[opendtv] Re: Why Europe should choose 720P for HDTV

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 09:42:06 -0500

At 12:06 PM -0500 12/15/04, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
>Tom Barry wrote:
>>  It is true that 1024x576 RGB could look very good but
>>  we might as well go the whole way once we can afford
>>  the bits.
>Whether it's recorded material on DVD or broadcast
>material, why fiddle around with lower quality
>compromises if you have the room available to provide
>the true high quality images?

First, the images I have been describing ARE of HIGH QUALITY. Yes it 
is possible to make better images...it is likely that this will 
ALWAYS be the case as technology evolves.

So the real question is:

How much quality is enough?

There is no clear answer to this question because the answer will 
depend on what you are trying to accomplish.

Let me put this into personal terms that Bert MIGHT be able to understand.

I have been working closely with a friend for years, who has built a 
moderately successful project studio business. When he started this 
business in 1998, he invested more than $100,000 in a 
state-of-the-art DVCPro SDTV camcorder, decks and the rest of the 
gear needed to produce HIGH QUALITY video.

Barely a week passes by now, that he does not ask if it is time to go 
HD. We are currently at odds about the new HDV format, because I 
think it is a transitional TOY, but he is concerned that others might 
use this toy to compete with him. I keep telling him to wait, because 
there will be tremendous competitive pressure to build HD acquisition 
products at affordable prices - products that will NOT COMPROMISE the 
quality of the source by using excessive compression, as is the case 
for HDV.

If I were to follow Bert's logic, I should be telling my friend to 
rush out and spend another $100,000 for a Varicam and the deck needed 
to support it. The only problem with this approach is that he would 
need a completely new business model, one in which he would go 
head-to-head with a handful of independent producers who are shooting 
in HD now. In the past two years, he has lost exactly ONE job because 
he could not provide a competitive bid for an HD project.

The reality of the marketplace today is that HD production is the 
premium niche. If you are a Hollywood post facility, there may be 
enough business to support an investment in HD today. But for 95% or 
more of the video production marketplace, including 99.5% of local 
broadcasters, the return on investment in HD gear today just does not 
compute. These folks are still going through the transition to 

And there is an even more important aspect of the economics of HDTV. 
It is simply overkill for the vast majority of video production 
"customers" today. Why would you produce a local car ad in HDTV? Why 
would you produce a local public affairs show in HD? Why would you 
try to sell someone up to HD if they are trying to produce a DVD for 
mass distribution?

Yes, we will see more and more HD as the years pass and the cost of 
entry is lowered. But we will NEVER see a total transition to HD, 
because there are tons of applications that simply do not need it. 
But MANY of these applications would benefit from the removal of the 
legacy artifacts of interlace and analog video compression. The vast 
majority of video applications would benefit from the simple switch 
to progressive formats in the 0.5 Mpixel range; This is adequate 
resolution to saturate 100% of legacy TVs in the world today, and at 
least 60-70% of the new digital TVs that will be sold in the next 
decade (i.e. anything with a screen size smaller than 40 inch 

So just because we can, is not a justification to push a premium 
niche product on everyone. Hell, we're still arguing whether 1080i is 
better than 720P (for the record it is not). I will repeat once again 
that there is NO technical benefit to 1920 x 1080 (I or P) until the 
screen size approaches 100 inch diagonal. And this is simply NOT a 
consumer market.
>The only reason to go for the lower quality is if you
>need room on the media (disk or RF channel) for other
>stuff. If not, why obsess?

This is absurd.

There is no technical reason that ANY gasoline powered car cannot run 
on premium gasoline. So let's just make all gas 92 octane or higher, 
and charge accordingly. Think of the economies of scale. Consumers 
will benefit...


The only reason to go for HIGHER QUALITY is IF the market place 
demands and supports it for specific applications. The DBS services 
are the MOST constrained today in terms of bandwidth. They are 
crunching SDTV pictures down to less than NTSC quality routinely. 
Despite this, they have captured more than 20 million subscribers 
from cable. How can this be Bert?

Could it have something to do with the quality and choice of content, 
rather than the quality of the pictures? Could it be that most 
consumers are comfortable with the current level of quality for many 
forms of content?

I find it very ironic that Bert is telling us to go for the golden 
ring, when he is still recording his TV programs on VHS...

Actions speak louder than words.


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