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fpnc
Mar 23, 2010, 04:24 AM
I just downloaded the newly released "HD" version of "Top Gear, Season 14" and although the video quality is quite good I noticed that the encoding size on the first episode is 960x720 (playback is stretched to 1280x720 to maintain the correct 16:9 aspect ratio). I suspect that Apple did this because the series is recorded in PAL at 25fps (BBC in the U.K.) and the Apple TV can only handle full-resolution 720p at 24fps. Note that 960x720 isn't even XGA which is 1024◊768 (the latter is the LCD resolution on the iPad).

This seems like a case of false advertising since I'm pretty certain that 960x720 does not fall within the technical specification of 16:9 HDTV. It's clearly better than the standard definition version but this is a case where the decoding limits on the Apple TV are really starting to show.

It's also apparent that some of the location shooting in "Top Gear" is still being done in SD. You can definitely see when they switch to SD during some of the car interior shots while on the road. Of course, this latter is not Apple's fault and all of the exterior shots, roadside scenery, and in-studio portions are recorded in HD.

In any case, I really don't think Apple should be selling 960x720 as "HD." By the way, the SD version is encoded at 640x480 and then stretched to 853x480 (anamorphic or enhanced for widescreen TVs).



Ritsuka
Mar 23, 2010, 04:43 AM
Or maybe Apple didn't encoded them, and the one who did the encode used Compressor, known to do crappy anamorphic stuff if the video is 25fps.

AppleTV can handle 720p at 25fps.

zedsdead
Mar 23, 2010, 05:09 AM
960x720 is 720p, it is just a 4x3 frame. 1280x720 is 16x9.

fpnc
Mar 23, 2010, 06:20 AM
960x720 is 720p, it is just a 4x3 frame. 1280x720 is 16x9.
Yes, but "Top Gear" is in 16:9 format, as I mentioned in my original post.

In fact, I just checked several more "HD" TV shows that I've gotten off of iTunes and it seems that many are encoded at only 960x720. Seems like only the TV shows that are produced at 24fps are done at full 720p (1280x720). Anything done at 25fps or 30fps is encoded at 960x720 (and this content is in widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratios, it's stretched to 1280 on "actual size" playback).

As for the comment about the Apple TV doing 720p at 25fps, that's not what Apple says in their literature about the Apple TV. Also, I recently tried to encode a 1280x720 video at 25fps and iTunes wouldn't allow that video to be transferred to the Apple TV (complained that it wasn't in the correct format). I then encoded that same clip at 24fps 720p and it transferred and played on the Apple TV.

As for who does the encoding, I don't think that Apple does any of it, it's done by the content providers but that still doesn't let Apple off the hook. In my opinion Apple shouldn't market these as "HD" if they aren't at least encoded at full 720p (1280x720 for 16:9 content).

dynaflash
Mar 23, 2010, 09:56 AM
I have several 1280 x 720 25fps movies on my atv, also as a note I used cabac ... which is also not in apples literature.

jaw04005
Mar 23, 2010, 11:37 AM
HD video is only defined by the number of lines in the vertical display resolution because of varying aspect ratios. In fact, technically anything above 480 scan lines can be considered HD. Thatís why some of the early plasmas that had a resolution of only 800x600 were still marketed as HD displays.

While 1280x720 and 1920x1080 are common standard HD resolutions for TV broadcast, there are other non-standard resolutions like 960x720 that are classified as HD also.

If Top Gear is filmed in 16:9, I would report the videos in question to iTunes Store support. Clearly, there was an encoding issue. They probably wonít do anything about it (they never fixed the House episodes I reported or the music video I reported that was mislabeled), but they gave me free video credits.

As for 960x720, that would the correct ď720p formatĒ for films with certain aspect ratios that need to fit within 4:3. Disneyís Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (960x720) and Pinocchio (976x720) would be an example or even The Wizard of Oz (992x720)*. Thereís no other 720p alternative for films like this.

* These are just estimates from ripping the Blu-ray disc to 720 and may be slightly off due to encoding, cropping, etc.

ftaok
Mar 23, 2010, 11:46 AM
At one point, the CEA definition of HD (for equipment, not transmission) was any display of 16:9 aspect ratio with at least 720 horizontal lines. This allowed 1024x768 plasmas with rectangular pixels to carry the HDTV logo.

The ATSC (for us Americans) didnít explicitly define HDTV, but the ATSC standard for HD transmissions is 1280x720/60p; 1980x1080/60i; and 1980x1080/60p. There are other resolutions under the ATSC banner, but theyíre more or less EDTV resolutions.

jaw04005
Mar 23, 2010, 11:56 AM
At one point, the CEA definition of HD (for equipment, not transmission) was any display of 16:9 aspect ratio with at least 720 horizontal lines.This allowed 1024x768 plasmas with rectangular pixels to carry the HDTV logo.

You mean vertical, right?

