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Picture Quality on BBC HD: a response

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 14:07 UK time, Thursday, 17 September 2009

Hello Everyone

I thought that you might like to see the detailed response which I have sent to someone who contacted me regarding the picture quality issues which are under discussion here:

"...Your complaint refers to the introduction of the new transmission encoders for BBC HD which were introduced into operations on Wednesday 5th August. There was an extensive process of assessment in advance of the selection of new encoders for the BBC HD service, using both objective and subjective criteria. The encoders which were chosen then went through further testing in advance of operational use, not only for picture quality but for compatibility with the Sky and Freesat platforms and their ability to deliver other services such as subtitling and surround sound successfully.

The new encoders were intended to help us in handling the wide range of material which the BBC broadcasts in HD, and to help to improve the picture quality of some of our most challenging programmes. These may combine progressive and interlaced shooting or where the BBC has limited control over some aspects of the broadcast chain. I believe that the new encoders have achieved this in relation to programmes such as the series of BBC Proms broadcast, Gardeners' World, Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes and the recent Athletics World Championships, for which our coverage using the host broadcaster feed was as good as and sometimes better than other broadcasters covering the same event. However we of course continue to assess coder settings against the wide range of material which they have to handle to determine the best settings on an ongoing basis.

Following the introduction of the new encoders, there were some issues around the handling of some pictures - primarily mixes and fades - which we acknowledged through the BBC HD blog on picture quality almost immediately. We have worked with our encoder supplier to address these issues in the long-term, and also put in place interim changes to minimise the difficulties. That the encoder change should generate problems for viewers watching BBC HD content is of course a matter for regret, but I do not believe that this was the result of errors in the preparation process.

You have also highlighted the issue of the bit-rate at which BBC HD broadcasts, and the changes to this over time. I do not believe that the problems that arose following the introduction of the new encoders had anything to do with the broadcast bit-rate, even though they coincided, as you have rightly identified, with a reduction in bit-rate for the channel.

One of the central issues in selecting new encoders for BBC HD was to deliver pictures at the same or improved quality while allowing a reduction in the channel bit-rate. As MPEG 4 encoders have evolved, the relationship between bit-rate and picture quality has also shifted. This is not an issue that is specific to BBC HD, or to the encoders that we have selected.

The BBC has an absolute responsibility to use bandwidth efficiently - whether on digital terrestrial muxes or on satellite. Bandwidth is not unlimited, and on UK-footprint transponders the demand for capacity is very high. The current bit-rates were selected through a process which directly evaluated quality on the new and old encoders, using a wide range of programme material and both subjective and objective assessments.

Bit-rate is not the only factor affecting picture quality and a higher bit-rate will not automatically deliver higher picture quality.

HD is still an evolving production technology. A variety of production techniques are - in my view quite rightly - deployed as experimentation continues to explore what HD can delivery creatively.

As in standard definition, it is also important that HD delivers a range of "looks" for producers, appropriate to the nature of the subject matter. I do not prescribe a single standard for HD work for the BBC. Decisions regarding frame rate and progressive versus interlaced styles are the responsibility of individual producers. These choices do not impact on quality provided that the camera is set up properly and the shutter speed set correctly, issues on which the BBC HD team provides ongoing advice and guidance. As the discussion on the BBC HD blog suggests, there is a range of views around these issues, and the degradation or quality they may bring to HD pictures. It is worth noting that 25 frames progressive mode in fact has more resolution than a 25 frame interlace image, and is used by the majority of drama, documentary and natural history programmes to great effect.

While very clear, sharp images have become closely associated with HD, it is important not to confuse "sharpness" with resolution. The use of electronic sharpening on standard definition pictures can make images clearer but does not increase the amount of information in the picture, one of the defining features of HD.

Electronic sharpening is not a characteristic which BBC HD encourages since we prefer images to look more natural, and to allow directors to offer contrasting focus in order to highlight the key features in a scene. Indeed, some of our dramas are now using the latest large image format cameras. These cameras use an image sensor about the same physical size as a 35mm film frame that gives the image a very shallow depth of field. This will put all but the key subject out of focus and allows a director to use focus as a story telling tool.

HD picture quality is not purely about a crispness of image, but about a richness of image which comes from the amount of detailed information included.

Within the BBC HD team we work consistently to explore new HD technology with a particular view to enhancing picture quality across the range of programme projects with which we are involved. Filming in certain environments or using small cameras remains challenging, and where it is not possible to deliver HD pictures to the standards we set, we limit the use of lower quality images to a maximum of 25% of an individual title.

Finally, you raise the issue of surround sound and the number of programmes broadcast which offer a 5.1 sound mix. Wherever possible we buy series and films with surround sound tracks, and try to ensure that sound is captured in this format for outside events. But 5.1 sound is not always available, and a genuine surround sound mix can add substantially to production costs in HD at a time when we are concentrating the resources available to increase the total volume of programmes made in HD. At present we do not routinely "up-mix" programmes from stereo to surround.

I can assure you that picture quality is a very important part of the work that we are doing in BBC HD. We clearly have different views on the picture quality that is delivered and the factors that contribute to it, but I do believe that we share a perspective that the quality of images is central to delivery of HD television.

I want to add that the BBC HD blog is a very important discussion and communications forum for us, but as you have clearly observed we don't respond to every single comment raised on it. We do take on board all the views expressed, and look seriously at substantive issues that are highlighted, whether they attract one comment or many.

I am sorry that in this case you feel that your original contribution did not receive the attention which you believed that it should have done."

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision

Comments

Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for posting this Danielle. I was just about to write to you regarding my comment #664 over on Andy's PQ Blog but you've beaten me to it. I'm sure that everyone will be very relieved to see this, after quite a long wait. Let's see what they have to say.

  • Comment number 2.

    "A higher bit-rate will not automatically deliver higher picture quality."

    What a load...

  • Comment number 3.

    Danielle Nagler: Just out of interest, how are the overnight test of Freeview HD going from Winter Hill on C50?

    Is there one set of equipment for Freeview HD and another for satellite?

    Will this improve the HD pictures for those Virgin Media areas that use MPEG2 or have these now been phased out?

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Danielle, if your reading this. You still haven't answered a fundamemtal question I am sure many licence payers want to know. What plan of action is going to take place to resolve the picture quality issue?
    The fact remains as of today the quality is still poor on a lot of programmes.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for the reply Danielle. At last we get what we have been waiting for. Why did it take so long. A quicker response may have calmed everyone down.

    You mention that the new encoders have improved quality on some programmes, surely new encoders should improve quality on all programmes.At least it is good that you acknowledge that quality is important.

    If I buy something new I want it to be better. I cant believe you tested these encoders and then bought them when the quality is no better and mostly worse. How did you not spot the problems you list when you were testing?? No one on this blog has come on to say that WOW the picture quality has improved.

    Everything I read indicates that higher bit rates mean better quality and while I acknowledge that bandwith is not unlimited a 40% reduction does seem drastic.

    Next time a major change occurs please can you tell us in advance and advise us they may be teething problems, I think that would have solved a few problems.

    So far this year we have had good progress on BBCHD e.g more programmes, iPlayer HD and some stunning outside broadcasts ( Wimbledon & Glastonbury) but the new encoders has been a big mistake in my view.

