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Drama on BBC HD

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 17:10 UK time, Monday, 8 February 2010

Hello,

I've been absent for a little while. But I've been thinking about the next stages for the BBC and HD, and particularly about drama - how the way that we are working in that area provides a direction for what we need to do across all the programming that the BBC is making in HD.

Drama has moved faster than any other area of programming in the UK to working in HD. If you leave out the soaps, the BBC probably makes a higher proportion of drama programmes in HD than we do any other type of programming. Over the last couple of months alone, we've shown Silent Witness, Cranford, Larkrise, Wallander, Rock and Chips, and Hustle from BBC One, Churchill: Into the Storm, Heroes and Nurse Jackie from BBC Two, Being Human from BBC Three, and the biopics on Margot Fonteyn, Enid Blyton and Gracie Fields from BBC Four, to name but a few.

The drama production community has taken to HD fast and wholeheartedly for a couple of reasons: HD can offer producers a closer approximation to film than any other format, and therefore help production teams to produce work which looks like cinema on television drama budgets. But HD has also proved popular because those working in drama have recognised that they can use it creatively. Technology is only transformational once we really start to bend it to what we want to achieve regardlesss of it.

wallander_300.pngLet me take just a couple of examples to illustrate the point. Wallander represents truly masterful HD, this year even more so than last. We could say that was because the visual quality alone is stunning - the framing of shots, the light, the colours, the grading and post-production effort. All true of course. But for me one of the key things that Wallander demonstrates is the way that it has used what HD can add to television drama to change the way it tells the story.

We're used in film to lingering close ups. In SD television we have tended to do that less, because of the loss of detailing. Battered and bruised emotionally by his own investigations, it is Kenneth Branagh's interior monologue which powers the narrative, to a much greater extent than the action itself. It is HD's capacity to bring people as well as objects to full emotional life on the small screen which supports and encourages the approach that has been taken, the camera held repeatedly on Branagh, allowing the story of the crime and our response to it to be encapsulated by him.

Margot takes a very different approach - particularly during the stage performances, the combination of lighting and filters and camera set up manages to create a sense of theatric distance from the ballerina, while the detail which HD can provide is used simultaneously to show (at least to those viewing in HD), the hairs of her arms, and the lines of concentration in her face.

In Hustle, the HD look absolutely reflects the rhythm of the story-telling - it is crisp, and precise, a slighly heightened reality but not lavish and glossy. Whilst in Being Human, I have a sense that there has been a bit of a journey in relation to the use of HD. The pilot made for the series was extremely theatric in style. Last year, when the programme was first broadcast on BBC Three and on BBC HD the supernatural and the ordinary were quite evenly balanced, and HD used to build a more cinematic look in parts. This year, as the balance of emphasis seems to have shifted further on the normalisation of lives that are somewhat less than everyday, I'm seeing that HD is being used more extensively to enhance reality, to show the regular backdrop to a vampire attack, the greyness of real days rather than the glittering darkness of fantasy nights.

Across what we are doing in the BBC, I intend that we shall focus this year on mastering HD. There will be new programmes making the move to HD - even in drama - but I think that we are now at a stage at which across the full range of programmes we make, we can start to do what drama is already doing and develop what we can achieve creatively with the HD tool set. I'm hopeful too that we will find ways to address the barriers to moving to HD for many of those programmes - including the continuing dramas - which have remained outside the HD universe so far. And I can reassure you that there is lots to come.

This trail (see below) - for new drama from the BBC - is currently playing on a number of our channels: I can reassure you that it is all in HD, and will all be appearing on BBC HD in the course of the year.

Danielle

Danielle Nagler is the Head of BBC HD.


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Ed's note: Comments about drama on HD and the areas that Danielle writes about should go on this post. Comments about picture quality on HD should be made on this post of Andy Quested's: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: The Salmon of Style (Or how programmes styles can change your view). (PM)

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Welcome back Danielle. Theres been some great dramas screened on BBC ALMOST HD recently and the decision to screen Rock and Chips like you did worked well as it looked so much better than most dramas do on BBC HD.

    A major concern must be the channels ratings look really poor, and I know thats mainly down to the poor picure quality, but surely if you were to produce top shows such as East Enders, Casualty and Holby City ratings would increase.

    Also as well you say how good some dramas look on the channel, imagine how good they would look if you increased the bandwith and resolution to 1920*1080, they would look HD and stunning.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ahhh Gene Hunt in HD - only 4 series too late!
    I appreciate this thread is about drama, but it's been quiet round here a nod either way on Formula 1 would be much appreciated too Danielle. There's been plenty of rumours, surely Bernie has made his mind up? :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Any increase in HD drama from the BBC will be welcome.

    "We're used in film to lingering close ups. In SD television we have tended to do that less, because of the loss of detailing"

    Surely 'lingering' or SD aren't the cause of loss of detailing. Perhaps you meant lack of detailing. However, that would be questionable as the soaps, and East Enders in particular seem to pull lingering close ups off OK in SD. Lingering close ups in HD at the current specification could certainly provide more detail, but please make sure the cameraman is told not to pan away too quickly, unless blurring is what the director wants.

  • Comment number 4.

    I know this is about drama, but PLEASE try to get the Producers of Countryfile to stop using 25p for the main parts of the programme. It certainly does not do HD justice (even the BBC's current "HD Lite" service). Please also try to ensue that 25p, with its inherent strobing on movement, and feeling of remoteness from the viewer, does not find its way into any more programmes.

  • Comment number 5.

    Please respond to the comments made here, it's disappointing that no responses were made in thread to your Christmas HD post. A conversation rather than an address is much more useful.

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks Danielle.

    I'm looking forward to The Sinking Of The Laconia and Ashes to Ashes.

