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Hi all,

I just got HD this weekend and I have a question (sorry if this has been answered elsewhere): Some shows on the "HD channels" are presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, but isn't HD as a standard supposed to be 16x9?

Shows I've seen so far also on the "HD channels" including Cold Case, ESPN Baseball, and the Much Coldplay concert are displayed in 16x9 and the picture quality is AMAZING!

However, other shows on the "HD channels", such as the Tony Awards, Dateline, Family Guy, etc, are displayed in 4:3 so are they really HD?
 

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Not all programmes on HD channels are broadcast in HDTV. Many are 4:3 programmes which are upconverted to HDTV and sent our pillarboxed.
 

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Vancouver said:
However, other shows on the "HD channels", such as the Tony Awards, Dateline, Family Guy, etc, are displayed in 4:3 so are they really HD?
Nope. They are HD upconverts. If you're not impressed, it's not HD. Sometimes you will see 16x9 shots (i.e. sporting events) that are simply widescreen.

If it's 4x3 it's easy to figure out if it's HD or not.

Most of the primetime lineup of the major networks are in HD. Outside of Primetime, most shows are not in HD.
 

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Even if it is HDTV ... not all HDTV is equal. ABC and FOX broadcast 720p, while the rest broadcast 1080i. While 720p will generally give you less artifacts/pixelation/macroblocking, 1080i gives you better resolution. But even at 1080i you will notice a difference in PQ. Some of the stations are using older HD cameras. Some programs are downconverted from film to HD and some are shot with HD cameras. Also, some are widescreen SD upconverts, such as many of the nature programs on PBS. Also, on some sports telecasts, often not all the cameras are HD ... some are SD even though the picture is 16:9. I am sure that you are understandably a bit confused by all this!

As a general guide-
1. If the PQ is not MARKEDLY better than SDTV 4:3 images it probably is not HDTV.
2. Most programs broadcast in HDTV will indicate something like "HDTV where available" at the beginning.
3. Also, if you go to the web sites of each of the major networks (ABC.com, CBS.com, NBC.com, FOX.com) they indicate on their schedules which shows are broadcast in HDTV.

Some of the best for PQ are Smart Travels, The Desert Speaks, Great Museums and Tracks Ahead on PBS, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC and the best one in my opinion "HD to the Max" on CBS Boston (which is IMAX films downconverted to HDTV ... I say downconverted because IMAX film is of a much, much higher resolution than even 1080p).
 

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For a guide to what's on in HD, see the Digital Home FAQ "Whats on in HD".

Some differences in HD quality can also be put down to "production values". In the same way that not all DVDs or CDs look/sound the same, not all HD has the same production values.

Also, as mentioned previously, some programmes that are 16:9, are not HD. For example, many PBS programmes are upconverted widescreen (also a lot of CBC programmes). These look good, but not as good as HD. On PBS, there is usually a "forward" that states whether a programme is HD, or widescreen.
 

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HD-Transmission

Can anyone explaine why some HD channels do not transmit in 16:9 format?
I always heard since HD was introduced all HD broadcasting will be in the new 16:9 format. Now having HD channels on BEV I see mostly the US network channels in 4:3 format???
Or am I doing something wrong. Thanks, mecarthur.
 

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Because HD channels do not exist. What you call “HD channels” is DTV channels (digital television) using ATSC formats. Sometime, usually in primetime, a DTV station can broadcast HD programs.
 

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rogerd said:
Because HD channels do not exist.
Uhhh...pardon? That's a pretty silly thing to say.
rogerd said:
What you call “HD channels” is DTV channels (digital television) using ATSC formats.
While technically accurate, if a station broadcasts two signals, one in HD, and one in SD, it's pretty common to refer to the one as the HD channel, and the other as the SD channel. On top of that, HDTV is considered a subset of ATSC, so yes, for simplicity's sake, there are definately HD channels.

