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BBC HD: All new website and idents

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 20:21 UK time, Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Hello Everyone,

I think I promised a few posts ago that my silence on here was indicative of work being done behind the scenes on BBC HD, rather than idleness. Anyway, today much of that work moves out of BBC offices and into your space with a number of changes to the channel.

On air from 4pm today you'll see some new channel idents. They are the channel branding that sits between programmes on the channel, and part of what defines BBC HD (alongside the programmes on it of course). In their previous incarnation they've consisted of CGI swirling waves, out of which the BBC HD logo has risen - you'll now of course know exactly what I'm referring to and perhaps, like me feel that that particular CGI sequence can be somewhat repetitive and a little out of keeping with the values we're trying to espouse around great cinematography on BBC HD. As of today, they will be leaving us, to be replaced with some new images which I believe are more in keeping with the tone of the channel I want to build for you.

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Secondly, the BBC HD website is getting a revamp. That's partly about moving it into line with the other BBC channel sites, and partly because I know that given the limited availability of BBC HD listings elsewhere, for some of you it is a really valuable source of information. The site will link to this blog - which I hope will be helpful - but I also wanted to draw your attention to four new videos on the "What is HD?" page which are embedded in the site. It assumes no knowledge - so probably not intended for those of you reading this - but please do take a look and recommend it to friends and families who know less than you and may be wondering where to start in getting HD and putting the bits of an HD system together. (Editor's note - the videos are embeddable so you can share them on your websites and blogs)

In terms of what's on the channel, I'll have some announcements for you next week. But in the meantime, I can recommend the new contemporary drama All the Small Things which we're showing tonight, starring Sarah Lancashire and Richard Fleeshman, which has a great sound track too. And of course we have the US Masters Golf from Augusta at the Easter weekend, I hope with pictures which will allow you to follow both the players and the ball against the splendour of one of the world's most visually stunning courses. I'm hopeful that The Open will join the BBC HD world next year - albeit in more rugged and windswept form.

BBC HD arrives on iPlayer very soon - but both before and after that I hope that you'll continue to enjoy the channel, and to feedback honestly about what you think.

All the best


P.S. I know that some of you may have lost at least one of the recent episodes of Yellowstone. As far as we can tell the problem relates to boxes rather than to our broadcast - but I wanted to reassure those of you who have contacted us that we will try to find a place to repeat this stunning piece of natural history filming during April.

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hello Danielle. I am very excited about the arrival of BBC HD on iPlayer as I don't currently have access to BBC HD in any other way.

    However, I'm concerned that my connection may not be up to the task of streaming the content. Will the HD versions of programmes be available for download through the download manager to help with this?

  • Comment number 2.

    I like the new website (although is the 'Explore the BBC' text in the purple button supposed to be so big? It's bigger than the text used elsewhere on the BBC website for that button) and the new ident's OK (although a bit too ITV1-ish for me).

    And it's good to hear the HD will arrive on iPlayer "very soon" (does that mean less than a week? Several weeks?). I too would be curious to know how the programmes are going to be delivered, will it be download-only (through Desktop I'm guessing) or streaming as well? Although my Internet connection couldn't possibly handle 4 Mbps (it tops out at 1.7/1.8) so it's a moot point for me, I suppose.

    Also two minor glitches with your post: the 'do take a look' link is broken and 'Richard Fleishman' is spelled wrong (it's Fleeshman according to the Wikipedia article that you linked to ;)

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear neiltc13 and andrew646. iPlayer HD will have the download option for HD programmes. Watch out for another BBC HD blog and an iPlayer blog - HD arrives as part of a larger package on iPlayer. I have tried the download options and the tests did work. On a good day I get 2Mbs at home so nothing special,


  • Comment number 4.

    I'm liking the hinted early arrival of iPlayer HD very much. I think the website looks better, I'll pass on commenting on idents until I see them naturally in action so to speak. The important thing for me is the promotion of the channel in references elsewhere.

    I think the FAQ is a bit barebones, that might need additions over time.
    The bit I found most odd was "High definition broadcasts offer a sharper, more detailed picture than standard definition broadcasts. The improvement over a standard definition picture is particularly noticeable on flat-panel displays (LCD and plasma)." Although more detailed picture includes more colour I think it's a bit weird not saying it explicitly (you did earlier in the faq) as people can be quite blaise about the extra detail but pipe up about bright, vibrant colours. It seems even more strange in not mentioning it with the number of people who complain about how washed out LCDs can look in SD.

  • Comment number 5.

    P.S. I would also add in your FAQ about cables, HDMI, component etc and how you won't get HD through SCART and involves switching inputs on your tv. I know this is on one of the videos on your site (people frequently forget to switch input though). This may sound ridiculous but if it is aimed at a beginner I think it a very good idea. Various forums that BBC HD read from time to time are full of such questions going back a long time.

  • Comment number 6.

    New website is much better. I like the design of the schedule section, but as it only shows 7 days ahead (apart from 28/04?) it is of limited use, 14 days would be great. Is there somewhere that tells you whether a programme is broadcast in 5.1?