    Any news yet on Casualty in HD?

  • Comment number 7.

    Welcome Back Danielle.

    Happy New Year to you good news that all the shows in the video are in HD.

    Enjoying Africa Wild Rift, Virtual Revolution and Rab Nesbitt, also looking forward to the Winter Olympics.

    Australian Tennis coverage was good shame about the final result mind.

    Post again soon with more good news, will all BBC golf coverage this year be in HD or just The Open and The Masters?

  • Comment number 8.

    Glad to hear that more and more Drama is being produced in HD.

    Glad to hear that more and more Drama will appear on BBC HD.

    I will be very glad if that HD Drama actually gets broadcast as HD Drama on BBC HD.

    'Wallander' 'Hustle' and 'Being Human' are referred to in this post - but I don't see them as being shown recently as HD TV quality.

    If, as it has been said before, people remember 'Hustle' as used in the preview loop (race track scene) and the quality of 'Wallander' as in the field of Sunflowers scene - we know these shows are made in HD and can be shown in HD and look HD.

    'Hustle' now is not the same as it was - nowhere near the same.

    Not drama I know - but some of the closeups in 'Seven Ages of Britain' last night were shockingly poor. Especially those of the closeups of the illustrations of Moses.

    Cheers, daveac



  • Comment number 9.

    I think it is important to understand and differentiate between the various camera systems which suit HD broadcasting when producing programming. One thing I have found is a lack of understanding of the significance of camera and format choice when creating images. It'd be great if there was a little more awareness when factoring this into budgets. Making the right choice when originating the image can make huge savings in lighting and grading times, and hugely improve the look of a show. The term HD can covers a great many formats and systems across the range.
    One of the reasons Wallander looks so great apart from the very talented people working on the show is the Camera choice. Often we are asked to shoot on mid and low end systems like the varicam, sony 900 and other 2/3" sensor cameras which are unsuitable for quality drama. They cannot handle contrast like the several 2k+ 35mm sensor cameras, and therefore look cheap and 'videoey'. Wallander is shot on the red one, a 4k system with a 35mm sensor and looks great. There are several even better cameras available at the moment,such as the Arii D21, Sony F35, Panavision Genesis, Thompson Viper etc. These cameras are designed for shooting drama, so it would be great to be able to consider them when shooting drama, but this is not always an option as they have been budgeted on lower end documentary systems. A huge improvement could be made in the look of some of these shows by upgrading the camera choices when shooting.
    many thanks

  • Comment number 10.

    Danielle, welcome back and thanks for updating us.

    I note though that you make no mention in this latest "Drama" Blog of the US show Mad Men, which I would have thought was very much in the drama genre. For the record I'd like to state that the way that particular show is made is exactly how I like to see, and hear, my HD TV Programmes. Sadly though, some of the home-grown drama you have mentioned chose a "look" that's at odds with my own ideal and, unfortunately, they don't often have the same wonderful 5.1 sound stage which makes me feel I'm actually there in the action.

    With regard to Mad Men's production values though, I think the available HD pictures are very well described in a review of the Blu-Ray disc in this quote: "Mad Men’s colors are naturally saturated, contrast is comfortable and strong, and shadows are deep and well-delineated. The series’ warm palette holds up exceedingly well in spite of a variety of interior and exterior lighting schemes, allowing the characters’ yellow-hued homes to look every bit as good as the firm’s brightly lit offices. Detail has also been painstakingly preserved, imbuing the picture with crisp edges, clean patterns, and sharp textures. I continually marveled at the depth of the image and found myself entranced by everything from the creases in the firm’s leather chairs to the stitches and pinstripes in Draper’s suit coats."

    I'd like to note though that the same reviewer also said: "When I caught ‘Mad Men’s HDTV broadcast on AMC, I endured an onslaught of blocky artifacts and flushed skintones that continually distracted me from the excellent production values of the show." It would be a shame if the BBC's own broadcasts of the programme were to veer more towards the transmission quality evident from AMC, rather than aiming to get as close as possible to those Blu-Ray standards.

    I've mentioned in a post in one of your other Blogs that I was out of the country for much of the (English Language) Wallander series shown in HD, so I can't comment on it. I asked you there whether it would be getting a repeat showing on the HD channel (and, if so, when) but you haven't yet replied to me. Can I therefore echo Chris Cornwall's sentiments at comment #5 and request that you regularly look through the viewers' comments to your various Blogs and take time-out from your busy schedule to respond to them. N.B. You'll find plenty of questions that are awaiting an answer from me on many of your non-PQ Blogs. A 2-way flow of information would be much appreciated.

    Just so that you and your viewers are completely up-to-date, I submitted the Trust Appeal that you and I have corresponded about on 30 Dec. Their guidelines suggest that I should usually get a response from them within 20 working days of that date, which I haven't received yet. So, I've sent them a hastener this evening. If Nick resurrects your "Myths" Blog, and I hope he does, I'll keep everyone posted on the latest news from the Trust over there.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's good to see even more Drama on BBC HD, it would be good to see more cross promotion of these broadcasts though, programming isn't being enough promotion on BBC HD. For instance the 6 nations on BBC 1 shows the BBC1 logo next to the times while BBC HD shows the HD logo, surely both channels can show both logos equally?

    Surely the next stage of HD should be BBC1,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies/BBC News being shown in HD with upscaled content like Channel 4?
    It is 18 months until The 2012 Olympics and the idea of just one HD channel won't go down well with the public who will be asked to go out and buy HD Freeview or Freesat boxes or other HD services, they will expect the BBC to launch more HD channels. Having these channels ready and the option to launch extra interactive HD streams will be needed to meet public expectations of what will be provided during The Olympics. If there is already talk of 3D coverage then this should mean HD must be a standard for every broadcast.