And here’s the CEA exact definitions:

HIGH- DEFINITION TELEVISION (HDTV): HDTV refers to a complete product/ system with the following minimum performance attributes:

Receiver—Receives ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats
Display Scanning Format—Has active vertical scanning lines of 720 progressive (720p), 1080 interlaced (1080i), or higher
Aspect Ratio—Capable of displaying a 16:9 image*
Audio—Receives and reproduces, and/or outputs Dolby Digital audio

*In specifications found on product literature and in owner’s manuals, manufacturers are required to disclose the number of vertical scanning lines in the 16:9 viewable area, which must be 540p, 810i or higher to meet the definition of HDTV.

Apple would qualify under the CEA definition. However, it’s specifically referring to hardware not the encoded video, and not everyone follows the CEA. So, again, it’s practically a marketing free-for-all.

http://www.ce.org/PDF/DTV_Definitions.pdf

dynaflash
Mar 23, 2010, 11:59 AM
To be honest I kinda get sick of this whole "HD" thing. As was said, it only refers to vertical lines of resolution. And as I have said before in other threads. I can make a 700 kbps 1080p movies that will look like crap. Imho the whole "720p" thing is a bit oversimplified to determine how good a video looks. Vertical lines of resolution will get you only one measurement which is the actual frame size ( and even at that only the vertical measurement ).

Consider for example that HB will use a specific width and scale height based on Aspect ratio. So a 1280 width will often times come up < 720 height as the aspect ratio increases, which is quite common. So are these encodes any less "HD" ?

If you were to say fix the height of a 1080p source at 720 ( so you could say it was true 720p ) and adjust the width for the aspect ratio quite often you would end up > a 1280 width.

ftaok
Mar 23, 2010, 12:18 PM
You mean vertical, right?Nope, I mean horizontal lines. Vertical scanning lines refers to the horizontal lines running across your screen.

720p is the shorthand name for a category of HDTV video modes. The number 720 stands for the 720 horizontal scan lines of display resolution (also known as 720 pixels of vertical resolution), while the letter p stands for progressive scan or non-interlaced.

Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/720p)

dynaflash
Mar 23, 2010, 12:30 PM
Reread post above and realized we were saying the same thing.

tommylotto
Mar 23, 2010, 01:31 PM
The CEA definition only applies to display hardware -- not the definition of HD signals which are only 1280x720p, 1920x1080i or 1920x1080p

This is a very old battle. DirecTV with its MPEG-2 broadcasts used to covert their 1080i signals from 1920x1080i to 1280x1080i by changing the aspect ratio of the pixels. That reduces the actual resolution from CBS, NBC HBO, etc. by one third. Is that an HD broadcast? I do not think so.

There is still a class action pending in CA on the issue, but it is having trouble getting certification...

tommylotto
Mar 23, 2010, 01:39 PM
Consider for example that HB will use a specific width and scale height based on Aspect ratio. So a 1280 width will often times come up < 720 height as the aspect ratio increases, which is quite common. So are these encodes any less "HD" ?

You are talking about aspect ratios wider than 16:9 where there necessarily will be black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. When encoding that file, there is no need to encode the black as the bars can be generated by the AppleTV or whatever. The original poster is talking about something different -- reducing the horizontal resolution (to reduce file size) then changing the pixel aspect ratio (to make it 16:9). The former is necessary to provide the file in original aspect ratio. The latter is cheating quality to save bandwidth.

Nermal
Mar 23, 2010, 01:43 PM
In fact, technically anything above 480 scan lines can be considered HD.

That can't be right; a standard PAL DVD (720x576) is certainly not considered HD.

I noticed that the encoding size on the first episode is 960x720 (playback is stretched to 1280x720 to maintain the correct 16:9 aspect ratio).

How did you determine that?

jaw04005
Mar 23, 2010, 02:33 PM
That can't be right; a standard PAL DVD (720x576) is certainly not considered HD.

The question is considered by who?

If it was 576p, it would be in the U.S. according to the CEA.

"In specifications found on product literature and in ownerís manuals, manufacturers are required to disclose the number of vertical scanning lines in the 16:9 viewable area, which must be 540p, 810i or higher to meet the definition of HDTV.Ē

See link in my post above. However, the CEA is referring to hardware not content.

As far as I know, thereís no standard for what classifies content as HD. In the United States, the ATSC provides a chart that specifies 720p and 1080i, but again thatís what the TV stations have to broadcast and clearly most of what gets broadcasts is just upscaled to those resolutions.

In Australia, apparently 576p50 is actually part of their HD standard broadcast resolutions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/576p

Interesting article that tries to define HD:

http://www.highdef.com/library/hddefined.htm

tommylotto
Mar 23, 2010, 03:01 PM
In Australia, apparently 576p50 is actually part of their HD standard broadcast resolutions.

Wikipedia is hardly a definitive source. Anyway, when I checked that article (maybe someone changed it, who knows), it indicated that when the frame rate was doubled to 50, it was considered EDTV -- enhanced, not high definition. The equivalent of our 480p.

