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Broadcast Workflows - Looking to the future

Broadcast Workflows - Looking to the future

Broadcast Workflows - Looking to the future
Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Looking to the future Bruce's ShortsToday’s the day for my webinar on the future. I must confess to being slightly nervous. Once you put your ideas on paper and tell the world, an invisible clock starts ticking and you’re open to the scrutiny of the world:

I know that many hundreds of people will tune into the webinar and nod wisely as I talk about UHDTV, IP transfer, why the death of interlace can’t come soon enough and I wonder what my predictions will look like in 2016 and 2020:

I know already that there is one topic I forgot to include – the issue of fractional frame rates. We live in a software world where just about anything you can think of can be made for a price. There really are very few limits to creativity left nowadays, yet we not only live with the compromises of the past – SOME PEOPLE STILL THINK THEY’RE A GOOD IDEA!

Sorry, I’ve calmed down now. Let’s start with a little history. In the early days of television we wanted to show a frame rate that was high enough to avoid flicker, but with enough vertical resolution to be sharp. One of the compromises was to invent INTERLACE – Aaaaagghh. Sorry. I get worked up when interlace is mentioned. But there were other compromises. A frame rate had to be chosen that did not cause beat frequencies with the electricity supply. If your electricity is at 50Hz and you show a picture at 60fields/s on an old (1940s - 1950s) television set, then you will see vertical lines on your screen that move up (or down) at the beat frequency of 60-50 = 10 field lines/second. This is very annoying, so in the original television standards we related to the field / frame rates to the electricity frequencies to make set design easier and cheaper.

Before clicking on this map link, I’d like you to imagine what percentage of the world watches pictures at 50fields/s (i.e. 25 fps) and what percentage watches at 60fields/s (i.e. 30fps). If you live in the USA, this is quite surprising – most of the eyeballs watching TV in the world are not using your frame rate. This makes frame rate conversion (or temporal conversion) technology one of the key technologies for multi-platform distribution (luckily for me, AmberFin are global leaders in this).

I digress. When color TV was introduced by the NTSC committee in the USA in December 1953, a slight reduction of the frame rate was introduced to reduce the visibility of the chrominance subcarrier and the FM audio subcarrier. This meant that the frame rate was not 30fps, but (30 / 1.001) fps. This gave the birth of 29.97fps television – a fractional frame rate that has had huge consequences through the industry. Because of fractional frame rates, timecode had to have a counting mode that allowed it to keep (roughly) in sync with the time of day – this is called drop frame. Mixing drop frame and non-drop frame timecode and getting it wrong wastes thousands if not millions of dollars around the world every year in content rework.

As I mentioned earlier, we live in a software world where just about anything you can think of can be made for a price. So why is it still a good idea to introduce brand new formats like 120fps video and insist on a 1.001 fractional offset? It makes no sense. Modern TV sets don’t care. Companies likeAmberFin (and a few others) can convert to and from the fractional rates with ease in software. Why burden the many to solve the problems of a very few? It’s crazy. If you care about this – get involved in the SMPTE 10e group or the ITU group before it’s too late.

If it’s all quite interesting and you’d like to know more, then tune into today’s seminar – you can sign up right here – but be quick space is limited!

Register for our next webinar TODAY:

Wednesday 29th January at:

1pm GMT, 2pm CET, 8am EST, 5am PST


5pm GMT, 6pm CET, 12pm EST, 9am PST

‘til next time.

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Posted by Bruce Devlin

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