April 19, 2001
Tech Note – 078
Sponsored by: Bloomfield & Associates

We’re Off to Vegas & NAB2001

We’re still learning all about the automated mailing list - thing! It is possible some of you may have received more than one copy of this Tech-Notes #78 at the same e-mail address. Although we’ve tried to cull the duplicates, some may have slipped through. Please notify us at , so we can correct this. Thanks.

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~~ Reader Responses, Inquiries & Comments ~~

(As received here is a letter from a Chinese reader.)
Subject: Response - Tech-Notes #78 
From: Chen Wen

I suggest you give a brief introduction at the beginning of each release, especially the table of content.  You know, the whole letter is long, if we can see a content list at the beginning, we can choose what we are interested.  Please consider my suggestion. 

Thanks, Regards, 
Chen Wen

(Ed Note: Thanks for the suggestion. We have considered this for sometime, but since gathering and assembling this newsletter is done without any monetary compensation, it is difficult to take time away from our other ways of making a living. Should we ever get a sponsor besides ourselves, perhaps that will be one of the first things we do.)


Subject: Introduction
From: José Llufrío

I just sent in a subscription message to the address indicated. My name is José Llufrío, and I work as technical advisor at the Cuban Film Institute, ICAIC.

I also teach at the International Film and TV School in San Antonio de los Baños, and at the Media Faculty of the Higher Institute for the Arts in Havana. In both places I teach film technology. I've been working in the film industry, starting as a chemist at the film laboratory, since 1972. I'm interested in the new developments of imaging technology.

Thank you for keeping this site.

Sincerely, José Llufrío


Subject: Error in Source of Article for Tech-Note #77

The article "AMC exits NATO; exhibitor to pursue its 'own agenda'" which appeared in the April 8, 2001 issue of Tech-Note #77 was erroneously credited as being from Screen Digest. Patrick von Sychowski of Screen Digest and publisher of the "E-Cinema Alert" has pointed out that the material originally came from the Hollywood Reporter and to us via the "E-Cinema Alert".

Thanks Pat for calling it to our attention. We hope this clarifies the source of the article.


Subject: NAB 2001 – Visit us at Booth #L430
By: Larry Bloomfield

(Ed Note: Yes this is a repeat from Tech-Notes #77, but we’d really like to meet you.) 
Hopefully you'll stop by the Pixel Instruments booth #L430, where some of the Tech-Notes folks will be so we can meet you and say hello. 

The Pixel Instruments booth will be located in the north section of the convention center. As you face the main entrance to the Las Vegas Convention Center, this would be to your left. As a navigational tool, Pixel Instruments will be located next to Omneon Video Networks, below and to the left of Parker Vision and above Sencore. We will post a link to a floor plan on our website.

If you wish to attend NAB, you can save $150. Register for a FREE exhibits pass, compliments of Pixel Instruments at: You will need to provide the Information Code: JI06 then follow the prompts and provide the remainder of the information requested. After April 19th, you must register on site, so keep this code.

Thanks to J. Carl Cooper, the man behind Pixel Instruments, for making this possible. If you can't visit us at the booth, stop by Pixel Instruments' web site (My son built it from scratch and I'm proud!) at:



From: George H. Nickel

(Ed Note: It is always possible you’ll meet Dr. Nickel at NAB-2001, but talk about a day late and a dollar short. It is, however, always good to know of other ways of doing things.)

No "extra channel" or converter would be needed for existing analog receivers

High-definition TV (HDTV) is coming quickly, and soon your current analog receiver (called NTSC, for National Television System Committee) will not be able to tune to broadcast signals.  "Soon" means 2006, under the current FCC plans.  Until then, the FCC is giving television broadcasters another channel to use for HDTV transmissions, starting in the major population centers.  After the entire country has HDTV availability, the old transmissions will stop and their channels will be auctioned off or given to other services, like emergency communications.