The question, I think is whether the consumer is being deceived. If the content provider is intentionally reducing the resolution and tinkering with the pixel aspect ratio to reduce quality and save bandwidth, then the consumer is being deceived. The solution, obviously, is to disclose the resolution (both horizontal and vertical) on the splash screen before a purchase is made. If they are reluctant to disclose the actual resolution before a purchase and are pawning their content as HD after playing trick to reduce quality and save bandwidth, then you know something shady is going on...

rayward
Mar 23, 2010, 03:45 PM
FWIW, I understand that Apple TV will flag as "HD", anything that has a resolution greater than 480x. 481i, for example, would be flagged as "HD".

fpnc
Mar 23, 2010, 04:01 PM
I have several 1280 x 720 25fps movies on my atv, also as a note I used cabac ... which is also not in apples literature.
But how are you getting these 25fps 720p movies to your Apple TV? Do you transfer them using iTunes or have you hacked your Apple TV to allow you to transfer content using FTP or some other non-iTunes method?

I've seen reports where people have used FTP to transfer 25fps 720p movies over to the Apple TV and these users report that the Apple TV will play that content. However, that's different than using a completely unhacked Apple TV where it appears that the iTunes application itself limits 720p movies to 24fps (maximum).

ss957916
Mar 23, 2010, 04:06 PM
I work in TV - and that's why I haven't invested in HD. So much stuff is actually just upscaled. I've just done a 10-part series which was shot in SD but is being advertised as HD.

I suspect Apple are just doing the same.

fpnc
Mar 23, 2010, 04:25 PM
I noticed that the encoding size on the first episode is 960x720 (playback is stretched to 1280x720 to maintain the correct 16:9 aspect ratio).
How did you determine that?
You can use the movie info feature of QuickTime Player and it will indicate the encoded resolution (960x720 in the case of the "Top Gear" episode) and also the current size of the playback (1280x720 for the video in question).

When I checked other HD TV shows that I had gotten from iTunes there was a definite pattern. Anything that was 24/23.98 fps had a horizontal resolution of 1280. However, HD TV shows that were either 25fps or 30/29.97 fps had a horizontal resolution of 960.

Standard definition TV shows were usually 640x480 with a 640x480 playback size for 4:3 content or an 853x480 playback size for 16:9 content (the latter enhanced for widescreen TV playback similar to anamorphic DVDs).

I guess this isn't too surprising since Apple indicates that the Apple TV can only decode 1280x720 at 24fps (maximum). Thus, anything higher than 24fps would be limited to 960x540 (one quarter of 1080i/p) or 960x720 (which seems to be common for a good number of the "HD" TV shows on the iTunes Store).

I'm going to check to see if networks that are known to broadcast in 1080i are encoding their iTunes HD content at 960x540. If so, that would even be worse than the 960x720 content that I've already found.

Of course, all of the above may be scaled even further depending upon the resolution setting on your Apple TV/HD TV. Thus, if you set your Apple TV for 1080i/p output then all of the above are further scaled to fit the resolution of your TV.

tommylotto
Mar 23, 2010, 04:28 PM
I work in TV - and that's why I haven't invested in HD. So much stuff is actually just upscaled. I've just done a 10-part series which was shot in SD but is being advertised as HD.

I suspect Apple are just doing the same.

Once again, you are talking about acquisition, not transmission. The original poster was talking about transmission. The HD chain goes like this: acquisition, transmission and display. All three need to be HD to get a true HD experience. The Camera or telecine needs to capture the source at an HD resolution. Then it needs to be transmitted as an HD signal, or with the case of AppleTV downloaded in a file that is at HD. Finally the signal needs to be displayed on an HD capable TV. However, one transgression does not forgive another. If you watch HD on an EDTV, it is your fault. If the content provider just upscales the source material, it is the content provider's fault -- Or Apple's fault if they are the one who did the up scaling. Finally, what the original poster is alleging is transmission misrepresentation. If Apple takes an HD source from the content provider, down rezzes it and transmits a lower resolution version of the source material to save bandwidth, then Apple is cheating the consumer. It might be technically necessary due to the limitations of the AppleTV, but that is no excuse for not disclosing the reduction of resolution to the consumer before the purchase.

fpnc
Mar 23, 2010, 04:34 PM
FWIW, I understand that Apple TV will flag as "HD", anything that has a resolution greater than 480x. 481i, for example, would be flagged as "HD".
I believe that is true. However, that's a little bit different than selling widescreen/16:9 content that has a horizontal resolution below 1280 and still calling it "HD TV."

fpnc
Mar 23, 2010, 04:51 PM
...It might be technically necessary due to the limitations of the AppleTV, but that is no excuse for not disclosing the reduction of resolution to the consumer before the purchase.
That's the key to this issue. Apple really should state the encoded resolution for the "HD" content that they sell on the iTunes Store. I suspect that Apple isn't alone in this situation because if everyone else (Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu) was actually selling HDTV shows at 1280x720 or full 1080i/p then I'd suspect that Apple could be setting themselves up for a class action lawsuit.

