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BBC HD Picture Quality: some myths laid to rest

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 17:12 UK time, Friday, 11 December 2009

Over the course of the last week, the debate about BBC HD picture quality which has been running since August has entered a new phase. The Head of Technology for BBC HD, Andy Quested, has serialised an extended review of his response to all the areas that have been covered over the course of the many posts on this subject, and included in that epic some insights into the results of the technical tests that have been carried out to assess picture quality. Looking at your comments I can see that there are still areas on which our views differ.

As I have said previously our BBC HD service is optimised to deliver to typical viewing set ups - it is not designed to be perfect at very close quarters, or on a 90" projection screen for example. No HD channel as a general rule will offer the same quality as bluray, any more than standard definition television offers the same quality as DVDs. The work that of course has taken place behind the scenes to assess whether - aside from our technical view - the majority of viewers watching in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel has shown that as a group, they are.

In broadening the range of programmes we make in HD, and increasing the number of hours of programming made available, it is inevitable that there will be greater variation in styles. Standard definition television - at least from the BBC - does not offer a consistent "look", nor would we want it to. HD from the BBC does deliver in a range of styles - and that is not always the bright, crisp look which for some is synonymous with HD. There are a number of programmes that we make where that kind of appearance would feel very odd indeed. Different types of cameras used in different ways, with different techniques in post production, will deliver different outcomes. That is a key part of the migration of HD from the (albeit beautiful) margins of television to the mainstream. And it is in my view critical that as HD takes hold across television production there is scope for directors and producers to experiment. The challenge for those of us overseeing that progression is to take a view on the outcome of those experiments, to embrace those that deliver advances and to kill off those that don't. It is worth saying that there is a strict process of technical review for every programme delivered to the BBC (in SD or in HD), and that not every HD programme passes those tests, or proceeds to HD broadcast.

There has been a very thorough process of engagement by the BBC with these issues - both via the blog and through other routes. But that engagement in the debates around picture quality cannot automatically deliver agreement. There are programmes which some feel look disappointing, and others which are generally felt to look great. There have been no changes to the bitrate (of 9.7mbps) over this period. As we have indicated, there are some concerns that we have about picture handling in very specific circumstances by the new encoders. These are being addressed and will be fixed through software releases over the coming weeks.

But let me lay some myths to rest:

These are actions that we would have taken in any case because to produce an HD service which looks the same as an SD service would clearly be a waste of time The reduction in bitrate is not specifically related to Freeview HD - and to us it is absolutely critical that HD in general, and the BBC's HD service in particular, is available to everyone in the UK who wishes to watch it, whether that is through a subscription or a non-subscription route, or indeed on demand through BBC iPlayer.

The BBC is not launching BBC One HD early next year on Freeview - as one newspaper report has suggested. We are, of course, offering BBC HD (our existing service) through Freeview HD which will become available to consumers early next year in parts of the UK, and we will of course continue to look at how we can strengthen and expand the range of content which the BBC makes available in HD, recognising that you and others in our audience have indicated to us already that you would like to receive a BBC One HD service from us.

There will be no "closing down" of this debate, any more than there has been to date. At times for administrative purposes it makes sense to concentrate discussion on a particular topic within a single thread. I don't think there is anyone reading this blog who could legitimately claim that they have been unable to find somewhere within the BBC to make their views clear. Although our views may differ at times, I know that we do share a passion for HD as simply a fantastic way of bringing television pictures to life.

I feel that it is now time to draw a line under my further contribution here to the debate here. I'll be focusing on - and blogging about as appropriate - other issues relating to the development of BBC HD. And I will of course be keeping picture quality along every part of the HD production and broadcast chain under surveillance.

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision

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Comments

Page 1 of 13

  • Comment number 1.

    Please,

    Can you answer the specific questions in the HD Christmas Schedule thread?

  • Comment number 2.

    The debate isn't being closed down, but you're drawing a line under your contribution.

    Does that mean another person will be taking up the picture quality challenge?

    If not, it's as good as ending any debate.

  • Comment number 3.

    "I feel that it is now time to draw a line under my further contribution here to the debate here. I'll be focusing on - and blogging about as appropriate - other issues relating to the development of BBC HD. And I will of course be keeping picture quality along every part of the HD production and broadcast chain under surveillance."

    In other words, you feel there is no problem (yet tons of other people do), therefore you're drawing a line under it. By drawing a line under it and refusing to admit there is a problem, you are effectively not communicating with us... which is something that is lacking here.

    Why haven't you been commenting on blogs like Andy Quested has been brilliantly doing over the past few days?

    To be frank Danielle, your communication with us - the target audience, the viewer - is poor.

    The debate will continue until PQ is improved. It's not a myth when dozens of people can see it for theirselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well, at least that's all wrapped up nicely then!

    It was our eyes not able to understand the new techniques of programme makers, phew . . . I thought my telly was broken.

    Thanks BBC HD - you're the best!

  • Comment number 5.

    The myth is one in your own mind, that everyone here is complaining about "the look" that you keep rabbiting on about. It's not "the look", it's about picture quality, and if you can't tell the difference between the two, then you're probably right to withdraw from further debate, as you really have nothing to contribute.

    On the other hand, it says a lot when you are now openly declaring that you won't discuss it further.

    A BBC executive having a tantrum?

  • Comment number 6.

    To #5

    Not a tantrum as such, just the usual corporate smoke & mirrors.

    Having worked inside large corporate institutions for over 20 years, I recognise the exact tone and message from many an email.

    You are more than welcome to construct your own reality, please don't expect us to join you there.

  • Comment number 7.

    Danielle,

    I appreciate that BBC HD offers us the widest range of programming currently in the UK.

    But even my wife can see a reduction in picture quality and she's got cateracts.

  • Comment number 8.

    "As we have indicated, there are some concerns that we have about picture handling in very specific circumstances by the new encoders. These are being addressed and will be fixed through software releases over the coming weeks."

    As you have hardly indicated. Those are weasel words you have used. You and your team have at no point indicated the specific programmes in which you consider to be of concern. The blog correspondents have listed many complete with screen grabs and there has been no reply about any of them - well maybe Andy called one interesting before later attempting to undermine the making of screen grabs.

    Had you actually participated in a dialogue rather than making often snarky comments, had your team discussed issues on an incident by incident basis this could have been a much more civilised discussion.

  • Comment number 9.

    "...No HD channel as a general rule will offer the same quality as bluray, any more than standard definition television offers the same quality as DVDs."

    While the BBC HD channel doesn't need to match the quality of the best Blu-ray releases, doesn't the BBD HD service license remit require the BBC HD channel to "deliver a very high quality technical service to viewers, by adhering to, or seeking to exceed, industry standards for picture resolution"

    If the other channels are broadcasting at 1920x1080 and BBC HD is broadcasting at 1440x1080, and other channels are broadcasting at higher bitrates than the BBC, is the BBC HD channel adhering to or exceeding industry standards, including those for picture resolution?

  • Comment number 10.

    Danielle,

    I am not sure you realise how you are coming across.

    You say

    "There will be no "closing down" of this debate"

    yet

    "I feel that it is now time to draw a line under my further contribution "

    How can there be debate if the head of the channel won't contribute?

