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92 posts

Master Geek

#37957 22-Jul-2009 10:55
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Can someone confirm for me where the TV broadcasters source their HD content? I imagine now it would be possible for them to use HD-DVD or Blu-Ray sources, but given that they often play films in HD that aren't available on Blu-Ray there must be another source? People have told me it's heavily processed, upscaled DVD/SD but I don't believe that they can upscale a DVD to look as good as some of the HDTV content I've seen?

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7607 posts

Uber Geek


  #237830 22-Jul-2009 12:51
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Hi, if you are talking about movies that are provided to broadcasters by the movie house distributors for playout (this would include Sky/TVNZ/CanWest etc) then they use HDCAM which is the current incarnation of BetaCam, its data rate and encoding are far above that of BR and other sources at around 144Mb/s using essentially a high profile Mpeg2 process (albeit not actually Mpeg2 but still DCT based).

There is also the HDCAM SR version which is Mpeg4 SP (Studio Profile) which runs at 440Mb/s, again on DigiBeta type stock but obviously higher performing. SR is used more for production capture not distribution and playout type applications.

I am sure there are guys around here who work with this kit each day that will be able to furnish you with more detail, but you can be sure they dont use BR or DVD as a source.

It may be however that some studios provide slightly crimped HD versions to Broadcasters, still qualifying as HD but not top shelf in the interest of copy protection, just thinking aloud here as I too have noted that some HD movie broadcasts dont come up to what I have seen on BR, naturally broadcasters dont have final tranmission bandwidth that BR offers (ie 12-13Mb/s compared to 20Mb/s+, and live encode compared to non realtime mulitpass, which is important for some of the more complex features of Mpeg4 to work)


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Master Geek

  #237848 22-Jul-2009 13:25
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Thanks for the detailed response Cyril, really appreciate it. My next question then is; how is the HDCAM stock created? Are they transfers from the original film stock or are they processed from older existing SD stock held by the distributors?


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Uber Geek


  #237857 22-Jul-2009 13:35
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Hi, its shipped from the studios (in the US) to here in the format described above, I dont believe the NZ distirbutors have any "copying" facilities here.

Years ago when at Uni I used to work at a VHS duplication plant in Auckland servicing the machines, all the 1" distribtuion tapes were shipped from the US to the NZ distributor and without them doing anything other than courier work shipped them to us where they would be held in our vault till no longer needed. It was not uncommon that we had to release a tape for short terms to the likes of TVNZ, sometimes onced we were done that same tape would be picked up by the distributor and taken to its next port of call (ie Sky or TVNZ).

For years now films have been Telecined (transfered to electronic format) as 1080p24 and then sub masters in 576i, 1080i50, 480i, 1080i60 etc are produced from that, it will be from one of these that a HDCAM copy in the US is sourced. Naturally there are "edited for TV versions" etc, again these will be derived from the 1080p24 master set aside as their own version.


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Master Geek

  #237968 22-Jul-2009 16:47
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cyril7: For years now films have been Telecined (transfered to electronic format) as 1080p24 and then sub masters in 576i, 1080i50, 480i, 1080i60 etc are produced from that, it will be from one of these that a HDCAM copy in the US is sourced. Naturally there are "edited for TV versions" etc, again these will be derived from the 1080p24 master set aside as their own version.

Really? Seems strange that they'd have transferred from 35mm to 1080p24 for years before the 1080p24 'standard' became commonplace? Or is that now commonplace because that's the format they decided on years ago?

Have hunted for evidence that the source of the content played OTA is HD, and not upscaled. Surprising that no one has written about it, or that the question isn't asked more often.

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  #237988 22-Jul-2009 17:28
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Transfering to 1080p24 has existed from around the time of the introduction of DVD, it might be new to the common man but in 1080sF24 (which for film is 24p) format has existed for years.

HDCAM was introduced in the mid 90s and was capable of 24sF from around 97ish. Although most masters would have been commited to Hard Disc in raw (uncompressed) format in the first case.


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Master Geek

  #238028 22-Jul-2009 19:15
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Yeah that makes sense. Thanks for all the info, is exactly what I was after. :)

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  #238489 24-Jul-2009 02:55
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Along the lines of what cyril was saying:

High-Def Digest HD ADVISOR: Regardless of whether a certain movie has been released on Blu-ray or not, the major studios have been mastering their movie catalogs in HD resolution for more than a decade now. In fact, most DVD editions are downconverted from HD masters. Sometimes, just one master will be struck for multiple uses in DVD, Blu-ray, or broadcast.
Many of the high-def movies in rotation on [USA] cable come from quite old and dated masters. In many cases, the studio may choose to withhold a certain movie from Blu-ray until they have a chance to remaster it in better quality. Unfortunately, seeing a movie in high-def on cable doesn't necessarily mean that a Blu-ray release is imminent.

I know that the LOTR trilogy movies have been broadcast in HD as early as 2004 in both theatrical and extended cuts, yet won't have a Bluray release until the end of this year. Other movies like Jurassic Park, Titanic, Star Wars -- none of which have imminent Blu-ray release dates -- have 1080i HD versions in broadcast around the world. For whatever reason the quality of those HD masters just aren't up to scratch for use in Blu-ray, possibly because they're many years old, scanned and mastered on older equipment. Whether studios start using a newly-struck master for HD broadcasts once a new one is made for a bluray release is anyone's guess.

Having seen broadcast HD rips of some movies I also have in my DVD collection and comparing them (eg. Star Trek II), it seems to me that the HD version is often the same as the source used to produce the DVD, like HD Advisor above suggests. In particular, Star Trek II was recently released on bluray with a brand new master that's received a totally different (and likely expensive) treatment to the old HD one, with a considerable improvement in image quality. I haven't seen that master used in broadcast yet though.

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