Dennis Haarsager's rolling environmental scan for electronic media. "Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." --Jerry Garcia "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." --Bob Seger
Tore Nordahl makes a very interesting case in his Executive HDTV Report for moving over-the-air broadcasting from 1080 interlaced to 720 progressive, with benefits for mobile DTV (ATSC 8VSB M/H) and 3D. Link: coax.tv. --Dennis
I posted on March 31 about my personal "motion sickness" experience viewing one of the new 3D televisions. Samsung has issued a warning about this. Ranjan Bhaduri writes:
... The Korean electronics giant has warned that a section of the viewers may develop certain side effects if they watch 3DTV for extended hours. It can pose health threat to children, the aged lot and pregnant women, according to the caution. ... According to Samsung, the viewers may be subjected to epileptic fits and nausea. Those who do not get adequate sleep have also been asked not to watch programs on 3D HDTV sets. ...
Link: Thaindian News. Thanks to Tom McMahon on the OpenDTV list for the tip.
Updated 20 April 2010: Here's more from Daniel Carty at CBS News. --Dennis
I got an invitation to attend a public demo of 3D TV put on Wed.-Fri. this week at Washington’s Union Station by Panasonic and NVIDIA. Since I’m not attending either CES or the NAB Show this year, I went over there as a poor-man’s substitute for a trip to Las Vegas.
They had a small home theater set up featuring Panasonic’s Viera® 3D HDTV. CNET awarded it the best product of CES award this year. I put on the special glasses and stood about ten feet away and, for most of the demo, about 45° off to the side. I watched first some flamenco dancers and then a Japanese cartoon that had been created for 3D.
I must say, it was a spectacular viewing experience with real depth. The plasma screen provided no visual difference that I could tell in a wide viewing arc. I must say, though, that it wasn’t 100% natural -- maybe 95% so. Not sure exactly how to describe it, but the dancers at different “distances” from my eye looked a bit like they were 2D-ish but positioned on layers that provided the 3D depth. The cartoon added to that effect because the “characters” were themselves intended to be 2D paper figures. Interesting, but not off-putting. I suspect an extending viewing period (mine was only about ten minutes) would enable the viewer to completely forget the 5% “flattening.”
That is, for those who could stick it out for an extended viewing period.
In leaving the room, I noticed a familiar feeling that I get when reading daylight in a car or on a train, or when I’ve scrolled through spools of microfilm on a viewer. And it’s not a pleasant feeling – slight nausea, headache and dizziness. It’s kinetosis, more commonly but less accurately known as motion sickness. There’s a special class of it called simulation sickness that’s probably what is going on with projected 3D (perhaps giving new meaning to projectile v----). Today’s episode was mild and I was fine after a half hour. It’s possible I could get used to it with time (I can now stand on the Metro while it’s jostling and read my iPhone, at least when below ground).
TV receiver manufacturers and retailers are hoping this is the Next Big Thing, so I hope they and their retailers will encourage customers to try it out for some extended period with all family members before taking it home. Or perhaps families should just keep an empty popcorn tub around for you know what.
The Ides of March come about a month early for television broadcasters next year when millions of over-the-air viewers -- many of them elderly -- must deal with receivers that, without converter boxes, become livingroom plant stands. Having just installed a new HD set in the livingroom and moved the analog set to an upstairs bedroom and installed one of the coupon converter boxes there for a technology-intimidated friend, I can testify that it's a challenging task. FOX's Talkshow with Spike Ferensten has a great send-up of the various television spots on the conversion that are now playing on stations across the country.
Do yourself a favor and watch this piece. But have a Kleenex handy. It will make you laugh big time, but when it's done, if you're a broadcaster, it might also make you cry. Link: MSN Video. Thanks to Karen Olstad for that link. --Dennis
Back in the early 80s, I bought a Betamax VCR and replaced that with another Betamax VCR before that format bit the dust and VHS won. I can really pick 'em. Just over a year ago, I bought a Toshiba HD DVD when Costco dropped the price to $300. It's now a pretty good upscaling DVD player, but you can buy them for under $100.