    I agree the HD picture is better than SD but propably only 2-3 times better and certainly not 5-6 times better like the Sky advert promises.

    Keep working on it I bet these last few weeks have been a bit hectic.

    Thanks again for the post.

    As Always please keep us updatede on New Program news.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear zubeirp

    We have looked at a lot of material and I will be doing another blog with the results of tests between the old and new coders as soon as all the results are in.

    So far the the majority of programmes are better through the new coders - some significantly, but I need the full set of results to publish.


    Dear CompactDistance

    Good coding is about good tools and processing. Even at 200Mbs there are compression errors.

    Andy

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear Briantist

    I don't have any new information about tests. At this year's IBC there were several manufactures demonstrating terrestrial T2 HD set top boxes. You will need a Freview HD STB to get the terrestrial HD services.

    Andy

  • Comment number 8.

    I personally am very happy with the quality of the HD picture on BBC HD - we just need more of it. Can we dispense with the HD Preview all day and put some decent films, etc on?

  • Comment number 9.

    Dear SkyCaddie

    Thanks for the post. I hope my next blog will clear up a few more points. We did acknowledge the mix/fade problem almost immediately though in the PQ blog. It was an underestimation of the problem and we were already tying to fix it. Any full fix we do though must work on all STBs and there are differences in how some respond to changes.

    Also one point I will make in the next blog is we are always working on improvements. When they are ready and tested across the platforms we implement them. For more details of the next blog see post 6

  • Comment number 10.

    As I stated earlier this afternoon on Andy's Blog #664 I was the recipient of Danielle's email, which she has thoughtfully reproduced for us in this Blog. This Blog is, I'm sure, the comment that everyone has been patiently waiting for but as @zubirp points out above, disappointingly, it makes no promises for any sort of improvements, at all, to either the PQ or, if necessary, the Bandwidth in the future.

    Since receiving her email I have thought long and hard about it and wondered whether it is sufficient an explanation of the PQ deterioration that we've all observed and, if not, what my next course of action should be. I've come to the conclusion that it does not give me any indication of how the BBC, in the face of the considerable criticism from its HD viewers, intends to meet its BBC Trust licence remit to adhere to, or seek to exceed, industry standards for picture resolution.

    So, within the 20 day working period of receipt of this email permitted by the BBC Trust I intend to take my complaint on to them as the next stage in a long battle to get an acceptance from the BBC that the PQ is now below par, perhaps a proper apology for their recent mistakes, and an acceptable plan of action from them for improving it. I would welcome any contributions or assistance in crafting the 1000 word (limited) complaint to the Trust but, for obvious reasons, I would prefer it if any significant contribution be sent to me via a less public means than this Blog.

    So, if you wish to contribute you will find me with the same user name at most of the other forums dealing with this issue, and from there you can send contact me via a personal message, and I will then give you the chance to make contact with me by email.

    Danielle, as I've already said above I am grateful to you for posting your reply to me here in public. Really it is nothing personal but I do feel that the BBC should be delivering us a better HD product and I'm willing to do everything that I can, in my own limited way, to ensure that it does. I'm sure you will do endeavour to do the same, from your somewhat more empowered position.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear al_catraz

    We are trying to get more programmes into HD. At the moment we can't really go over the 9 hours agreed when the channel first started (except when we have big events and sport). We hope to reduce the repeat rate first then we can ask if the hours could be extended.

    Thanks very much for your comments though. You are not alone and there are other sites that share your view

    Andy

  • Comment number 12.

    Andy, great to hear from you again. Thanks for breaking silence.

  • Comment number 13.

    @andyquested

    Will it be possible for the BBC to buy the lastest MPEG-2 encoders being used by other broadcasters for its satellite channels to allow a second BBC HD channel to launch?

    These encoders would allow not only an improvement in the quality of the BBC channels broadcast on Astra 2D but they would also allow you to shuffle the channels around allowing you to remove the remaining 2 BBC MPEG-2 channels that current share the trasponder slot with BBC HD.

    This trasponder could then be switched to broadcast in DVB-S2, even if you left the bit-rate of BBC HD as it is the resulting efficiencies of DVB-S2 would mean a vast improvement for BBC HD.

    It would also mean the BBC would have the option to broadcast a second HD channel.

    With The Winter Olympics, The World Cup and The Commonwealth games set to take up large amounts of day and evening broadcasting making it impossible to schedule weekly programming.
    Because of the time difference The Winter Olympics will be on from late afternoon until the early morning.

    With the BBC committed to covering A list events in full and in HD there will need to be a second HD channel to allow regular programming to continue.
    With the expected increase in HD content it would be a welcome addition.
    It would also solve the issue for Danielle where HD programmes aren't promoted by the announcer on BBC1 and 2 because the HD version is broadcast at a different time or on a different day.


    The third and forth HD slots on the new HD trasponder could then be sub-leased with the BBC having the rights to take back the slots in the future. By the Olympics the BBC will need 4 HD channels to cover all the events taking place as well as allow regular programming to be broadcast.

  • Comment number 14.

    I am quite impressed that Danielle Nagler had the time to e-mail that to one of the contributers, I think that is pretty positive. However cutting and pasting it to the rest of the blog audience I think is patronising and shows a lack of good quality arguments. I think much of the content of that e-mail is very well meaning nonsense. It doesn't tell anybody anything new and just reinforces views people have - that Danielle Nagler is a channel controller who mostly focuses on schedules, well meaning (although has a few very odd views like who would need to know why people want Top Gear in HD?) but ultimately hampered by funds and limited hours and that Andy Quested is a nice enough guy but not really bothered about PQ, he's a sound man.

    I'd have been much happier if the BBC had just said that some mean person in the BBC had held a gun to their head and told them to get the bitrate down, or it was needed to get ITV and C4 HD on Tx50 Astra 2D ASAP or they needed the space for a year or two when they were going to launch another HD channel/download service/whatever. We all know very well what is (or rather isn't) on that transponder and can see straight through the "unsustainable" argument. If the BBC had come out with one of the above arguments, people won't like it, but a lot more of us would accept it. I for one on balance would grudgingly accept BBC HD at 9.7Mbs if it meant another BBC HD channel (or two) launching.



  • Comment number 15.

    Infact you wouldn't have to leave the BBC HD on a fixed rate if it switched to DVB-S2, it could be stat-muxed giving it the entire transponder to use until a second BBC HD channel is launched to deal with major international sporting events taking up BBC HD and the third and fourth slots of sub-leased for a period of time until the BBC needs them back.

  • Comment number 16.

    ropies - just an early warning, that the conversation is well mannered so far, but let's keep it so.

    It's a little unfair to say that either Andy or Danielle don't care about picture quality or about the HD channel even if you disagree with particular decisions that have been made.

    Both Andy's and Danielle's continued presence on this blog is proof that they do care.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thanks Andy, look forward to your post.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think a lot of the arguments in Danielle's response are diversion tactics - like the classic "its the way it was filmed". It's the sort of stuff we've heard before on Andy Questeds blog; little of it is actually new information despite its length.

    All these things you mention are relevant factors to PQ but the only two things that BBC HD has CHANGED are the bitrate and the encoder.

