CCD, CMOS, costs, compression, conversions, comparison of formats, cabling, ... These and many other aspects of HD were discussed during the EBU HD Technology Briefing in November 2005. About 80 people attended the event and were updated on the latest developments.
Outside the EBU building Swiss OB company TPC showed its newest OB van, completely tailored for HD productions. The design of the truck, which is switchable between 720p and 1080i, involved difficult choices including the type of displays (CRT or LCD) for the monitor wall and cameras, as well as the camera cabling to apply (triax or optical).
BBC's Andy Quested shared with the audience some tips on how to produce HD, and explained their current plans for HDTV broadcasting. Satellite services are planned for summer 2006, around the time of the World Cup, and there will also be a trial HDTV terrestrial service around London.
The meeting also discussed the additional costs of making programmes in HDTV compared to conventional television. Calculating the costs is quite complex and there are many aspects to be considered including new equipment costs, training, scenery, and make up. At the same time as broadcasters change to HDTV programme production, they are also introducing computer based programme production, and this has to be taken into account.
EBU Member ZDF reported on the extensive subjective evaluations made to establish the difference in quality between the 720p and 1080i HDTV formats. The tests showed the 720p gave consistently better quality when viewed on WideXGA displays, and about the same quality on a 1080p projector. ZDF have concluded, like the EBU Technical Committee, that 720p offers significant advantages over 1080i. Delegates were also given a demonstration of the quality available with 720p and 1080i after MPEG4 AVC compression (on a 1920 x 1080 native projector). This also showed coding gain advantages for 720p. Besides demonstrations on video quality, visitors were treated on a 5.1 demonstration by Bosse Ternström (SR).
The briefing session brought to light the wealth of experience and tests of HDTV available in the EBU among Members. European HDTV services will be certainly scientifically based, and carefully considered – though much remains to be done in the run up to services.