Digital and High Definition Digest:
Articles of Interest to Educators and Professionals


The current developments in media technology are truly breathtaking and to most of us are virtually impossible to keep up with. It is all the more challenging as many more changes are on the way thanks to the hard working engineers, scientists and researchers in laboratories and institutes of various government agencies, universities and manufacturers. The end user is often unaware of developments in science and technology until they enter the marketplace.

This digest is a service to media educators, professionals and students to make them aware of current research and developments in television and film technology and applications. Articles are briefly summarized from those available in professional journals and on line.
Historical Paper

Much of the current technological development and research in Digital Television and HDTV owes a great deal to the conclusions published in a 1998 white paper by the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, also known as NIST. This institute is a part of the Department of Commerce and is charged with developing high risk technology to benefit the nation. Using a process that involves partnerships with industry, academia and research organizations and includes rigorous peer review, they help develop the conditions where technological innovation can prosper.

The 1998 white paper, titled Digital Video in Information Networks, was authored by David Hermreck and Dr. Omid Omidvar, the Program Manager and Technical Program Manager of the NIST ATP Digital Video in Information Networks Program.

This paper is particularly important as it contains much of what remains the current thinking on both the potential applications and development of both DTV and HDTV as essentially digital media. This paper is available online at:

Current Papers

The bulk of these papers represent current research and development initiatives in the industry related to HDTV and DTV technology as published in the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.
Development of an HDTV High-Speed Camera using Three 2.2M-Pixel CMOS Image Devices By T. Ogasawara, J. Yamazaki, Y. Tomura, H. Tanaka, M. Yamaguchi, Y Hashimoto, H. Cho and S. Kanayama

Motion Imaging Journal, February/March 2006 Page 67-74
This article details the research done to develop a working HDTV system capable of acquiring uncompressed 1920x1020 4:4:4 images at up to 300 frames per second, or five times the rate of current systems. High speed recording of HDTV signals is a very difficult task due to the large rates of data produced. To solve this problem a large 8 Gbyte recording block of DIMM memory is added to the camera head itself which is connected via SMPTE hybrid fiber optic cable to a camera control unit at a rate of1.5 Gbits per second.

This technology is being developed for field use in television and digital cinema.

Magnetic Tape Developments for HDV Recording w/MPEG-2 Compression By Wayne Desmond, Hideki Kikuchi, and Steve Tice

Presented at November 2005 SMPTE Technical Conference, New York Not yet published.

As we move from standard definition formats such as DVCAM to newer formats such as HDV we are faced with the paradox that the regular mini-sized DV cassette that stores 60 minutes of standard definition can also store 60 minutes of high definition. This article explores this development through a discussion of the MPEG-2 compression employed and the developments made in metal evaporated technology allow for a high definition signal to be recorded on to a format originally intended for standard definition.

One of the essential elements of this is the manufacturing methods of the tape itself. Most magnetic tape is a base material covered with polyurethane type paint that includes metal particles in suspension. The paint acts as a binder to attach the metal to the tape base. Of course this means that less than 100% of the tape surface can actually record the signal.

Metal evaporated tape dramatically increases the efficiency of the tape by providing a surface that is 100% metallic. An electron beam gun melts cobalt and produces a fine metallic steam that adheres to a tape base running along a cooling drum. This is a much more expensive process that allows for a much denser and accurate recording media. Combined with MPEG-2 compression an HDV signal can be recorded on a small tape format with little error or loss
Submitted by
John Gallagher
September 2006

Digital TV at Last? By Michael Antonoff
Scientific American, February 2007, pages 70-75

This is a quick read and an easy introduction to HDTV for a student or lay person.
An overview of the transition from standard definition analogue video to digital video and high definition digital video in 2009, this article summarizes the challenges that face producers and consumers of video programming. With two years to go before analogue TV is defunct, consumers will appreciate the concise descriptions of different types of DTV sets and a comparison of satellite, antenna and cable signals. More advanced readers will learn about the various high definition standards, Codecs and DTV tuners.

A bonus is the very clear history of the political and economic history and rational of this historic transition in our national pastime.

Submitted by
Prof. Cynthia Karasek
February 2007

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