    You are simply saying we the viewers are all wrong and whatever is said in these blogs you are going to carry on regardless.

    If you think Andys PSNR analysis has put the issue to bed and proved the encoders are doing a good job then you are wrong.

    This PSNR analysis (or the interpretation of the results) showed there was no problem with the football match that actully suffered gross blocking during camera lighting changes.

    So sorry you are convincing no-one.

    Secondly what are you going to do about all these productions that suffer from motion smear and softness?

    Need we mention gavin and stacey? The HD channel is pointless if directors / production teams degrade the picture quality to close to SD levels because they are trying to make some kind of artistic point.

    I think you just need reminding who pays for the BBC. Alienating people is not a good idea.

  • Comment number 11.

    Also, anyone else wonder why this latest blog entry was created?

    It says nothing that Andy's blog already hasn't. Makes me wonder if it's the old divide and conquer tactic? Split the opposition into two, then four, then . . .

    Until there is no longer a unified voice on the matter.

  • Comment number 12.

    Danielle,

    Your decision "to draw a line under my further contribution here to the debate here" before the key questions have been answered about BBC HD picture quality deterioration is disappointing. One of your senior team members mislead us into believing, if we were patient, those key questions would be answered, but they haven't been. In case you have somehow missed them, here they are again:

    1. Why was the higher bit-rate not sustainable?

    2. Why can't we have a short period back on the higher bit-rate as a simple test?

    3. Why can't the satellite transmissions be statistically multiplexed to make better use of the available bandwidth on the transponder?

    4. Why is BBC HD being transmitted in Scandinavia at a higher resolution and a higher bit-rate than that being transmitted to the licence paying public in the UK?

    5. Will the BBC be increasing the bitrate in the near future? Yes?No

    6. Will the BBC be changing the picture format to 1920x1020? Yes/No

    7. Will the BBC be introducing a variable bitrate? Yes/No

    I lay down a challenge to you Danielle:

    As the additional bandwidth needed isn't currently being used on the satellite transponder, give us a day, just one day at 16 MB/S. This will prove once and for all whether your very public assertion that there has been no picture quality deterioration attributable to the bit-rate reduction, is correct or not.

  • Comment number 13.

    I cannot say that I fully understand the technical issues but I do agree with the general postings about the BBC HD channel losing Picture Quality. What worries me is that the BBC is doing joint partnership research into Super HD as recently demonstrated - Question is can this research expenditure now be justified with the amount of complaints about the current HD? Will the BBC Trust make cuts in this research field as a result? And is the current HD team involved in the Super HD team? If so are there a lot of arguments about the Super HD Picture Quality in this partnership?

  • Comment number 14.

    "Draw a line under"

    In other words get lost there is no more debate

    well Danielle I am now convinced there is a conspiracy do not treat me and the rest of the viewers like fools. The PQ most of the time is awful and blaming this on the producers or program type does not wash The BBC are determined to go down the route of bit rate reduction no matter what the cost to PQ. It is obvious why you will not increase the bit rate even temporarily because if you did the PQ would impove immediatley and you have gone far to far down the road of denial to let this happen.

    My goodness the destruction of a pristine quality service and FOR WHAT REASON


  • Comment number 15.

    Danielle,

    I've listened to all the reasoned debate, valid questions, all of which appear to have gone unanswered. I feel there's now no other option but to be blunt.

    You clearly have utter contempt for your viewers, and the people who pay your wages. After this, no-one is going to take anything you post on any other topic seriously. You are a liability to the BBC.

    You must resign, and you must resign now.

    If you need a new job, there's a general election coming up next year. Your talent for avoiding questions, and re-writing reality to suit your own agenda, would seem to make you ideally qualified for a job as a politician.

    Goodbye.

  • Comment number 16.

    Words fail me.

    I used to work for an organisation that had core technical values at its heart, whilst maintaining the fact that its purpose was to produce programmes of world class standing.

    Now, when it has been recognised by all of us on here that the technical quality of BBC HD has deteriorated, and we are fobbed off with being diverted by 'program styles' rather than what we can see with our own eyes in programs (taking INTO account we understand depth of field, program makers styles and all that Ms Nagler and Mr Quested drone on about), Ms Nagler declines to have any further contribution to this debate.

    As others have said, RIP BBC HD.

  • Comment number 17.

    "I feel that it is now time to draw a line under my further contribution here to the debate here. "

    Well Danielle you are the Head of BBC HD there is no way that anyone is going to let you abdicate your resposibilities that easily. Ultimately you are resposible for BBC HD picture quality. Every where you go whether on the net, or at a press conference there will be someone ready to pounce with the dreaded question "What about the Picture Quality". On the net and now in the national newspapers this has become the number one issue with BBC HD.

    You say

    "the majority of viewers watching in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel has shown that as a group, they are."

    Well how come the vote on the "Join Freesat" web site shows that 60% of voters believe that the picture quality is "not as good as before". This is with a sample of over 1200 votes. What evidence have to got to back up your claim. If you have any evidence you should tell us what it is or stop making such unfounded claims.

    Your point about viewing distance is also rubbish. I have a 46" screen and sit about 3 meters from the screen and even at that distance the poor quality is easily seen. I have 20/20 vision so at that distance I can resolve 653 lines which demonstrates how poor BBC HD is. We are not expecting the picture quality to equal that of a Blu-ray but there is no reason why it cannot equal that of Sky Sports One HD.

    Again you raise the smoke screen of Programme Styles. We have all made it clear that this is not the issue. Some of us do understand about soft lenses and depth of field this is not what we are complaining about.

    We waited 3 months for Andy's blog and they were a big disappointment. They did however reveal the unprofessional approach that the BBC has to the evaluation of picture quality. My responces to his blogs give some more details.

    Again you talk about the BBC's "engagement" about these issues. Well this time Andy has been responding to posts but you never do. Again and again people put forward straight forward questions which the BBC fail to answer.

    If Freeview HD is not the reason for the drop in bitrate what is?

    Have a happy Christmas and let us all hope for a better HD new year.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think the title of this blog should be changed from
    BBC HD Picture Quality: some myths laid to rest
    to
    BBC HD Picture Quality: laid to rest

    BBC HD RIP

  • Comment number 19.

    Can I just say a big thankyou to Nick!

    After months of heated debate on here, he has been a great moderator and has done a good job.



  • Comment number 20.

    Danielle,

    You mention that the bit rate was reduced to be more economical with bandwidth, and several have commented that this is (perhaps) due to the (even more) limited bandwidth that will be apparent on Freeview HD fitting 4 HD channels on one multiplex.

    In comparison the bandwidth on Freesat is not so much if an issue, so perhaps, you are just trying to use the same bandwidth for both Freeview and Freesat to stop discussions about differences in picture quality between the 2 distribution mechanisms?

    Alternatively why can't Freesat HD have a better picture quality than Freeview HD?

    Or perhaps you just want to go through 1 encoding path for all distributions? If this is the case will SD channels on Freesat be degraded to match Freeview SD levels as well?

    Whether you are also trying to do the same with the (even more) limited bandwidth for iPlayer is unclear, but I assume you expect iPlayer to offer poorer picture quality?

