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Okay, So you're watching an OTA HDTV channel. It registers as 1080i or 720p. Let us say that the program is some show from the 1970s or 80s. Granted the image looks great, but is it true HD?

I'm not an engineer and I've been out of the industry for over a decade. I did however work at a local station. We used to get tapes that were BETACAM SP that went to air and prior to that it was 3/4". Max res was 325i or something close to that. We also had Superbetacam which was 390 and ED BETA which was 500. That puts it slightly over DVD quality. The tapes would arrive and be cued and marked for commercials and switching accordingly in their decks.

What format are they receiving today? I mean the quality looks better than it ever has but assuming it's only ED BETA it can't be much better than DVD. Some programs look better than others but I was watching 3's company and it looked phenomenal! That show used video to record some episodes for crying out loud and that was 1977. I What gives? Why does it look so good. The Incredible Hulk is another one that looks fantastic for a 30 year old show.
 

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I don't know whether this correlates directly with your inquiry but here are my experience reagrding Standard Def in the HD world.

1. DVD playback, even not upscaled, tend to look better when played on a BD player than on a DVD player

2. recording in SD using an HD video camera yields far better results than recording the same image (light controlled etc) on an SD video camera

3. watching HD signal (output 480i on the blu-ray player) on an SDTV still look superior than watching the DVD version played back on the same BD player.

Maybe the components used are of much higher quality which in return yield a better result?
 

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Let us say that the program is some show from the 1970s or 80s. Granted the image looks great, but is it true HD?
Discussed many times in the past. Depends how the programme was recorded, but if it was film, properly stored and properly telecined, the original quality is actually "better than" HD. If it was tape and well upconverted by the affiliate, it can also look pretty good, even though it's not HD. See the following previous threads on this topic.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=70578&highlight=telecin*

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=44772&highlight=telecin*
 

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Hulk was shot on film. I've seen it along with McMillan and Wife and a few other oldies on Sun-HD and I agree, it looked pretty darn good for a 30 year old show. I can't explain why Three's Company looks good.
 

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A lot depends on how the show was originally recorded. If on film, then HD can benefit, even though it might not be 16:9. If recorded on video tape at NTSC specs then there's not much room for improvement, though the display quality may be better than on the set you had years ago. Most consumer analog TVs were not capable of full NTSC quality. Also, once you get away from analog broadcast, you lose the limitations imposed by the broadcast specs.
 

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Many people on this forum will testify to the fact that even simple consumer grade software in a BD player, upscaling DVD player or HTPC can bring DVD to near Blu-ray image quality.

I imagine that all programming is distributed digitally. During the transfer, some pretty sophisticated video-post processing is done to up-scale the images. Also, they may have come from new digital masters used to produce the DVD or BD box sets.
 
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