For Immediate Release
NAB 2008 Positioning Statement
JVC: Practical HD Is Ready When You Are

Las Vegas, NV (April 14, 2008) -- The U.S. consumer appetite for high-definition television (HDTV) programming is undeniable. The Consumer Electronics Association says that more than 50 percent of U.S. households now own a digital television. It is predicted that 25-30 million U.S. households will purchase an HD-capable television in 2008. Of these TVs, 27 percent will be connected to an HDTV service via cable, 14 percent via satellite, and eight percent via digital terrestrial television.

This stunning HDTV adoption rate has led to the cable and satellite industries using HD as a key selling point for their services. Terrestrial stations have begun to do the same, using TV ads to boast about their newscasts in HDTV. In today’s highly competitive media environment, it’s all about attracting eyeballs and keeping them glued to your channel.

Yet even with these impressive CEA sales figures, the reality is Local HD programming is still not commonplace. Among the roughly 1,300 full power stations licensed to operate in the U.S., about 750 produce or present a daily newscast. Thus far a mere 85 are airing HD newscasts and only a handful of these 85 are actually capturing local news in the field in HD.

This deficiency is due in large part to the unavoidable fact that broadcasters face a number of challenges when it comes to migrating their production facilities to HD and the economics, or return on investment, do not immediately justify it. Advertisers are not willing to pay more for their commercials in HD and the audience is smaller than it is for standard-definition digital television. These market factors will continue for some time after the transition to DTV is complete.

Add to this the fact that the broadcast industry continues to see significant consolidation and a reduction in capital budgets and one can clearly recognize the challenges broadcasters face. This has led to station groups reducing staff and moving to increasingly automated systems that require less staff to operate the station. We’re seeing newscasts run by a single operator, graphics and weather reports created at a central hub for multiple stations, and centralized master control facilities where commercials are inserted at a remote site.

Then there are the physical plant costs that are causing many stations to proceed to HD with caution. The first step in any HD migration is implementing the backbone or cabling infrastructure required to pass HD files around the station: from ingest area; to a video server; to an edit suite; to the journalist/producer’s desk; and back to the edit suite; before it's sent back to a server for playout. The choices represent a wide spectrum of options, from enhancing an existing DV/25 plant, to increasing that to 1.5 Gbps to building out an entire wideband 3 Gbps architecture. Although the routers and fiber links necessary for 3 Gbps HD-SDI plant design are now becoming available— allowing a producer of sports and primetime entertainment events to capture programming using one of the existing proprietary high bit rate production formats--the later appears extremely prohibitive for all but the largest market stations and network production departments.

Thus, what’s become clear during the HDTV transition is that even as many broadcasters recognize the importance of strengthening an on-air brand in today’s multichannel universe, few have actually made the transition to HD news.

The R.O.I. is hard to find.

The most practical solution many stations have found is to leverage their existing facility infrastructure where possible and make the most of legacy systems. This is a reflection of station management demanding that new facility designs and capital expenditures must yield maximum efficiency and a fast ROI. As traditional studio cameras are replaced, HD studio cameras are often installed in anticipation of the station's complete migration to HD. Indeed, when stations do begin broadcasting local news in HD, it’s the studio that transitions first. Recognizing this trend, JVC designed its GY-HD250 ProHD camera with a robust studio configuration, complete with camera control unit, remote operations panel, studio viewfinders and lenses.

JVC showed the ProHD Studio concept for the first time at NAB 2006. Since then, the GY-HD250 Studio system has become an important part of JVC’s camera business. Now in daily HD broadcast studio use across the country in major cities as well as in smaller markets, JVC's GY-HD250 has replaced dedicated studio cameras delivering both outstanding quality and significant cost savings.

In a studio configuration, the GY-HD250 offers both 720p and 1080i digital output, allowing it to be used in either environment. The camera's size and flexible mounting options allow it to be employed in a multitude of ways: on a pedestal, tripod, jib, or mounted on a robotic platform to the ceiling. This flexibility also includes the ability to use the camera outside the studio, for field ENG work or as part of highly specialized POV systems--such as within weather-resistant housings from Troll Systems. These systems, with full remote camera control, are used by stations to provide unique high-definition POV shots and camera views from locations not able to be manned. The affordability of the GY-HD250U, combined with the camera's built-in MPEG2 encoder makes these types of applications practical.

Further expanding its usefulness, the GY-HD250 will be shown at this year’s NAB 2008 show configured with a full range of new studio options, including a fully featured CCU with remote operations panel (OCP), a new 8.4-inch HD studio viewfinder, as well as a wide range of studio (box-style) lenses and lens controls.