    'Beginner' videos are quite good - encouraging people to buy surround sound systems presumably means that soon 'everything' will be 5.1.

    US Masters is weekend after next.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good news for sports.
    Is there any news for the French Open being covered in HD?

    Also Japan and Abu Dhabi plan on broadasting in HD so it would be great if the BBC could show these end of season races in HD as well as work on HD for F1 next year which is being pushed by FOTA.

    And any news on the Autumn internationals and the championship football fixtures the BBC will have from this upcoming season or Match of the Day highlights in HD.

    Does anyone not think Stephen Fry in America should be shown in HD seeing as it was made in HD as well?

    Be good to hear if Top Gear will be shown in HD as well.

  • Comment number 8.

    Any idea yet when Casualty is moving over to BBC HD? And Eastenders? Have they built the new set yet?

  • Comment number 9.

    Will the Doctor Who special be shown in HD over Easter? I noticed that Golf was scheduled over the weekend so I'm hoping there might be a break at 7pm on Sat or Sun... any hints!?

  • Comment number 10.

    One thing that always gets me is the continuity announcers always saying "The BBC HD Channel". It sounds so strange as continuity on other channels don't say "The BBC ONE Channel" or "The Disney Cinemagic HD Channel" so why do they have to say it for BBC HD? Can they not just say "BBC HD" instead? It just makes it sound so much better and it helps a link flow easier. Just a suggestion.

    Looking forward to seeing the new idents though. Is there just the one or was the one above a teaser for what we can expect from all of them when they launch today?

  • Comment number 11.

    I like the look of the new ident - somehow it just seems a bit more 'BBC' than the previous one. Looking forward to seeing it on screen.

    By the way, is there any reason why the 'Subtitles' DOG has to be bigger than on the BBC's SD channels? Surely with the higher resolution of HD there's no need for it to be so large - in fact surely you could get away with it being a lot smaller. It is rather intrusive, and spoils your nice new ident.

    And besides, given that almost everything on the BBC is subtitled these days, is it not a little superfluous now anyway?

  • Comment number 12.

    andrew646 - thanks for your corrections which have now been done.

  • Comment number 13.

    Danielle I am disapointed that you stopped showing Doctors late at night e.g 11:30-1AM I was just getting into the series and understanding the characters and now its no longer showed. Can I please ask that you reconsider showing it again in its late night slot rather than showing repeats of programmes that have been on a number of times like Glastobury,Kaiser Chiefs at Doncaster and BBC electric proms

  • Comment number 14.

    Not too sure about the new Idents. Surely the money could have been far better spent on things such as funding towards new programmes and encoders??

    Great news about the Masters Golf been in HD. Im no big golf fan but find myself watching if the picture is great and as Danielle mentioned the masters has a great settings for HD.

    A shame the snooker world chamionships wont be in HD this year though. Its the biggest event on the snooker calendar and surely it cannott be hard to produce this in HD. The Stupid low bit rates SD offers mean the snooker looks a total mess on SD and Im sure many people will just not bother watching due to this.

    Also surely its time shows like East Enders, Casualty and Holby City went HD. These are probably the 3 main shows BBC 1 has to offer and surely shows like this will improve ratings on BBC HD??????

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Danielle,

    Can you give us any more clues on future content on BBC HD also are you intending to extend BBC HD times of showing?

    I have enjoyed your HD for nearly a year but i am finding myself going back to the SD channels to watch my fav progs.

    MOTD would be great (i thought this was already in HD as i watch live games on Sky in HD), also Top Gear would be nice 2.

    PS have really enjoyed Horizon in HD, Keep up the good work :)

  • Comment number 16.

    Is there any plan to let me get any of the BBC iplayer content (or anything else) via the ethernet socket on my freesat systems (we have a integrated TV and a Freesat recorder). iplayer via virgin media is so much better as a viewing experience on the TV than on a small PC screen.

    I'd also like to see HD listings appear in the press, usually the only place I know if something is in HD is on the EPG.

  • Comment number 17.

    Is there anything you can do about the appalling decision to axe 'Not Going Out'? Easily the funniest show on BBC HD (and probably on BBC1 as a whole) yet it gets inexplicably canned.

  • Comment number 18.

    I hope the HD iplayer videos will be better encoded than the SD ones. I was watching something a few months back and wondering why, even with a relatively high bitrate, the video looked so mucky.

  • Comment number 19.

    As a new commentator it's good to see the discussion, but what a pity it's all about a system that makes a poor use of the bandwidth available.

  • Comment number 20.

    Why isn't Formula 1 in HD. All the content is originated in HD, so why force us to endure the most 21st Century of sports in poor old analog? For me, F1 switching back to BBC was something I was really looking forward to.

    Obviously, getting rid of ITV's moronic adverts for irritating products in which I have neither interest for investment was one big plus. Getting it shown on BBC HD was the other.