    However there are also comments about the move from old to new encoders and the improvements in encoding that result from improvements in encoding algorithms. I understand there are expectations that a fifth HD channel could be added to the HD multiplex in the future as a result of these future improvements.

    Have you made these bandwidth reductions now so that adding the fifth HD channel will not result in further HD degradation?

    Are you expecting further improvements in HD encoding from later firmware releases to improve picture quality?

    Who is the manufacturer of the new HD encoders? Have they offered the BBC any assistance in resolving the perceived problems and if so what is their view on the situation?

    Please can you “come clean” as to what the BBC’s overall strategy is with how the various distribution channels will be supported and what plans you have for the future and what you are doing now to support this.

    If the bandwidth reduction is to enable standardised encoding and picture quality across distribution channels then just please state it.

    Please also remember you are “our BBC”...

    Regards - PC

  • Comment number 21.

    Danielle Nagler can add 'the nail in the coffin on BBC HD' to her list of achievements this year.

    I would think her posting above has done nothing but add fuel to the fire.

    Words fail me.

  • Comment number 22.

    To add to the comments from exbeebengineer here are some from someone I know working within the News logistics area of the BBC.

    "Reading between the lines here I sense a typical BBC compromise to do with strategic planning and cost-cutting. In the old days everything technical was well over-specced and, if we hadn't invented or developed it ourselves (farewell Kingswood Warren) then we specced it to a hand-picked number of trusted suppliers (many ex-BBC employees) who built what we wanted, how we wanted it.

    These days we seem to buy any old xxxx ( my redaction ) off the shelves, with decision-making often seemingly in the hands of ill-advised management bods who believe whatever sales-pitch they've been fed - often despite heartfelt pleas from those who actually know and understand how this stuff works. I reckon these codecs were offered as an apparent technical solution at an unchallengeable price. Virtually everything in the BBC these days is done cut-price and to less than satisfactory standards. Technical matters are probably worst affected as very few managers understand them. We regularly accept video and audio quality that is sub-par, and the staff who process it are no longer trained to see problems for what they are or to sort them if they do. It's heartbreaking... We have broadcast-critical failures on a fairly regular basis now that the public would previously never have noticed because they'd have been spotted and dealt with before getting to air, or the in-system redundancies woudl have taken up the slack and by-passed them. "

  • Comment number 23.

    #22: What a damning, and all too credible, comment. If the newspapers are trawling the blogs for quotes, this is the one.

  • Comment number 24.

    (or perhaps #15!)

  • Comment number 25.

    Danielle,

    Clearly you are unable or unwilling to answer the pertinent questions that have been raised in Andy's blog. Also, you seem too afraid to continue this debate, by virtue of "drawing a line under further contribution . . ."

    So, one really simple question for you to consider as you bring your CV up to date.

    Do you honestly feel, as head of BBC HD, you have done a good job in all of this? Do your contributions so far make you proud?

    Even the most parsimonious of observers would concur that if you did, you would have had the courage and professional pride to address these issues.

    Is the sand you have your head buried in nice & comfy?

    Surely you can see this is getting out of hand and is about to properly blow up in your face?

    I know with utter certainty that if I were to treat just one customer with the level of contempt you display, I would be fired.

    I fail to see why you should be treated any differently.

  • Comment number 26.

    #24 (HD_fan428) It seemed like reasoned discussion wasn't going to get us anywhere. Ranting is the only way left to go :-)

  • Comment number 27.


    The only myths around here are the ones yourself and Andy have been spouting i.e. bitrate reduction does not affect picture quality.

    If you have any respect for the license fee payers and BBC HD viewers then please answer the questions that have been posted numerous times but so far ignored...

    PS Nice to see Sky are reporting these blogs even though they quoted me incorrectly.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well! Where to startwith a reply?

    What Danielle has already left the blog - but hang on - we've barely heard form her at all in recent weeks.

    And then what do get get:-

    "..the debate about BBC HD picture quality which has been running since August has entered a new phase."

    'the debate' - Maybe our debate with Andy's blog posts - I don't think you Danielle have 'debated' at all - mainly just the odd

    prononcement from BBC Towers!

    You state (about Andy's Blog posts) "..and included in that epic some insights into the results of the technical tests.."

    Results yes - insights in to how they tested yes - but nothing about the subjective views of the testers and any real insights as to

    how well this new codec would could be used to improve the picture rather than how far it can be reduced.

    You talk about very watching at close quarters and 90in projectors? Well I've followed all these blogs and of the many, many

    posters only one has mentioned sitting (by your standards) 'very close' and only one has mentioned using a projector.

    The vast majority here seem to have TVs (LCD and Plasma) in the range of maybe 37in to 55in with possibly 42 & 46in being the

    most common. In fact the very screen size where watching HD pictures makes sence!

    "No HD channel as a general rule will offer the same quality as bluray"

    Red Herring! Time and Time again people have posted that they DON'T expect Blu-ray standard from BBC HD - just that it

    should compare favourablyor surpass other availble HD channels.

    Blu-ray has been meaned by posters (myself included) to show that we know what our HD TV are capable of and that we have

    set them up with care and properly connected AND that whilst we still see very high quality from our Blu-rays now as we did six

    months ago the same cannot be said of our BBC HD viewing.

    Our TVs are functioning as before, our vision is functioning as before but BBC HD has become not as good as DVD never mind

    Blu-ray!

    Another Red Herring - "does not offer a consistent "look" " - all this about different look etc is something here posters have

    repeatedly said isn't what with are pointing out - but even in programmes like 'Countryfile' and 'Gardeners World' ie more factual

    programming the 'quality' has gone!

    "and to us it is absolutely critical that HD in general, and the BBC's HD service in particular, is available to everyone in the UK

    who wishes to watch it, whether that is through a subscription or a non-subscription route, or indeed on demand through BBC

    iPlayer." - "or indeed on demand through BBC iPlayer"

    So the BBC HD need to get down to the BBC iPlayer HD standard (see below)?

    Quote Anthony Rose :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/12/bbc_hd_picture_quality.html

    "using H.264 and an encoding bitrate of 3Mbps or greater (we actually settled on 3.2Mbps as our preferred HD bitrate"

    Is that the long term plan Danielle?

    "I'll be focusing on - and blogging about as appropriate - other issues"

    But with a HD channel that doesn't now do what it claims to do (or to offer) - will your 'other issues' be to do a re-write of '5 times

    the detail' and 'stunning HD' to more reflect the downmarket path you have taken it.

    The sad thing is I feel the posters here - and I include Andy in this, care far more about the quality and reputation of the BBC HD

    Channel that the Head of BBC HD appears to - at least no this blogs.

    Please BBC Trust this situation needs to examined further by you becasuse it appears that Danielle is walking away from a flood of

    concerned viewers that want to remain loyal to the channel and see it as upholding the best in broadcasting.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 29.