New! HD Video Switching

At NAB JVC will significantly broaden the scope of its HD studio peripherals with a preview of two new HD video production switchers, the KM-H3000 and KM-H2500. The KM-H3000 is a powerful 12-input single Multi-Level Effects (MLE) switcher ideal for small production studios, OB vans and flight packs. Its fully digital multi-resolution design makes it perfect for use with JVC GY-HD250 series ProHD cameras. The KM-H3000 features a compact single-piece design, allowing it to be installed virtually anywhere. Yet despite its small size, the KM-H3000U is packed with high-end features and performance, including frame synchronizers on four of its twelve input channels. The KM-H2500 is a 6-input version of the KM-H3000. Both models are expected to be available at the end of 2008.

Field HD ENG Implementation

The latest generation HD electronic newsgathering solutions present real timesaving advantages for production because they introduce the benefits of a file-based workflow. However, HD ENG solutions using data rates of 35, 50 or 100 Mbps may actually undermine the productivity gains of handling video as digital files. Too often they actually drive costs higher by limiting users to proprietary media, necessary multiple transcoding as part of the workflow, more expensive editing and storage systems, and potentially high archive costs. Generally, as data rates rise, so do workflow and facility infrastructure costs.

Understanding the way stations prefer to produce their SD newscasts is important to developing new HD newsgathering tools. Production systems must be optimized for efficient workflow while making economic sense. To be truly useful, new HD News workflows must take into account the entire content chain, from acquisition through to final transmission delivery. Ideally, all the capabilities previously available in SD news must be equally available for HD News. If so, then a file-based workflow will facilitate increased productivity and a fast ROI will be realized.

Unfortunately, there are “holes” in many HD News system architectures now being proposed, which limits the benefits and can make the transition to HD news a counter-productive proposition.

HD News: The Parts of the Story Some Choose Not to Tell.

Some manufacturers like to distill their HD News quality story to a simple “numbers” game, promoting the “false hope” idea that the higher the number (bit rate) during acquisition, the better the quality. Although there is some merit in this broad-brush approach, the reality of making it work goes a bit deeper. Beyond the numbers, one should consider how HD News quality is captured and preserved. One un-told HD News story is what happens after original field footage is captured. A second “gotcha” involves the hidden sacrifices linked to bit rate numbers, both as they relate to acquisition and microwave transmission.

While some are battling over proprietary compression solutions, they are devoid of real world perspective. Despite the “beautiful picture” that some manufacturers are promoting, there are hidden sacrifices linked to acquiring footage at 50-100 Mbps. Among them is the high (and expensive) computing horsepower necessary to process and compress files sizes to an easily manageable house format. Another is the difficulty or inability to affordably send “live” news and other field footage back to the station via microwave.

After acquiring HD images at a high data rate, the news producer must transcode it--either to a form usable by the station’s news editing system or to an uncompressed HD-SDI signal, or both—in order to seamlessly insert it into that evening’s newscast. The edited story is then often stored on a server. To conserve storage space, footage routed in the HD-SDI format might be transcoded again to an intermediate data format. Accessing the story for final airing may involve another transcoding step back to HD-SDI, after which the story is again transcoded to the long GOP MPEG-2 format for final transmission.

Each of these transcoding steps is not only costly, but can also degrade quality. As any chief engineer will tell you, in the end, the quality that matters is the quality aired. Avoiding excessive compression and decompression steps throughout the HD News workflow by working in a lower bit rate format not only preserves capital, it preserves quality.

In addition, when sending HD footage back to the station, data rates above 21 Mbps are incompatible with widely available RF microwave systems. They also don’t travel as far. So, with high data rate materials, compression is your only practical solution. Yet then there’s the concern about quality loss.

A second sacrifice linked to high data rate production is the cost of required proprietary media and the speed at which the media is consumed. Although the ideal of a tapeless workflow sounds promising, news organizations accustomed to the cost of tape-based media are often shocked by the cost of proprietary form factors.

An ideal HD News workflow, then, would have capabilities and economics virtually identical to an SD News workflow. It’s an end-to-end system that stays “native” across the content creation process and delivers virtually original HD quality to the viewer.

HD News Workflow: “Affordable HD” Becomes PRACTICAL HD.

The key to a practical HD News transition is taking full advantage of available real-world technology. Because facility and operating costs rise in direct relation to data rates, the greatest benefits and greatest efficiencies result when data rates are kept low. At 20 Mbps, long GOP HD material looks great and fits perfectly within the most common Broadcast News infrastructures. Fortunately, long GOP encoding has matured over several years, enabling HD to be manipulated and complete programs created at SD data rates. Today, the MPEG-2 HD standard has evolved into a powerful, effective balance of quality and economy. Its use in a file-based news workflow based around a sensible facility infrastructure enables first-generation HD quality to be maintained throughout the production process, from ingest to the studio switcher. It also looks great on an HDTV screen.