    Every time BBC HD cuts the bitrate, the picture gets worse, and the complaints come in.

    From what I read here and elsewhere many people think the pictures are frequently soft, lacking in detail, noisy and with compression artefacts.

    Has Danielle actually watched the programmes she cites as having excellent picture quality? I thought she was on holiday during the Athletics? I notice this list matches Andy Quested's list that he cited in defense of PQ earlier in August. I disagreed then that these programmes are benchmark HD. The argument that the channel's Sports picture quality is better than others hasn't been cited outside the BBC as far as I'm aware.

    Benchmarks I have done on three programmes, the same shows recorded pre and post the bitrate cut, show the picture is worse than before the recent bitrate cut.

    Let's not loose sight here of the magnitude of the bitrate cut - 16 mbps to 9mbps. BBC HD might have new encoders, but its very hard to make up that sort of cutback.

    BBC HD are running the channel at a bitrate that is lower than comparible HD channels. It MUST have an impact on picture quality. It's sort of obvious isn't it?

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi, This is my first post, and I have a couple of things to say :-)
    1. I think it is a very positive sign to see employees of the BBC engaged with us in such a positive way. Every company has limits they have to work to and the new bitrate reduction is one.
    2. Danielle states that
    "
    It is worth noting that 25 frames progressive mode in fact has more resolution than a 25 frame interlace image
    "
    Are you sure about this? If the image is stationary it is the same, if it is moving, it will be the same but over two fields. Perhaps you are referring to the losses resolving interlaced images. If so I believe this is not conclusive. For example, see

    http://www.poynton.com/notes/short_subjects/video/Interlace_Progressive

    I personally prefer interlaced and I watch television via my computer (i.e. progressive display). With good post processing the picture quality is excellent.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think some of the queries raised have been answered some have been ignored - can I suggest we put together 10 specific questions or so direct to Danielle for answering as head of the channel. I am happy to co-ordinate this.

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear ropies

    A "sound man" not sure if you mean someone you can trust or someone in audio! I agree if it's the first but if it's the second, I'm afraid I have a much more murkier past

    Try
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0703360/

    for just some of it

  • Comment number 22.

    @midzone
    I've got a question for you. If the picture quality is so good now since the bitrate cut then how come there are hundreds, if not thouands of complaints, all over the web, and the ratio of complaints to praise is about 9:1?

  • Comment number 23.

    Dear en5ads

    Interesting site. As you suggest a 25fps image is a whole frame captured in one go normally with a 1/50th of a second shutter. This is split into two fields with the same temporal resolution but different vertical information - in other words the frame is carried as 2 half frame packets. An interlace image is half a frame captured every 50th of a second usually with no shutter. Each half frame has different vertical and temporal information.

    As the two interlace halves are interleaved (say alternate lines) your eye "smoothes out" the difference. The faster the motion the bigger the difference and the "softer" the picture. Poor deinterlacers don't help!

    A progressive image has no motion between the two halves so no softening. You may not like the motion portrayal of 25 (or 24fps in the cinema) but as I've said that's an editorial not a technical choice.

    Andy

  • Comment number 24.

    Andy Quested: "So far the the majority of programmes are better through the new coders - some significantly, but I need the full set of results to publish."

    Andy I don't mean to be rude but that's utter rubbish and you know it.

    The BBC even admitted to the WhatHiFI team that your encoders were having problems according to their website:

    http://whathifi.com/News/BBC-admits-to-problems-with-new-HD-encoders/

    You can hardly deny what you've already admitted and what your own audience have spotted the majority of whom involved in these and other forums are telling you its not good.

    I've posted a whole series of pictures onto your blog, some of which clearly show some Channel 5 SD to be sharper, clearer and more detailed than BBC HD since the new encoders have come on line.

    eg: http://img159.yfrog.com/i/comparison1.jpg/

    The truth of the matter is there have been one or two successes: The Athletics which you shout about but fail to mention to the movement artefacts which were nevertheless a problem, excellent still picture aside. The Wildest Dreams final, which whilst it was superb throughout, nevertheless doesn't erase the fact that the week before (as captured in the pictures above) was some of the worst HD ever seen on BBC tv!

    Overall I have to say that since the new encoders, BBC HD is so poor, I hardly watch it!







  • Comment number 25.

    Dear digitalscoobiedoo

    There are sites that say the quality is good and there are sites that would prefer we used no compression at all. We take not of all comments

    Andy

  • Comment number 26.

    Andy, if you have access to a TV now, flick between Hotel Babylon in HD on your channel and Alone in the Wild in SD on Channel 4. Which has the better PQ?

  • Comment number 27.

    Dear Alsone

    Thanks for the post - I have seen your pictures. The comments in what hifi refer to the mix/fade issue mentioned in the PQ blog though.

    Dear paul_geaton

    Sorry missed both

  • Comment number 28.

    Danielle/Andy,

    My first post - I've been watching this blog for a few months now.

    From reading the many comments on that other PQ blog entry I keep coming back to the same somewhat unanswered question:

    What is the overall driving force behind the reduction in BBC HD bitrate?

    If the BBC pays by actual bandwidth used on tp 50 then am I right in assuming it is cost? If not (noticing you don't share tp 50 at the moment and therefore may be paying a flat rate), then what IS the main reason?

    I've read various other guesstimations from contributors about a) matching bitrate towards the forthcoming Freeview HD version of BBC HD, and b) making space to accomodate some kind of sub-let to the ITV HD/upscaled simulcast channel that launches with Freeview HD or even an "in the clear" channel 4 HD - I'll rule out another BBC HD channel as your broadcasting hours and available programming are already limited for your existing channel.

    Your responses to date have not really confirmed or denied any of this. Even an acknowledgment that you're not at liberty to say would be better than no acknowledgement at all.

    Regards,
    Ade.

  • Comment number 29.

    Andy, that's a shame because the Channel 4 programme's PQ was outstanding considering I was watching it in SD and it was filmed by a man alone in the woods with a camera on the end of a stick. I'm telling you that here, on a BBC Blog, because having watched quite a few similar programmes on the BBC HD channel recently I was surprised to find how good the PQ on an SD programme could be by comparison. Flicking between the 2 channels this evening and there was no doubt in my mind, the SD programme had a vastly superior picture. Considering the way both programmes were made, that surely couldn't be put down to different production choices, could it?

  • Comment number 30.

    Could someone from the BBC please explain what the exact copy of BBCHD called 6945 is for and why the bandwidth it consumes couldn't be freed up for the main BBCHD channel ?

  • Comment number 31.

    @paul_geaton

    Channel 4 is using new MPEG-2 decoders on satellite. It's mentioned on post 13 as part of a question to Andy.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sorry but the post seems the usual BBC HD fob off. When the channel started out as a test channel the picture quality was stunning. I REPEAT ***STUNNING***. Yes BBC HD and the word Stunning are not used very often sadly. Then the channel lowered the bandwith and the quality went down - we had the excuses of "its production" "its your TV". We all knew it was the bandwith reduction but the BBC HD team continued with the fob off.

    Now we have bandwith reduced again to unacceptable levels (and they are unacceptable levels for someone like the BBC who should be setting the standards) and the quality has suffered again. yet again we have the usual fob offs about production and TV sets.

