Asta 2

Asta's Continuing Adventures with HD TV

This will probably be my last post on the subject since I can imagine some of you going. "OMG, she is still talking about this." ;) But I've actually learned some stuff since last night which may prove useful to others. HD can be quite awesome depending on various things, some out of your control. For instance...

* Do tell your TV you have an hdmi cable box. I originally was watching the HD channels through the TV input which not only explained why I wasn't seeing a huge difference in picture quality, but why the picture wasn't automatically adjusting to fit my screen.

* It all depends on the signal or if the show is, in fact, HD. I was watching an old episode of SG1 on SciFi's HD channel and other then it was nicely 6:9 ratio and blown up to fit the screen, I didn't see any big difference in the picture quality. A few hours later I caught a repeat showing of this week's SGA and big difference in the picture quality. At the point it dawned on me that SGA, filmed months ago, was shot in HD, the ep of SG1 from ten years ago was not. It also explains why the network programing (NBC, ABC, FOX, etc) seems hit and miss. Shockingly, our broadcast PBS affiliate, which normally sucks, has an awesome HD channel. I watched a Lifehouse concert this afternoon (No comments! I like Lifehouse!) and it was almost like being there.

* I have Universal HD which means I get to watch BSG's 'Act of Contrition' tonight in HD. Woo! Sort of. While Universal has a pretty decent signal, it could be better. I'm getting some pixelating and graininess. I know that's the fault of the HD box and the TV having to translate and reproduce the signal. (I read about all that.) Also, as raislak reminded me, there have been issues with Comcast compressing signals more than they should and, therefore, we aren't necessarily getting true HD.

* You can record HD. In HD or not in HD, I was thrilled to discover that Universal HD is rerunning the U.S. version of Touching Evil. I tried recording the ep to see what would happen and, bless my little DVR, it translated the signal to a normal digital signal.

* Do nott always do what the cable company tells you to do. When I spoke to costumer service earlier in the week, the guy told me I "may or may not have to call" to have Comcast send a signal to the new box to activate it. Both women I spoke to at the Comcast office told me I would have to call an 800 number to have Comcast activate the box. Well, after I hooked up the new box and turned on the TV I did get an error message on screen. But I also noticed stations were loading behind the message. I decided just to give it a minute or so to see what would happen. Eventually, I got a picture and when I tried the HD channels they, slowly, revealed themselves. I figured, great, I can save myself a call. After straightening out the settings on the TV, I ran through all the cable channels last night to see what I had and to mark favorites. I suddenly realized I was watching Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and The Movie Channel. I only subscribe to HBO. I'm thinking that because I didn't call Comcast, the box just loaded all the signals it was receiving. When will Comcast catch this? Normally, I'm a pretty honest person, but I am paying for cable, including stations I don't want to get ones I do want, and the box and that is all quite a chunk of change so I'm thinking I'll just see how long I get away with this. ;)

I've pretty much been playing with the cable and TV all day only to be interrupted by sleep, since I ended up waking up at 5:45am (catching the end of 'Crossroads Pt 2' in HD and then the movie Invincible), going back to sleep at 8:00am, and then getting up to watch more TV, eat, and talk with my mother who I'm going to see tomorrow, but has to tell me what she was going to tell me tomorrow today. Not that I'm bitter. ;)

Now I think I'm going to pick up this dump a bit, color all the grey hairs, and perhaps see about getting the very long overdue recap of the Razor podcast done.

Since I'm speaking of BSG, Universal has moved up the release date of Season 3 on DVD to March 18th.

Also, a reminder that Season 2 of Torchwood premieres on BBC America at 9:00pm est tonight. I'm not really a fan of the show (to put it mildly), but I'm curious about a few things in the premiere.
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I gave Torchwood about 12 minutes. It was like they were ripping off S6 Buffy (and butchering even that, and I know people HATE S6) BEFORE Spike showed up. And it is Spike.

I hear Amber Benson was interviewed on that Sci-fi guys thing that's on the net but I didn't download it, so I can't speak for it being worth it.
Torchwood was horrible. I'm about to do a brief post on it. I can't believe James just recycled Spike. I less likable version of Spike.
I haven't commented but I have been following your HD experience ;) It's sort of an Asta goes HD so I don't have to. ;)

I got an email from Amazon last week about S3. Yay! I may have to try to do a rewatch, at least of pivotal eps, if I can squish it in somewhere.
Well, I would recommend you going HD at some point, but I'm hoping to save some people my headaches. ;)

I'm bringing BSG to Seattle - just sayin'! :)
Hah! Here's hoping they don't find out for a long, long time ;) Live shows do pop out more than filmed series - I'm watching the U.S. Figure Skating Championships now and it's just beautiful. But, I have found that both Bones and House look great in HD. And the fews times I've seen BSG in HD were mind boggling.
I just discovered a few weeks ago that repeats of House on USA are letterboxed, yet not on FOX which I find very odd. But it looks better on USA so I can imagine how it would look in HD.
Ain't playing with Tech Fun!!!!!

