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Broadcast format used for HBO HD


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#1 Dan Goulder

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:28 PM

Does anyone know what format is used by HD cable (HBO, Showtime, etc.) to play their movies from? I've been told by an engineer at HDNet that they play their movies off HDCAM, which is then compressed out to cable. Does HBO use the same format, or a different tape format such as D5 HD, or do they dispense with tape altogether and play data files off of servers? Is the signal coming over cable at 1920 x 1080 resolution, or something less (such as 1280 x 720)? Is it 8-bit or 10-bit color? What is the approximate level of compression and data rate? Have I asked enough questions for one post?
Thanks, Dan
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:34 PM

Well, most movies shot on film would be transferred to HD-D5, not HDCAM, but that doesn't mean an HDCAM dub isn't delivered to the HD broadcaster.

The final HDTV transmission is much more compressed than what's on the original HD tape.

Edited by David Mullen, 29 November 2005 - 01:34 PM.

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#3 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 10:45 PM

Most of the time broadcasters receive a tape. In the case of movies that HBO receives I would guess D5 or HDCAM SR. Alot of the networks have invested alot in HDCAM SR. HBO like most other networks takes tapes it receives and captures them into a video server usually using some flavor of MPEG compression.

Seachange http://www.schange.c...adcast/main.asp is what HBO uses and is the most popular probably. Even local TV stations use video servers for spot playback and most have moved to fully automated video servers.

When I worked at a CBS affliate I had a chance to talk to CBS master control and asked what they used to playback their programs. I don't remember what they were doing for HD I know our sister station had D5 and HDCAM VTRS. What was interesting was the guy told me that they maily use a video server but that some times they would play shows off D-1 VTRs like The Price is Right and in that case their are always two copies of the tape and they are synced together so that if one tape falied you could go to a backup. Is all about redundancy. Our TV station had two digital satellites,one analog,and a microwave feed from a sister station all carrying the CBS network.

Personally I think most of HD tv looks like garbage because of how many times it gets recompressed. DVCRPRO HD and HDCAM original footage looks prestine, water falls don't look blocky, sports doesn't break up etc... Problem is after they capture theat prestine footage in a mpeg on a video server then they compress again to broadcast it then the cable and sat company receive on their equipment and recompresses it again to mpeg to fit in their bandwith allocation system (most digital sat systems do varible bit rate encoding and monitor all channels and allocate bandwith to channels that need it the most at the time, ie. lots of motion,detail etcc..)

Edited by johnhollywood, 16 December 2005 - 10:47 PM.

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