    Danielle, I've not done you the courtesy of reading your email to me, nor this latest Blog yet. So far, I've had a very busy evening just answering emails and in-between that reading Andy's Blog and the comments that follow. Before it gets too late though, and everyone reading abandons your Blog, I've just posted a message over on Andy's here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/12/the_hitchhikers_guide_to_encod_5.html

    I don't want to incur Nick's wrath by repeating some of it verbatim on this one, so I'd be very grateful if those new BBC IDs commenting recently, who are not already in touch with me, would please just jump over there now and read my request to them in that comment.

    I'll now take some time out to read this Blog and the following comments, before I add anything new. Cheers. Paul.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sorry about the layout of my post #28 -
    I wrote in a text editor and dropped it straight into the blog - I'd spend so long on it.

    Here it is again (hopefully not messed up):-

    Well! Where to start with a reply?

    What Danielle has already left the blog - but hang on - we've barely heard form her at all in recent weeks.

    And then what do get get:-

    "..the debate about BBC HD picture quality which has been running since August has entered a new phase."

    'the debate' - Maybe our debate with Andy's blog posts - I don't think you Danielle have 'debated' at all - mainly just the odd prononcement from BBC Towers!

    You state (about Andy's Blog posts) "..and included in that epic some insights into the results of the technical tests.."

    Results yes - insights in to how they tested yes - but nothing about the subjective views of the testers and any real insights as to how well this new codec would could be used to improve the picture rather than how far it can be reduced.

    You talk about very watching at close quarters and 90in projectors? Well I've followed all these blogs and of the many, many posters only one has mentioned sitting (by your standards) 'very close' and only one has mentioned using a projector.

    The vast majority here seem to have TVs (LCD and Plasma) in the range of maybe 37in to 55in with possibly 42 & 46in being the most common. In fact the very screen size where watching HD pictures makes sence!

    "No HD channel as a general rule will offer the same quality as bluray"

    Red Herring! Time and Time again people have posted that they DON'T expect Blu-ray standard from BBC HD - just that it should compare favourablyor surpass other availble HD channels.

    Blu-ray has been meaned by posters (myself included) to show that we know what our HD TV are capable of and that we have set them up with care and properly connected AND that whilst we still see very high quality from our Blu-rays now as we did six months ago the same cannot be said of our BBC HD viewing.

    Our TVs are functioning as before, our vision is functioning as before but BBC HD has become not as good as DVD never mind Blu-ray!

    Another Red Herring - "does not offer a consistent "look" " - all this about different look etc is something here posters have repeatedly said isn't what with are pointing out - but even in programmes like 'Countryfile' and 'Gardeners World' ie more factual programming the 'quality' has gone!

    "and to us it is absolutely critical that HD in general, and the BBC's HD service in particular, is available to everyone in the UK who wishes to watch it, whether that is through a subscription or a non-subscription route, or indeed on demand through BBC iPlayer." - "or indeed on demand through BBC iPlayer"

    So the BBC HD need to get down to the BBC iPlayer HD standard (see below)?

    Quote Anthony Rose :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/12/bbc_hd_picture_quality.html

    "using H.264 and an encoding bitrate of 3Mbps or greater (we actually settled on 3.2Mbps as our preferred HD bitrate"

    Is that the long term plan Danielle?

    "I'll be focusing on - and blogging about as appropriate - other issues"

    But with a HD channel that doesn't now do what it claims to do (or to offer) - will your 'other issues' be to do a re-write of '5 times the detail' and 'stunning HD' to more reflect the downmarket path you have taken it.

    The sad thing is I feel the posters here - and I include Andy in this, care far more about the quality and reputation of the BBC HD Channel that the Head of BBC HD appears to - at least no this blogs.

    Please BBC Trust this situation needs to examined further by you becasuse it appears that Danielle is walking away from a flood of concerned viewers that want to remain loyal to the channel and see it as upholding the best in broadcasting.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 31.

    OK - I've only just started reading Danielle's Blog and already I feel another little project coming on. Danielle says:

    "The work that of course has taken place behind the scenes to assess whether - aside from our technical view - the majority of viewers watching in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel has shown that as a group, they are."

    This screams out to me for an FOI submission to the BBC asking for the full details, and results, of that work, i.e.

    1) Tell me what work has taken place to assess whether the majority of viewers watching BBC HD in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel.

    2) Send me the full results of that work.

    3) Etc.......

    I am already well versed in the procedure for submitting FOIs, and I also learned something from mistakes made last time around.

    Like with the way people took up on the (11) unanswered questions, would others now like to add on this blog new comments with examples of other things that I should include in my next FOI submission?

    I'm thinking already that there's a lot more I'd like to know about those Encoder Tests than Andy has revealed - albeit that I can also see the pitfalls in pursuing that.

    None-the-less, I hand the baton on to you all. If I get a good response, then we'll see what else we can wheedle out of the Corporation despite their stonewalling.

    For more info, check here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi/requesting_information/

  • Comment number 32.

    Paul,

    I don't understand why you haven't been to The Sun about this already?
    Natural World tonight about Radio Ribbon was absolutely terrible.

  • Comment number 33.

    Re Danielle's message - words fail me!

    In respect of the growing list of questions either for someone from the BBC to answer here, or as part of an FOI I would like to suggest the following addition;

    "Is the BBC's lease of space on the Astra/Eurobird cluster at 28.2/28.5 East based on a fixed period with no bandwidth restrictions, purely on bandwidth/traffic or a mixture of the two?

    The reason for asking is that, if, as I suspect, the lease is for a fixed time period only, then it does not matter how much is used/not used as the space has effectively been paid for. Leaving transponders half empty is NOT an efficient use of public funds, so why can't the bit-rate be increased from Monday through until the new year - it'll either back up Ms. Nagler's claims or the claims of the viewers and customers.

    As a slight aside, I did a blind re-scan of 28E earlier on and noticed that Sky already have a 3D channel set up (albeit with a non-standard S/R).

  • Comment number 34.

    32 @hdblogger, honest guv, it wasn't me that started that. My efforts went in vain for several months, and even the result of those was a misquote in my newspaper of choice. However, if anyone should wish to engage with the press they can be easily contacted, as detailed here: http://www.journalisted.com/list

    That said, I've now read everything the BBC has had to say on the matter of our PQ complaints and realise that Andy's promises, in the end, went unfulfilled.

    People are continuing to pose questions to Danielle here, and trying to draw her into debate. It's not going to happen - she wasn't going to be drawn into debate in the 4 months before she drew a line under her further contribution. If my laptop wasn't broken I could have double-checked, but I'm almost certain she never once commented within any of the PQ (or successor) Blogs. She has most likely packed up and gone home and is unlikely to even read anything you write here!

    Please all now forget making any more comment here! 4 months of it has proven it is just a wasted effort. We now have about 1000 pages of A4 generated from these Blogs, perhaps more when I finally get it all pasted into Word. Like Danielle, I think we too should now go elsewhere. Please all now concentrate on writing to me instead. I guarantee to take one document from each of you to the BBC Trust, so please make them good. Take your best Blog comments, newly thought-out arguments, evidence, or technical points, and put them into one document each, then send them to me at my address found here: http://www.zen97962.zen.co.uk/.

    As Danielle says, it is time to draw a line on the so-called PQ debate in these Blogs. We must now take our trust, and have faith in rational judgement on reasoned argument, by passing it over to the BBC Trust. Believe me, anything else said here is just a waste of your time! Let us not allow them to bury FTA HD TV just yet! Join me and we can take them on together.