    Its time to stop the fob offs and admit bandwith does affect quality and IT HAS effected quality.

    Theres very little I watch on BBC HD mainly due to quality issues and also the fact theres little on I want to watch, but I watched every episode of Dragons Den recently. Before the bandwith reduction to 9mbps Dragons Den looked very good, the bandwith is reduced to a silly 9MBPS and it all of a sudden looses detail and looks average. Where was the production change in this then?

    9MBPS is unacceptable and if this is all the channel is going to stay at then why not save money and bin the channel.

    Also @ Nick, look through the posts by Andy and Danielle and then come back and tell us they care about quality. The constant blame on production and TV sets is becoming thin.

    People are fed up with the way the channel is been run down to the guetter and can you blame viewers??? Look at the ratings of the channel and this shows you what people think.

  • Comment number 33.

    @Andy Quested

    Is there any reason why your encoder has deblocking at a low strength(alpha/beta coefficients at -3/-3 respectively)?

    I've seen it more and more often set low like this by compressionists in Blu-rays but not in broadcast before.

  • Comment number 34.

    Wow a responce at last. Andy has now prommised to publish test results for the new encoder. I hope they will include subjective and objective test including results of tests using metrics such a PSNR. It will also be interesting see what methodology has been used for the subjective tests. I simply do not believe that the new encoders will give the same PSNR as the older encoders at 40% bitrate. The reason I don't believe is that this claimed breakthrough in encoder technology has not been reported any where else on the net. The best figures I have ever seen is an "upto" 10% improvement for an MPEG2 encoder. Another reason I do not believe the claim is what I can see with my own eyes and yes I did go to specsavers.

    With respect to Andies credentials

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0703360/

    shows he is not a "sound" man but he is infact a comedian and all this was a joke right!

  • Comment number 35.

    Andy, Why doesnt the BBC HD team try bandwith at 12mbps for 2 weeks? This will prove to you bandwith does effect picture quality and has effected the quality.

    If you do try this and the quality is not increased then you will have been proved right and can come on here and say "told you so".

    12 MBPS would certainly help the channel dramatically.

  • Comment number 36.

    @Andy, post 27, Thanks for the reply.

    I'm on your side and have defended BBC PQ in several previous posts where the BBC did achieve a good quality, however I do think your comment on PQ since the encoder change is as unsustainable as the previous bit rate.

    What myself and several others would like to do is try to work with you to improve the problem. However, this is impossible if its simply denied.

    As I said elsewhere in the other PQ thread, if the purchased encoder cannot produce good quality at the current bit rate then what bodes for the future? I think someone somewhere needs to acknowledge the wrong choice was made, money was possibly wasted and that the only solution is to sell the encoders on and go for Ateme, or as I mentioned in that post, if you want to play it absolutely safe, someone needs to go on a fact finding mission to LUXE TV to see how they're doing it and what the Ateme encoder can achieve with the current BBC bit rate on sports programming - I'm sure there is some test footage you could take with you to give a run with the toughest possible material. Even with the slow material 4Mbs vs the BBC's 9.5Mbs is a big gulf especially as LUXE HD looks better!! That way you can effectively try before you buy and pick up encoder setting tips to avoid a repeat of what has happened this time.

    To just continue with the current encoders is never going to be a satisfactory solution if the current PQ is the best that can be achieved. The fact is the pressure on Freesat for space is only going to increase even if Sky can be persuaded to move its encrypted content off 2D. We all know that 4HD and FIVE HD are likely in the future but what then? More and more channels are going to switch to HD. eg. FIVE US already has a high proportion of HD programming scaled down to SD. Are we really to believe that if FIVE HD is a success, FIVE US won't go HD? Further to that, are we really to believe other channels won't follow suit? eg. Are we also to believe that FILM 4 won't go HD given that all of its content is already HD resolution and there's a big demand for HD films.

    That being the case with no room for another HD channel on Freeview, are the BBC Trust simply going to let the FTA public lose more channels to Sky and some of the more popular ones at that? It seems to me with Freesat, at least there's a platform they could be hosted on (which is why I've long believed Freesat should become a standalone platform in its own right).

    It's time to face facts. Freeview hasn't the capacity for the future - we all know 4HD channels is all it can ever accommodate and unless channels are to be lost to Sky as they change over, and Freeview left with a very poor selection then Freesat needs to become a standalone platform based around quality and HD content as its the only FTA platform that can possibly accommodate more channels as they switch over. That way people have a choice. Freeview for ease of installation / reception and Freesat for extra quality and content. Mirroring Freeview simply won't work going forwards as Freeview won't be able to accomodate much of what it does now as more channels go HD. However, it may be possible to satisfy both channel bosses and FTA audiences by transmitting SD versions on Freeview and HD on Freesat where there's insufficient room to fit the HD onto Freeview.

    Further to tie this in with BBC HD encoders and space on Freesat, all of this in turn means that even on Freesat, in the future, as well as a possible move to free up space by moving encrypted content off Freesat, more efficient use of transponder space will be necessary and so as I said above, if the current encoders can't produce more space whilst maintaining quality, then the only option is going to be to acknowledge the mistake and change them for some that can. A failure to do this is going to be a disaster for FTA tv going forwards.

  • Comment number 37.

    Quoted as being good:-

    'BBC Proms broadcast, Gardeners' World, Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes and the recent Athletics World Championships'

    No to 3 of those - only 'some' of the Athletiscs were good - the pictures on the other three were not in my opinion.

    And 'The Tudors' and 'Land Girls' pictures were not up to HD standards.

    Why were these 'codec' handicapped with a 40% bit-rate cut?

    And this from Andyquested -'So far the the majority of programmes are better through the new coders - some significantly, but I need the full set of results to publish.'

    NOT TO MY EYES

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 38.

    Danielle Still did not tell us why they had to lower the bandwith to such low rates.

  • Comment number 39.

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

  • Comment number 40.

    Dear Andy,

    Clearly the point I was making is that running a premier HD channel that we are forced to pay for at sub-par bitrates is going to produce worse picture quality than running at a proven bitrate. You have a remit to meet or exceed industry specifications and you are FAILING US using OUR MONEY. You are using us as guinea pigs.

    Aleks

  • Comment number 41.

    I can't help thinking that as the BBC's TV offering has grown the service has severely degraded. Digital channels with hideous DOGs, sub-par HD quality... why don't we cut out all the fat and uncaring management who will simply spend our money as they please and take us back to BBC 1 & 2 with a vastly reduced license fee.

  • Comment number 42.

    25p vs 50i and others.

    Danielle Wrote "It is worth noting that 25 frames progressive mode in fact has more resolution than a 25 frame interlace image, and is used by the majority of drama, documentary and natural history programmes to great effect.".

    In post 23 Andy said about 50i, "As the two interlace halves are interleaved (say alternate lines) your eye "smoothes out" the difference. The faster the motion the bigger the difference and the "softer" the picture. Poor deinterlacers don't help!". Isn't it true that the faster the motion, the better 50i will look in comparison to 25p? eg. your rarely see sports like football shot for broadcast at 25p, and when there very occasionally has been a sport event shot like that I see complaints about it. 25p strobes/judders a much more than 50i/50p especially on today's HDTVs.

