As the gates to the event open and the hordes roll in to watch the North West 200 motorcycle race, production company Greenlight TV is primed: production schedule ready, broadcast timetable planned meticulously. Then... torrential rain, a crash and a major oil spill... finally a credible bomb alert.
It is tempting to think of digital television as something very scientific and even complex. But when we view the end result, we find something very familiar; something television engineers have sought since the very beginning¦an experience that just keeps getting better and better¦quality video and audio conveying great entertainment, sport, movies, and news to the viewing audience. The only thing new in digital television is the way the message gets from here to there.
You would have thought that the Royal Wedding, with its forecast record global viewing, would be available in 3D. Reports in the Guardian newspaper say that Sky 3D was keen to provide a complete 3D service, and indeed they did have cameras to shoot the outside scenes but access inside the Abby was denied.
The test and measurement product category continues to expand as the broadcast business itself diversifies. Notable recent developments include higher resolution displays and a gradually increasing number of analysers which, having detected a fault, endeavour to fix it. No sign at NAB 2011 of any tablet-based test and measurement equipment but perhaps that is only a matter of time.....
The authors, experts in audio measurements, explain the BS1770 loudness measurement standard, its recent revisions, and how to verify that a loudness meter conforms to its requirements. (pictured Richard Cabot). For images and figure reference please click to read the original version on the tv-bay digital magazine
Lets be clear about this. Test and measurement tools are not there to make life difficult for you, they are there to ensure that we get the best quality pictures and sound through the long path to the home within a required technical specification. So yes, simply put, checking that we are getting the best out of the technology that black is black, white is white, and colours can be reproduced accurately within the tolerances broadcasters set is vital.
Broadcasters once were able to transmit a signal up on the satellite and worry only about that feed. Now, with the growth and diversification of audio video (A/V) service handoffs, the points at which feeds enter the facility or are sent out to downstream targets such as cable operators, pay-TV services and other service providers, broadcasters have many more feeds to monitor.
If I need to impress on someone just how old I really am, I explain that my first computer had 32kB of Ram. Then we go through the you mean 32 meg no, I mean 32 k routine. It does seem implausible that, while I managed to write letters on my BBC Model B, today I need half a million times the memory to bash out columns for TV Bay.
In shooting 3D you naturally have two cameras and two lenses: albeit, there are some weird and wonderful single lens/single sensor contraptions out there. This usually means there are any number of ways each camera lens combination could be producing images with minor are major signal level differences. If these level differences are not dealt with on-set or in post-production, they could lead the visually objectionable artefacts in 3D portrayal.
For a broadcast engineer, choosing the big equipment is always exciting. Even comparing specifications and functionality on core products like routers or DAs is interesting.
Then you have to connect it all together and the temptation is just to reach for the nearest drum of co-ax and bag of BNCs. There surely cannot be much fascination in comparing cables and plugs, can there?
Twenty-five kilograms or more: That is how much the test equipment needed for testing digital television transmitters a test receiver, spectrum analyzer, and power meter weigh all together. This weight is not an issue for a transmitter like the one on the Olympic Tower in Munich. It is easily accessible with a van and the elevators in the tower. But what about the many gap-filler stations and transposers?
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