    The Winter Olympics will only be on 1 HD channel this year with a 2 hour gap in-between with 5 SD streams despite all these streams being broadcast in HD.



    On the sport front it has been good to see some coverage of The League Cup semi finals and the 5.1 coverage.
    It's also good to see full coverage of the 6 nations in HD, hopefully this will be followed in the Autumn with full HD coverage of the Autumn Rugby Internationals. When the costs are right it will be good for 5.1 coverage to be added as well, the BBC HD website promotes the benefits of getting a surround system via its website so viewers shouldn't be recommended to buy into such products unless the BBC provides more content in 5.1.

    Hopefully this year will also bring coverage of French Open Tennis similar to the Australian Open Tennis that was broadcast and coverage of other and other events like The Grand National, The Commonwealth Games and The World Cup.

    While it seems F1 won't be in HD hopefully the BBC will push for HD coverage for 2011 and if any broadcasts laster in the 2010 season are done in HD like Japan then the BBC will bring those F1 races in HD.

    With the move to Salford taking place next year hopefully all BBC Sport based studio shows will be shown in HD.


    It will be also be good to see more studio based shows go out in HD. Studios that show programmes like The Graham Norton show and QI are now HD ready so it will be good to see these programmes move to HD and any other programmes in HD that are moving to Salford.


    When BBC4 shows Flight of the Conchords second season it would be good to see this show in HD as it was produced in HD.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for your post as well. It would be good if the blogs allow people to correct mistakes made in them though.

    Hopefully if BBC HD moves forward with new channels it can finally switch over to DVB-S2 on satellite, so long as the BBC maintains its bit-rate while switching to DVB-S2 then the picture quality will jump without having to change the bandwidth at all.

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    I think this posting does highlight a major problem for Danielle - it's impossible for her to blog without it being interpreted by many as another way of spinning on the PQ issue. i.e. "Doesn't drama look great in HD" = "Isn't our PQ great". To which of course the answer is resoundingly "No! Well sometimes...if the wind's in the right direction...".

    Of course I applaud the effort to get more HD programming, as BBC is so far behind in this. However whatever strides Danielle is able to make in this arena, her tenure will always be tainted by the PQ issue.

    However I genuinely welcome Danielle back - and hope she is able to interact with the community who are equally passionate and want to be able to take pride in BBC HD. Which at present is so hard to do.

  • Comment number 15.

    Danielle please acknowledge the PQ issue and the amount of comments it has rightly generated, otherwise people will not take what you post seriously. Many thanks, a disgruntled licence fee payer.

  • Comment number 16.

    Picture quality comments need to be on this post of Andy's: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: The Salmon of Style (Or how programmes styles can change your view). This post is about drama on HD. Please stay on topic.

  • Comment number 17.

    re the "Eds note, and 16, Paul Murphy

    The BBC seem (again) to miss the point of HD.

    HD is only about Picture Quality. It has no reason to exist other than to provide the best PQ. Otherwise you might as well watch it on BBC1/2, because the drama element is the same regardless of whether you watch it in HD or SD.

    If the discussion is only about the Drama element, then it makes sense to discuss that on a blog that is independent of HD or SD channels.

    But if it is going to be discussed on a HDTV blog, then the HD PQ has to come into it - otherwise, why discuss it in the context of HD at all?

    In fact, Danielle's post is all about the HD PQ - it talks about the detail, or the cinematic look that HD can provide for example.

    So to then say you cannot discuss the PQ seems a bit bizarre.

  • Comment number 18.

    Interesting to read Danielle Naglers new blog. when I saw the title 'Drama on BBC HD' it summed it up quite well since what happened from August 2009 :-).
    Whilst it is great to see drama on the HD channel, this needs to be justified with a consistent picture quality to match. Only this will truly let the programming shine and have a maximum impact as the director intended. If your reading this Danielle, the majority of us are not saying that the picture quality since the change is rubbish full stop, it's inconsistent in quality from programme to programme. Currently only this HD channel is behaving this way.

  • Comment number 19.

    Heroes is possibly the best advert for BBC HD right now. The genre may not appeal to everyone's taste, but the HD PQ is superb and certainly justifies the investment in HD.

    But I see you make no mention of Survivors. Is that because the PQ totally fails to merit its showing on BBC HD?

    Is there any chance Rome might be repeated?
    For some reason never explained, Rome series 2 was never shown on BBC HD, whereas series 1 was. It was coproduced by the BBC in HD of course, so even more inexplicable why it was never broadcast by the BBC in HD. Please find the opportunity to repeat this, but in HD this time - given you repeat everything else umpteen times...

  • Comment number 20.

    Cool the BBC is starting a HD channel.

    When does it start to air ?

  • Comment number 21.

    I wonder if the balance between drama and documentaries on BBC HD is right? It seems odd that the recent history of chemistry and the Secret Life of Chaos both by Prof Jim al-Khalili were only shown (as far as I can tell) in SD. The superb images and graphics cried out for HD. Are there any plans to repeat these in HD?

  • Comment number 22.

    Is this the sound of a department justifying their existence? Taking credit for things that would have happened anyway. Would Wallander really have looked any different were it not for the input from Danielle and co?

    Stylistic devices such as lingering close ups existed on TV long before the birth of BBCHD and surely for a long time to come the majority of those viewing all the above mentioned programmes will be appreciating such cinematography and style on SD anyway. They viewers being the ones who do not need their senses bombarded with five second scenes and condensed plots that is.

  • Comment number 23.