    Even film directors like James Cameron dislike the strobe/judder effect of 24p (very similar to 25p) saying "Because people have been asking the wrong question for years. They have been so focused on resolution, and counting pixels and lines, that they have forgotten about frame rate. Perceived resolution = pixels x replacement rate. A 2K image at 48 frames per second looks as sharp as a 4K image at 24 frames per second ... with one fundamental difference: the 4K/24 image will judder miserably during a panning shot, and the 2K/48 won't. Higher pixel counts only preserve motion artifacts like strobing with greater fidelity. They don't solve them at all."

    On the issue of which has the most resolution (spatial/motion resolution etc.) - do the BBC have test equipment and/or have they done tests which show which has the higher resolution, and by how much? I assume high def interlaced footage isn't/doesn't need to be filtered to reduce interlace flicker since it will be de-interlaced and viewed on progressive displays.

    I think the 25p/50i issue would be a great idea for a blog where this was the main subject, where we could discuss these issues, including the different resolutions/benefits of each. We/the BBC could have test footage and other stuff which compared the two with footage that had different amounts of motion. Maybe we could see how other formats compared to them (eg. compare 1080/25p, 1080/50i, 720/50p, 1080/50p at various bitrates).

  • Comment number 43.

    Interesting reading.

    From the post, I get the impression that (one way or the other) things are not going to change quickly any time soon. That the bitrate is down is obviously for a reason. And that the new encoders are still having the kinks straightened out is something becoming apparent. (And, yes, I'm one of those who does think that you can test all you like, but the only real results come from a live environment)

    From the comments, people aren't going to accept anything other than things going back to the way they think they should be. Standard user response, I get it a lot in IT where I work. nothing behind the scenes matters, only what they perceive.

    I really don't envy the BBC at the moment. They seem to be stuck between an unchangeable decision and a "user base" that cannot accept what that decision has brought.

    And, finally, I have to applaud Danielle and Andy Q. The fact that they still come here, and to take the time to make responses that they know won't necessarily make everybody happy shows a level of profesisonalism I can only dream of.
    And, no, I'm not being in any way flippant. I would flat out ignore the level of vitriol that they're getting levelled at them. (I hate wasting words on people who don't wish to take them on board.) That they still take the time to respond, and in a fairly polite manner at that, genuinely impresses me.

  • Comment number 44.

    The real test of BBC HD's encoders will be tonight, when Strictly Come Dancing is shown. Firstly, the images should be very clean entering the compressors coming straight out of TC1 never having touched a compressor. Secondly, the material -- very fast motion and sparkly dresses -- is an absolute killer for any compression system.

    It'll be interesting to see how it looks, but based on material seen so far I suspect it'll pass with flying colours and better than previous years encoders.


    Steven

  • Comment number 45.

    Assuming that Danielle and Andy's claims are correct, I wonder if they've done any testing at all across the entire transmission chain.

    It seems to me that the new encoders could well be putting out a better picture than the old encoders, but with less picture redundancy due to the bandwidth cut. By the time this signal reaches viewers, who will have data loss (surely it's impossible to avoid with broadcast transmission?), the decoder has to do the best job it can with what it's received. If there's less information received (regardless of bitrate), less information will be displayed. (This is a great simplification, but I think it makes my point.)

    It's also occurred to me that many people don't calibrate their TVs (or don't know how to/what it even means), whereas every panel at the BBC, I'd hope, is calibrated properly. Given that broadcast engineering has, in the past, always focused on what the picture looks like to the viewer, has the BBC done any subjective image comparisons on consumer-grade HDTVs with factory settings? If not, then why? What is it about HDTV that means you can do less testing and checks than the past 50 years of television broadcasting?

    I'd love to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt. I believe them when they say encoder improvements allow for a cut in bandwidth with no perceived quality loss; I've seen it myself with MPEG-4 encoders. In this case though, they really need to listen to the complaints instead of nodding along pretending to listen.

  • Comment number 46.

    "but with less picture redundancy due to the bandwidth cut. By the time this signal reaches viewers, who will have data loss (surely it's impossible to avoid with broadcast transmission?), the decoder has to do the best job it can with what it's received."

    The DVB-S transmission standard includes error correction, so reception is either perfect, or it'll break up into blocks. The Signal Quality meter on the box usual shows how hard the error corrector is having to work.

    " In this case though, they really need to listen to the complaints instead of nodding along pretending to listen."

    Trouble is a lot of complaints are necessarily down to the encoders. There have been some for example about the picture going soft when things move. This is a function of the way TV works and happens in SD, HD and at 4K. I saw a 4K (well, 2.8K in reality) JVC prototype on monday at IBC directly feeding a 4K LCD filming a model trainset. The image was staggering on the things that don't move, but the train itself was a blurred mess. There's a BBC research paper that shows that to keep HD resolution on moving objects requires 300p at least for HD.

    Steve

    Steven

  • Comment number 47.

    "Trouble is a lot of complaints are necessarily down to the encoders."

    Of course I mean, not necessarily down to the encoder above...

    Steve

  • Comment number 48.

    Dear smiler_jerg

    Thank you for the post. What you have said is very interesting. If traditional programme making routes are followed an image could pass through 6 to 8 different codecs. Each one its own more than up to the job.

    Added together though they can cause "concatenation failure". Some of you have commented on the BBC HD delivery requirements and these are set to minimise this.

    As we move to file based production from linear tape processes, there is a real danger programmes may mix and match codecs inappropriately - especially during the transition.

    Ideally the codec used in the camera should be used all the way to the playout server - and even on to the STB if we could.

    I hope I can cover more of this in the next blog

    Andy

  • Comment number 49.

    @Daveac post 37, I have to agree. I too failed to see anything good about land girls although I did only watch a very short clip. To me it was extremely soft and un-detailed.

    To allow the excuse that's how the director intended it, simply isn't acceptable in the days of clarity and sharpness of HD. If the director doesn't agree with the way BBC want programming sack them!! Who is the boss here? Who holds the purse and who's money is being spent?

    I hate to say this although I mentioned it elsewhere, but most of the BBC's programming is absolute tripe. Extremely boring, very little in the way of decent comedy, dull and politically correct cop programmes, dull and lifeless dramas. Losing a director or two would be a godsend not a loss. I'm not going to go over detailed programme feedback again as I've done it elsewhere. Suffice to say I've watched nothing on BBC channels since Pirates except Jack Dee Live at the Apollo - 1 programme. I can go weeks without touching either BBC channel. That says something about the content. Age wise I'm 40 going on 25 and my mother who feels exactly the same is 84. So it seems that more than one demographic are affected.

    @Tiggs post 43, "I really don't envy the BBC at the moment. They seem to be stuck between an unchangeable decision and a "user base" that cannot accept what that decision has brought."

    I'm not sure that's quite reflective of the situation. The decision to reduce bit rate may be unchangeable but the reason that there's an unhappy user base is not because of the bit rate reduction but because of the quality reduction. If it was unavoidable then I guess we'd moan and have to live with it but it isn't unavoidable. LUXE HD runs 4.5Mbs on their HD channel with material in instances better quality than BBC HD was at 14Mbs. Yes its all pre-recorded so could be 2 pass but so is 99% of BBC transmissions - a past excuse used. Its only really sport, the election broadcast and the odd live news report that's broadcast live by the BBC and no-one, not even the BBC are advocating 4.5Mbs anyway.

