Monthly Archives: September 2007

NAB Unwraps Digital Cut-Over Spot

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) took the wraps off a 30 second spot to inform the public of the February 17, 2009 advance to all digital television transmissions. Here is a link to the spot on dtvanswers.com. The spot is said to promote consumer awareness of the digital transition. Presented below is a transcript of the spot.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

“Notice how digital’s made pretty much everything better?

Especially television.

Digital TV’s got
Better picture
better sound
more channels—

In fact, digital’s so much better that, by law, ALL broadcast TV has to be digital by 2009

But there’s a catch:

Some TV’s need an upgrade to get digital. You could even lose your signal.

Get the facts.

Visit DTVAnswers.com to learn about television’s switch to digital.

Or call this number to see how you can stay connected”

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

The question is, does this spot arm consumers with the information they need to help them “go digital?” It says little about what action to take. It offers a link to a website for more information but how about those who do not have web access or do not own or know how to operate a computer?

To avoid chaos, confusion and to make it as stress free as possible all facts pertaining to the digital cut-over need to be presented in a very simple, concise manner. Consumers need to be clearly informed that on February 17, 2009 and for some time following there is going to be a very difficult period to cope with if they want to watch over-the-air TV.

Will consumers be ready? Will the over-the-air television viewing public possess the information needed to be able to watch TV on February 18?  Does this spot address these questions? 

For more information see the related stories, A Requiem For Analog TV from September 4, 2007 and Spreading The Word from September 7, 2007 elsewhere in the Televising The Revolution blog.                                         -33-

Juicin’ The Grid For Television?

Putting additional capacity into a power grid is not an unusual move for a power company. Events such as hot and humid summer days often call for the boost to prevent power brownouts and outages, but a television show?

Turn up the juice was the order of the day and power officials in Sao Paulo, Brazil were expected to do just that on Friday, September 28 during the airing of the season finale of a soap opera.

The final episode of “Tropical Paradise” had the power folks scrambling for the switches to crank up the energy as an estimated 90% of the country’s population was expected to view the popular show. The power grid had a surge of new life in anticipation for great demand of those who would go to the fridge to get a drink or snack or want to use a microwave to prep a meal.

Prime-time soap operas known as telenovelas, with average runs of 200 episodes, are a major event in Brazil. Their plot lines often show up as front-page news and the show’s characters are major topics of conversation.     -33-

10 Simple Suggestions For Handling CDs and DVDs

There are countless bytes of precious memories and critical data stored on optical discs every day but the average user has no idea just how sensitive the media can be. The following is an extract from the NIST’s Quick Reference Guide to optical media care. A good starting place to learn how to care for your optical media:

  1. Handle discs by the outer edge or the center hole. Do not bend the disc.
  2. Use a non-solvent-based felt-tip permanent marker to mark the label side of the disc.
  3. Keep dirt or other foreign matter from the disc.
  4. Store discs upright (book style) in plastic cases specified for CDs and DVDs.
  5. Return discs to storage cases immediately after use.
  6. Leave discs in their packaging (or cases) to minimize the effects of environmental changes.
  7. Open a recordable disc package only when you are ready to record data on that disc.
  8. Do not touch the surface of the disc or use adhesive labels.
  9. Store discs in a cool, dry, dark environment in which the air is clean. Do not expose the disks to bright sunlight for extended periods of time.
  10. Remove dirt, foreign material, fingerprints, smudges, and liquids by wiping with a clean cotton fabric in a straight line from the center of the disc toward the outer edge. Do not wipe in a direction going around the disc.

THE NIST LIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST has researched the matter and publishes several excellent references on the subject of proper care and handling of CDs and DVDs.  Following the link will direct you to the NIST Website where you will find Special Publication 500-252, October 2003, Final. This publication carries a wealth of information for use, storage and care of optical media.

There are no absolute assurances that information will always be readable on any media but much can be done to minimize data loss and the expense of recreating material lost to issues as controllable as improper storage or writing a title on the face of the disc just to name two. -33-

10 Easy Steps To Color Display Setup

 An important part of any production is assuring that what you are seeing is what is going to air, tape or disc. Because one observer may see a particular color differently than another, the best way to assure you are getting proper color and luminance levels is with a Waveform Monitor and Vectorscope. All is not lost if you are in a situation where these devices are not available.  Here is an alternative method for quantifying color through the use of standard test patterns from The Society Of Motion Picture And Television Engineers (SMPTE) and the use of optical viewers.