    Why not? The Beeb's obviously gone to a lot of effort on every other platform to push F1 down as many channels to market as possible. So why no use the one channel that's ideally suited to this glossiest of content?


  • Comment number 21.

    "All the content is originated in HD"

    Actually, I'm not sure this is true. It seems FOM who provide the feed to broadcasters aren't supplying an HD feed anywhere. (http://www.cableforum.co.uk/board/104/33644130-no-f1-hd-for-a-while.html%29

    It's a shame, F1 would be great in HD.

  • Comment number 22.

    I like the new logo and titles but I'd rather you had spent the money on a new encoder. It is needed.

  • Comment number 23.

    I concur about the F1, I pressed the Red Button in the hope that the "Watch BBC HD" might give me a glorious HD picture with a dramatic 5.1 Surround Sound soundtrack. Sadly not, just the all to familiar HD Preview. Ah well, I live in hope. Please try to make it happen.

  • Comment number 24.

    To all the people moaning about BBC not showing F1 in HD, there simply is no HD feed available. So its not just a case that the BBC are not trying to get it, its not available, simple as.

    I am very dissapointed that the Grand National was not in HD though. Considering its one of the biggest races on the calendar and it usually attracts around 10 million viewers onwards, why not invest in HD for this??? I know it costs money but for the channel to suceed you need your big shows in HD.

  • Comment number 25.

    The avaliablity of F1 in HD and 5.1 surround sound is there and it can be done.

    There is every chance at least 2 races near the end of season will be in HD,Japan and Abu Dhabi.


  • Comment number 26.

    You make lots of references to new 'idents' (plural). So far though, I've only seen the one with the children fishing as posted above. Are there actually any others? If not, I'm sure it'll get just as repetitive as the previous one, nice though it is.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer is on tonight but was shown 2 weeks ago on BBC1, why is there such a time lag and no annoucement for HD viewers?
    Viewers who have access to BBC HD are unlikely to watch again if they already watched on BBC1 which means lower ratings so it gives the view HD isn't performing well when it's just down.

    At the current rate even if the BBC doesn't want to show upscaled content which it should it would still be better to switch to 4 channels, BBC1,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies on satellite and cable and at least show programmes at the correct time.
    The large holes in the programme schedules would ensure that production is switched to HD as soon as is feasible.

    The current scheduling problems on BBC HD are only going to get worse as more content becomes avaliable.

  • Comment number 28.

    Is it possible to get a copy of the latest hd ident (the one with the icecream van). I can't view it as I don't have HD yet.

  • Comment number 29.

    I really liked the original CGI BBC HD Ident. In addition to a beautiful visual example of High Defintion, it was accompanised by a brillant soundtrack. It was a very in your face HD announcement. The replacement does not say HD for me. We already have BBC1, 2 3 and 4 that covers the actual program content that is effectively shown on BBC HD. The product differntitator, therefore, is not the content, but in the accurate transcription from production and final transmission that is enabled through HD technology. This is a technical breakthrough and so the BBC HD ident should shout: THIS (pause) IS BBC HD.
    I have kept 3 recordings to show my friends who have not made up thier minds: Bruce Springstein & E Street Band performance at LSO St. Luke's, the London 2008 new years fireworks displays and 2009 Finals Strictly (the 2nd of the 2 programs transmitted) for thier visual and audio reproduction. The first 2 programs have the original BBC HD ident. I use it to show off to some of my friends who think that SD is actually not that bad (I have to say that the TV manufacturers have got very good at squeezing every last ounce of quality out of a SD transmission. Some SD material looks quite good and makes HD comparisons much less obvious than the manufactured in-store demo's). In conclusion, HD is still a new technology, so for the time being you should continue to shout the new technology

  • Comment number 30.

    Question - why go to the trouble and expense of making and broadcasting a channed in glorious high definition, then make the experience considerably less enjoyable by adding a distracting logo in the corner of the screen - all the time?

    Cynical Answer - so you can sell Blu Ray discs without the idents.

    I am intellegent enough to be able to identify which channel I am watching.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    I see that this is another Danielle blog which see does not reply to. The blog on picture quality has been closed down. I complained about this and included in the reply was:

    "If you disagree with another poster's viewpoint, please add your own views to the blog."

    Well BBC how can I post to a blog which is closed.

    I see that censorship is being applied here as well so is the BBC going to close all of Danielles blogs?

  • Comment number 34.

    Dear trevorjharris, the PQ blog has not closed. Danielle's has been suspended due to abusive, personal and inappropriate posts but "The Salmon of Style" blog - which is open to ALL HD channel quality issues, is still fully open.

    As this is the last one in the Hitchhiker series of blogs it is easier if we all post there than across them all. The only exception is audio which we should post on the first in the series (if that's OK)


  • Comment number 35.

    trevorjharris - just to add to Andy's comment. There is no "censorship" here. Despite repeated warnings from me commenters continued to post abusive comments that broke the house rules and therefore comments on that post have been closed. Other posts on PQ remain open. I will tell the people who do the complaints website.


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