With, much of Europe and the U.S. now producing broadcast audio to meet loudness standards, Jon Schorah, creative director of NUGEN Audio, reflects upon the current state of play, the lessons learned along the way, and what’s to come.
PHABRIX recently visited UK based Quantel, developers of innovative, world-leading content creation systems for broadcast, post and DI to find out how the company are deploying their six PHABRIX hand held SxE in its test department.
Time and accuracy are vital when producing content for broadcast. All broadcasters have strict schedules to work to, as well as visual and audio standards that need to be met. Effective testing and measurement (T&M) of any material that is to be transmitted is key to ensuring these parameters are adhered to, for both producer and broadcaster; get these wrong, or trust in inadequate equipment, and it could be very costly.
The term '4K' applies to some five slightly different picture formats with around 4,000 pixel horizontal resolution: all much bigger than HD. In fact roughly four times the total pixels required for 1920 x 1080 pixel high definition. 4K has been around for some years but was until recently only affordable by producers with mega budgets. Advances in camera sensor and display technology are now allowing manufacturers to offer 4K products at prices not too much more than their high definition equivalents.
Broadcasters once were able to transmit a signal up on the satellite and worry only about that feed. Now, with the growth and diversification of audio video (A/V) service handoffs, the points at which feeds enter the facility or are sent out to downstream targets such as cable operators, pay-TV services and other service providers, broadcasters have many more feeds to monitor.
Lets be clear about this. Test and measurement tools are not there to make life difficult for you, they are there to ensure that we get the best quality pictures and sound through the long path to the home within a required technical specification. So yes, simply put, checking that we are getting the best out of the technology that black is black, white is white, and colours can be reproduced accurately within the tolerances broadcasters set is vital.
The test and measurement product category continues to expand as the broadcast business itself diversifies. Notable recent developments include higher resolution displays and a gradually increasing number of analysers which, having detected a fault, endeavour to fix it. No sign at NAB 2011 of any tablet-based test and measurement equipment but perhaps that is only a matter of time.....
In shooting 3D you naturally have two cameras and two lenses: albeit, there are some weird and wonderful single lens/single sensor contraptions out there. This usually means there are any number of ways each camera lens combination could be producing images with minor are major signal level differences. If these level differences are not dealt with on-set or in post-production, they could lead the visually objectionable artefacts in 3D portrayal.
Todays post-production facilities and practically the entire global multimedia industry, face a common issue: how to effectively eliminate the notorious problem of inconsistent loudness being pushed to the absolute limits.
A year is a long time in broadcast test & measurement, which is just as well because that is when this column previously focused on it. Given the current push to establish 3D as a permanent feature of the broadcast landscape, one might reasonably expect T&M kit designers to be heading along the same road.
Calibration is the cornerstone of measurement confidence. Badly calibrated instruments are liable to produce measurement errors which can then propagate throughout an enterprise and even to the end-users product¦ and beyond! This can have a detrimental effect on a companys reputation and profits, and could even have legal implications.
Throughout this article series we have seen that IPTV network operators face many challenges and explained that effective test and measurement is key to overcoming these challenges. The majority of IPTV networks are still in the early stages of development and operators are therefore primarily concerned with optimising QoS parameters in order to get their IPTV systems working.
In Parts 1-3 we introduced IPTV as an emerging broadcast technology, and discussed some of the technical challenges involved in successful delivery of IPTV services. We saw how the complexity of IPTV networks and the trade-offs in technology types can provide further challenges in delivering high QoS and QoE in IPTV delivery.
In this part we will begin to explore how to test IPTV systems
In parts 1 and 2 we gave a background to IPTV, and discussed some of the challenges faced by IPTV service providers. We focused particularly on the importance of Quality of Service and Quality of Experience, and the interrelationship between the two.
Recap previous Parts:
While the first parts covered the theory and actual measurements of white shading, setting up colorimetry, exposure, greyscale adjustments, alignment and matching of cameras using a waveform monitor, this final part is devoted to providing a better understanding of the displays used.
It is not often that a product is released that encapsulates so distinctly the essence of British ingenuity but the new SxE hand held test and measurement instrument with eye and jitter functionality from PHABRIX may just have set itself in that mould.
The first parts covered the theory and actual measurements of white shading, setting up colorimetry and exposure as well as greyscale adjustments using a waveform monitor. The objective was to provide a thorough understanding of the functions and benefits of using a waveform monitor when addressing non-linear effects in the camera system to create reproducible conditions and to make full use of the dynamic range of the camera system while maintaining a valid signal for processing in a television environment.
Parts 1 and 2 covered the theory and actual measurement of white shading, making sure that the camera non-linearities introduced by various different lens systems on a particular camera are compensated. In this issue, Part 3 will investigate setting up colourimetry and exposure as well greyscale adjustments using a waveform monitor.
The transition from analogue to digital programme production, storage and delivery lulled some innocent folk into anticipating a world without need for test equipment. If required at all, so the thinking went, all signal analysis would be performed in software. Maybe someday. For now, the T&M sector remains alive and well.
In part 1 of this knowledge series we discussed the requirements for making correct white shading measurements in terms of the equipment used. Part 2 now will focus on performing the actual measurements and making sure that we achieve optimum linearity and dynamic range.
Image quality all starts with the correct alignment of the camera which is used to capture the scene either on location or in the studio. The conversion of light into electrical signals involves many processes which can affect the quality of the image. Understanding these various adjustments that are necessary, using a suitable camera chart and waveform monitor are critical in ensuring a high quality image and
preventing mistakes from occurring mistakes that are costly to fix in the post production process.
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