October 06, 2009

Living HD arrives...but what's actually in high def?

As a simulcast, not all Living HD is actually HD (although the upscaled SD picture is an improvement over channel 109). The first real HD programme today is Ghost Whisperer at 7pm, and the other HD today are two further episodes of Ghost Whisperer at 9pm and 10pm, a new episode of Medium at 11pm, The L Word at 2am. Tomorrow has Ghost Whisperer again, CSI Miami, and some season 4 CSI (Las Vegas) from midnight. It's not a great line up, but then much of Living's programming isn't shot in HD (Charmed, for example). It's more than 4HD, but obviously not on a par yet with BBC HD, Nat Geo HD or even FX HD.


Mark said...

I won't watch Ghost Whisperer in ANY definition!
I'm not sure what you mean by the line-up being better than 4HD? Do you mean it has more broadcast hours in HD? I think if you count up all the repeat showings, Living will be decidedly behind 4HD. Channel 4 doesn't show anywhere near as many repeats as the multi-channels.

bradmcr said...

To be honest I would have thought they could have launched a standalone HD channel and not a simulcast. Then we might see more of an uptake of V+ and therefore a lot more HD channels as broadcasters would realise virginmedia have the customer base for them.

Idon't understand the point in showing shows which aren't HD on an HD channel, waste of bandwidth.

BikeNutt said...

Why is it a waste of bandwidth? The SD programming looks great with the extra headroom (a la 4hd) and the HD content is likely to increase as new shows are acquired.

I like the simulcast idea - none of the cherry picking you get on BBCHD for example: dropping football for ballroom dancing, regular series episodes re-scheduled without so much of a word of notice etc.

If one doesn't care for the actual content, well that's a different matter.

lee said...

Funny isn't it - as I understand, a lot of Sky's 30+ channels are simulcast/upscaled, so with us all complaining for so long about lack of contact, and now we're getting it, we're now complaining about upscaling/not true HD.

Having always been "jealous" of Sky's content, if we complain about one channel being upscaled, I wonder how we'd complain with 25 channels like that? Perhaps we need to start thinking about how we shouldn't really have been that angry and jealous of Sky customers re:HD for so long after all ;-)......

Nialli said...

Ghost Whisperer has its fans. There's nothing on Living I watch but it is a popular channel with its mix of US imports and reality shows.
My comparison with 4HD was based on the two channels over 24 hours - there's more HD on Living. It may not be typical.
I agree with BikeNutt about the upscaled 4HD being worthwhile: I watch the (excellent) Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour on 4HD as the material pretty much demands the highest PQ but it was only shot in SD. Looks better on 4HD.
Personally, I'd actually prefer an HD showcase of C4, E4, More4 and Film4 rather than a simulcast, but I can understand commercially why they haven't gone down that route and am okay with the upscaled stuff. Shame they don't show all the movies in HD yet.

bradmcr said...

@Bikenutt what i meant to say was that Living already have lots of US tv shows that are made in HD and, from what I've heard the soon to be relaunched, Living 2 will be carrying more shows which have been made in HD. Are we going to have to miss out on the quality HD programming that may be shown on the new Living 2 channel?

As to Living HD the picture and sound quality are a lot better, but I will still be watching Living SD when they show programming with the black bars on either side as in my opinion the V+ already does a great job at upscaling in full screen.

One question I do have though is when are Living HD going to start showing the new series of Supernatural? It was rumoured that it would be shown shortly after the launch of Living HD in the UK without the normal long wait on ITV2.

Mark said...

Yes, upscaled or not, I'm not watching a standard definition programme "boxed in" by black bars on all sides.
I'm not impressed so far,I feel these glitches should have been ironed out before launch.
As to the Sky channels being mainly upscaled SD. I think the point of having so many is that at least some HD can generally be found at any one time. All the movie channels show in 100% HD incidentally. All the Premiership soccer is also in HD.

BikeNutt said...

Only non-anamorphic SD content will have borders on all sides. 4:3 content will have borders left/right.

True HD broadcast content will be 16:9 - it's part of the standard. Not to be confused with anamorphic widescreen like you see on SD channels & DVD's.

Before people start critisiszing VM for showing content in it's OAR, they should do their homework to understand the concepts and reasons behind the differences.

I, for one, am glad that VM get it right and don't fudge the picture.

It's peoples ignorance and lack of understanding of the subject that leads to these pointless 'border' sagas.

Nialli said...

Over on the cable forums you often get people saying that Sky's HD channels have mostly upscaled content, but I don't think that's the case. I haven't got the time (or inclination) to sit down and work it out, but on Sky1 HD during peak evening viewing I think, Simpsons aside, it's all pretty much HD these days. Not sure about all the HD variants but Sky Arts 1 seems to have a fair amount of upscaled (quite a lot of old programming) and I suspect Sky Arts 2 has too. With the sport as Mark says all the live football is HD, but I think the Spanish games are still in SD (although mercifuly now in widescreen). International cricket seems to vary depending on which country it's from, not sure about rugby.
All the Sky film channels are full HD.
Living HD seems to be on a par with FX HD.
What's disappointing is that so much of C4's new homegrown programming is not HD, and that the majority of the films aren't in HD either. Whilst the upscaled SD is good, Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour in HD would have been spectacular.
BBC HD is still the most watched HD channel in my house and will probably remain so for some time.

tvsersity said...

While more HD is nice, Living HD does seem like an awful waste of time and effort. Perhaps there are some people stupid enough to enjoy it's mix of 'psychic' and 'ghost' rubbish, but I'd rather watch something not intended for the brain dead.

Mark said...

To Bikenutt
I'm perfectly aware of the what anamorphic widescreen is. I'm also aware that the programmes I was referring to were made in widescreen, but were not being broadcast in that format on the night in question. The programmes actually had borders at the top, bottom and both sides! The standard definition channel had the same shows in widescreen format.
So no "ignorance and lack of understanding" here. I've already done my "homework" and so my complaint was more than justified.

OLU said...

Living HD showing better Or more HD to me anyway. They look nice and better than channel 4hd

hope some of you do know the better your HD tv Is also the better. Your HD would look? I'll say in other to get better picture your. HD tv would do 80% cable 20% of the work

BikeNutt said...


Really?? A non-anamorphic widescreen presentation being broadcast on an HD stream will always have borders all round on a 16:9 display.

@Olu - I would say your percentages should be the other way round. The signal source is all important.

A lesser display will give a reasonable performance with a good source but a great display will still look crap if fed a crap input. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Mark said...

To Bikenutt,
My original point was in response to those who said they preferred to watch the upscaled standard definition programmes on the new channel. I'm not prepared to do that if it means huge black bars at the top bottom and sides.
This is the problem with an HD channel which is simulcast with the main channel. A better solution would have been to only simulcast where the programme in question can be broadcast in HD.