In HDTV, the picture is converted into digital data and compressed, like files on a computer.  One part of this compression is already used on current receivers: the colors are split into luminance data, where are the fine details are kept, and two components of chrominance data, which require far less detail.  In the HDTV systems, the picture is further transformed into another "space" where the files can be compressed very efficiently.  For now, the JPEG system is used (or its moving picture variation, MPEG), just the way digital images are stored in computers.  In the future, wavelets will be used for even greater compression.  Greater compression means that more details can be kept when signals are sent in one channel.  It also means that when you tune your current receiver to that channel, you just see "snow".

There is another way to compress the pictures, one that makes a visible picture on the current receivers.  The digital data is divided into the part that we are already used to seeing and the finer details. Only the finer details are compressed digitally, and the old part is sent the way it is now.  Two things happen when you do this: not much is lost by sending the visible part directly, since it was hard to compress anyway, and the finer details compress even more than they did before. The old system has a lot of "bookkeeping" signals, like the color burst that synchronizes the reception of the color data and the pulses that tell when to start a new line or a new frame. There is also some "dead time" when the electron beam is moving back to start a new line.  Even so, the loss in picture details is hard to see unless the usual HDTV picture and the one sent this new way are shown side-by-side.  (For those who want the numbers, one-channel HDTV can have about 0.5 bits per pixel when the frame rate is 60 per second, and doing it this way reduces the picture quality to about 0.4 bits per pixel.)

What about the extra digital data needed for the fine details? About half of it can be sent in "letterbox" lines above and below wider format picture that HDTV uses.  The will not look black, as they do in many of the transmissions seen now, but would resemble "dark snow" since they change completely every 60th of a second.  The other half can be sent in what is called the "vestigial video sideband".  This is the part that will involve a change in the transmitters, as they do not currently put information in this part of the channel.  By doing this, however, they will not have to buy a new transmitter for the extra channel or build a new antenna.  The NTSC receivers will not see this data at all, since it is sent "in quadrature" with the carrier wave for the video signal, and is invisible to the detectors they use.

The new HDTV receivers will also need some changes, but this will only be in the software that processes the digital data.  The same JPEG data (called DCT coefficients, for Discrete Cosine Transform) are used, but the receiver needs to do one extra step of processing to get it. The hardware will be unchanged, and by switching to the mode that is being used now in larger population centers, they can see the transmissions as they are being sent now.  Of course, eventually all of the transmissions will convert to the more detailed picture format, but doing it this way will make the current receivers useful for the transition period.


From: Name withheld on request

Who owns the rights to your Hotmail and MSN Messenger communications passed through Microsoft's Passport Web Site? Are you freely giving away confidential business plans and creative thought?  Read this short story from the UK's Register to discover some startling information:

More on this in the next Tech-Notes.


Subject: "The Cinema - Now and the Future"
By: Jim Mendrala

SMPTE's annual Spring Educational Seminar, to be held May 18th - 19th at the Entertainment Technology Center's Digital Cinema Lab (DCL) located in the Pacific Hollywood Theatre. The seminar will examine the impact of digital technology on the creative motion picture process as well as how these new technologies might affect the future of cinema distribution. This year's event is being presented in cooperation with USC's Entertainment Technology Center and the USC School of Cinema-Television. 

The seminar kicks off on Friday May 18th at the Hollywood Pacific Theater (home of the DCL), with a 7:30 pm screening of an entire film in which alternating reels in both film and digital will be projected onto the Digital Cinema Laboratory's large 55 foot screen. After a full day of presentations and in-depth discussion on Saturday, May 19, the seminar will close with a demonstration entitled "The Best Film has to Offer/The Best Digital has to Offer." This demonstration will feature the projection of what industry experts hope will be a state-of-the-art representations of the finest examples of images presented and optimized for both film and digital exhibition.

Saturday's seminar begins at 8:00 am with an "Opening Demonstration and Welcome" followed with a keynote at 8:15 am, delivered by Jerry Pierce, senior vice president – Technology for Universal Studios, titled "The Big Picture" who will present an overview of the issues, opportunities and challenges that the industry faces as the cinema evolves.

Other topics to be presented include "Image Acquisition - Creating the Images, Choosing the Medium" which features renowned cinematographers demonstrating and discussing the creative and technical choices made to photograph a film.

DC28 - SMPTE Study Group on Digital Cinema: "A Report" will review the SMPTE Digital Cinema Committee's (DC28) various objectives and provide a summary of its efforts to date.