I'd admit that this is kind of a gray area since bitrate can make as much of a difference as the encoding resolution. Case in point, is 1080p at 2Mbps really as "HD" as 720p at 4Mbps?

roidy
Mar 23, 2010, 05:29 PM
FWIW, I understand that Apple TV will flag as "HD", anything that has a resolution greater than 480x. 481i, for example, would be flagged as "HD".

Not true, otherwise all of my PAL DVD (720x576) encodes would be flagged as HD

Nermal
Mar 23, 2010, 05:32 PM
You can use the movie info feature of QuickTime Player and it will indicate the encoded resolution (960x720 in the case of the "Top Gear" episode) and also the current size of the playback (1280x720 for the video in question).

Interesting. I have some video from iTunes that's definitely in 1280x720. I've also looked at an 853x480 SD video and confirmed that it's actually 640x480 internally (so I know that I'm looking in the right place).

So, not all of the HD content is scaled down.

jaw04005
Mar 23, 2010, 11:29 PM
That's the key to this issue. Apple really should state the encoded resolution for the "HD" content that they sell on the iTunes Store. I suspect that Apple isn't alone in this situation because if everyone else (Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu) was actually selling HDTV shows at 1280x720 or full 1080i/p then I'd suspect that Apple could be setting themselves up for a class action lawsuit.

You’re assuming that 1280x720p is the minimum resolution required for HD, and as we’ve shown you above it’s not. There’s not even a set definition for what constitutes HD.

Maybe Apple should stop calling everything “Widescreen” on the iTunes Store and post the actual aspect ratio or resolution, but I doubt enough people care for it to matter.

We live in world where people stretch 4:3 SD broadcast to fill their 16:9 HDTV screens and call that HD.

In your specific case, there may have been an encoding problem with Top Gear. However, there is no getting around the fact that aspect ratios are different.

Movies and TV shows that were shot in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio are always going to be below 1280 in terms of horizontal pixels when encoded for 720p, but they’re no less HD than any 1280x720p content.

Wikipedia is hardly a definitive source. Anyway, when I checked that article (maybe someone changed it, who knows), it indicated that when the frame rate was doubled to 50, it was considered EDTV -- enhanced, not high definition. The equivalent of our 480p.

The article I posted from, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/576p

Said this:

"With doubled temporal resolution, 576p50 is considered enhanced-definition television (EDTV). In some countries, such as Australia, the 576p resolution standard is technically considered High Definition and was in use by the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS TV) and was previously used by the Seven Network, which has recently begun 1080i broadcasts.”

Which is what I posted above.

fpnc
Mar 24, 2010, 03:50 AM
Youíre assuming that 1280x720p is the minimum resolution required for HD, and as weíve shown you above itís not. Thereís not even a set definition for what constitutes HD...
No, I'm not assuming that 1280x720 is the minimum resolution for all HD. If you read my posts I have always been careful to point out that I'm talking about widescreen 16:9 HDTV content. And there I do assume that the minimum horizontal resolution for encoded content should be 1280 pixels. Specifically, "Top Gear" is a widescreen 16:9 HDTV show and it is not a 4:3 aspect ratio (and as already noted, and which I do not dispute, if it were 4:3 then 960x720 would be perfectly fine).

In any case, the real "problem" is that it appears that the Apple TV is limited to a maximum of 24fps when the horizontal resolution of the encoding exceeds 960 pixels (or perhaps the 24fps limit kicks in at some value of NxN that is below 1280x720). If they didn't have that limit then I'm sure that essentially all of the widescreen 16:9 HDTV content on the iTunes Store would be encoded with a horizontal resolution of 1280 pixels.

As I've previously noted the "Top Gear" episodes are 25fps (probably from 720p50) and thus I'm fairly certain that is why the resolution was dropped to 960x720. I also found one other iTunes-purchased, 16:9 HDTV show that was encoded at 960x720 and that happens to be at 30fps. Every other 16:9 HDTV show that I checked had a framerate of 23.98 and an encoding resolution of 1280x720.

LethalWolfe
Mar 24, 2010, 04:20 AM
If Apple takes an HD source from the content provider, down rezzes it and transmits a lower resolution version of the source material to save bandwidth, then Apple is cheating the consumer. It might be technically necessary due to the limitations of the AppleTV, but that is no excuse for not disclosing the reduction of resolution to the consumer before the purchase.
But if the TV show was shot on DVCPro HD 720p there would be no reduction because DVCPro HD 720p is natively 960x720 w/un-square pixels. Is Apple using a non-full raster image really that much different than a cable or satellite provider taking a 1920x1080, 440Mb/s source tape and crushing it down into a 15Mb/s MPEG2 signal?


Lethal

tommylotto
Mar 24, 2010, 09:46 AM
But if the TV show was shot on DVCPro HD 720p there would be no reduction because DVCPro HD 720p is natively 960x720 w/un-square pixels. Is Apple using a non-full raster image really that much different than a cable or satellite provider taking a 1920x1080, 440Mb/s source tape and crushing it down into a 15Mb/s MPEG2 signal?