    In response to the specific drama questions raised here,

    Casualty, Holby City and Eastenders: Of course we would like these to move to HD, particularly since so much of our drama output has already made the transition. Continuing drama has a substantial infrastructure which gets worked hard week in week out. That means making changes are more complex, and more expensive. The location for making Casualty is changing - from Bristol to Wales - and therefore it will shift to HD-working as part of that process, but is unlikely to arrive in HD until 2012. The other two may make it sooner - but I will keep you posted.

    Wallander: I have no doubt that we will show the latest batch of 3 episodes again, but they are not currently in the schedule largely because of the volume of new programmes arriving, and particularly over the next month the number of hours of sport which we are showing.

    Mad Men, Heroes: Yes, of course these are dramas which we show, but as has been noted, they are all bought in from the US rather than made by or specifically for the BBC. They are an important part of what we show on the channel, but the channel team has no input into the making of them, or influence over them.

    Sport: Those commenting have raised a number of questions. There has been no news on F1 because.... there has been no news on F1 HD. Therefore we are indeed drifting towards a second season on the BBC in SD, but that is not for want of pushing on the subject. As BBC Sport has announced, the whole of Six Nations will be in HD this year, as will extended coverage of the Winter Olympics. We will try to bring later stages of the French Open tennis (as we did the Australian) assuming that there is British interest in it. We will also be showing this year for the first time the Grand National and the British Open. We are looking at what other golf (aside from the US Masters) we may be able to add into this mix, but I can't at this point confirm the list.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Danielle,
    Thanks for the update.

    Lee McKenzie who works for Formula One with BBC Sport has said FOM has said 2011 for HD coverage.
    http://twitter.com/LeeMcKenzieF1/statuses/7483495405

    It's great to see the BBC will cover The Grand National and British Open and later stages of the French Open in HD for the first time. Perhaps the BBC can start asking broadcasters in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia if they want to share the costs of producing the Autumn Rugby Internationals in HD.
    Can viewers expect Match of the Day in HD 2011 when BBC Sport moves to Salford?



    Also will Andy be doing any work to introduce a digital delay for The World Cup?

    Currently analogue is 1-2 seconds ahead of digital tv which is 1-2 seconds ahead of HD broadcasts. The real issue is that if the analogue and digital broadcasts aren't delayed and moved into line with HD broadcasts you will end up with huge complaints from people hear cheers while the HD broadcast has yet to show the ball go in.

    Channel 4 have done this work before to ensure that digital and analogue broadcasts were in sync so it is feasible to implement.





    Also will it be possible for BBC4 to get a HD copy of the second season of flight of the conchords?

  • Comment number 25.

    As for the HD plan while BBC1 is favoured to go first surely it would be better to just launch 4 HD channels to cover BBC1,2,3/CBBC and 4/CBeebies. If the BBC is still against up-scaling then it could simply display the HD trailer with a message to switch to your normal channel.

    With Sky News set to join CNN as a HD broadcaster surely BBC News and BBC World News broadcasters around the World need to look at the change to HD as well how to be as cost effective as possible.
    Obviously most money should be spent on drama and sport and other popular programming so it should give the BBC some time to work out the most cost effective way forward.

  • Comment number 26.

    If F1 did go HD later in the season rather than starting in 2011 would the BBC switch to HD? Japan which is later in the season already shows its race in HD so if F1 switched it would be good if the BBC was ready.
    Is there a chance that Moto GP fans will get coverage in HD?

  • Comment number 27.

    I see we have a new censor. Welcome Paul to the bigest drama being played out at BBC HD namely Danielle's Blogs. I guess Nick needed some sleep. I usually post in the early hours of the morning to maximise the the exposure.

    It is very odd that Danielle should post this as an HD blog where the BBC does not want us to discuss the HD aspect. Why not post it as a drama blog exspecially as all these programs were made primarily for SD channels. Infact the rules for BBC HD do not alow a program to be shown on BBC HD first.

    Danielle said

    "the BBC probably makes a higher proportion of drama programmes in HD than we do any other type of programming"

    So why has the BBC produced these programs in HD. I think there are 4 main reasons. The first is that the BBC is finding more difficult to sell programmes which are produced in SD. Secondly they can make more money out of Blu-ray sales. Thirdly some programs are are coproduced with other companies who mandate HD. Fourthly gives the programs a longer life for repeat showings. It becomes clear that the BBC HD channel is not a major consideration. This explains why there is emphesis on Drama and a lack of films and sport on BBC HD.

    Danielle said:

    "HD can offer producers a closer approximation to film than any other format, and therefore help production teams to produce work which looks like cinema on television drama budgets."

    This depends on your interpretation of "looks like". As far as picture quality is concerned there is absolutly no comparason. As far as content is concered it seems to me that HD has not improved the quality of BBC Drama. As I have already said the programs are mainly made for the SD audience and so are not dependent on being in HD. As for budgets the situation is more complex. As already stated a big budget enables the best equipment and crew to be hired which does make a difference in technical quality. Having said that some low budget productions have been very successful.

  • Comment number 28.

    @trevorjharris

    The best way forward is to get DVB-S2 up and running with 4 HD channels, even if it means the HD promo has to play out for most of the day until more content in made available in HD.

    Switching to DVB-S2 while keeping the bit-rate the same would deliver a big increase in the quality of the current channel compared to how it looks work DVB-S.

  • Comment number 29.

    looks with DVB-S.

  • Comment number 30.

    #23 - Thank you for responding in thread, it's welcome, perhaps you could address the un-answered points in your Christmas Thread, next time you visit.

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    I can't say I'm much of a fan of British produced drama, so I'm hoping a few more US shows like Mad Men and Heroes might make their way to BBC HD, or more specifically, that Heroes might make way for more shows like Mad Men. :)

    And also a quick kudos to BBC HD for airing at least a few Australian Open matches, and for planning to do the same at the French Open. As a reigning and six-time Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer technically counts as "British interest", right? ;)

  • Comment number 33.