The afternoon sessions, which follow lunch demonstrations in the theater (lunch in the theatre is included with registration), begins with: "Post Production - The Extension of Cinematography Beyond Production: The Digital Post Production Toolkit." A keynote by an industry luminary will set the stage for the motion picture laboratory of the digital age. The session will feature demonstrations, presentations and case studies of how digital postproduction processes and a new process known as the "digital intermediate" will continue to change the creation of motion pictures.

"Digital Projection - A Visual Status Report" will feature demonstrations of the latest in digital cinema projection technology.

"Distribution & Exhibition - Is There a Business Case for Digital Cinema?" promises to be a lively exchange of points and counterpoints from the perspective of studios, exhibitors and industry heavyweights.

The SMPTE seminar will be preceded with another industry event that will also look at the future of the cinema. Large Format Cinema. The 5th Annual Conference and Large Format Film Festival of the Large Format Cinema Association will be held May 16-18 SMPTE and the LFCA will provide special discounted rates to attendees of both conferences.

Registration for the SMPTE seminar is available at a reduced early registration fee until May 11. General registration is $150 for the day event, the Friday evening reception and film/digital screening as well as the all day Saturday seminar, includes lunch.

Registration for members of SMPTE, affiliated organization and attendees of the Large Format Conference is available until May 11 at the reduced rate of $125. A student fee of $30 will be offered. For additional information and for registration, contact Ms. Edie Meadows at the Entertainment Technology Center (213) 743-1600.

Additional information on the program and registration, including updates on speakers and demonstrations can be found on the Hollywood SMPTE web site

Information on the "5th Annual Conference and Large Format Film Festival" of the Large Format Cinema Association, which precedes the SMPTE seminar can be found at

Editorial Contacts:

Charles S. Swartz
(818) 907-7207

For ETC:
Lynda Dorf, Jennifer Frederick

For LFCA Digital Seminar:
Robert Dennis
(323) 960-7510


Subject: FREE 75 page H/DTV Marketplace Overview 2001 Report to
Broadcast / Production / Post Survey Respondents
From: SCRI

SCRI International, the company who posted the Tech-Notes prior to getting their own web site, is conducting a comprehensive survey among broadcast and non-broadcast pro video facilities regarding the migration to H/DTV. The survey is open to TV and cable stations as well as other non-broadcast pro video facilities (production, post, streaming, corporate etc).

Save yourself nearly $500. Respondents will get a FREE copy of SCRI's 75 page H/DTV Marketplace 2001 Overview Report, compiled from a wide range of published sources.  If you are a manufacturer or non-survey respondent, it’s $495.

In addition, respondents get the usual access to SCRI's weekly online Insider Reports, a $495 subscription to non respondents.


Parting Shots
By Larry Bloomfield

Come see us all you lucky NAB 2001 attendees:

Here's hoping you'll have a safe trip there and back and won't spend too much time at the tables or slots.  Although I don't expect this to be an earth-shattering event, it will have its moments and there'll probably a few things worthy of copious comments on this most of on line forums and reflectors.

While there, I hope you will take the time to stop by booth L430 in the North Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center and say to hello. There’s a map on our web site showing exactly where the booth is located. Yes, the Tech-Notes staff, in part, will be at the convention, thanks to Carl Cooper of Pixel Instruments. It sure would be nice to put a face to all the names.

If you see anything worth talking about, drop us a line and let us know. If nothing else, good luck in Vegas -- when you get home, live long and prosper.

When we get back it's off to our new offices in Oregon. Tech-Notes was founded while we lived in Central Oregon (Bend). With the Internet, we have complete contact with the world, so it matters little where we do this. Although there is no DSL there, we will be using a full duplex satellite Internet connection, which will suffice until something better comes along. At least it is faster than our 56K modem. Some of you have asked.  It is Starband via the Echostar – Dish Network satellites. Trust me: you’ll know if we have any trouble, but I do understand that they’ve had problems with installers who didn’t know what they were doing. If the polarity of the feedhorns is not right, that could really screw up everyone’s communications. We’ll see and we’ll let you know. We’re gone.


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