Preparing for the Future

blog160923_camerasby Christopher Taydus
ctaydus@erickson.com

For the last three years, OCTV has been filming many of their field productions (TV shoots outside of the TV Studio) using High Definition cameras. Now the studio is getting ready to upgrade it’s studio cameras to High Definition, but how will this affect residents? To better understand the benefits of HDTV, let’s start with the difference between HD and SD TV.

What is HDTV? HDTV, or High Definition Television, is a digital TV broadcasting format where the broadcast transmits widescreen pictures with more detail and quality than found in a standard analog television or other digital television formats. HDTV signals contain more pixels to provide more detail and higher quality images.

The pixel is the basic unit of programmable color on a computer display or in a computer image. The physical size of a pixel depends on how you’ve set the resolution for the display screen. The higher the resolution, the smaller the pixel, which means more precise detail to a digital image.

Standard definition analog television has a picture made up of about 700 pixels across by about 500 pixels across. The resolution of an HDTV signal is typically either 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720. When comparing the HDTV signal to the SDTV signal, you’ll see that the HDTV signal is either 3 or 6 times more detailed than the SDTV signal.

Acquiring HD Cameras is only the first step in a long process to broadcasting our signal in high definition. As mentioned before, the studio has been filming many outside segments in High Definition using their Panasonic HP250X HD Cameras.

Panasonic HPX250P HD Camera
This is one of two Panasonic HPX250P HD Cameras that the studio has been using since 2013 to film outside segments in HD.

While the segments have been filmed in high definition, the segments don’t air in high definition. Due to restrictions on the current equipment provided by Comcast to broadcast our signal into resident’s homes, the HD signal is downconverted (meaning the quality is lowered) to standard definition using a technique known as letterboxing.

letterbox
In this still from a recent Oak Crest Now show, notice the black bars on the top and bottom of the frame (letterboxing). These bars conform the HDTV image ratio (16×9) to the SDTV image ratio (4×3)

The cost of upgrading a television station to high definition is very high, but the studio is spacing the conversion out over many years. A recent survey of residents shows that while 42% of residents own an HDTV, only 25% of all respondents paid the additional charge to Comcast for high definition programming (Note: 15% of the respondents weren’t sure they owned an HDTV and 11% weren’t sure they paid the extra cost for the HD). Both the HDTV and the additional Comcast package would be required to view Channel 973 in HD.

In purchasing HD Field Cameras three years ago, purchasing HD Studio cameras this year, and then purchasing HD broadcasting equipment sometime in the near future, the extensive cost can be mitigated. Fortunately, the HD will not go to waste. OakCrestTV.com can be used to access high definition programming, so the new cameras will give the studio the opportunity to display the full capabilities of High Definition programming to give the residents a sneak peek at the future of television at Oak Crest.

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