October 30, 2009

BBC HD picture quality again

I've just watched two wildlife programmes in HD back to back and I have to say that the quality of BBC HD is still sadly lacking when compared to National Geographic HD. First up I watched an episode of Nat Geo's incredible Wild Russia (Sunday evenings, 8pm) and was blown away by the detail in the footage of the polar bears, reindeer and the stunning floral meadows. Strangely enough, the episode of Life I watched straight after also had reindeer and polar bears. But it looked flat. Dull even. Some of the later shots of the humpback whales were incredible, but not for the picture quality, more for the drama of the "heat run". Having seen the effort the cameramen went to for these pictures, one can only wonder how they felt to see all their excellent work buggered up by the BBC HD channel's transmission shortcomings.
To rub salt into the wound, I then watched a programme on the Claridges hotel on BBC4...and the PQ on that was vibrant and so much more alive...than Life in HD!
So what's going on? How come BBC HD, for so long the quality standard, has dipped so low of late?
Lower bit rates and new codecs at the BBC apparently, brought in for the launch of HD channels on Freeview which is of little comfort for customers of satellite and cable. Head of BBC HD Danielle Nagler and top techie Andy Quested have posted extensively on the BBC's blog on the topic and have offered assurances that it's all okay, but I ain't convinced. Check out this thread from the BBC's own Blog: I'm not the only unhappy customer - there are over 800 comments on this post and they're still appearing daily.
Meanwhile - Sunday, National Geographic HD, 8pm. Wild Russia. You will not be disappointed...

7 comments:

Tom Chiverton said...

I think you are just seeing that filming outdoors, in extreme close up and/or telephoto gives a worse picture than indoors :-)
On a stnd. def. picture, you might never have noticed...

Alexei said...

I must admit I used to be blown away by the BBC HD channel, but now regard it as a standard SD channel. It's lost it's oomph! Maybe they will launch a BBC super HD channel where it's even better? Perhaps not ey?
Alexei

tvsersity said...

I totally agree. I've been watching Life on BBC HD and it really looks little better than a DVD. It's soft, totally lacking in detail, and devoid of any of that wonderful HD 'pop' that is supposed to be there.

Such a shame as BBC HD used to be a pretty good looking channel.

Mark said...

Thankfully, it's no longer the only HD channel on Virgin!

ChrisD said...

Maybe they should stop spending money on overpriced execs and presenters and put more into the infrastructure so that they don't have to save money by "harmonising" the broadcast standards to suit the lowest common denominator platform!

Robert Kiley said...

National Greographic HD in completely unwatchable tonight (Sun 8th Nov) The picture and sound break-up. Other HD channels good (e.g. BBC HD, ESPN).

Anyone else experiencing this? If not, any ideas what the fault might be?

Nialli said...

May be a regional thing - it was fine for me (SE London). It's repeated later in the week