    Really appreciate the update Danielle. Please keep blogging - some of us love the updates. Glad to hear about something other than picture quality for a change to be honest - it has been done to a death on here!

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 GarySargent

    Yes it great to see Danielle post in the middle of a blog again. Perhaps she might respond to some of the more contentious issues if we are very lucky!

    With respect to your reference to picture quality having been "done to death", it clearly hasn't been and is still very much alive. The subject won't and shouldn't lay down and die until the manifest picture quality problems have been fixed.

  • Comment number 35.

    Can't say I watch BBC dramas, or at least most of the ones mentioned but it all sounds good. Post #23 is very useful as it gives a specific timescale about production. I agree with what Andrew Knight has said etc but that's nothing new.

    I look forward to whenever further details emergy of new programmes making the switch in coming months, which I expect will be soon enough.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks for the response to questions Danielle especially the golf.Good news on The Grand National Front.

  • Comment number 37.

    Dan's post at no 9 in this thread as it sounds like someone who is involved in the actual making of HD programmes.

    His comments about camera choice may well be the basis of the comments I made in post 218 of http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/12/the_hitchhikers_guide_to_encod_5.html regarding the low HD PQ of programmes like Survivors in comparison to high PQ programmes like Heroes (shot on film I understand)

    The BBC are currently trying to excuse the low HD PQ in dramas on the basis of variations in 'style. Whereas it seems evident from Dan's post that it is more down to variations in camera equipment, and a willingness of the BBC to accept 2nd best.

    Really is the budget so tight at the BBC with all its billions in income that the quality of BBC HD programming is being sacrificed to save a few thousand on better cameras? I bet no one in Hollywood is that short sighted...

  • Comment number 38.

    Really good news about the Grand National well done for that. The Drama of the race will be great in HD. Oops just remembered that it wont look that great as the issue of quality is still not resolved as you have shut the door on it lol. Too little bandwith and low resolution to do it justice. Is there no way you could let Eurosport HD or Sky Sports have an HD feed so we can actually see a proper HD screening??

    As for the people wanting Match of the day in HD - most matches are only filmed in SD, with of course the exception of the live televised games. So the Saturday match of the day would be pointless in HD.

    Since this blog is about Drama, Mad Men was never HD tonight. Awful quality. Turned off after 2 mins.

  • Comment number 39.

    Danielle,

    Welcome back!

    I'm not going to comment on picture quality, so don't worry, unlike others that can't control themselves, I'll stay on topic.

    From what I've read here, it seems that we are approaching a point where there will be many conflicts between drama and sport. Personally, not being a sports fan, I am not looking forward to the summer months, when the [only] BBC HD channel will be dominated by sport. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like this.

    So, the questions are:
    Has the BBC got any plans for how it will handle the conflicts?

    Is there to be another HD channel in the near future?

    In the meantime, which gets priority - drama or sport?

    If sport gets the priority treatment, then will drama be re-scheduled into the small hours or otherwise sidelined.



  • Comment number 40.

    Danielle,

    The only good drama recently shown by the BBC was Wallander, the rest is just soap. Not my cup of tea at all but until the PQ is improved be it in production or transmission I will not be watching.

    Roger.

  • Comment number 41.

    Thanks for posting Danielle, great to see lots more interesting looking drama coming to BBCHD. And thank you for keeping the DOG away from drama programmes, it really does make a difference - Being Human is unwatchable on BBC3.

    Another plea for Wallander to be repeated - I missed the third one, and I think this is one of the highest quality shows on BBCHD. Could it be used as a benchmark for other programme-makers to show what standard is required of drama produced for BBCHD?

    The new series of Lark Rise looks good in the exterior shots, but in the dark interior scenes the background often looks smeary when the camera moves, which is quite distracting - can anything be done? I don't remember this problem in previous series.

  • Comment number 42.

    Actually as already been pointed out there is nothing in this blog specific to HD. The only difference between SD and HD is spacial definition and surround sound. By crippling the distribution codecs the BBC destroys most of the extra definition and also only rarely uses surround sound.

    Actually HD and SD uses a slightly different colour space but this would not be noticed by most viewers.

    In fact the truth is exactly the opposite to what Danielle has posted. The current limitations means that producers of drama have to limit thier creativity to accomidate the limiting capability of the new codecs. Fast panning or zooming is clearly impossible. So the BBC HD channel is actually limiting creativity and does not deliver the creative freedom that film has.

    In short it is all spin.

  • Comment number 43.

    Wallander

    I just would like to point out to people, yes it only ok,
    its not the best Quality HD Broadcast from BBC HD, it can
    look a bit grainey and soft, and i have seen Motion blur
    on it.

    But before August Last year, it Looked Stunning, it was much
    cleaner looking, and sharper, with a lot more wow factor,
    i do know this i did watch it a few times.

    all i can say is that Danielle Nagler is not being Honest
    again.

  • Comment number 44.

    @Easybourne

    no, you're not the only one dreading the summer and the dominating of the schedules by sport! i'm dreading the upcoming winter olympics too.

    if the beeb want to show sport then they need to get rid of BBC Parliament and either BBC 3 or 4 (they could easily share a channel and alternate days, they are after all, constant repeats) and divert the costs into a dedicated sports channel and/or a second part-time HD channel to show the sports on.

    Danielle, it's good to see more drama making it's way to HD but as has been said numerous times already, you need to sort out the picture quality issues as the majority of shows bear no resemblance to anything truely High Definition.

  • Comment number 45.