BTW you said "Crossroads Part 2", is that the 2nd guitar concert tribute to Eric Clapton?
I know my sense of humour is slightly odd at times, but I actually found this to be a pretty interesting post. OK, I can talk to myself for a good ten minutes about the problems involved in installing a new Hard Disk or the problems with aspect ratios between downloaded episodes, NTSC widescreen, NTSC TV, PAL widescreen and PAL TV... but reading through this, I'm tempted to bookmark it for four or five years time when I'll have access to HD.

Is the HD giving you noticeably improved quality? I've heard some people commenting that in some cases the quality is too good, and it's making shows look less polished - and in some cases on the makeup front, downright scary.

How does the box having to receive and translate the signal result in graininess and pixellation? I'm curious... I once spent ages trying to work out why vid clips I was working with were doing that. And I really want to know how BSG space battles look in HD, because... well, I'm a geek.

Normally, I'm a pretty honest person, but I am paying for cable, including stations I don't want to get ones I do want, and the box and that is all quite a chunk of change so I'm thinking I'll just see how long I get away with this. ;)
Absolutely! You may find that you can never switch your cable box off again, but that's a small price to pay :D
HD will probably be obsolete in 4 or 5 years time. ;)

The HD quality seems really dependent on what channel I am watching and if the show was, in fact, shot in true HD. I think some of the stuff I'm getting is simply widescreen. I was really impressed with the concerts I've watched thus far. BSG definitely looked better then it does on SciFi. While 'Act of Contrition' does have have battles, nothing of the spectacular sort that would allow me to evaluate that properly. Though I saw a BSG commercial which included some space battle footage and it looked impressive. I did notice that interiors and actors appeared quite crisp and clear. This is a noticeable improvement from the SciFi channel where scenes can sometimes appear very dark and a bit 'muddy'. I can't judge on the makeup front since most of these actors don't require a lot. Jamie, Tricia, James, etc look as good if not better in person so I didn't expect any flaws jumping out at me. However, I did notice that Bodie Olmos seems to have inherited not great skin from his father.

The graininess I referred to before I believe has to do with whether or not the program was shot in the HD format. Trying to convert 480 lines of resolution to 1080 is bound not to look as good as something shot in 1080.

As for processing the signal, Comcast, the only cable provider in my area, probably is purchasing good, but not type-of-the-line equipment. I read a bit about digital video conversion chips and how quality can very from one product to another and that is because many manufacturers cut costs where they can. I have to admit to not having purchased a top of the line hdmi cable myself. This article I came across while researching hdmi vs component connections provides some interesting information as to possible degradation in video quality.
That's an interesting article, thank you.

I know that I always tend to prefer to watch things in "widescreen" rather than "tv", where variants of that exist (that's one reason my BSG vids are all altered to an anthromorphic format rather than the standard DVD format), but I know that when widescreen first started becoming popular, a lot of "widescreen" releases actually showed less than the original version because the image was simply chopped and black bars added. It took a while for studios to catch up with the idea of widescreen as a valid home viewing format, and HD sounds as if it's seeing the same catch-up process.

I know that the sci-fi channel here isn't a great channel for viewing, but because of the video editing I've done, I know how much even minor changes in compression can make a big difference to screen image quality - but also that big changes can sometimes make a minor difference. The difference between watching an episode that's been downloaded from a standard tv channel at about 350MB for a 44 minute episode compared to an HD tv channel at 700MB is noticeable, but the differences between working straight from a DVD .vob file (about 1.5GB) and a one-pass XviD encoding of that same episode (about 750MB) is nowhere near as much as you might think.

I gather that the people who've been really badly affected by HDTV are newsreaders and other constant access people - I've heard that some of the news channels are applying paint by airbrush to avoid the presenters/readers looking as scary as they appeared when first viewed in HD.

I must admit, I'm hoping it'll be a little bit like DVDs... I came very late to the party, so for me the standard is paying maybe £6 for a film I like with extra features on the disk to be played on a £50 DVD player, whereas those who started before me were paying £20 for a film with no features to be played on a £200 player. I'm in no rush, so I'll wait until the tech is cheaper and the programming optimised to suit me ;)

I'm curious when people talk about 1080i and 1080p - do the i and p stand for interlaced and progressive, or something different?
eeeeee!! Touching Evil in HD!!!! I'm sooo jealous. SO very VERY jealous. I want that show on DVD dammit and not my silly downloaded avi translated to DVD either. REAL DVD and commentary and all sorts of fun stuff.
Considering every other show and film that Universal is running is available on DVD, I checked Amazon to see if maybe there is a release date :( I don't get why it's not being released. Series with even fewer eps are on DVD.