  • Comment number 35.

    To what use are you going to put the bits you've "saved" by cutting BBC HD's bitrate?

    I think we should be told. So far, you've reduced the picture quality so you can send more null packets.

    It makes no sense! I'd love to know what your motivations really are.

  • Comment number 36.

    RIP - BBCHD

  • Comment number 37.

    Oh, just read Post 33. I'd already forgotten my FOI challenge. That's all that's left for this Blog I'm afraid - let's use it to build up the next FOI request to the BBC.

    1) Tell me what work has taken place to assess whether the majority of viewers watching BBC HD in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel.

    2) Send me the full results of that work.

    3) Is the BBC's lease of space on the Astra/Eurobird cluster at 28.2/28.5 East based on a fixed period with no bandwidth restrictions, purely on bandwidth/traffic or a mixture of the two? (N.B. - read the FOI website re: framing the questions - this one won't get answered as is)

  • Comment number 38.

    "No HD channel as a general rule will offer the same quality as bluray, any more than standard definition television offers the same quality as DVDs."

    SD channels could easily be _higher_ quality than DVD - the BBC only has space for four such channels on Freeview, but chooses to broadcast 7 streams instead. Quantity over quality.

    HD channels could easily be as good as BluRay - but most commercial broadcasters choose a lower (albeit very good) quality level - and for some reason the BBC has chosen to undercut them.

    Cheers,
    David.

  • Comment number 39.

    Danielle,

    Many thanks for taking the time to write a blog concerning the heated debates that are taking place before, during and after Andy Quested's excellent daily blogs.

    However I must comment on what you have said above as either you have completely missed the point, are having trouble understanding the technicalities of the BBC HD technology or have some other agenda.

    I quote from above - "As I have said previously our BBC HD service is optimised to deliver to typical viewing set ups - it is not designed to be perfect at very close quarters, or on a 90" projection screen for example. No HD channel as a general rule will offer the same quality as bluray, any more than standard definition television offers the same quality as DVDs. The work that of course has taken place behind the scenes to assess whether - aside from our technical view - the majority of viewers watching in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel has shown that as a group, they are."

    Who said we were all watching on 90" displays? Also mentioned in one of the previous BBC HD blogs, I think maybe one of Andy's from this week it basically said that there is no benefit watching HD material on a screen display smaller than 37", I myself watch on a 42" Panasonic Plasma.

    No one is expecting Blu-ray quality, we are expecting the return of the pre-august quality levels. I am not insane or dellusional, I HAVE pre-august recordings on my PVR and can clearly see the difference!!!

    You also mention the majority of viewers are happy? do you have copy of this survey that you can share with us?

    I quote again - "In broadening the range of programmes we make in HD, and increasing the number of hours of programming made available, it is inevitable that there will be greater variation in styles. Standard definition television - at least from the BBC - does not offer a consistent "look", nor would we want it to. HD from the BBC does deliver in a range of styles - and that is not always the bright, crisp look which for some is synonymous with HD. There are a number of programmes that we make where that kind of appearance would feel very odd indeed. Different types of cameras used in different ways, with different techniques in post production, will deliver different outcomes."

    Could you expand on which programmes in particular you would regard as not requiring a bright, crisp look? Would nature, sports and chat shows not benefit from this bright crisp look? e.g. "Natural World", "Jonathan Ross" etc...

    One programme which I consistently return to as a flagship of what you can do with BBC HD is the Top Gear - Polar Challenge episode which was broadcast on 2nd January 2009. I am happy to supply a copy of this if required for your comparison against current broadcasted material. The colours and detail, and yes definition is stunning in this recording and is what made me tell everyone about BBC HD. And of course HD does stand for High Definition does it not? otherwise I am sure it would not have been called that in the first place.

    And yes I am very passionate about BBC HD :) I haven't been watching right from the very beginning but I have been here since August 2008.

    I wish you well Danielle and I hope that you will find a way to put the high definition back into BBC HD.

    Best Regards

    Dave K.

  • Comment number 40.

    To further add, I'm just watching the end of the Top Gear - Polar Challenge recording from 2nd January 2009. There is some of the BBC HD Preview material at the end after Top Gear finishes of Wallander and the quality is amazing, its the bit in the yellow (rapeseed?) field, the colour is very vivid and the whole scene almost jumps out of the screen into the living room. This is what we would like back and this is what is missing from current broadcasts.

    Maybe I should write a letter to Jimmy Saville?

  • Comment number 41.

    Andy has posted some answers to individuals over on his (today's) Blog - and has promised another Blog tomorrow. Don't write him off just yet!

  • Comment number 42.

    Danielle continues the spin on What Satellite:

    http://blog.wotsat.com/page/whatsat?entry=bbc_hd_boss_sticks_up

    She continues to pursue the "film look" argument but I have yet to hear from anyone who believes she is right. Danielle also defends the BBC's quality control system but this has been contradicted by a BBC employee in post #22.

    An odd feature of these blogs that there has not as far as I remember a single post from anyone who does not believe the picture has deteriated. I find this really strange as I would expect at least a few people would admit to not being able to see any difference. In the "Join Freesat" poll 30% said they could not see the difference. Andy admitted that some BBC employees could not see the differnce because of bad eye sight and so we would expect at least a few posts from people who could not see the difference.

  • Comment number 43.

    Is this woman for real?? Seriously, you couldnt make it up. Canott believe what I have read in this blog from Danielle.

    Thanks to Danielle Nagler and her team for all the insults. Thanks to you mainly Danielle, myself and my family shall never be watching BBC HD again whilst you are in charge. Hope you continue to enjoy your roll at BBC HD.

    RIP BBC HD.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ooooh forgot to post my wish to santa so I will do so on here.

    Dear Santa, for christmas I would like BBC HD to apoint a new controller of the channel and for someone at BBC HD to admit to the quality issues and to sort the issues out. Please would you also give me honest answers to our questions about the channel that Danielle Nagler and Andy Quested refuse to aswer.

    Many thanks santa.

  • Comment number 45.

    44, @wednesday83, at 41 I mentioned Andy is already answering some questions, I said on today's but meant yesterday's (i.e. Thursday's) Blog. He's also promised to answer Friday's questions tomorrow, so let's give him a chance. I, for one, would like to get those 11, or so, answers, and so let's not chase him off prematurely.

  • Comment number 46.

    Digitalspy has some grabs from the nordic and uk sat's

    The difference in quality is huge.

    Its good to know other countrys get better treatment.

  • Comment number 47.

    @46

    Yes, and lets not forget that the technological developments will have been funded (at least in part if not wholly) by OUR licence fees!

  • Comment number 48.

    I just find it shocking that they have a decent stream and we dont it really is gobsmacking.


    I dont know the legality of these posts, but I am presuming being its on digital spy its ok as they are a well known big site, so for those interested.

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=37097232&postcount=603

    Even on my notebook with its uncalibrated display I can see a difference, if it were on my TV I imagine the difference would be huge.