Lethal

Even under your hypothetical there is damage. The DVCPro 960x720p image would be upscaled by the content provider to 1280x720p to provide the material in a conforming format. Then the service provider would scale it back down to 960x720p to conserve bandwidth. Now your signal went through two lossy conversions. One where non-existant resolution was created and one where actual resolution was lost. I agree that if acquisition, mastering, and transmission are in the same format you get the best quality, but that is not what happens.

BTW the crushing of MPEG-2 was far worse. DirecTV would turn 1920x1080i into 1280x1080i and then crush it down to 7.4Mb/s (http://www.widemovies.com/dfwbitrate.html). And since when does two wrongs make a right.

But of course all this controversy could be avoided by posting the resolution to inform the consumer. Those who do not care, would be no worse off. Those who do, will be able to make an informed consumer choice. Information is power.

LethalWolfe
Mar 24, 2010, 11:42 AM
Even under your hypothetical there is damage.
.
.
.
But of course all this controversy could be avoided by posting the resolution to inform the consumer. Those who do not care, would be no worse off. Those who do, will be able to make an informed consumer choice. Information is power.
What controversy? There always has been damage and there always will be damage. What people saw on their B&W TVs in the 50's certainly didn't match the original film negative or one of the prints they'd see in a theater. So, again, why single Apple out? Why not make everyone from Netflix to Hulu to broadcasters to DVD/Blu-ray creators have disclaimers saying the content they are distributing doesn't match the quality of the source material?


Lethal

dynaflash
Mar 24, 2010, 12:08 PM
But how are you getting these 25fps 720p movies to your Apple TV? Do you transfer them using iTunes or have you hacked your Apple TV to allow you to transfer content using FTP or some other non-iTunes method?

I've seen reports where people have used FTP to transfer 25fps 720p movies over to the Apple TV and these users report that the Apple TV will play that content. However, that's different than using a completely unhacked Apple TV where it appears that the iTunes application itself limits 720p movies to 24fps (maximum).
Itunes. no problem. Now realize if at is an announced fps of 25 you are right on the edge. If you use same as source in fact you could get an actual final fps of slightly > 25 due to most sources actually being variable framerate, in which case its a no go. My 25 fps sources are all true 25 fps and transfer fine with stock atv software via iTunes.

tommylotto
Mar 24, 2010, 12:24 PM
What controversy? There always has been damage and there always will be damage. What people saw on their B&W TVs in the 50's certainly didn't match the original film negative or one of the prints they'd see in a theater. So, again, why single Apple out? Why not make everyone from Netflix to Hulu to broadcasters to DVD/Blu-ray creators have disclaimers saying the content they are distributing doesn't match the quality of the source material?


Lethal

Back in the fifties they were not marketing their service with a promise of HD. In fact, customers today are paying an extra $1.00 for "HD" when they can get SD for a buck cheaper. HD must mean something if they are charging more for it. If they are getting an HD source from the content provider and reducing the resolution to save bandwidth or meet the weak specifications of AppleTV -- without notifying the consumer -- and still labeling it as HD and charging extra for that label, we have a controversy. However, it seems that the effected downloads are limited to those shows with frame rates higher than 24 fps.

Scarpad
Mar 24, 2010, 12:26 PM
Yes, but "Top Gear" is in 16:9 format, as I mentioned in my original post.

In fact, I just checked several more "HD" TV shows that I've gotten off of iTunes and it seems that many are encoded at only 960x720. Seems like only the TV shows that are produced at 24fps are done at full 720p (1280x720). Anything done at 25fps or 30fps is encoded at 960x720 (and this content is in widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratios, it's stretched to 1280 on "actual size" playback).

As for the comment about the Apple TV doing 720p at 25fps, that's not what Apple says in their literature about the Apple TV. Also, I recently tried to encode a 1280x720 video at 25fps and iTunes wouldn't allow that video to be transferred to the Apple TV (complained that it wasn't in the correct format). I then encoded that same clip at 24fps 720p and it transferred and played on the Apple TV.

As for who does the encoding, I don't think that Apple does any of it, it's done by the content providers but that still doesn't let Apple off the hook. In my opinion Apple shouldn't market these as "HD" if they aren't at least encoded at full 720p (1280x720 for 16:9 content).

I know ATV had skipping issues if you encoded in 720p at anything other than 24fps, the Ipad specs say they can handle 720 up to 30fps and this seems to be a change. Maybe a Update can come out for the ATV so for those, like myself that own both, don't have to encode two types of files.