    Do you have a repeat for the final episode of Hustle lined up? We've always recorded the Sunday repeat and because of the winter Olympics it's been bumped.

    Also, when are you showing the HD versions of Nurse Jackie, also bumped because of the WO.

  • Comment number 46.

    #39 & #44,

    I agree that there would be minimal loss if BBC Parliament and BBC3 were abandonned for an HD Sports channel, or two, (although you'd have to find somewhere else to put Family Guy - the only thing I ever recall watching on BBC3) but please don't ever "get rid" of BBC4.

    I'm with Easybourne though, Danielle, in calling for answers to his 3 questions and perhaps more fundamentally the plans for the future of the HD channel and the potential introduction of the 2nd BBC HD channel, which my FOI response tells you expect to introduce in 2012. Perhaps another new Blog would be in order to explain all.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    Winter Olympic viewers are having to put up with interruptions during evening broadcasts. Like The World Cup and Commonwealth Games these are once every 4 years. Not every 4 weeks.

    Closing BBC3 and Parliament wouldn't create enough room for a HD channel.

    The BBC needs to move the 2 BBC1 regions that share room with BBC HD and then switch to DVB-S2, this would create enough room for BBC1,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies. The BBC would need another transponder for say BBC Alba and 3 interactive streams for programming. Then a final one perhaps shared with other broadcasters for BBC News and Parliament. This all needs to take place in time for the Olympics so enough HD channels are available for HD coverage of the games and because nearly all BBC content will be in HD by then.

  • Comment number 49.

    Winter Olympic viewers are having to put up with interruptions during evening broadcasts. Like The World Cup and Commonwealth Games these are once every 4 years. Not every 4 weeks.

    Closing BBC3 and Parliament wouldn't create enough room for a HD channel.

    The BBC needs to move the 2 BBC1 regions that share room with BBC HD and then switch to DVB-S2, this would create enough room for BBC1,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies. The BBC would need another transponder for say BBC Alba and 3 interactive streams for programming. Then a final one perhaps shared between BBC News, Parliament and a 3D HD channel.

  • Comment number 50.

    @citizenloz

    Yes the BBC has been caught out by the rapid development of HD. To have only 1 channel for 9 hours per day after 3 1/2 years is a very poor performance. As we know that there are 37 channels available on satellite and this makes the BBC the smallest HD broadcaster in the UK and may be in the world.

    As someone pointed out HD is a technology not a channel. The situation would be like having a colour TV channel called BBC Colour in the days of black and white television. The BBC need to move away from the rather wiered structure which might which might have been appropriate in the experimental days of HD. It is about time the BBC scrapped the concept of BBC HD and incorperated HD into main stream television.

    I think the BBC also has a problem with the way they have structured their channels. I think this is a hangover from the early days of BBC 2 whose first director was David Attenborough. He was a very inovatative person who made BBC 2 a very distinctive channel. Unfortunatly things have gone down hill since. The BBC seems to structure their channels on target audiences where as Sky tends to structure channels on the gendre of programming. Personally I prefer the latter as I dont think it is possible to meet the diverse viewer needs using the BBC structure. So maybe the BBC should have seperate channels for Drama, film and Sport etc.

    So to sum up BBC HD channel should not exist and HD should be part of the evolution of Televison.

  • Comment number 51.

    Danielle, I think it's clear from comments here that as much as we're trying to stay on topic, actually, more people want to talk about the future of HD on the BBC (and the forbidden subject) than about UK produced drama (that happens to air on your HD channel). Perhaps it's time for you to lay-out the BBC's future HD strategy in a Blog and also for Nick to resurrect the PQ Myths one (now that we've all been suitably chastised).

  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

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

  • Comment number 54.

    Paul is right that this thread is drifting off topic. Stay on topic please.

  • Comment number 55.

    54.

    So Nick, let me get this right.
    Paul's post @46 that is nothing about drama is allowed to remain, but my reply to it @47 isn't.

    In fact there are many comments in this thread that are not about drama.
    If you are going to delete off topic posts, perhaps some consistency would be good...

    Or is it just that you are selectively deleting the questions that are difficult to answer?

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi,
    I've come to this Blog a little late, but some comments on Danielle's piece might still be worth it:

    DN:
    "We're used in film to lingering close ups. In SD television we have tended to do that less, because of the loss of detailing."

    Yes, but the problem with BBCHD as it stands is that the close-ups only retain their detail if the subject says absolutely still. The sudden loss of detail with movement is most distracting from the drama itself.


    DN:
    "HD can offer producers a closer approximation to film than any other format, and therefore help production teams to produce work which looks like cinema on television drama budgets."

    One area where good HD cameras can do this is in their ability to produce shallow depth-of-field focus, by virtue of their use of large - in some cases 35mm frame-sized - image sensors. Wallender, for example, was shot using the Red Camera. However... the soft diffuse backgrounds this produces give the new coders much trouble, often inducing blocky artefacts and strange jumpy level changes, which completely negate the point of the exercise.


    DN:
    "Across what we are doing in the BBC, I intend that we shall focus this year on mastering HD."

    I agree - but we have got to understand that, at the moment, we are going backwards rather than forwards.


  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    This post is drifting off topic again. This is not a general message board for all aspects of BBC HD. Stay on topic please.

  • Comment number 62.

    Getting back on topic then...

    Can I ask whether The Deep will be produced and broadcast in 5.1 surround sound?
    Submarinar films do lend themselves very well to 5.1...

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    There are large parts of Danielles' blog I would like to comment on, however I suspect it would be deemed 'off-topic', and I would also like to post something positive, but it is increasing difficult.

    Nevertheless, I think I have found it:

    Danielle, Thank-you for all the wonderful drama on your channel and thanks for removing the DOG during drama - I appreciate it.

