Are Videotron VOD HD movies really HD? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-29, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
 
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Are Videotron VOD HD movies really HD?

Last night we ordered our first ever HD version of a popular film (Cheech) using the VOD feature under the 900 section. We wanted the french version which was not available in the HD Viewer's Choice (PPV) section of the 751/752 channels.

Normally we rent DVDs from Blockbusters and about six months ago, we rented a "low-rez" SD film from Videotron's Viewers Choice.

Last night's HD film came in widescreen format (16:9) and the previous "low-rez" SD rental came in 4:3 format, which we could have stretched. The HD VOD rental seemed as clear as any DVD rental we have made, but we are not sure if it was superior to any DVD. I will assume it was somewhat clearer than the "low-rez" SD VOD rental of 6 months ago.

So today I am wondering if we received real HD quality in last night's viewing to justify the $2 price difference between a HD VOD rental and an identical SD VOD rental.

Given that our 5 year old Sony XBR TV has only 850 lines of resolution horizontally and 1080 lines vertically which on a CRT are not as discrete as on a flat panel, we may not be appreciating the full value of a HD VOD rental.

I am left asking the question, was the HD film that we rented last night from the Videotron VOD movie jukebox really encoded in 1080i HD, and if so, was it transcribed from the original film celluloid in 1080i, or was this rental merely an upconverted version of a commercial 480p DVD version?

I'm sure someday soon, professional BLU-Ray players in broadcast studios will be pumping out movies in HD for cable and OTA viewers alike and these transmissions will be in full 1080i (with some compression).

But it is hard for me to imagine that today there is some company in the world that is taking current films on celluloid and creating (non Blu-Ray/HD DVD) digital versions in 1080i for distribution to networks like CBS and to cable company jukeboxes like those of Videotron.

For this reason, I suspect that what we viewed last night was nothing more than a 480p copy of a DVD which was immediately upconverted at the Videotron jukebox or later upconverted inside my HD Illico STB.

Any opinions based on your personal VOD viewing experience?

Montreal
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-29, 12:27 PM
57
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1. DVDs are native 480i, which can be deinterlaced by a PS DVD player to 480P or upconverted by an upconverting player to 720P or 1080i.

2. DVDs are a consumer format and cannot be used by business.

3. If it was labelled as HD, then it probably was HD.

4. I believe that these movies are supplied to Videotron by their Movie supplier - would that be Astral? In that case Astral would have supplied the HD movie, which would have come from the Studio as an HD tape before being encoded onto the server. The movies are usually supplied to Astral (or MC) as 1080i/24 by the studio.

5. There is no company supplying copies of BD/HD DVD to broadcasters - The broadcasters get their movies from the studios and would not even consider copyright infringement.

On your TV, there may simply not be a huge difference between a DVD and HD. Movies, shot on film often look "smooth" therefore your eye may not perceive a "sharpness" difference between HD and DVD, even though there is more detail on the HD version.

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are also consumer formats and will not be used by broadcasters.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-29, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57 View Post
2. DVDs are a consumer format and cannot be used by business.
3. If it was labelled as HD, then it probably was HD.
Thanks for your answer. It is comforting to know that I was not being short changed in quality even if my TV does not allow me to fully appreciate the SD HD difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 57 View Post
On your TV, there may simply not be a huge difference between a DVD and HD. Movies, shot on film often look "smooth" therefore your eye may not perceive a "sharpness" difference between HD and DVD, even though there is more detail on the HD.
Given the investment that must be made by consumers to acquire Blu-Ray or HD DVD, I assume people would not do this if they did not immediately perceive an advantage in picture quality when viewing movies compared to the equivalent product on DVD.

Apart from the problems related to compression during transmission over Videotron's coax, can one assume that the Videotron HD VOD rental will be nearly as impressive as Blu-Ray when viewed on a Full 1080 monitor? If so, that would justify the extra $2 premium on the HD VOD rental.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-29, 03:37 PM
 
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You're right, not all are HD

In the IPG listing for the HD channels 751 & 752, some movies are noted as HD and some are not. For the non-HD movies I have ordered, the PQ appears the same as a regular widescreen DVD. The ones noted as HD are better, but not with the detail level of a good HD channel, and not like HD movies on other channels. Kaphyr on his web site lists the bit rate on these two channels at 14.3, which is lower than the other HD channels. As for the movie source Videotron uses, that's anyone's guess.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-29, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by fussy viewer View Post
In the IPG listing for the HD channels 751 & 752, some movies are noted as HD and some are not. For the non-HD movies I have ordered, the PQ appears the same as a regular widescreen DVD. The ones noted as HD are better, but not with the detail level of a good HD channel, and not like HD movies on other channels. Kaphyr on his web site lists the bit rate on these two channels at 14.3, which is lower than the other HD channels. As for the movie source Videotron uses, that's anyone's guess.
I appreciate that the bit rate limitation on channels 751/752 is going to have an influence on the risk of pixelation. Last night's viewing of the HD VOD rental from the 900 channel had three incidents where we lost the audio for a fraction of a second and consequently there was a word in the dialog missing.

