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Re: HDTV WHY???



Hello Asa,

You have restated several compelling arguments to conclude that HDTV
broadcasting in the USA could not be sustained in the foreseeable future.
Your posting has inspired me to suggest several other less well-argued
reasons (to date) to support such a claim.  I would be interested to get
the TIG's reaction to them:


1.  There is a lack of any large group of dedicated "videophiles" who spare
no expense or personal expertise (i.e. electronic experimenting) to own the
"ultimate" home viewing system, as opposed to a long-standing and very
sizable "audiophile" consumer base. 

Even within the amateur radio community I am not aware of any serious
widespread homebrew television experimentation being accomplished at HDTV
resolution and frame rates.  (Slow-scan images may be another matter). 

Yet there have always been fanatic "hi-fi" (I guess now it would be
"surround-sound") hobbyists from the very inception of audio recording and
broadcasting.  The height of audio craziness was the straight faced
introduction of an "all-tube" ("all-valve" for those of you on the other
side of the pond) analog to digital converter.  There is no need here to
get into the decades-old debate about tube vs. solid state amplifier
distortion, etc. as you probably already get my drift.

I am willing to stick my neck out and suggest that less than 3% of TIG
subscribers (all of whom probably have a vested interest in higher quality
viewing experiences) would characterize themselves as "dedicated
videophiles".  Yet I would bet that quite a few already fit the "serious
audiophile" characterization and have throughout their careers.

How about an informal survey, Rob?

2.  Although the extraordinary expense of a high-quality HDTV receiver is,
at best, disconcerting, few people are addressing the cost of the yet to be
manufactured equivalent home HDTV VCR (or recordable HDTV DVD if that is
the way the market goes).  It seems amazing to me that Hollywood (for
starters) seems rushing to introduce the non-recordable 525/625 DVD formats
to the marketplace knowing full well that at least one other totally
unknown new format will probably be chosen by the consumer in the future.

3.  More than likely, this unknown new consumer HDTV recording format will
have to be progressive scan at base-band.

4.  This is because the only real "visible" breakthrough that HDTV
resolutions will suggest to the consumer is the ability to record what one
is already doing on the home computer.  Exciting new Virtual-Reality
simulations, games, environments, and the ultimate desktop, etc. will all
quickly demand progressive scan data recording to and from the PC, whatever
the line and frame rates ultimately chosen.

5.  Most consumers not in our industry still mistake 525/625 digital
component images viewed on a standard component monitor as being "HDTV".
Therefore, if one doesn't want to wait for the next generation of
progressive scan recorders, it would be far wiser for companies like
Panasonic and Sony to immediately introduce a special consumer version of
DVCPro (or Sony DVCam).  The consumer version should digitize the signal at
18mhz 4:2:2 sampling so that there is no loss of video resolution when
viewing 16:9 images (for purists).  That should satisfy those who still
favor interlaced formats well into the next decade, which is probably how
long it will take before HDTV becomes a business that could make someone
some real money.

I am willing to bet that the majority of consumers will see "virtually"
(practically?) no difference between 525/626 16:9 component digital images
sampled at 18mhz. vs. those at 1920x1080i.  Especially if the majority of
HDTV broadcasts (if they ever do occur) will actually be upsampled images
from CCIR 601 signals, at least in the first few years.  

However, the consumer will see a big and mostly unjustified difference in
cost between these formats.

6.  Cost effective progressive scan recording, however, will prove to be a
breakthrough for both consumers and professionals.  Therefore, there will
be a market for it, especially if it can immediately "play" on standard
PC's and monitors available today.

7.  Of course we now have the recent decision by HBO (and Time-Warner) that
mandates all their film transfers be done in 1920x1080i.  This is
unfortunate because it jumps the gun an amortizing any reasonable approach
to other more useful formats.  Oh well, that's good for Phillips telecine
sales, I guess.

Anyway, that is my current thesis.  Any comments?



-Neil



Neil B. Feldman
President, Video Post and Transfer, Inc.
neilfeld at imsnet.net

---
           Thanks to Lipsner-Smith for support in 1997

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