    I just find it disapointing that BBCHD's UK side (I can only presume its a different department) are taking this stance, as frustrating as it is if we had the truth behind the quality drop atleast we would know WHY, even if we didnt agree with it.

  • Comment number 49.

    #48: actually that link is faulty. The working one is a few posts later:

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=37103599&postcount=607

  • Comment number 50.

    It would seem that we are all flitting back and forward between this and Andy's blog. They have us divided.
    To show what we think of Danielles comments, why dont we close this blog ourselves by only posting to both parties on Andy's blog. The more sensible one.
    Danielle may say its case closed, but you can bet your life she is reading Andy's blog so will see the comments addressed to her over there.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/12/the_hitchhikers_guide_to_encod_5.html

    What do you think?

    I say BLOG CLOSED turn out the light Danielle.

  • Comment number 51.

    51: Seems like a good idea to me, but I'd just add this as it obviously belongs here.

    #49: But that's the old UK encoder, and the bitrate between them is actually pretty similar. So this is a test of 1440 v 1920, then? And I'm not at all convinced. They are both more or less artefact free and the UK has better contrast. Or am I missing something?

    (And in comparison the Nordic logo is terrible! I don't think the UK logo is as transparent now as it was then. But that's for the DOG blog...)

  • Comment number 52.

    Or perhaps I should say similarly artefacted. There is blur on the moving stream of ants, but I'm not sure if it's unreasonable to expect anything else.

  • Comment number 53.

    @paul_geaton

    Actually I do think it is still worth posting to these blogs. It is these blogs that have drawn the attention of the press and that can only be a good thing. I suspect that the press has been inundating the bbc press office for information which would be reported to the trust.

    We are also seeing alot of new names posting which must be a good thing. You are right about Danielle she does post and then run for cover and never responds to any of the posts. We must remeber that her last job was as a spin doctor in the DG's office. I don't think she expected this much excitement when she took the headship of BBC HD on.

    It is very sad what has become of the BBC which use to be the bastion of technical excellence. As someone has said the BBC R&D department has realy been cut back in recent years and so the BBC is not getting the technical input it needs. Technical problems use to be a rarity but now they are becoming common place. The green line and sound problems are signs of a drop in quality control. The last Gavin and Tracy episode was apawling how did it get through any quality control system.

    Gavin and Tracy does raise the question of health and safty. We know flashing lights can start epileptic fits but I wonder if gross artifacts seen in the last episode might be detrimental to some people. I certainly felt very uncomfortable watching parts of it.


  • Comment number 54.

    I think I have perfectly demonstrated why you should not look at things when you are hungover.

    Apologies for the mistake, I am still seeing a difference here, but maybe its the resolution.


    Must ban myself from the PC pre 9am when hungover.

  • Comment number 55.

    "I don't think there is anyone reading this blog who could legitimately claim that they have been unable to find somewhere within the BBC to make their views clear."

    Very true. The only problem is that those views have been ignored.

  • Comment number 56.

    A disappointing but totally expected response from Danielle, Andy and the BBC. The arrogance and contempt with which they treat their "shareholders" and paymasters is truly amazing.
    Let us not give up hope just yet. Give your support to Paul Geaton if you are not already doing so, perhaps the BBC Trust will support. I am not holding my breath but ever the optimist!

    Rogerdw

  • Comment number 57.

    50, satboy concur, don't want to fall foul of divide and concur tactics. Agree too with you trevor, although I think the Press actually came across this problem before they knew about the Blogs.

    So perhaps we could just use this Blog for compiling my next FOI request, and as satboy suggested leave sensible discussion and debate to Andy's. Don't forget though please keep those Appeal documents coming to me too (and thanks to those who've already made a start on them).

    To that end, another for my FOI list from a reader's suggestion.

    1) Tell me what work has taken place to assess whether the majority of viewers watching BBC HD in normal situations in their living rooms are happy with the picture quality on the channel.

    2) Send me the full results of that work.

    3) Is the BBC's lease of space on the Astra/Eurobird cluster at 28.2/28.5 East based on a fixed period with no bandwidth restrictions, purely on bandwidth/traffic or a mixture of the two?

    4) I request copies of all the notes, paper, computer or audio(Dictaphone) and emails made by the expert viewers when assessing the picture quality of the new encoders

  • Comment number 58.

    So let me see.... BBC HD change the way that the channel is transmitted, and everything is meant to fine, or even "better" than it was before.

    Viewers that have noticed, and been vocal in the fact that they have noticed a degradation in Picture Quality are "WRONG"?

    Come on Ms Nagler - we're not idiots!

    We; who after all, pay your wages, and have spent considerable amounts of money to receive HD services, are now being short-changed. The early adopters of any such new revolution tend to be the more technically savvy people, and you are now not willing to comment on this debacle any further, because they are telling you the truth that the PQ has degraded from what it was before?

    Well that's very grown up of you!

    I think the main problem is that you've been found out! As head of the channel, I think its a disgrace that you are refusing to listen to your viewers, and attempting to make amends and correct the problem immediately.

    It's bad enough when some of the content shown on the channel is as bad as it is, but when we have to watch the channel in pseudo-HD, you're just having a laugh!



  • Comment number 59.

    Here here! Danielle should hang her head in shame for just walking away. I'd actually be interested to know what qualifications and experience she has to run BBC HD cause at the moment her loyal viewers wouldn't trust her in running a bath!

  • Comment number 60.

    For the first time in my life I felt compelled to get a BBC ID in order to contribute to this blog. Having been one of those able to view BBC HD since the start of its transmissions I will not be swayed from the firm belief that the picture quality has indeed diminished in quality since its early days.

  • Comment number 61.

    Maybe to draw a line over her contribution Danielle would like to resign from BBC HD???? Nothing personal but quite simply Danielel Nagler has not got a clue about HD (proven with her comments about bit rates) and she has no PR skills (proven by her constant insults and lack of answering asked questions).

    Come on BBC, get someone in who has what it takes to be honest and sort this mess of a channel out.

  • Comment number 62.

    Keep your comments civil please. Remember the house rules, particularly the one about "abusive" comments.

  • Comment number 63.

    Danielle Nagler: It is my considered opinion that the best interests of the BBC HD service would be served by you leaving the team and the BBC appoint someone who understands HD TV and can champion the cause, or at least be honest when communicating to those of us who have made considerable investment to be able to receive HD broadcasts and who have seen the BBC HD service destroyed under your supervision, along with the professional reputation of Andy Quested.

    I want a clear Vision Statement for the BBC HD Service. It seems the BBC has moved; from wanting to provide the best Picture and Sound Quality that can be squeezed out of the current technology; to a service that will meet the needs of the general TV viewer.

  • Comment number 64.

    I cant see any thing on here absusive Nick. Think you posted the warning on the wrong blog fella.

    There is a very insulting post though and its right at the top of the page....

  • Comment number 65.

    Totally 100% aggree with Bill-taylor, and im sure he speaks for most if not all BBC HD viewers.

  • Comment number 66.

    In keeping with the h2g2 theme and paraphrasing the great Douglas Adams

    "So Long, and Thanks for All the Bits"

    RIP, BBC HD.

  • Comment number 67.