    The BBC were told about LUXE's performance and encoders by many users a long time before they changed their encoders but it seems it fell on deaf ears. Someone fancied something different and seemingly untested by the BBC and the BBC opened the purses and bought it. So to say its unavoidable is untrue. The BBC could have bought different equipment and could still buy different equipment to deliver the desired quality at the new bit rate. They've just chosen not to. It seems no-one wants to admit mistake.

    Tiggs "From the comments, people aren't going to accept anything other than things going back to the way they think they should be. Standard user response, I get it a lot in IT where I work. nothing behind the scenes matters, only what they perceive."

    What you perceive is very important in TV though as that's what Tv is. Reading between the lines of what you said I get the impression you're saying just ignore the complaints. The difference here is you can ignore it and your users can do nothing but complain to your boss who can ignore them.

    The BBC is bound by the terms of the licence to deliver cutting edge and industry leading quality. The difference here is we as users don't have to take it. We can take the BBC Court and Judicially review the BBC to see whether or not its picture quality is matching its obligations under the licence.

    @ Smiler Jerk, my tv is calibrated to THX II Standards using a dedicated THX II cinema disc.

  • Comment number 50.

    Thanks for all the replies Andy at last some positive discussion on picture quality.

    Look forward to your blog, but surely the best test is with our eyes to me the picture seems to be soft and I have noticed some artefacts. Surely HD should not have artefacts, could you comment on these.I used to be able to be practically touching the TV and there was no artefacts or pixellating with HD.

    Can Andy & Danielle and everyone else watch Stricly tonight to check out quality. We can flick between BBC1 and HD and check out the difference.

    Stricly has looked stunning in the past and coming from BBC studios should look good.

    Then lets put our thoughts on the blog.

    I would also like a answer to post 30.

    Thanks again Andy & Danielle dont forget to watch Strictly

  • Comment number 51.

    Andy ... you say:

    'There are sites that say the quality is good and there are sites that would prefer we used no compression at all.'

    Could you point me in the direction of these - as every site I visit is complaining of the dreadful state of the channel picture wise - it would be interesting to see other positive views apart from those of Danielle and yourself.

  • Comment number 52.

    Is the Newcastle v Impswich Game not on HD on Saturday 26th?? It is not showing on the Radio times Internet listings. I thought all The Championship Games were in HD/

  • Comment number 53.

    Were the Ateme encoders (as used by LUXE HD) even tested?

  • Comment number 54.

    Thanks for the post

    Personally, I feel the picture quality is largely far superior than previously (particularly with darker colours in Dramas etc).

    The breakup of picture during transitions did get me worried that perhaps quality was being compromised, good to hear you're onto it. I found it was particularly noticeable/distracting watching Beyonce last night.

    The lower resolution that BBC HD broadcasts on (compared to some other channels) inevitably takes the edge off of some programming, but i'll live with that.

  • Comment number 55.

    post 45 @Smiler_jerg

    'It's also occurred to me that many people don't calibrate their TVs (or don't know how to/what it even means), whereas every panel at the BBC, I'd hope, is calibrated properly'

    But many of the people posting here WILL have calibrated their TV with 'Spyder?' or at at the very least like me will have used a Calibration DVD.

    Also although we may be a critical 'sub-group' of viewers - we are only trying to hold to BBC to the quality standard they have undertaken to supply.

    I too would like to see the new codecs at 12Mbs for a couple of weeks.

    Cheers, daveac



  • Comment number 56.

    Strictly is back tonight. I was complaining about the picture quality on here a year ago, before the new encoders/bitrate drop.

    One thing solved it for me though. Upgrading from LCD to Plasma. What was once a grainy/noisy mess, became nearly stunning!!

    Tonight will be the big test.

  • Comment number 57.

    Why do we have to introduce HD as a wonderful new transmission.

    If previous policy had not been to condense channel transmission data, we would all be receiving HD now.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ Derek, I'm on plasma - a 428XD Kuro - supposed to be the best picture available. The picture on BBC HD has been poor on mine recently except for the odd programme I've highlighted.

  • Comment number 59.

    @Tiggspanther

    Regarding "From the comments, people aren't going to accept anything other than things going back to the way they think they should be. Standard user response, I get it a lot in IT where I work. nothing behind the scenes matters, only what they perceive."

    I also work in IT, and when the users are shouting thats normally a sign that an IT project is going to fail badly in my experience. The IT is nothing without the users, like BBC HD is nothing without its supportive viewers.

    My take on your analogy is BBC HD is like an IT project that's doing wrong - lots of debate from BBC HD about irrelevant technicalities and little thought for the user input or impact.

  • Comment number 60.

    Strictly is looking excellent tonight. No bitrate/encoder problems for me!!

    The non studio cameras are still only SD though. I thought that was being sorted?

    Good 5.1 as well.

  • Comment number 61.

    I've just had a look at Strictly and I'm strictly un-impressed.

    In parts it looks good eg. Bruce Forsyth stood with Tess Daley did indeed look impressive - very sharp and you could see every wrinkle on Bruce's face and every sequin in the background panel.

    However, when they cut to the interview with Rav Wilding his face looked soft and the in gym footage was absolutely terrible. Same with his female partners interview and same with the interview with Gary from Eastenders. I didn't watch beyond that as the programme holds no interest for me, but I'd have to say its a mixed bag maybe indicating some production issues rather than encoder ones here.

  • Comment number 62.

    "The BBC has an absolute responsibility to use bandwidth efficiently - whether on digital terrestrial muxes or on satellite"

    In what way is satellite bandwidth used efficiently by broadcasting 18 further regional variations of 2 channels on 2D? I understand how it has no effect on terrestial bandwidth,where the distribution mechanism is regional, but on satellite they consume 18 further channels. HD is reducing bandwidth to make more room when so much is being used for these redundant/duplicate transmissions.

  • Comment number 63.

    The red velvet curtains in the background get a bit noisy on panning shots and Tess's dress is a bit grainy but otherwise much improved over last year!

    Only the actual 'live' studio is HD Alsone.

  • Comment number 64.

    It would be nice if the scoreboard graphics were in HD, they look decidely SD! Overall, I think it's an improvement on last years PQ (at least for the live studio). The background grain seems to have gone, and it's coping better with things like beams of light, which used to look 'fizzy' round the edges.

  • Comment number 65.

    Re. Strictly
    There are compression problems on Bruces dark black suit on my tv - looks liquidish, there are artefacts , even in relatively still close up shots. Len's suit also has this but less so.

    An awful lot of SD in there I agree. Is it me or are most if not all of the graphics and computer effects in SD? - like the opening titles of all things, the voting split screen, the voting itself and their on-screen names? Its blocky. I know Andy doesn't like sharp HD but computer graphics are meant to be sharp. This is a repeat of the athletics when anything BBC Sports put on screen for graphics was clearly SD.

    Any person out of shot in the pink room has terrible blocky skin... and I don't think its acne. Its compression.

    This doesn't fit the bill for so called improved PQ with new encoders.

  • Comment number 66.

    @Alsone
    I think this is my tv vs yours but Bruce has relatively few wrinkles on my screen. I was thinking botox.

