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back to article BBC shifts some HD transmissions to 1080p...

The BBC has quietly begun broadcasting HD content in 1080p, sort of. Since April, some BBC HD transmissions over Freeview HD have combined 1080i and 1080p material, switching between the two on a GOP (Group of Pictures) by GOP basis. A GOP is a batch of H.264 encoded frames combining an initial, reference picture followed by a …

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Anonymous Coward

Testing transmissions

In fairness to the BBC - they do make available test streams that include changes to HD encoding well in advance of their actual use live on air. However - it is possible that what the Sony TVs are suffering from wasn't apparent using these streams.

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Ummm

So the story is 'early adopters of {tech} find bugs in {tech} before the masses'.

Snooze.

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more like

'Tech news site reports on tech news'

I for one found this interesting - and I'm sure other equipment will suffer the same problem.

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Joke

Sony fix

will require you to upload your personal details including name, address, phone nos, email, credit card details and any nuddy pictures of the missus to a server under the control of hackers.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Silver badge

Following the standards is pretty tough to do

Flipping between 1080i and 1080p on the fly sounds like a pretty esoteric feature. It may well be that the test broadcasts / sample clips didn't properly encapsulate the mode. It may even be that this broadcast is designed to shake the bugs out of the system and identify firmware which has problems with it. If Sony's tv is dropping audio it might suggest they're flushing their buffers when the group switches modes treating it like a channel change or similar.

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or indeed

since other TVs have no issue, sony thought "who the fuck would do that" and skimped on the testing/coding/bothering.

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Anonymous Coward

Not Sony

more like "whatever cheap oufit Sony outsources to now". It's been years since Sony made stuff themselves, and it shows.

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Go

Can you alter your comment ?

It should read:

"Sony should stop making shit "

Signed

One disgruntled Vaio owner

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@Danny 14

I've had to develop application software for cable TV boxes and the variation in content you have to handle is unbelievable. Content can be 4:3, 16:9, may embed advanced pan & scan info, may use peculiar anamorphic schemes (e.g half the horz resolution), may have multiple audio tracks using various codecs, may have multiple language tracks, may have random custom data, may flip resolutions on the fly, may be in HD or SD, may use AVC or MPEG2 video, may have tracks coming and going without warning, may be in the clear or encrypted, may be interlaced / non interlaced, may have different frame rates, may have different bit rates, may have different patterns of IBP frames, may have audio / video sync information. The list goes on and on.

The specs are enormously complex, the data may not be "correct", there may be subjectively correct behaviour in scenarios not described by the spec and the test data is never going to cover every scenario. I expect this is one of those things and if its resolved by a firmware update I don't see it as a big deal assuming they get around to fixing it. DVB-T2 does allow updates over the air after all.

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Dead Vulture

Bit harsh on the Beeb ?

"Maybe it should have done that at the start, running the new approach to transmission by TV makers first"

Er, do you really expect the BBC to get hold of every freeview device to test it with their broadcast ? If the BBC are broadcasting according to the spec*, then it's the receiver's companys problem to sort it out.

* - Yes, I do know that just 'cause it's written in a spec it doesn't mean it's right

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Happy

In Sony's defence

"it's the receiver's companys problem to sort it out"

Much as I hate coming to Sony's defence here, on the face of it they are doing just that. But yes, it's harsh to blame the Beeb. Although from a PR perspective they're probably doing all they can to assist as Joe Public would probably be inclined to say "the Beeb changed it and broke it!"

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BBC's Fault, or Sony's Fault?

Assuming the broadcast is within spec, it's hardly BBC's problem if the TVs aren't.

On the same assumption, you'd think Sony of all companies would be on top of something like this before it happened.

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Joke

Sony

I think you forgot to add the joke icon for the last paragraph.

Here, I'll lend you mine

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Coat

Yeah I know, I know

Sorry. I gave myself a good chuckle but forgot to share it.

Appropriate icon attached, I think.

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Anonymous Coward

1080p??

1080p?? What's the missing number? Any guesses? I doubt it is 50. If it is 25 what's the difference? 24 would be nice though for films.

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Anonymous Coward

Presumably they mean 1080p25 ?

...which is curious, I didn't even know that mode was permitted on Freeview HD. It's certainly a CRT-unfriendly mode, not that anybody cares anymore.

Switching can upset TVs because they think they're starting a whole new program, hence the audio dropouts.

Hmm, couldn't they just have used PAFF/MBAFF, and rely on the TV to do smart de-interlace? Or as I've said before (but anonymously - must get self a cool handle) I don't know why they don't just stick with 720p and be done with it.

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WTF?

eeek

I would guess that 1080p is a CRT unfriendly resolution. Especially for domestic TV sets. I would also have to shift that forementioned CRT as it would be a monster.

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Flame

Re: "I don't know why they don't just stick with 720p and be done with it."

I don't know why you don't just stick with Windows 95 and be done with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Why 720p

Because the perceived quality benefit of a higher frame rate (consistently 50hz) is arguably more valuable than a modestly increased horizontal (1280 -> 1440) and vertical resolution (720 -> 1080, but degraded by interlace artifacts). And it makes the TV's job easier.

(For a movie filmed at 24fps, obviously you'd want 1080p. But as for broadcast 1080i, I'm not convinced at all.)

Still using Win XP though.

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Paris Hilton

Standards or not?