Cliff Edwards writes:
... while Toshiba lies vanquished, the Blu-ray camp now faces a slew of
technical, business, and marketing challenges in driving consumer adoption of
their victorious standard. To an extent, those issues have been just as much to
blame as the format war for slowing the adoption of the high-definition
successor to the standard DVD format. "Now that the format war is over, it's
just dawning on everybody that our work is just beginning," says Andy Parsons,
chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association, and a senior vice-president at
Daniel Eran Dilger takes a while to get to his point (though along the way you get a very good education about consumer video), but that point is a very interesting one about the video marketplace today. He writes:
... Apple happens to be positioned to ride the sweet spot of LD/SD content right
now, and has the infrastructure and hardware to deliver HD content using the
same iTunes ecosystem with Apple TV in the future. Apple has bet on the
mainstream 720p HD format as the best balance between high quality content and
downloadable file sizes. ¶ That will enable the company to transition to offering HD programming from
iTunes as consumer’s bandwidth availability increases and the demand for HD
expands. Until that happens on a large scale, Apple will continues to sell the
most content because it has targeted what consumers want–convenient
downloads–not what other vendors are all trying to sell: high end, high priced
... Estimates suggest that by the end of the year, there will be an installed
base of about a million standalone HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc players, besides the
7-8 million PlayStation 3 consoles that can also play Blu-Ray discs. That makes
less than ten million HD players in total, compared to around 40 million video
playing iPods, and hundreds of millions of iTunes installations capable of
playing back iTunes content directly from a computer or through an Apple TV. ...
The Metropolitan Opera, of all organizations, has been doing a very innovative thing by transmitting its performances in HDTV to movie theaters around the country as well as other innovations. Non-profit fundraising guru Bob Stein writes:
... [CEO Peter Gelb] has taken opera to the streets--free large-screen broadcasts in Times Square (opening night of Madame Butterfly), introduced $20 rush orchestra tickets and broadcast live performances to movie screens around the world. He's brought directors from the theater world to stage operas, and he even recruited design celeb Isaac Mizrahi to create the costumes for Orfeo ed Euridice. ¶ What has resulted is a revitalized Met. According to Bloomberg.com,
Sales during the 2006-07 season rose 7.1 percent to 810,225, said Gelb, who succeeded Joseph Volpe in August. In all, the Met sold 83.9 percent of tickets offered for its 3,800- seat opera house at Manhattan's Lincoln Center compared with 76.8 percent last season.
The legendary Mark Schubin gave a talk about the Met's Live HD opera-to-theater broadcasts at October's Iowa DTV Symposium. The talk (The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: global cinemacasts, robotic cameras, and more) is available both as a PowerPoint (click here and scroll down to the Content Track's Tuesday at 2:30 session) and as an MP3 file.
Just went to the Met web site and see that one of their theaters is about a 75-mile drive from me, so I'm going to buy a ticket and check it out. --Dennis
The percentage of U.S. households that said they were interested in
HDTVs fell this year compared to those who expressed an interest last
year, and the number or those reporting to have little or no interest
has grown, according to a series of studies from market research firm
In-Stat. ¶ At
the same time, worldwide interest in HDTV among consumers is rising,
with particularly strong interest in France and South Korea, the
research firm said. The reports also showed that consumers are choosing
LCD TVs over their plasma display equivalents in good number, which
will be responsible for LCD televisions claiming 75 percent of the
market by 2011 and the plasma market share dwindling to below 15
Reuters is reporting that Blu-ray HD discs outsold HD DVD discs in the U.S. by two-to-one in the first half of 2007. I, of course, bought an HD DVD player when it dropped below $300 at Costco (context: I bought two Beta VCRs before I bought my first VHS one). Blockbuster announced it's going to stock Blu-ray, but on the other hand Wal-Mart announced it's building a zillion HD DVD players in Asia for the holidays. So maybe the jury is still out.
Two observations about HD DVDs: The discs seem to be more sensitive to scratches than standard DVDs. One we received from Netflix was unplayable for more than about 15 minutes at a time, then one had to start over and hope it skipped the scratch the next time. Also, while the video quality is great, it's not hugely better on my 50-inch monitor than video from an upscaling standard DVD player. Those now sell for under $100 and do a great job. --Dennis