  • Comment number 67.

    Strictly

    Looks good to me, but I agree with the graphics looking SD. Also looks very bright to me but overall good.

  • Comment number 68.

    Strictly looked good - only in comparison to how dreadfully it looked in SD!

    I've made this point before but for me BBC HD is now just SD for big screens, goodness knows how people with 46in plus TVs can watch SD on programmes like this.

    As for the HD picture - it worked - but it wasn't excellent.

    Tess worn a red dress - but the texture and admittedly small pattern wasn't resolved at all.

    One other thing - the openning credits - I was expecting someone to have had a word with the graphic artists and say 'can you use an uncomplicated graphic so as not to stress the bandwidth' but no - heaven knows how they came across on SD pictures.

    Cheers, daveac


  • Comment number 69.

    Thanks for the responses from BBC HD Team.

    My guess is that minimum bit-rate for acceptable HD Picture Quality depends on the programme's content. So having 9Mbps for all must be a compromise. I to would welcome a trial of 12Mbps.

    Last night of the Proms 5.1 sound had many drop-outs which was a shame.

  • Comment number 70.

    Hi Andy, can you please trial the new encoders with a slightly higher bit rate of 12Mbps as suggested by many.

  • Comment number 71.

    @zuberip
    Its a given that the picture quality will be higher at 12mbps, even though they are throwing out all sorts of red herrings like "its won't automatically be better at a higher bitrate."

    But the channel has conflicting objectives to picture quality. The overarching objective of the channel is to reduce the bitrates being used. No idea why - costs or Andy's seeming obsession with the technicalities of compression.

  • Comment number 72.

    Re Strictly,
    I have several HD recordings of Strictly from last season and compared them to tonight's episode to compare the picture quality.

    I've made careful and objective comparisons betweem tonight and last season.

    Firstly, a bit of praise- the most noticeable difference between last season and this season is in general picture noise reduction, especially in the darkness on the ceiling shots. No idea if that's the encoder or at the studio end. Noise reduction is better this year.

    However, in terms of over-compression both seasons have LOTS of problems.

    For context I did not think Strictly was good PQ at all last season - it would be hard to make it worse this season in my view.

    The Group Mambo scene tonight - pausing the picture showed a large number of artefacts and compression all over the picture. A similar scene from last year had the same problem.

    The channel just can't cope with movement - that is a bitrate caused problem in my view. If Andy can educate us otherwise, then tell us what it is. I don't think its the cameras or the studio.

    Andy - Have you paused Strictly and seen the compression problems? Would an increase in bitrate not improve this issue?

    You can see it yourself if you record and pause the show.

    My conclusion would be that last year Strictly was bad on the old encoders and bitrate. We've now introduced new encoders, but because the bitrate has been cut way too far back (40% cut remember, when I hear the industry recommends 10% reduction for these new encoders) we've effectively got the same problem as before - compression problems.





  • Comment number 73.

    @BikeNutt post 63, that would explain it then. If only the studio stuff is HD then as most of what I saw was out of the studio footage, it would have been in SD.

    @Jasonic8 post 62, that's a very good idea! Whereas I can't speak for everyone, I personally would be very happy to give up regional variations in return for better quality HD and a 2nd BBC HD channel.

  • Comment number 74.

    Comment 66 - Brucie's wrinkles are off topic.

  • Comment number 75.

    Dear jasonic8

    Thank you for the post. The regional versions of the BBC are very important and we have a duty to deliver them on every platform.

    Andy

  • Comment number 76.

    So the majority opinion so far is that SDC was better or at least not worse than last year. So at least for a 'shiny floor' programme the new encoders and lower bitrate haven't caused any loss of quality.

    I still think a few programmes have suffered (or their production methods have changed) e.g. Coast., but on the whole I don't see a major problem.

    Land Girls, recently was excellent PQ as good as other BBC HD dramas like Lark Rise and Little Dorrit, so no degradation there.

    Production methods are the key to PQ. ITV HD have shown two Marples recently. The first was abysmal the second was perfect. Different director, different final product. Same encoder, same bitrate!!

    @ digitalscoobiedoo I'm not too technical, but what what is the point of looking at a paused image? If you need to pause an image to see artefacts, then why bother. Also HD is broadcast 1080 interlaced, so if you pause aren't you just seeing half the picture?

  • Comment number 77.

    Andy thanks for the comment. It doesn't really answer the question about efficient use of the spectrum though as Dianielle brought up in her post.

    In this day and age there should be a more sophisticated mechanism instead of using 18 almost duplicate channels. And that's just the BBC ones, when you look at ITV and C4 it comes to around 48 I think. That's a travesty! Satellite just doesn't suit regional variations like this. Does the USA have 45 transmissions for each channel? (45 is population based equivalent, if each state had on avg. 9 regions like BBC1&2 do between them, then it would be 468 veriants per channel). Regional information is on Freeview - it's the logical place for it. Perhaps there should be one channel on satellite dedicated to running local news on a continual loop for those that can't get freeview. You'd just tune in when your area is on. Or get a PVR to always cache the latest local news, so you can always watch it (dedicated tuner required -I know - unless that loop goes on every transponder to give 11 instead of 48 channels extra..hmmm...).

  • Comment number 78.

    I agree that there has to be a better way than broadcasting the exact same thing on so many channels for most of the day.

  • Comment number 79.

    Post #76 derek500

    Are you reading the same replies as me????

    'So the majority opinion so far is that SDC was better or at least not worse than last year. So at least for a 'shiny floor' programme the new encoders and lower bitrate haven't caused any loss of quality.'

    It wasn't 'better' than last years - but it could DO with being better.

    'I still think a few programmes have suffered (or their production methods have changed) e.g. Coast., but on the whole I don't see a major problem.'

    Coast has lost any impact that it had. The picture is not as good as it was. Do you you even see the high quality pictures of 'How We Built Britain' and 'Britain from Above'

    'Land Girls, recently was excellent PQ as good as other BBC HD dramas like Lark Rise and Little Dorrit, so no degradation there.'

    'Land Girls' picture to me is not as good in image quality as the other programmes you list.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 80.

    @daveac The majority of replies about SDC have been positive (don't forget Alsone thought the SD was bad HD and he said the live (HD bits) were 'good', 'impressive').

    As for Britain From Above, I was posting on here when it first aired, along with others, saying the PQ was awful. That was with the old encoders and the 16mbs bitrate.

  • Comment number 81.

    #derek500
    For Strictly you're suggesting that everything else is constant other than the bitrates and encoders, but we don't know that. I think I read they've upgraded television centre for HD. In which case that might be the explanation of the improvement. What has noticeably changed is the level of picture noise. I think noise arises at the production end, not the encoder.

    This explanation would be consistent why you are others are saying that Coast etc look worse. Coast hasn't changed its production (and I think are repeats actually aren't they?).

    I doubt whether Strictly is a comparison based on the same source material because its different episodes - like the Marple example, which I agree with.

    I have run comparisons on recordings of the same source material like Duffy and Wallander as well as Strictly. Whenever the same source material is used these seem worse.

    Re the use of pause, its just one of the methods I used last night. Irrespective of pausing the picture from both last nights Strictly and last seasons had compression problems. The channel still cannot cope well with movement despite new encoders. This is noticeable during Sports transmissions too.