LethalWolfe
Mar 24, 2010, 01:56 PM
Back in the fifties they were not marketing their service with a promise of HD. In fact, customers today are paying an extra $1.00 for "HD" when they can get SD for a buck cheaper. HD must mean something if they are charging more for it. If they are getting an HD source from the content provider and reducing the resolution to save bandwidth or meet the weak specifications of AppleTV -- without notifying the consumer -- and still labeling it as HD and charging extra for that label, we have a controversy. However, it seems that the effected downloads are limited to those shows with frame rates higher than 24 fps.
But, again, DVCPro HD 720p (960x720, un-square pixels) is a very popular HD acquisition format. Should everything that is acquired in a non-full raster format come w/a disclaimer saying such? Should Star Wars: Attack of the Clones come w/an asterisk next to it that says it was acquired using a 1440x1080 3:1:1 codec and not a 1920x1080 4:4:4 codec? Should everything that is destined for TV, DVD/BR, web streaming, etc., come w/an asterisk that says the image quality has been significantly reduced compared to the original master?

And, as it's been stated before, you have to account for the level of compression used on the signal. A native DVCPro HD 720p signal is going to look significantly better than a 1920x1080 signal that's using a lower bit rate and crappy compression.

So, again, why is Apple getting singled out? Why not say you think everyone should be required to disclose their compression methods and settings?


Lethal

trip1ex
Mar 24, 2010, 02:18 PM
The question is, does it look good and are you getting your money's worth?

If the answer is no don't buy. If it yes then buy. I wouldn't get too hung up on the specs.

tommylotto
Mar 24, 2010, 02:28 PM
But, again, DVCPro HD 720p (960x720, un-square pixels) is a very popular HD acquisition format. Should everything that is acquired in a non-full raster format come w/a disclaimer saying such? Should Star Wars: Attack of the Clones come w/an asterisk next to it that says it was acquired using a 1440x1080 3:1:1 codec and not a 1920x1080 4:4:4 codec? Should everything that is destined for TV, DVD/BR, web streaming, etc., come w/an asterisk that says the image quality has been significantly reduced compared to the original master?

And, as it's been stated before, you have to account for the level of compression used on the signal. A native DVCPro HD 720p signal is going to look significantly better than a 1920x1080 signal that's using a lower bit rate and crappy compression.

I keep talking about service providers and transmission only and you keep bringing up other links in the chain. The consumer buys his product from Apple or Comcast or DirecTV. That is the only transaction that I am talking about here. The content provider gets the material from innumerable sources but ultimately masters the material in one of the recognized HD formats -- 1280x720p, 1920x1080i, and 1920x1080 and provides that master to the service provider. If the service provider reduces the resolution of the HD master but nevertheless passes the product off as HD and charges more for the product because it is purportedly HD (remember the "D" stands for definition, which means resolution), then a misrepresentation has taken place.

So, again, why is Apple getting singled out? Why not say you think everyone should be required to disclose their compression methods and settings?


No one is picking on Apple. I think all service providers should disclose the resolution of their service that they represent as HD -- particularly if they deviate from the recognized formats of 1280x720p, 1920x1080i, and 1920x1080. HD means something to consumers. Are consumers getting what they bargained for when they got 1280x1080i at 10Mb/s? I do not think so.

tommylotto
Mar 24, 2010, 02:31 PM
The question is, does it look good and are you getting your money's worth?

If the answer is no don't buy. If it yes then buy. I wouldn't get too hung up on the specs.

That is great, but unfortunately all the consumer knows is that Apple represents the product to be HD. The consumer does not know its real resolution is nor what it looks like until AFTER he has purchased it and downloaded it. You do not know if you are getting your money's worth until AFTER you are parted with it.

TxP
Mar 24, 2010, 03:21 PM
I just downloaded the newly released "HD" version of "Top Gear, Season 14" and although the video quality is quite good I noticed that the encoding size on the first episode is 960x720 (playback is stretched to 1280x720 to maintain the correct 16:9 aspect ratio).


The original BBC broadcast format is 1440x1080 Anamorphic, so 960x720 is exactly the same 4:3 ratio just at a smaller size.

Main question - how does it look? I'll buy it if it's better than the crappy SD I get on BBC America.

rayward
Mar 24, 2010, 03:53 PM
Not true, otherwise all of my PAL DVD (720x576) encodes would be flagged as HD

OK, maybe my example was a poor choice. I do know that I send files to my ATV tagged as HD, but some are SD only (the HD tag being used to fool iTunes into making one library entry for two versions of an SD DVD rip), and ATV knows the difference. It only shows the HD flag for stuff that actually is HD.

GermanSuplex
Mar 24, 2010, 04:44 PM
When you watch the show, is it playing back in 16:9 without any defects? No people who are tall and stretched out like Gumby? Because as mentioned, 960x720 is a 4:3 aspect ratio and the iTunes store has been known to occasionally have movies that play in the wrong aspect ratio. I've had 640x480 anamorphic encodes display at 4:3 instead of 16:9, I've had 640x352 16:9 music videos display in 4:3....

