Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The HD Masters, part 1

I went to this conference last week and it was superb - lots of interesting speakers and demonstrations. I made copious notes and will blog them over the next few days - click the HD Masters 2008 tag for all of them together

Opening notes;

In 1988 I saw my first demonstration of HD at Television Centre - organised by Metro Video (remember them) they had recorded nature and football footage using the Sony 1250 line 1" analogue VTR (30 Mhz RGB recording). At the time I'd never seen such clear electronic pictures - I can remember telling one of my fellow trainee engineers that it "....was like looking out of a window".
After that my next brush with HD was in 1994 when the company I was working at did the OB for a job at the Royal Opera House for NHK - it was a five camera shoot with five ISO Sony HDVRS-1000 machines - again, a 1" format with decks that looked like BVH-3000 machines. There were several engineers from Sony to cosset the machine and again, the pictures were splendid! The Cameras (Thompson, IIRC) were tube models (which at the time we were getting used to CCD cameras in our SD studios - mostly BVP-7s) and they had an 'old master' quality to them - very rich blacks.
Anyhow - after that, aside from a few graphic/film-type jobs I was involved with I didn't do much HD work until HD was firmly established around six or seven years ago. SInce then it has, clearly, been on the rise with new formats (SR, HDV, Red Camera etc etc.) and what with Sky/Virgin et al offering paid for services for the last year or so and the Beeb's successful DVB-T trials from summer 2006 (which I captured and watched avidly) it seems like 2008 is the year HD goes mainstream.

Mark Shubin;

If you've not listened to The Schubin Report and you're in television engineering then shame on you! Mark is an old-school engineer and gentleman who has a real handle on not only the technology but the importance of where it all fits into the workflow and how people are in and around TV. He gave the opening presentation and talked a lot about how we have to let go of old assumptions about human vision - the Lechner distance (what most eye tests have been based on for a century) doesn't quite tell the whole story and for most living room SD would be adequate on sub-50" displays if our vision was only as good as 1 arc-minute. Tests have revealed this not to be the case with the perception of reality being greater at 1080 than 720 than 576 lines. Mark is a great proponent of what is technically possible against what is appropriate and he use the best expression I heard all conference; "...if you can tell the difference then you're lying!" in relation to colourimetry.
He also had some great examples of how people are 'trained not to tell the difference' - the best example was the opera singer who was used as the voice in the thirties to demonstrate how good wax cylinder recordings were confessed that she'd trained herself to sound like the recordings of her during the 'blind' tests!

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