    Er! Thats it!

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • Comment number 68.

    The heavy censorship is making it very difficult to respond to this blog. So in an attemt to make my thoughts known in a minimalistic way:

    Danielles post is a load of rubbish. None of the programmes quoted were made for BBC HD. They were made for

    1) BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC 3,or BBC 4
    2) Release on Blu-ray
    3) For sale to other Broadcasters.




  • Comment number 69.

    Another reminder. This is not a message board about the BBC HD channel in general - stay on topic please.

    You can leave comments about picture quality on Andy's blog post.

  • Comment number 70.

    #68, your first comment, completely agree.

    That said, I'm sure that drama on BBC HD is great, if only we were allowed more post water-shed drama on the rest of the BBC, rather than being treat as though it's a "BBC Schools production"....

  • Comment number 71.

    Nick @ #69, they were not comments on picture quality, they were comments on the availability of HD drama on the BBC...!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/img/postit.jpg

  • Comment number 72.

    In reply to '' but i've been thinking about for the BBC and HD'' I would suggest for the benefit of all license fee payers that BBC HD changes into HD channels of the current BBC channels. Many Drama programmes are now ending up out of sync like Being Human because of both BBC1 and BBC2 having a show in HD at the same time.

    A reasonable timetable would be.
    BBC 1,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies by the end of 2011 on one transponder. If no up-scaling is allowed then the HD trailer will have to play out when programming isn't in HD.

    Then 2 BBCi streams for opt outs for BBC1 and 2 Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland and to show extra sports,music and other programming and the capacity for a 3D channel which uses more capacity than 1 HD channel on a transponder by July 2012 in time for the Olympics.
    When a 3D channel isn't needed it could be used as 2 more BBCi HD streams.

    Then BBC News, Alba, Parliament and a third interactive channel on a third channel could launch by the end of 2012.

    The BBC should start planning for more capacity on freeview post switch over so viewers aren't left out.

  • Comment number 73.

    Since every single discussion on here is off topic, maybe Nick would like to tell us what is actully allowed. Its seems you cannott discuss anything thats mentioned in Danielles blog.

  • Comment number 74.

    The bit rate of sat and terrestial was both reduced to avoid comparison unfavourable to the bbc

    why is posting on this site more difficult than a mail to the Politburo?

    Roger

  • Comment number 75.

    Dear roger long - thanks for the post, we have not reduced the bit rate of DTT nor have we changed the bit rate on satellite to avoid comparison - please can we move this to the Salmon of Style blog though

    Andy

  • Comment number 76.

    Danielle, when is episode 11 of Nurse Jackie on in HD?

  • Comment number 77.

    Given that Danielle Nagler, Head of the BBCs' High Definition channel, wrote:
    "HD can offer producers a closer approximation to film than any other format, and therefore help production teams to produce work which looks like cinema on television", and
    "HD has also proved popular because those working in drama have recognised that they can use it creatively", and
    "We're used in film to lingering close ups. In SD television we have tended to do that less, because of the loss of detailing" and
    "In Hustle, the HD look absolutely reflects the rhythm of the story-telling - it is crisp, and precise"
    ________________________________________________

    Would Nick please let us know what precisely is the 'topic' we are meant to be commenting on?

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 77 jtemplar asks

    "Would Nick please let us know what precisely is the 'topic' we are meant to be commenting on?"

    I am reminded of the comments on http://reportr.net/2010/01/21/the-bbc-blogs-and-accountability/

    "Sometimes I just walk away shaking my head, at the failure by BBC to grasp that “dialogue” is two-way. They appear to churn out blog after blog after blog, with very few comments (therefore appearing to be of very little interest to anyone but them), or when one comes up which attracts lots of postings, they melt away, or are heavy handed in moderation (there are ways to handle moderation, it is just that BBC are not good at it). Too often you see blogs which have elicited lots of thoughtful and thought-provoking postings, simply left to the posters to “talk amongst themselves”, or abruptly stopped when one or two posters over-step the mark. Rather than moderate offending posters but allow the discussion to flow, BBC tend to just rule the whole blog as “off topic”, and close it. BBC have been told often enough by their posters that they are “not listening” or engaging, so they have no excuse for still failing to become involved in true dialogue with posters."

  • Comment number 79.

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

  • Comment number 80.

    Re comments #77 to 79:

    I made opinion clear in this blog about what I considered an abuse of the moderation system in this blog, much of what was removed was relevant to the amount and type of HD drama the BBC produce, it just didn't fall into the very narrowly defined debate that Nick seems to want, I suggest that comments about moderation are directed to that blog were the comments are on topic and as long as we all remain civil they can't be removed - of course the complete blog could vanish....

  • Comment number 81.

    68. At 7:07pm on 11 Feb 2010, trevorjharris wrote:

    "Danielles post is a load of rubbish. None of the programmes quoted were made for BBC HD. They were made for

    1) BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC 3,or BBC 4
    2) Release on Blu-ray
    3) For sale to other Broadcasters."


    What's wrong with that, unless you are claiming that non of the programmes were made in HD, just merely up-scaled from SD?...

  • Comment number 82.

    Rearding what is on and off topic on this post.

    1. Comments about Drama on BBC HD are ON topic

    2. Comments about picture quality in general, encoders or technical matters to do with picture quality are OFF topic. The correct place for these is Andy's blog post.

    3. Comments about moderation or how the BBC responds to comments are OFF topic.

    Regarding comment 78 - I remind people that this is not a message board where the conversation flows freely and the topic is set by anyone. It is a blog post, where the topic is set by the BBC. It's therefore more important that comments stay on topic.

