available in 
the marketplace when MTV launched this service? Could it be that 
early video enabled phones with 1.5" screens sucked? Could it be that 
the time needed to download these clips given telco bandwidth 
restrictions made it too tiresome and expensive to download the 
entire music video?

For some reason Apple did not find the same issues when they launched 
the video services at the iTunes store. SOmehow they have managed to 
sell millions of full length music videos, millions of broadcast TV 
shows, and millions of movies. Not all are viewed on iPods. These 
purchases can be viewed on a PC or a TV as well. And that's the 

When products and services are properly designed it is possible to 
share media across multiple devices. Given the choice of watching a 
movie on my iPhone or my MacBook Pro while traveling to NAB, I opted 
for the 15" HD screen of the notebook. But only because I had enough 
room for the laptop. I could just as easily have used the iPhone.

>You have heard of the concept of 'webisodes', haven't you?

You bet. But this has noting to do with technical issues. It is about 
attention span and trying to find a way to get people to watch mobile 
video when they are otherwise moving about and typically rather busy. 
I typically turn on the TV when I have nothing else to do but sleep...

>You think Google is working on an electronic service guide?  Who the hell
>cares?  They aren't involved in any standards-development work that I'm
>familiar with.  They are working on much, but much of that never is
>to market, or is late (Android) or very difficult (Android) to work with in
>the real world.


Yesterday you told us you love standards because there are so many of them.

Your beloved SMPTE and ATSC create lot's of standards. Most are barely used.

Why would Google want to get bogged down in SMPTE standards work? 
They want to create exciting new services, not protect legacy markets 
that are dying.

>That's why standards are important, with the involvement of all parties in
>the ecosystem; most of the issues are worked out in the development of the
>standard, not months after the press releases when outside engineers try to
>make your mush work.  If there are issues, the process insures that all
>parties will know about it and will work to resolve the issues on a
>multilateral basis.

I spent years working on standard John. I've been to more SMPTE and 
ATSC meetings that you are ever likely to attend. And I spent several 
years working ion MPEG standards as well. By the way, I subscribe to 
several e-mail reflectors related to MPEG work. The discussions are 
dominated by engineers trying to make "their" mush work.

And here's a real grin for you. The MPEG standards were designed to 
be extensible - all kinds of reserved bits were included for future 
extensions. Unfortunately, the mush masters trying to design MPEG-2 
decoders simply hard coded around many of these extensions. And when 
push came to shove, the companies that built non-conformant decoders 
blocked attempts to add new features, because the non-conformant 
products they had shipped would break if the reserved extension were 

It is unfortunate, but standards are used as much to block innovation 
as to enable innovation.

>Google is also working on TV advertising systems.  I even get web hits from
>goggle.com web sites on MPEG-2 syntactical elements.

Yes, they dabble in this area.


Let's just say that I'll put my money on Google over the ATSC when it 
comes to the way that the masses will search for TV content in the 
future. Did I mention watching YouTube videos on my iPhone.

>Here's a prediction:  If Google wants to play in the ATSC ESG or M/H space,
>they will have to become a customer of or will have to purchase one of the
>four or five companies that appear to be positioned to serve the space.
>since they are not listed on this page http://www.atsc.org/atscmembers.html
>they will most likely be way behind.

Why would they bother?

They can access TV listings for the information they will integrate 
into their search engines.

>Come to think of it, I need to prepare web pages for M/H syntactical and
>semantic elements so I can unveil them when the time comes.

A prime example of duplicated efforts. Why do we need another 
standard for displaying info on a M/H device? There is a near 1005 
certainty that these devices will be able to parse and display HTML...

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