    @63

    Bill, recently there has been a new word coined - satisfice - It would appear that we would agree that management is merely setting about a policy of satisficing rather than persuing excellence.

    Thus quality as poor as exhibited by Gavin and Stacey is deemed acceptable as it may be just sufficient to satisfy enough viewers, not dazzle them.

  • Comment number 68.

    Thanks Andy for the posts. I've learned a fair bit this week. I can understand now that the lack of clarity may be just the style of the programme. I think much of the HD shows play fine with the new encoder.

    Although there are many that still exhibit picture break up (particularly on shows with confetti and crazy light shows). Also the JPEGy kind of artefacts around the edges of solid objects are still rife. The more complex the image, the more of these artefacts there are, to the point where you're unsure what is artefact and what is real.

    I hope work is in continuing in this regard. I think VBR would definitely benefit some shows. Alternatively, an increase in bitrate for more demanding programming.

  • Comment number 69.

    The only myths on here is that BBC HD picture quality is as good now as it was before the encoder change and that its at an acceptable level.

    "Life" Plants (9/10) is the 1st BBC HD programme for months that I've seen has even approached true HD quality. It was superb, so well done BBC on that one. However, as a one off good episode, I rather suspect that given that most of the footage was slow motion or macro, the improvements in sharpness seen were because of post production sharpening and not becuase of the broadcast parameters. In fact the only blurry shots in the programme were one or two general wide shots which probably didn't undergoe the same frame by frame scrutiny and adjustment and thus I think this supports the theory. Maybe if the BBC are going to continue down the road of the current encoder settings, they need to look more closely at improvements made during post production to see if these can be used to counter the encoders effects. We've seen this twice now with the final episode of Wildest Dreams and also with this edition of Life.

    As for the picture being designed to be viewed on "average equipment", I hate to tell Daniel this but better equipment doesn't expose more problems but often hides the shortcomings because of better processing. As an owner of a Pioneer 428XD Kuro plasma, I often don't see mosquito noise that owners of average tv's complained of in some BBC HD simply because my tv, has very advanced mosquito noise reduction built into its features.

  • Comment number 70.

    Danielle answers all our questions here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/12/the_hitchhikers_guide_to_encod_5.html

    Happy Reading!

  • Comment number 71.

    I notice Ms Nagler says that "it is not designed to be perfect at very close quarters, or on a 90" projection screen for example". As it happens, I used to use the Preview Loop for testing projectors, usually on a 120" screen. It was of excellent quality and repeated every 20 minutes or so which was very useful for repeated comparisons. The simple fact is that before the bitrate reduction, the Preview Loop looked excellent on a 120" screen. Now, it doesn't and I no longer use it. The additional artefacts, and particularly the additional noise, make it useless for this purpose as the picture quality just isn't good enough to be able to spot the subtle differences between different units. I have some recordings from the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show and I now use those, among others. The quality at that time was stunning, now, with the new "HD Lite" service, it isn't.

  • Comment number 72.

    Quote: "I notice Ms Nagler says that "it is not designed to be perfect at very close quarters, or on a 90" projection screen for example"."

    Thats funny because mine looks total rubbish from 10 1/2 feet on 42", or maybe its that I'm too close.

    That would also be funny because Andy in his blog just published the BBC test criteria and I believe it was 4H, which for a 42" tv is around 6 feet 10 inchs according ot his test table or around 4 feet closer than I'm currently sitting!!! Explain that Miss. Nagler!

  • Comment number 73.

    @72 Alsone.

    Ms Nagler won't explain that as she has just buried her head well and truly in the sand and refuses to comment further.

    Quote: "I feel that it is now time to draw a line under my further contribution here to the debate here."

    Not very good PR is it?

    If that is her stance I think the best she can do is resign, with immediate effect. Now who would be best suited for the job?

  • Comment number 74.

    A shame that it's come to burying your head in the sand Danielle, pretending that BBC HD still looks like an HD channel. (which it does not much of the time)

    Do you think we are all just complaining for the fun of it? We do it because a) BBC HD used to look pretty nice, and b) the BBC produces far better content than any other broadcaster in the UK. We desperately want BBC HD to go back to being a flagship channel, to showing that HD broadcasting can look nice, and so that Life and other top tier content looks as good as it clearly deserves to.

    I notice BBC HD is rarely used now as demo footage in home cinema stores, with blu-ray taking it's place. 6 months ago, such stores would have been wall to wall Planet Earth previews, now they're Transformers or some other dreck. Curious.

  • Comment number 75.

    Suggesting the following for the next FOI:

    1) All e-mail conversation between Andy Quested and other parties (Danielle Nagler in particular etc...) with regards to new encoders between September 2008 and December 2009.
    2) All e-mails between Danielle Nagler and other parties with regards to any sort of PQ feedback (polls, news reports etc) between August 2009 and December 2009)

  • Comment number 76.

    What you mean the e-mails where we are called worse than geeks with imagination ?

    watch them get lost quickly.

  • Comment number 77.

    There has no doubt, been a marked degradation in the quality of the HD service, so much so that its only a slightly better than a good SD signal. I am really dissapointed with the result of the downgrading and the response to the mass of complaints.

  • Comment number 78.

    After the last FOI request they will doubtless have been communicating via carrier pigeon.

  • Comment number 79.

    Oh to be able to say that Doctor Who was going to be shown in HD over Christmas! what a joke, it is clearly being scheduled for the BBC SD+ channel instead!!! What utter tripe to claim this channel is anything but. I sincerely hope that UKTV launch an HD offering so I. An eventually catch my favourite tv show in HD. Mind you, given the BBC stake in UKTV any such channel would probably be similarly crippled beyond all recognition as a HD channel!!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    @73 John Quote: "Ms Nagler ....I feel that it is now time to draw a line under my further contribution here to the debate here."

    "If that is her stance I think the best she can do is resign, with immediate effect."

    I'm not one to call for anyone's head but if that his her attitude then I must agree entirely, its time for her to resign. At the end of the day we the licence payers are paying indirectly for her position and if she is only willing to take an untenable position regarding picture quality and then back it up with a refusal to debate with the licence paying public over the quality of BBC HD, then she shouldn't be in the job.

  • Comment number 81.

    Face it Danielle, you dont understand HD, the viewers or the channel. Its time to leave.

  • Comment number 82.

    Re next FOI
    Suggest keeping the wording as unspecific as possible - e.g. Any discussion internally within the BBC - including but not limited to emails - around HD picture quality since July/August. So for instance, a Producer or Director may have complained to someone in the technical department about how their program looks on screen.

  • Comment number 83.

    seemed rather better tonight last of the summer wine, coast, small island I actually managed to stay tuned without throwing a plant pot at the TV. There was some depth to the picture in all programs, more realism

    Or am I "imagining" things. Anyone agree?


    Mike

  • Comment number 84.

    Mike - Disagree. They haven't altered it at all.

  • Comment number 85.

    wishfull thinking then, maybe some content just looks better than others sometimes.

  • Comment number 86.

    Sorry, new around here, but have to pick up on "to produce an HD service which looks the same as an SD service would clearly be a waste of time".

