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Digital Days

Welcome to DTV Professional! By Guy Wright
DTV Professional logoWelcome to the new DTV Professional Web site!

These days just about everything seems to be digital. Digital is good. Digital is clean. Digital is compact. Digital shouldn't suffer any of that nasty signal degradation like analog.

We are smack in the middle of a digital transformation in the television industry. Regardless of how you feel about competing digital broadcast formats if you work with video you will have to start thinking and working in digital sooner or later. Odds are, if you're surfing this site and reading this piece, you already work in the digital domains.

The trick is that if you are a professional, you need to move into digital with a little care and understanding. Simply saying that digital is better isn't enough. Digital video can be just as ugly as the worst analog video (if you don't believe me then try running what passes for streaming video off the Web. If you can convince me that's quality video then I'll eat my hat.)

Let's face it. There are still a number of things that digital just doesn't do very well?at least not yet. And, like analog, digital video can be abused. For example, my cable company decided to go digital a year or two ago. At first, everything seemed pretty good. But I suspect that an engineer tried to explain why digital was a benefit to someone in their accounting department.

"By switching to digital we can compress the signals and we can send more channels down the pipe," he/she must have said. Logically enough the accountant must have come to the conclusion that if they compressed the signals even more they could send even more channels, and more, and more. Apparently the engineer must have neglected to tell the accountant that there is a limit to how much you can compress a signal even if it is digital. Sure, it's digital but now it looks worse than my old analog service.

You have to balance quality with the ever-present siren song of more profits. Broadcast stations are about to face similar situations when it comes to multi-casting or leasing bandwidth for datacasting. Some would forego HDTV in favor of multi-casting two or three digital SD channels. Others would like nothing better than to sit back and profit from 'unused' bandwidth by leasing it to others for datacasting computer information. Both of these approaches could backfire if not handled carefully. Cable companies are already balking at having to carry multiple SD channels since that cuts into their bandwidth and there are already some voices in Washington who believe datacasting should be legislated out of existence before it gets off the ground.

We'll keep an eye on all of these technologies and try to keep you up to date. Check back often.

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Guy Wright has been kicking around computers and video for more years than he cares to admit and written too many articles to count. He has been a director, editor, producer, video operator, and announcer for a score of radio and TV stations. His credits include hundreds of insipid local-origination programs and commercials, dozens of cheesy radio spots, and even a book or two. Mainly he writes and edits articles for Digital Media Online.
Related Keywords: DTV, HDTV, Guy Wright, datacasting, multi-casting, editorial


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