  1. Assure that the monitor is in its normal viewing environment. Avoid any direct reflections in the monitor screen.
  2. Turn the monitor on and let it stabilize for about 15 minutes.
  3. Send a known standard video signal to your monitor, like SMPTE Bars.
  4. Lower the color level to a black and white image. Observe the black and white bars to ensure they do not look slightly tinted.
  5. Reset the chroma or color control to bring back the color image. Some monitors have a detent in the control. When set to the factory default a tactile detent will be felt while operating the control.
  6. While observing SMPTE Bars on the screen, adjust the brightness control for proper black level. Adjust brightness while observing the level of the 3 small black bars at the lower right of the screen. Stop when the lightest bar at the right is barely visible.
  7. Now set the contrast control (sometimes called picture) for proper white level. One way to find this point is to first turn the contrast all the way up. As this is done the white bar at the lower left on the screen will brighten and flare. At this point, turn the contrast control slowly back down, reducing the bloom until the white square itself just begins to respond.
  8. If the monitor has a “Blue Screen” switch, switch it on. If your monitor does not have a blue screen switch you can use a Wratten 47B filter to observe the screen. Only the four color bars containing some blue signal (gray, cyan, magenta and blue) and their sub-bars should now be visible.
  9. Adjust the color saturation with the same chroma or color control used in step 5 until the gray and blue bars (the bars at the far left and far right) are of equal brightness. Then adjust the Hue control (Sometimes called Tint or Phase) until the cyan and magenta bars are of equal brightness. Now these four bars should be of equal intensity, and the other three bars should be entirely black. This is the correct adjustment!
  10. Now turn off the blue only screen. Bars should now appear normal. Visually recheck black and white levels and that the bars are correct in hue and color. Yellow should appear yellow not reddish or greenish and magenta should be just that — not purple or pink.

That’s all there is to it. -33-

1957 – A Vision of HDTV and Flat Screen Displays

TV’s Inventor on TV

The only on-air tribute Dr. Philo T. Farnsworth ever received from the industry he helped to create was on a segment of the popular game show “I’ve Got A Secret.”

In 1957, Dr. Farnsworth was interviewed by Host, Garry Moore after his “secret” of “Inventing Electronic Television at the age of 14″ was revealed to the panel of four and the studio audience.

For stumping the panel this great man walked away with the show’s prize – A carton of cigarettes and $80.00 Cash.

In a remarkable prediction Dr. Farnsworth laid out his vision for the future of electronic television. His discussion was not only awe inspiring it was made over fifty years before technology caught up and produced such devices.

His delivery was like the mouse that roared as he explained in a humble, quiet, educated voiced what he envisioned for the future.

2000 Lines Of Resolution!

Dr. Farnsworth said — “In television we are attempting first to make better utilization of the bandwidth[1], because we think we can eventually get in excess of two-thousand lines instead of five hundred and twenty five[2] and do it on even narrower channel if possibly than we are doing present television[3], which will make for a much sharper picture.”

Flat Panel Displays and Memory Storage

Dr. Farnsworth continued — “We believe in a “Picture Frame” type of a picture where the visual display will be just a screen[4] and we hope for a memory so the picture will be just pasted on there[5] and many improvements will result in the camera when you use such devices because there is part of the scene that you can remember and you practically have a memory file of it and will simplify production of it.”[6]

Dr. Farnsworth foresaw all of this in 1957:

  • [1]Utilization of less bandwidth
  • [2]High Definition Television
  • [3]Refined transmission frequencies
  • [4]Flat Panel Displays
  • [5]Perhaps even a glimpse into digital photography
  • [6]Memory storing cameras (Still Store, Instant Replay)

We finally caught up with his vision. -33-

What’s The Buzz? Tell Me What’s Happening.

 A Reader Asks:

I notice a distinct chirping or buzzing in a defined, rhythmic pattern in the audio portion of my production. What causes this and is there anything that I can do to prevent it?

Many issues can cause chatter or noise in audio systems. Some of the most frustrating to deal with lately seem to be coming from portable wireless devices.

Cell-Cell-Cell

Cellular communication can be the source of this interference when a subscriber is using their wireless device near some speakers or poorly shielded audio cables, controls and other equipment that can resonate radio frequencies (RF). One of the biggest causes is shielding, or lack thereof. What is happening is poorly shielded gizmos can act like an antenna picking up the cell phone’s generated frequencies. At a very basic level, you are hearing someone’s telephone communication.

Some telephone networks cause more electronic noise than others because of things like, how often they communicate with devices, the frequency bands they use and how much power the device emits. 

The amount of noise caused by cell phones and networks when near sensitive audio devices is related to how efficiency the telephone communicates with the network and stays connected. Some telephones need to talk with the tower more often than others.

Experts say that the interference is an intrinsic part of cellular technology and not much can be done to prevent it. We live in a very noisy world from a radio frequency standpoint.

Fixes

Solving the issue is not easy. One thing that will help is to do away with copper cabling all together and install fiber optic cable but other hardware is still open to the problem. The best way is to insist that everyone within the production’s proximity turn-off his or her cellular devices. Not set to vibrate-Power-off completely! All well and good unless you pull up your mobile production unit near an offending system’s cell site.

Part of the responsibility lies with the manufacturers to provide better shielding and systems in their own devices. Part of the responsibility lies with audio and video system installers and designers to address this problem and design-in better RF shielding to prevent or at least minimize impact.

Try This

  • Experiment with wire dress
  • Be sure all shields are soldered
  • Use quality cable.
  • Use quality connectors 
  • Maintain a totally balanced audio system
  • Have a good maintenance program -33-

Philo’s Folly

As you crank up your 500 watt surround sound amplifiers and digitally tuned, 96″, 1080 line, progressive scan, high definition television receiver and sink into your favorite movie or show, think back to September 7, 1927 for just a moment and maybe raise a glass in toast to a driven, young inventor who created one of the greatest devices of our age.

EIGHTY YEARS AGO 

It was eighty years ago today that a young scientist and inventor, Philo Taylor Farnsworth transmitted the image of a straight line from one empty tube to another empty tube. The technical wonder named television was born that day .    -33-