    I watched "Small Island" via my new Sky+HD box this evening and many of the interior scenes were unwatchable due to the pixellation caused by the low bit rate. It ranks even below SD in terms of picture quality, maybe even below good old 405-line!

    I know it's not my box, or my TV, as I don't have any issues on other HD channels, so that only leaves the broadcaster.

    It's a sad day when minority channels such as Luxe TV can far outshine the BBC for HD output.

  • Comment number 87.

    Well last night there was not much on in the early evening so I decided to catchup with a recording of Who Do You Think You Are. Withing a few minutes of the start I suddenly notice how good the pictures were. It was on David Mitchell and some of the shots were from scotland were absolutly stunning. Of course I then realised that this was recorded before the new encoders were introduced. Danielle Nagler head of BBC Spin needs to see these recodings. There must be many BBC employees with some of these old recodings who could show her what BBC HD use to look like. By the way I was 3 metres away from a 46" screen which can hardly be described as "close up".

  • Comment number 88.

    Danielle seems to pickup technical information which she then applys it out of context and viewing distance is one of them. The person with 20/20 vision is capable of resolving 1/60th of a degree. This means that for critical apraisel of 1080 line television the viewing distance needs to be about 3 times the height of the screen. This is not the same as the a prefered viewing distance (PVD). The distance that most people view at is dependent on a large number of factors like screen size, room size, and whether they mainly watch SD or HD. The research which Andy quoted was very much out of date and pre HD. Generally screen sizes are increasing and the ratio of viewing distance to height is decreasing.

    The BBC used 4h for its subjective tests contrary to the ITU recomendation of 3h. All the EBU visual tests I have seen have included testing at 3h. I must admit that I was shocked the the BBC had got this fundemental principle wrong. There are other critisisms that could be made with regard to the subjective tests. The BBC needs to read the papers from Dr Hoffmann of the EBU to see how to best do subjective testing.

  • Comment number 89.

    In 1999 I bought a set that allowed CH4 PAL+ broadcasts to be viewed. With my new LCD set it seems that static areas of the picture show higher definition than the rest. Has the PAL+ technology been incorporated into HD technology? What happened to PAL+ anyway?

  • Comment number 90.

    Crytic - this is not a general discussion area for all things HD. Please stay on topic. Thanks.

  • Comment number 91.

    @89 Maybe it's because the encoders have trouble encoding movement. And maybe because the BBC HD channel shows most things shot at 25Hz, when, in SD they used to shoot most things at 50Hz, so obviously when anything shot at 25Hz moves, it's not going to look as good/be harder for the eye to track, and will strobe/judder more and have less resolution than the stationary parts of the frame. To be able to see high definition in the moving parts of the picture, you would need higher frame rates than what the BBC uses.

  • Comment number 92.

    The impression I get, rightly or wrongly, from reading Danielle's post is that the BBC thinks it's ok for it's HD output to be merely satisfactory or adequate.
    Are we being unfair in wanting it to be better than that ? I don't think so. I want BBC HD to aspire to be the best and to be an example to others how it should be done rather than just being ok in terms of both picture and sound quality.

  • Comment number 93.

    How to increase the picture quality (Picture size) and decrease the bandwidth (The amount of data needed)
    Simple, reduce the picture rate.
    Eg. Image size 1920x1080 x 1 frame a second = 2073600 pixels per second.
    1920x1080 x 1 frame every 2 seconds = 1036800 pixels per second.

    With cleaver decoders and TV's you could fade from one frame into the next to reduce the flicker effect with the slower moving image.
    Eg.
    Old system; Frame 1, frame 2, frame 3, frame 4, frame 5, ...
    New system; Frame 1, 1 & 2 mixed, frame 2, 2 & 3 mixed, frame 3, ...

  • Comment number 94.

    MarkAJA that sounds awful. Frame rates are low enough as they are.

  • Comment number 95.

    90, Nick, if you take it as read that @Crytic is talking about his experience of viewing BBC HD on his LCD, and since the encoder change (which I think you can since he's posting here and from his previous posts), then his central point at 89 is surely firmly on topic. i.e. "With my new LCD set it seems that static areas of the picture show higher definition than the rest", isn't that exactly the point.

  • Comment number 96.

    Christmas and New Year HD Schedules.
    Unfortunately, i have not yet seen any interesting programmes over the above period on the BBC HD channel.
    I am particularly annoyed that although BBC 2 and BBC Four are transmitting the annual New Year Concert from Vienna on January 1st, there is no such transmission on BBC HD, when ORF the programme makers transmit this worldwide in HD format where required. It is also filmed in HD for Blu-ray for the 2009 Concert which I already have.
    So why, oh why is BBC HD.not doing this concert, surely one of the visual and music highlights of the year ?//
    Robert382

  • Comment number 97.

    Danielle, you do alot of talking about picture quality, ie variation in
    styles, consistent look. i see a consistent look every day , the soft
    look, with a lack of sharpness, with poor detail, and grainy. all the
    time, so it is very consistent. its very hard to call it HD. the new
    encoders have failed, with the lower bit rate, so just put it back
    to 16 mbs and we all no the picture quality was very good , BBC HD
    WAS THE BEST PICTURE QUALITY.

  • Comment number 98.

    I must admit that I expected the BBC to take a leading role in HD. By now I would have expected BBC 1 HD and at least one other channel. There are loads of events we would expect to be in HD including the Vienna concert. Unfortunatly the schedule for BBC HD seems to be largly determing by Danielle's taste. She is obviously not very interested in films or sport. The lack of surround sound is deafening. Even E4HD which started tonight transmits surround for most of its HD programing. Sky even transmits surround on its SD movie channels. So BBC HD is vanishing into the noise like it's viewing figures.

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    I've been watching BBC HD via Satellite (in my case via a DVB-S PC Card and DVBViewer SW) driving a 42" 1080P TV and I was initially "blown away" by the PQ.

    I have also been watching Blu-Ray and HD DVD via a PC drive using Corel WINDVD.

    I'd had problems with WINDVD supporting recent Blu-Ray titles so bought a proper Blu-Ray player now that the prices have plummeted. The improvement in playback quality was amazing - even from 3m, but best of all when I can get to 2m away.

    I then decided to buy a second-hand HD DVD player as well. Again the playback quality improved fantastically.

    I then thought - what I really need is proper BBC HD receiving equipment so I can similarly appreciate the picture quality improvements).

    Alas seeing what has happened to the BBC HD service with the "artistic soft focus and digital artifacts" and the comments from the BBC HD staff on the blogs commeting at what the target audience is, I will not now be considering BBC HD from Satellite or from Freeview when it becomes available where I live in 2012.

    I may well, instead, consider Virgin Media V+ as they are sticking with 17Mbit/sec MPEG2 service, but for now my best source of "free" HD programming is YouTube and the HD clips - the "Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1080P is stunning. If only BBC HD had the same PQ.

    As an aside someone from BBC HD should review sites discussing recommended viewing distances (such as myhometheater.homestead.com/viewingdistancemetric.html) - this shows that 4m for a 42" screen is correct for SD material - reinforcing the idea that BBC HD is really only targeted at SD viewing.

    I'll cross-post this also to Andy Quested's last item...

 

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