  • Comment number 82.

    #74
    That was not a serious comment about Bruce. I was just observing the difference between different tv setups. Point taken however, I did not make that clear.

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    I watched part of SCD last night purely to see the standard of the PQ. PQ was better than usual but not as good as I have seen pre change of encoder and bitrate reduction. There was a lack of detail in the faces of the participants, probably elsewhere too, but I was studying the faces expecting to see lines, wrinkles and skin texture but these were not visible. I have seen this in the past particularly on close ups on Dragons Den.
    Overall I am very dissappointed with the PQ since the changes. I cannot believe Danielle and Andy cannot see the difference so I assume they are constrained by politics / policies. What is so frustrating is that no-one is prepared to give a proper explanation as to how the decision to broadcast at this standard was made or by whom.
    I have always been a supporter of the BBC as I suspect are the majority of posters on this blog. With HD Dogs and poor PQ that support is wearing thin.
    What I would like to see is BBC setting the standard as it has in the past. BBC you can do better, please do so.

    Roger Watkins.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ok, Ive been wondering why BBC HD has been looking so poor recently...

    I had a quick look at strictly come dancing to see if the HD was any good... Well i wasnt so happy. It looked very soft in places. When the people were dancing a could see motion blur and artifacts!! Ive never seen this on an HD broadcast(Ive got a plasma so ive never suffered from these things). It was annying me so much i had to switch over, and plus i think the show is rubbish!hah.

    I dont know if it was my tv or the broadcast but the contast had been turned up too much there was no detail on the whites. White shirts just looked like a bright white things. Tried adjusting stuff on my tv but didnt do anything.

  • Comment number 86.

    Championship Football

    Danielle why is the Newcastle v Impswich Game not showing on the BBCHD schedule for the 26th September?

    We were promised Championship games in HD and on the BBC football web site it states BBC 2 online and HD.

    Strictly for me last night was good quality but the SD graphics especially the contestants names were awful. Also at the end the group dance had lots of artefacts.As a previous post suggests pause this part of the program and look.

  • Comment number 87.

    @ SkyCaddie. It looks like the simulcasts of Strictly and Hole in the Wall have put paid to that. Being on BBC2 hasn't helped.

  • Comment number 88.

    @Danielle, couldn't the schedule be juggled to allow football and then put strictly out a little later than normal?

  • Comment number 89.

    Just watching Strictly Come dancing and it can only be descibed as terrible. First of all all the pracice shots were not even in HD. Also the subtitles looked a terrible mess and in SD. The noise level was extreamly high. The sound dropout problem was very evident. Pixalation was very evident thoughout. The fade problem was also very evident and actually was quite pretty with it blocking with a rainbow range of colours. Motion blur was very noticable on Bruces jacket as all the detail on his suite was lost when he moved even very slightly. Sometimes white shirts had a large white glows around them as though someone had overdone it with the video effects button. Overal this was even worse than the last night of the proms.

    I don't see why we should all have to pay the licence fee when the BBC produce such a low quality product. I think the licence fee should be abandond and people should be able to choose if they want to pay for this.

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree with the comments above - the live pictures were generally good however the sound was appalling - sound dropout and level consistency was dreadful. Why oh why can is this quality allowed to happen? Is no one monitoring this audio in presentation?

  • Comment number 91.

    Just watching the second episode of SCD and I think I speak for the majority of BBC HD's audience when I say that the picture is superb, just as it was last season.

    My enjoyment of BBC HD on my 42" Panny Plasma has not been affected by the reduction in bit rate (I wasn't even aware of the change until I came here) but then I'm not sat with my face an inch from the screen trying to find fault.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 92.

    Andy - please can you look into the audio issue - I've had to switch to BBC One as the glitching and quality of audio on Strictly tonight is spoiling the show. Does anyone monitor live presentation?

  • Comment number 93.

    Sorry for posting again but it sounds like there is no processing on the audio for Strictly just a raw feed with no limiter. A loud hit or round of applause and the audio is then heavily dipped, some channels are very loud - Tess's Mic for example - followed occasional loud cracks.

    Positively I thought the pic was good!

  • Comment number 94.

    @midzone. I too had terrible issues with sound dropping out or clipping etc. Glad other people noticed it, wasn't sure if it was the broadcast or my tv letting me down, never had any problems before

  • Comment number 95.

    Strictly Good Picture but constant soud drop outs and those poor graphics look apalling. I agree with above does no one monitor the live picture?

    Hopefully that 'Sound' man Andy can sort it out for next week.

    Dont suppose the football could be on channel 6945 next week.

    The Geordies relegated to The Fizzy Pop League and now relegated to Fuzzy SD on BBC 2.

  • Comment number 96.

    Yep, lots of problems here too with sound drop-outs on 'Strictly Come Dancing' on BBCHD on a SkyHD box. Hopefully Andy's looking into it?

  • Comment number 97.

    On SCD the picture seemed a little better than last night - but only that.

    As others have posted the constant sound dropouts were more of a problem tonight.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 98.

    @ trevorjharris "Pixalation was very evident thoughout. The fade problem was also very evident and actually was quite pretty with it blocking with a rainbow range of colours. Motion blur was very noticable on Bruces jacket as all the detail on his suite was lost when he moved even very slightly. Sometimes white shirts had a large white glows around them as though someone had overdone it with the video effects button"

    That's sounds exactly what SDC was like when I had my LCD. Now I've got a Panasonic plasma, it's perfect.

  • Comment number 99.

    Cannott stand the programme but watched 10 mins to see what the picture was like. As I expect with BBC HD these days, I was expecting the usual shambles, how ever it was better than I thought it would be.

    I thought it was very similar to how Later with Jools Holland is looking, The still shots were decent, colours looked more vivid than previously, but again movement shows the trouble with using unaceptable levels of bandwith.

    My overal honest impression is that the new encoder is delivering cleaner more vivid images, but sadly the low bandwith is is making the final image less detailed. Just have to compare Doctors and Dragons Den to see this.

    Lets stop blaming production and TV sets and lets be honest, the low bandwith is effecting quality. Its ok Andy and Danielle blaming production and TV sets but we have to remember people are mostly using teh same TV sets with the same settings.

    I really do believe that a slight increase to 12mbps, and a change in BBC HD management and staff would make the channel excellent once again.

    COME ON BBC, THE PAYING PUBLIC PAY YOUR WAGES, LISTEN TO US.

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't believe there is a problem with my tv as I only get these problems with BBC HD. I watch quite alot of football on Sky Sports 1 HD without any sound of picture problems. In fact both Sky and Eurosport HD channels are very good indeed. Eurosport does transmit quite alot of upscalled SD but that is generally a better quality than BBC HD. I have calibrated my TV and turned all the special effects off.

    There may be of course a compatability probelm between the H264 decoder in the Sky box and the new BBC encoders. I would have hoped that the BBC would have checked this as most people watch BBC HD on Sky boxes. The BBC have already admitted there is a bug in the encoder but there may well be further bugs yet to be uncovered.

    Why has the BBC done nothing to correct these problems. They should have reinstated the original encoders until the problems are fixed. BBC HD channel is not meant to be an experimental channel.



 

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