But my original question was more related to the resolution of the frame displayed in a HD VOD rental. Am I paying for 1920 by 1080 pixel frame and if so, are these pixels compromised in anyway due to the source material having been originally distributed in a lower resolution and eventually up-rezed to 1080i at some point?

57 seems to think that the film producers are making a full HD digital image available which may get eroded due to compression during the transmission down the cable.

If some of the Viewer's Choice offerings on the 751/752 channels are not listed as HD, then I assume that they are at least widescreen and/or 5.1 DD. Otherwise, these movies would not be any different than what is found at Viewer's Choice on the 300 series channels.

Aren't all channels above 600 supposed to be HD only, including VOD films at 751 and 752?

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-30, 12:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Aren't all channels above 600 supposed to be HD only, including VOD films at 751 and 752?
Yes and no. Those channels always broadcast in HD mode (1920x1080i or 1280x720P) but the source is not always in HD quality. Producing a TV show in HD is quite expensive, so, some of them are now produce in HD (SRCHD is doing a nice job on his production) but don't expect everything to be in HD. There is more, years after years, but a lot is still up-converted stuff (and the up-conversion quality is quite different from a HD channel to another).

For channel 751 and 751, it's always in HD. There is no up-converted stuff there but don't expect the same quality as a DVD-HD or Blue-Ray. First, those HD channels are encoded in Mpeg2, with a bitrate around 14.3 Mbps and HD disc is around 20-25 Mbps in mpeg4 format. This is a very big difference and the studio are not stupid. They want that difference to exist. So, the studio doesn't always send their best HD copy. Sometime, a movie in 2.35 could be crop to fit in 1.77 format and sometime, the DD5.1 sound is not always there (I never understand that one...).

The bitrate for those channel may seem low but in fact, it's not really the case because the movie is encoded in advance (like on DVD), not in real time (like OTA station). So, the quality is good enough, if the source was in good quality also, which is not always the case. 2 years ago, those channel were still broadcast around 11 Mbps. This bitrate was not really good. The BEV version was even worst because they re-encoded the source in 1280x720P, which was in 1920x1080i. I think they are still doing it but the bitrate is now around 14 Mbps also (fitting 2 HD channels by TP).

For Videotron VOD-HD, there is no up-conversion also and I don't know about Cheech but I analyzed the broadcast for other HD show (Insectia, Maurice Richard, Un dimanche à Kigali) and the bitrate was always around 12 Mbps (fitting three HD by qam) and the resolution was, in fact, 1440x1080i. But, since it's also encoded in advance, the quality is not so bad. Yes, it could have been really better if those show were encoded in 1920x1080i, in full bitrate (around 18 Mbps) but, we do need the TV to see the difference.

About TV, a model like yours (a lot like mine) is considered to have a resolution about 800 x 540P. No, it's not 1080i. The signal in 1080i is only accepted. So, this is still very close to a DVD resolution. It's quite normal that you don't see a big difference with full HD stuff, but, believe me, the difference is quite obvious on a Full HD TV. The difference between a real good DVD and badly encoded HD channel is really not that big but the difference between a good DVD and a good HD channel is really there. It's even bigger when compared to a DVD-HD or BD-DVD in 1920x1080P, encoded in Mpeg-4 with a good bitrate.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-30, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
the DD5.1 sound is not always there (I never understand that one...).
Discussed in the following thread:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...474#post312474

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 2007-04-30, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaphyr View Post
About TV, a model like yours (a lot like mine) is considered to have a resolution about 800 x 540P. No, it's not 1080i. The signal in 1080i is only accepted. So, this is still very close to a DVD resolution. ..........

It's quite normal that you don't see a big difference with full HD stuff, but, believe me, the difference is quite obvious on a Full HD TV.
Thank you Kaphyr for a great explanation.

I agree that my CRT will not provide much better resolution than 800 X 540P.

I once counted 850 colour bars across and the next generation Sony has around 1400.

I have my TV patched for the infamous "Sony scrolling vertical bar at 1080" bug which means that the TV signal passes completely through the chassis in the analog domain, so if 1080i is coming in from the Illico at the components inputs of the TV, then that is what goes to the CRT final drive electronics, assuming that each odd frame is one line delayed in time compared to the even frames. So I may see 1080 lines of resolution vertically, but the beam spot is not that sharp and there is phosphor bleeding down the continuous aperature grill.

However, if I turn on the ZOOM in the Illico, I can see quickly if there is more resolution in the transmission than I would normally see with my lower resolution CRT. That way I know better if I am getting the HD resolution that I am paying for, even if I can't enjoy it.

Someday I will own a Full 1920 fixed pixel monitor and it would be nice to know ahead of time that Videotron has already created a distribution system that delivers full HD resolution even if there is pixelation due to compression. Fast moving action is going to suffer from compression, but slow moving images from VOD HD rentals should look as nice as Blu-Ray. If that doesn't happen, then I will want to rent Blu-Ray movies and forget about Videotron.

One solution for Videotron might be to allow customers to download higher density HD content in advance for storage on the PVR, so when it is time to playback, the equivalent of a 25 GB Blu-Ray movie is waiting to be viewed.

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