    I have to host this post quite strictly - because of the past behaviour of some people who have left abusive comments on other threads on BBC HD and have used off topic comments as a way of pushing comments in an abusive direction.

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 82. Nick Reynolds wrote:

    "1. Comments about Drama on BBC HD are ON topic

    2. Comments about picture quality in general, encoders or technical matters to do with picture quality are OFF topic. "

    So, let me see if I understand this correctly

    "The lower bitrate of BBC HD has led to a reduction in PQ" is off-topic, as it is just general

    Whereas

    "The PQ of Survivors is so poor it hardly deserves showing on BBC HD" would be on-topic?

    Correct?

  • Comment number 86.

    Correct.

  • Comment number 87.

    I would like to see a BBC HD drama made, dramatising the story of how Monty Pythons Flying Circus came about, especially sketches like the "Department for Arguments" or "How many Nuns can fit into a Mini" (or should that be, on a pin head?), it would be most appropriate considering...

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    Danielle, there's been much comment on the Olympics coverage tonight. Some from me on the appropriate Blogs. Here I'd just like to say I'm enjoying the extended hours, thanks, and would be pleased to be able to watch more drama at this time of night, e.g. the Wallander repeats that you told me (#23) that you've got no time to squeeze into the schedules.

    Now considering that a very, very long while ago you said: "I'm also working on what more hours for the channel might look like, and cost, and when that could be delivered. I can't give you a timing at the moment on when that will happen, but promise I'll keep you posted".

    Would you please?

  • Comment number 90.

    you seem to get a lot of negative feedback/comments here, so i would like to add something a little more positive: i have been watching the Olympics coverage tonight, and the pictures are really good. i have been flicking back and forth between bbc hd and euro hd and the beeb's quality wins hands down.

    will we be getting F1 HD this season? was so excited when the move to beeb was announced, and the so disappointed with the lack of HD coverage.
    i know the beebs position in the past has been to place the blame on bernie, however he states it the broadcasters choice, who is to blame?

  • Comment number 91.

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

  • Comment number 92.

    A BBC HD drama based-on the current 'debate' about the channel would certainly be a delight to watch.

    I would love to see a detailed and true account of the behind the scenes activity and responses to this debate, along the lines of the Hughie Green story shown on BBC HD last year.

    It would also offer the production team the opportunity to use the full range of tools to show what HD can add to television drama to change the way it tells the story. For example the camera used to film the Head of Channel could be a low grade ageing 720p HD camera with some filters like used in pseudo-fly-on-the-wall documentaries, while a high-end full HD set-up could be brought-in for close detailed shots where the true story is dramatically revealed.

    Perhaps even two production companies could be used to add more drama to the already dramatic with the Survivors people producing the BBC HD office scences while the Wallander team produce the revealing evidence with the full gambit of tools including framing of shots, the light, the colours, the grading and post-production effort.

    We're used to seeing film lingering for close ups. SD television has tended to do that less, because of the loss of detailing, so to see the battered and bruised BBC HD team emotionally fighting to stave-off criticisms from the press while investigations by the BBC Trust and Which teams go on would be fascinating.

    Whilst, I believe the HD look should absolutely reflect the rhythm of the story-telling, a slighly heightened reality, but not lavish and glossy, could only serve to lift the tension, however, given the nature of the story the greyness of real days would necessarily be part of the action. Nevertheles, the overall effect, while including the glittering darkness of fantasy nights should remain crisp, and precise.

    On the topic of casting I think Kenneth Branagh himself, with his interior monologue powering the narrative to a much greater extent than the action itself, would be a brave choice for the role of Paul Eaton.

    As part of the research into the story some FOIs would undoubtedly be required as well as use of Pauls already revealing results. Perhaps I should start on the screenplay today, or should I wait for the outcome of the real-life drama first?

    I think a Wednesday would be a good day for screening.

  • Comment number 93.

    Why, once I've told what is on and off topic on this thread do people immediately and deliberately go off topic again?

    Picture quality issues in general are off topic. And just because your comment has the word "drama" in it does not make it on topic.

    Please stay on topic.

  • Comment number 94.

    @Nick That's because the people on here are still very upset with the BBC leaving too many unresloved issues

  • Comment number 95.

    I appreciate that some people are upset. However some commenters are upset but still are able to keep within the house rules.

    So please keep within them and stay on topic.

  • Comment number 96.

    Is there any way of finding out, before the SD transmission is on tomorrow, when/if episode 11 of Nurse Jackie is being shown in HD? And if not, why not?

  • Comment number 97.

    Having just watched the Six Nations on BBC HD, why is it that the area around the graphics is always very pixelated? It's also the same around the "BBC HD" logo. This is supposed to be HD, not upscaled SD! Please get it sorted.

  • Comment number 98.

    #92, jtemplar, fabulous idea, once the Olympics is over that is just the kind of drama that this channel needs to liven-up a dull evening of antiques auctions, repeated natural history shows and slightly off-the-mark sitcoms.

    You're spot on with the 2 contrasting styles of filming. I second Kenneth Branagh playing me and also put a bid in for Raquel Cassidy, or maybe Rebecca Front, as Danielle. If you do start on the screenplay today, please consider collaborating with Armando Iannucci, as co-writer, and also make sure it gets produced by Adam Tandy?

    One question remains, who would play the lead character of our very own Andy Q, I wonder? If we can answer that one quickly, then when could filming start? Danielle please commission it, Andy who do you think?

  • Comment number 99.

    @98 I would suggest either Cesar Romero or Heath Ledger, they've both played Jokers, unfortunately they're no longer with us. Sorry Andy.

    Seriously there's a look of John Nettles about him and I believe he's free in the near future.

  • Comment number 100.

    Enough of this please. Any more speculative drama comments will be removed.

 

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