"Maybe it should have done that at the start, running the new approach to transmission by TV makers first in order to prevent the problems Sony owners - and possibly those with other telly brands too - have experienced.... ...While the Freeview HD spec for set-top boxes mandates handling 1080p material at 50 frames per second, to cope with this kind of thing, that doesn't appear to be the case with tuner-equipped TVs"

Well it's either a standard or it's not. You can't blame the Beeb for assuming that the receiving equipment is compliant/fit-for-purpose surely?

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Running it by TV makers

"Maybe it should have done that at the start, running the new approach to transmission by TV makers first in order to prevent the problems Sony owners - and possibly those with other telly brands too - have experienced."

Well perhaps they did, and the sales-droid at the TV maker read his own spec sheet and said "Yeah, that'll be fine.". Now had you said, "Maybe the BBC should have bought whole ranges of TVs from all the major manufacturers, going back several years, and told their *own* staff to try the new signals on each and every one of them." then you'd have had a proper testing program. It would have cost a bit though.

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I don't have FreeviewHD

and I get HD through Sky, but at the time, SkyHD was 1080i, so being the financially challenged person I am, I bought a perfectly acceptable not-a-known-brand TV that would do 1080i and not 1080p. This was several years ago, so I guess that you could say that I am an early adopter.

The TV still works find, but I would appreciate advanced warning if the Beeb do the same on Sky, because the TV won't handle it!

Mind you, by SkyHD box (a Thompson) is also a bit long-in-the-tooth, and I've had to fix it twice already (power supply and hard disk), so I doubt it would cope with 1080p anyway.

I also suggest to anybody who buys a TV in the sub-£250 price range to check the display panel resolution on their HD Ready TV (some of which I'm sure actually carry the "Full-HD Ready" logo). Chances are the panel does not have a resolution of 1920x1080 anyway, so it is a moot point.

I hate manufacturers being able to force new purchases on their customers.

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Sounds like Sony's bugs

Comes across like the problem was with Sony's TVs not meeting the Freeview HD spec, or meeting it in a crappy and/or short-sighted way.

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So...

So even Freeview is not longer same User Experience and same Bit Rate within a single film.

Entertaining... Curiouser and curiouser...

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WTF?

Virgin Media

Does that explain why I've been getting audio drop-outs on my Virgin Media HD service? (Scientific Atlantic V+ box).

Or is this purely limited to Freeview HD?

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Go

1080p or just 720p

"I don't know why they don't just stick with 720p and be done with it."

CAUSE ITS ALL OR NOTHING BABY!!!!

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This has been going on for a few weeks now.

The BBC started doing dynamic 1080i/p a couple of months back now (and yes, it's 1080p25, and yes, it's in the Freeview specs). It's only the BBC HD channel that they're doing it on, though.

It's not just Sony TVs that had/have problems. A lot of Samsung TVs had OK sound, but the picture blanked for each i/p switchover. Perhaps they've been fixed now.

The BBC and Sony have known about this problem for a while now, but it took them ages to respond to user complaints. In fact, Sony only admitted to the problem three or four days ago.

The BBC explained what they assume the problem is a couple weeks ago, but decided to keep running their dynamic switching experiments rather than wait for the manufacturers to get a fix in. Considering that a large percentage of Freeview HD viewers own the Sony / Samsung TVs, that's an odd decision.

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Mitsubishi

Could this be why my Mitsubishi 3:4 TV (fed by a Pace/TeleWest STB) was only displaying the left-hand half of Have I Got News For You last Friday?

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Anonymous Coward

Not at all

the right-hand side was subject to a super-injunction

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Anonymous Coward

I'd wondered what this was

but naively assumed it was some sort of signal-loss that only affected BBC HD

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Ah!

That would explain why when I switch to BBC HD it does not show anything in the top left corner of my Panasonic G20. All other HD channels show 1080i @ 50Hz when I switch. Strange that nothing is shown when I switch to BBC HD. It's working though. I will have to monitor for any weird issues when they switch to 1080i for the credits. But as others have stated. I wish they did 24P for movies.

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Also...1920x1080?

Or is is still running on a reduced horizontal res?

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Unhappy

Late specification

It has only fairly recently become clear that this switching will occur mid programme rather than just between them. That affected the priority with which it has been addressed by Sony.

BBC do have representative samples of all digital platforms for which they are not charged. They have also been aware of the issues this change will cause with Sony TVs for some time.

The specification for 1080p was a very late addition to the Freeview HD specification and I don't think it was added in time to be mandatory from the start (or at least on the fly switching wasn't). The Sony TVs passed all relevant tests available at launch and strictly speaking it should be the BBC's/Freeview's responsibility to keep the broadcasts within the capabilities of the approved receivers, there is no obligation to make such feature upgrades although Sony have clearly stated they will do so.

I haven't checked the figures recently but because they started earlier and offered Freeview HD on more of their range Sony will still be significant in the number of deployed Freview HD products, maybe 1/3. (STB/PVR sales are tiny compared to the TV Market. Anyone with time and GfK figures feel free to correct me.

I think that the BBC are being unreasonable pushing ahead in this case.

Joseph Lord

Human-friendly.com

(Ex Sony TV Product Planning - Recent)

(Ex BBC R&D - Not very recent)

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but

Who else has this issue? Panasonic? LG? Samsung? Are there any other major manufacturers with this issue? If not, why not?

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FAIL

Here is how much difference it will make to me:

0.

I have a three month old Sony Bravia Turbo Nutter Bastard. Can it get BBC HD? Can it buggery. And I'd have a direct line of sight to Crystal Palace if there wasn't a tree in the way.

Bah!

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