LethalWolfe
Mar 24, 2010, 05:16 PM
I keep talking about service providers and transmission only and you keep bringing up other links in the chain. The consumer buys his product from Apple or Comcast or DirecTV. That is the only transaction that I am talking about here. The content provider gets the material from innumerable sources but ultimately masters the material in one of the recognized HD formats -- 1280x720p, 1920x1080i, and 1920x1080 and provides that master to the service provider. If the service provider reduces the resolution of the HD master but nevertheless passes the product off as HD and charges more for the product because it is purportedly HD (remember the "D" stands for definition, which means resolution), then a misrepresentation has taken place.
I keep talking about other links in the chain because they are all relevant to your complaint. You are complaining that Apple is ripping people off w/960x720 even though 960x720 is 'good enough' for a lot of HD acquisition including the BBC's "Planet Earth". You are calling it a disservice if HD is presented to the consumer at anything less than full raster even though very little HD content is acquired at full raster. The image loss that can come from going from anamorphic to full raster and back to anamorphic is miniscule compared to the difference between going from a professional codec to a consumer/distribution codec.

Once again, this has been going on since the beginning so why are you not also complaining about VHS, DVD, SD TV, and streaming SD video not being anywhere near the quality of DigiBeta?



No one is picking on Apple. I think all service providers should disclose the resolution of their service that they represent as HD -- particularly if they deviate from the recognized formats of 1280x720p, 1920x1080i, and 1920x1080. HD means something to consumers. Are consumers getting what they bargained for when they got 1280x1080i at 10Mb/s? I do not think so.
So what is your cut off? Does everything have to be at HDCAM SR quality (1920x1080 4:4:4 @ 880Mb/s)? What frame size, codec, and bit rate is good enough in your opinion? I ask about all three because all three are important. 1920x1080i60 MPEG2 at 10Mb/s is going to look worse than 1280x1080i60 H.264 at 10Mb/s (H.264 is generally believed to be twice as efficient as MPEG2 up until about 25Mb/s). DVCPro HD 720p60 (960x720, 100Mb/s, 4:2:2 color sampling, intra-frame encoding) is going to look better than AVCHD 720p60 (1280x720, 25Mb/s, 4:2:0 color sampling, inter-frame encoding) even though the DVCPro HD is not full raster. Given todays current technology I don't see sending out 100Mb/s video over the airwaves and internet all that viable though so compression has to happen and it's all a trade off. Spacial resolution and color resolution are usually the first to go when it comes to compression because the human eye is more sensitive to motion (temporal resolution) and contrast. If you want more quality buy it on Blu-ray just like if you want better than AAC or MP3 quality music buy it on CD or vinyl.

I spend my days (and nights, and weekends) working w/video only to see it pretty much killed by every distribution format out there so I probably know better than most how much is lost between acquisition and final distribution.

That is great, but unfortunately all the consumer knows is that Apple represents the product to be HD. The consumer does not know its real resolution is nor what it looks like until AFTER he has purchased it and downloaded it. You do not know if you are getting your money's worth until AFTER you are parted with it.
The same goes for almost everything. Do you know if you are getting your money's worth before you eat at a restaurant, go to the theater or buy a video game?


Lethal

fpnc
Mar 24, 2010, 09:21 PM
The original BBC broadcast format is 1440x1080 Anamorphic, so 960x720 is exactly the same 4:3 ratio just at a smaller size.

Main question - how does it look? I'll buy it if it's better than the crappy SD I get on BBC America.
When you watch the show, is it playing back in 16:9 without any defects? No people who are tall and stretched out like Gumby? Because as mentioned, 960x720 is a 4:3 aspect ratio and the iTunes store has been known to occasionally have movies that play in the wrong aspect ratio. I've had 640x480 anamorphic encodes display at 4:3 instead of 16:9, I've had 640x352 16:9 music videos display in 4:3....While the encoding may have a 4:3 aspect ratio the playback is done at 16:9 (QuickTime reports that the playback size is 1280x720). Also, it looks correct at 16:9 and 1280x720 during playback (circles and wheels remain round). If you play the show back at the encoded size (960x720) everything looks ridiculously distorted and squashed (everything looks too tall and thin).

The quality if pretty good, it's notably better than the standard definition version that is included with the download and it's obvious when they switch between the HD and the SD cameras when out on location (the car interior shots while they are driving are still in SD).

jaw04005
Mar 25, 2010, 12:58 PM
As I've previously noted the "Top Gear" episodes are 25fps (probably from 720p50) and thus I'm fairly certain that is why the resolution was dropped to 960x720. I also found one other iTunes-purchased, 16:9 HDTV show that was encoded at 960x720 and that happens to be at 30fps. Every other 16:9 HDTV show that I checked had a framerate of 23.98 and an encoding resolution of 1280x720.

Your assessment is probably right. I went through all my iTunes HD TV Shows and theyíre all 1280x720 at 23.98 FPS, so I canít check here.

Iíve never understood how the iTunes Store makes the FPS conversion anyway. In the United States, NBC, ABC and FOX broadcast at 1280x720p60. Yet, when you download House, Modern Family or 30 Rock from iTunes itís 1280x720p24.

