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Call to get Super 16 accepted for HD on BBC


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#1 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 08:35 AM

A number of high profile UK directors have written a letter to BBC Creative director Alan Yentop calling for a review of the guidelines for film use in HD. 

 

http://www.redsharkn...mber-super-16mm

 


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 09:14 AM

Bout time.


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#3 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 11:44 AM

Excellent, the BBC's arguments against 16mm are weak at best.

 

-Rob-


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#4 Geoff Howell

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 11:54 AM

I'm a bit confused about this whole thing: are their guidelines only aimed at content produced in-house or dose it cover independent productions also?

 

Is the 'no 16mm' policy just a 'we won't pay for content to be shot on film' policy or is it a blanket banning which would forbid the broadcasting of films like Hurt Locker and Moonrise Kingdom?      


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#5 Chris Burke

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 12:29 PM

I have always thought that there current policy is bs. Did they broadcast the show Primeval??? I watched it here in Boston, it had gone through many transcodes by the time it finally reached me and it look great, no better or worse than any other show. Shot on S16. In the age of YouTube, where there are so many formats being thrown into the mix, their argument about qc doesn't hold water.   


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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 12:40 PM

I assume it would cover HD productions commissioned by the BBC. Since BBC Films could be involved with funding these director's feature films they may have to meet HD technical requirements and also BBC dramas, many of which are produced by Independent production companies, but commissioned by the beeb. 

 

I suspect they'd have to also get EBU approval because Channel 4 and ITV also have similar HD requirements. 

 

Feature films are a buy in, so I guess they do it on a case by case basis if a Super 16 feature would be broadcast on a HD channel. Last time I saw "Hurt Locker" on TV it was on a standard def channel. Super 16 programmes are still transmitted on the BBC's standard def channels.


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 22 April 2013 - 12:41 PM.

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#7 Chris Millar

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 03:52 PM

Didn't I read it was something to do with grain causing HD compression schemes to fail?

 

If that is the case what are the arguments around that?

 

Not against film at all - just wondering ...


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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 03:54 PM

I seem to recall that argument being made, yes. All hearsay on my part, but it was the MPEG compression falling apart due to the "detail" of the grain.


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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 04:03 PM

Here's the letter.

http://www.screendai...Alan-Yentob.pdf

 

An article that seems to sum up the current situation and reasons why Super 16 isn't accepted for HD..

 

http://www.imago.org/index.php?new=434


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#10 Chris Millar

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 06:11 PM

I seem to recall that argument being made, yes. All hearsay on my part, but it was the MPEG compression falling apart due to the "detail" of the grain.

yes, thats the one - small scale data changing 'too much' over areas of constant tone fooling the algorithm into thinking it was detail.

 

Of course some might say that grain is detail...


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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 03:05 AM

Assuming that the compression algorithm produses something that's aesthetically pleasing, I guess it comes down to defining if the grain in a particular production is detail or noise.

 

However, I'm not about the economics, since I heard that Kodak's quoted film prices after Fuji has left the market, forced one 35mm production into shooting digitally. 


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#12 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:06 AM

As I read it, the BBC could devote enough bandwidth to make S16 acceptable- they just won't. Politically they seem to want to make film unacceptable.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 23 April 2013 - 04:06 AM.

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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:08 AM

I think there's massively more being read into this than is really there.

 

 

It is quite difficult to make 16mm produce good HD content. It's extremely easy to make even 35mm produce iffy HD content that's very difficult to compress. Film is extremely expensive (extremely expensive).

 

I'm aware that Occam is widely misused, but overlooking basic facts like these in favour of some sort of grand conspiracy is paranoia.

 

P


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#14 Charles Zuzak

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:55 AM

I remember hearing about this years ago and the reason back then was that the broadcast encoders weren't mature enough to handle grain in an aesthetic manner without the whole picture falling into macroblocking artifacts.


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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:19 AM

The problem is that this becomes an argument about noise.

 

 

Film grain is noise, potentially quite a lot of noise - often an amount of noise that we wouldn't even think about accepting from a newly designed system. Much as I would be the first to point out that broadcast video frequently suffers horrible bandwidth restriction at the hands of commercially-minded producers, it's difficult to criticise the technology because it struggles to deal with what is, in an engineering sense, nothing more than a very noisy signal.

 

P


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#16 Chris Burke

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:29 PM

but the "noise" can be scrubbed out. There are several tools that do an incredible job at it. It is done to loads of digital footage all the time. They are so good at their job that people think that it isn't film sometimes, myself included. Said scrubbed footage has been put through all manner of compression and decompression and it looks fantastic. Truth be told, a producer could lie about it and get away with it. The technical spec argument is still a very thin one. Sounds similar to the argument people make against railroads, at least in the US, less about fact and more about financial gain. But then there is the case where a producer wants grain or noise, what do they do then? Sorry sir, it MUST be clean and smooth, if not,  no HD for you.


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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:58 PM

Well, yes, OK, you can shoot 16 and do a lot of work to it, which is not free and therefore makes it even more expensive, or you can just shoot, say, Alexa, and you're done.

 

What's the argument?

 

P


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#18 Chris Millar

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:29 PM

...that without being underhand (shooting film and claiming it was digital) you cannot choose to spend those extra dollars if you want.

 

just, because ...  

 

well, because you just want to shoot on 16mm - the (valid) point you make is besides the point in that regard.


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#19 Chris Burke

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:04 PM

Does the audience really care? Who are the BBC making these rules for? 


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#20 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 02:23 AM

They're not just BBC HD rules, the Super 16 rule applies to top tier HD Discovery programmes. Unfortunately, in the world of HD Super 16 is regarded as a standard def format, which is a shame because it does have a look of its own. They might have accepted it for 720, but for their flagship 1080 channels gloss seems to be the desired look.

 

https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/r/r118.pdf


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 24 April 2013 - 02:26 AM.

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