The better answer is that while the HD channel broadcasts in HD 24 hours a day, only a portion of it's programming originates in HD. Everything else will be upconverted from it's original format and will retain it's 4x3 nature.
 

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As Nathan explained, not everything on the HD channels is HD material. Much of it can be upconverted 4:3 material (and sometimes upconverted 16:9).

See the Digital Home FAQ "What's on in HD".
 

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rogerd said:
Because HD channels do not exist
So HDNET doesn't exist?

Anyway, as previously stated (plus, I'm sure another similiar thread exists) HD material is usually 16:9 but not all material is HD.
 

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there is even a huge variance from one "real" HD channel to another. every provider compresses them differently, many of them compress too much. i was watching a fishing show once and it looked alright, but when it focused on the water or something just below the surface of the water, the picture looked so badly compressed that it could have been taken out of an old nintendo game.

i bought a 72" hdtv recently and its really disappointing how much content looks like it was taken from google videos or something. it really shows you how much the providers are cutting corners.
 

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googe said:
there is even a huge variance from one "real" HD channel to another. every provider compresses them differently, many of them compress too much.
There are providers out there who are further compressing their HD offerings Rogers, however, is one of the those who does not. This may change in the future should bandwidth become an issue...but that will (hopefully) be a while off.

Personally I find the bigger factor is the broadcaster. Networks seem to be the most inconsistent (with possible subchannels taking up space), whereas specialty channels seem to always look fantastic.
 

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googe, some providers do not (further) compress HD at all. The compression is done on by MPEG since the original HD stream is over 1 Gb/sec and must be compressed to a maximum of 19.4 Mb/sec (a factor of over 50) for OTA, Cable or SAT.)

Macroblocking of nature scenes (like water, flashes, flocks of birds, etc) is due to the limitation of MPEG, not always the service provider. As nathan states, sometimes the broadcaster is the culprit.

Often, a proper setup of the TV will help with this - lowering the sharpness, etc. See "What you need to do to your new HDTV".

If you put your location and service provider in your profile, it'll also help us help you.
 

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Other Variables ...

1. Newer HDTV cameras give a better picture than the old ones. Larger HDTV viewing screens can actually reveal the differences.
2. Although it is occurring less often as more HD cameras are purchased, some live sports still have a mixture of HD and SD cameras.
3. On series programming directors will use soft focus filters on some cameras when doing closeups on the actors ... some actors do not like the facial imperfections that HD cameras reveal.
4. Some directors on these series mess with the resolution of the HD cameras for special effects.
5. Programs on channels like Discovery HD often look the best because there is usually no tinkering with the cameras ... the object is to reveal the maximum resolution the cameras can give.
 

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Shortside said:
I'd like to know too! HiDefBob?
It used to show on CBS Boston late on Saturday evenings. However, they discontinued the program about 6 months ago (or more). I do not now whether the program has been permenantly discontinued. Too bad if it has ... it was a great show for showing HDTV at its very best.
 

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UP-converting

Hi guys,
thank you all for the good explainations about what are HD-channels versus HD-channels.
But one word I always see, it is up-converting to HD levels!
What actually means up-converting? Is it equal to HD quality or ist between SD and HD quality. And how does up-converting works,is there a loss somewhere?
Thanks Mecarthur.............
 

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Upconversion can be done in several ways. When we talk about upconversion done by an affiliate, they take a 480i signal (the original SD programme) and pass it though some expensive equipment that uses a complicated algorithm to "extrapolate and interpolate" information to try to make the upconverted image as close to HD as possible. The equipment basically "guesses" at the "missing" information.

Since the original was 480i, it'll never be as good as HD, but it'll be better than SD.

You can see them do similar stuff on CSI when they take a blurry image, put it on a computer and make it look better. ;)

All HDTVs also upconvert from SD, but the equipment and algorithm obviously won't be as good as the affiliate use. Same with upconverting DVD players.
 
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