PCPlus 303: How it works: high definition video

The suggestion came from the top: “how about an article on HD video, HD TVs and all that?” When you get those kinds of suggestions, you don’t raise trivial issues like the fact you don’t even have a TV, let alone an HD TV. You File New in Word and get to work.

PC Plus logoYep, it’s true. We don’t have a telly. It goes back to the days when I first came to live in the States in 1993. I thought I’d only be here a couple of years. I was still paying the mortgage on my flat in London, so I wanted to save up and not blow it on an electronic behemoth that I couldn’t ship back (it wouldn’t have worked – different voltage) nor on the cable subscription to feed it. So, no TV in the Bucknall bachelor pad. Then when I started going out with Donna and it was obvious I was going to stay in the US, she was studying law for a JD and definitely didn’t want a TV. That absence has not made the heart grow fonder: nowadays it’s much easier to watch TV drama via Netflix or Amazon.

Nevertheless, writing about high definition video was quite fun in the end. I actually learned a lot about the whole television process, especially as it’s so different between the UK and the US. There were topics like interlacing, telecine, blur, bilinear interpolation, upscaling, and so on, to research and write up. And I’ll admit it feels good that I can now spot the comb effect from progressive scan on older shows converted to DVD and furthermore explain why it happens. Geek.

All in all, a great little article, even if I say so myself. I think the man on high was pleased with it too.

This article first appeared in issue 303, January 2011.

You can read the PDF here.

(I write a monthly column for PCPlus, a computer news-views-n-reviews magazine in the UK (actually there are thirteen issues a year — there's an Xmas issue as well — so it's a bit more than monthly). The column is called Theory Workshop and appears in the Make It section of the magazine. When I signed up, my editor and the magazine were gracious enough to allow me to reprint the articles here after say a year or so.)

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