Is the source material for these shows shot at 24 FPS?

GermanSuplex
Mar 25, 2010, 04:48 PM
Your assessment is probably right. I went through all my iTunes HD TV Shows and theyíre all 1280x720 at 23.98 FPS, so I canít check here.

Iíve never understood how the iTunes Store makes the FPS conversion anyway. In the United States, NBC, ABC and FOX broadcast at 1280x720p60. Yet, when you download House, Modern Family or 30 Rock from iTunes itís 1280x720p24.

Is the source material for these shows shot at 24 FPS?

It's probably interlaced material at 30fps, maybe? So you're getting 60 half-fields.

fpnc
Mar 25, 2010, 05:32 PM
Your assessment is probably right. I went through all my iTunes HD TV Shows and theyíre all 1280x720 at 23.98 FPS, so I canít check here.

Iíve never understood how the iTunes Store makes the FPS conversion anyway. In the United States, NBC, ABC and FOX broadcast at 1280x720p60. Yet, when you download House, Modern Family or 30 Rock from iTunes itís 1280x720p24.

Is the source material for these shows shot at 24 FPS?
Actually, I think a good number of these shows are being shot on film or with HD cameras at 24/23.98fps. If you single step the video using the QuickTime Player you will see that there are no obvious signs of frame-rate conversion. I suspect that the broadcasts at 30fps are done after the source has been telecined. Broadcast 1080i is interlaced anyway, so they probably don't care that the telecine process itself introduces field-based artifacts.

I've also seen what appear to be film-based artifacts in some of the TV shows (dust and lint which appear for only a single frame -- you need to single step to see these types of defects).

Speaking of video quality, there is a free, full-length HDTV show this week that is called "Justified" which I think has some of the highest quality I've ever seen from the iTunes Store. For 720p it seems pretty sharp and well detailed but the more notable point is that even in the darkly lit interior and exterior shots there is very little compression noise or artifacting.

Phantom Gremlin
Mar 25, 2010, 05:56 PM
Speaking of video quality, there is a free, full-length HDTV show this week that is called "Justified" which I think has some of the highest quality I've ever seen from the iTunes Store. For 720p it seems pretty sharp and well detailed but the more notable point is that even in the darkly lit interior and exterior shots there is very little compression noise or artifacting.

Thanks for the pointer. I'm downloading now. I want to check out the quality for myself. Maybe I'll even enjoy the show. :)

belvdr
Mar 26, 2010, 09:53 AM
Does everything have to be at HDCAM SR quality (1920x1080 4:4:4 @ 880Mb/s)?

Yes it does! I've overclocked my iPod and it's ready to rock and roll.

To be honest, I have no idea what you just said (except for resolution), but it looks cool on paper.

trip1ex
Mar 27, 2010, 10:03 AM
That is great, but unfortunately all the consumer knows is that Apple represents the product to be HD. The consumer does not know its real resolution is nor what it looks like until AFTER he has purchased it and downloaded it. You do not know if you are getting your money's worth until AFTER you are parted with it.

Well this isn't an Apple problem. YOu can't buy a BluRay off the shelf and return it because you didn't think the picture was up to snuff.

So, until we are able to preview the content before you buy, the way I see it is... you trust the source or you don't trust the source. Buy or don't buy from Apple.

But discussing specs is ...meh. Believe it or not, many consumers just use their own eyes to determine whether a picture is of good quality or not. Much better indicator of quality than specs. Companies can easily distort and mislead with specs. The real proof is in the pudding.

Anyway I think all this thread shows us is some folks enjoy their movie format specs more than they do the movies themselves. :)

tommylotto
Mar 27, 2010, 10:50 AM
All that I have proposed is that if Apple is going to label something "HD" that deviates from the standard HD formats, then they should list the resolution of the show on the screen before you buy it. All that would require from Apple is to put seven or eight characters on the download page: for example "1280x720" or "670x481" This would give the consumer valuable information to help them make the decision whether to pay the extra buck for the HD version, but my modest suggestion gets roundly criticized by the Apple fanboys as if I just blasted the mothership. SAD.

trip1ex
Mar 28, 2010, 09:14 AM
All that I have proposed is that if Apple is going to label something "HD" that deviates from the standard HD formats, then they should list the resolution of the show on the screen before you buy it. All that would require from Apple is to put seven or eight characters on the download page: for example "1280x720" or "670x481" This would give the consumer valuable information to help them make the decision whether to pay the extra buck for the HD version, but my modest suggestion gets roundly criticized by the Apple fanboys as if I just blasted the mothership. SAD.

It doesn't give the consumer squat. Go look at BluRay. HOw many ****** BR's are out there? And yet they are all 1080p.

Studios can easily just upconvert their crap to a higher resolution and call it hd even though it ain't..... so resolution means squat.

It's pretty inexpensive to compare the quality of SD and HD content on iTunes. If you're going to buy the SD version of a TV show anyway then it only costs you an extra $1 to see if the HD content is worth it or not.