JVC has supported and championed long-GOP encoding in its ProHD product family, including the its GY-HD250U camera. JVC recognizes that the most practical and cost-effective way to make a smooth and quick transition to HD News hinges on a station’s ability to leverage low data rates while still maintaining a high-quality signal. Why transcode and continuously compress and decompress all along the production chain--which has a negative affect on image quality--when you can acquire footage in a native long GOP format at a low data rate and keep that content as a native file (and maintain high quality) during editing, in storage and even when broadcasting it to viewers?

At NAB2008, JVC is demonstrating a news workflow solution based on a 20 Mbps native file structure —one that keeps the signal in its native encoded format from camera, through editing and storage, onto the media server—all the way to playout. -

20 Megabits per second is the ideal bit rate because:

As JVC will demonstrate at NAB, the best way to maintain quality and cost benefits is to keep the data in its original native format. A native or open workflow utilizes the same file format for acquisition, editing, storage and playout, whereas a “proprietary” workflow employs different manufacturer-specific formats for each step—requiring multiple conversions, re-wrapping and transcoding. In this scenario, special wrappers are introduced all along the production chain, and although they help ensure compatibility with existing equipment, they often drive up costs.
Native File Workflow diagram
Click for Native File Workflow Diagram
Among all of the camera manufacturers, only JVC is promoting the unique and cost-effective concept of a native file based workflow. Of course, this workflow involves other key component manufacturers besides JVC, such as those that provide non-linear editing, storage and media servers.

The benefits of a native file workflow are huge. The economics alone are so great that a broadcaster can't ignore them. That’s why a major U.S. broadcaster is implementing this type of IT-centric workflow, across multiple stations. It has increased productivity and enabled them to successfully compete. And the on-air look of each HD newscast is among the best in their respective markets.

HD News: More PRACTICAL HD: Local HD Remotes via Microwave Is now a Reality

In today's broadcast environment, creating the image is only part of the story. The fast-paced world of breaking news and live events requires a reliable and cost-effective means of getting those signals back to the studio and broadcast center.

Among those stations broadcasting their news in HD from the studio, acquiring native HD in the field and getting it back to the station via digital microwave continues to be the missing link. Most now upconvert SD images from the field. The difference between real HD and upconverted SD is often very noticeable to viewers with large-screen HD sets. Thanks to JVC’s ProHD strategy, however, true HD transmission back to the station or a production truck is now possible and completely practical.

With the GY-HD250U's integrated HD SuperEncoder, it's possible and cost effective for stations to upgrade from SD remote transmission to live HD remotes. This unique capability is already being adopted by several major-market news operations in the U.S. A ProHD camera-encoded (20 Mbps) signal can be easily connected to a truck microwave using an inexpensive ASI bridge, allowing full resolution HD to be sent back to the station.

JVC is even taking HD remotes to the next level with its Libre camera-mounted microwave system. For news crews looking to get a competitive edge, it’s now possible to shoot live HD in the field without being tethered to a news van.

With a range of 1,000 feet, ENG crews can send signals within a 20 Mbps data stream from the news event to a microwave truck, then on to the station for air, without the need for external encoders or third-party transmission boxes. It’s also possible to air images straight out of the camera.

HD News: Recording Media Suited to The Mission and The Budget

In the early days of digital production, the recording format was a primary contributor to image quality. In today’s file-base world, image quality is independent of the storage medium. For the user, it means that they can now choose media based not on the quality of the image, but on the capacity required, the convenience factor, the speed at which data is accessed, and on the cost of media.

The industry has developed numerous approaches to a file-based workflow, most of them relying on proprietary media and file formats. Each approach has it merits. However, with proprietary systems dominating the industry, costs have remained high and interoperability is either difficult or nonexistent. Technology has advanced to the extent that it is now possible to achieve many of the benefits of high priced dedicated systems in products that utilize mass-market media and more widely accepted universal file formats. JVC's ProHD approach is founded on the utilization of non-proprietary media. At NAB, the company will exhibit current and future products that take this concept to the next level.

Storage Flexibility For An Ever Changing World

Hard disk recording (model DR-HD100) has been part of the JVC strategy for several years, as it offers immediate editing of raw footage without transfer from tape. With this product, JVC has helped pioneer a workflow that allows users to remove the hard drive from the camera and immediately start editing. The native file recording process has helped thousands of production teams streamline their operations and turn around projects faster than they ever could with tape.

JVC recently added native 60p QuickTime (.mov) file format recording to its DRHD100 hard disk system, allowing users with Apple's popular Final Cut Pro to directly edit footage without conversion. We’ve seen that more than half of JVC's field camera users have also purchased the DRHD100 option, either as their primary recording medium, or for redundant recording that provides an instant (and secure) backup.

New! Solid-State Recording

Solid-state memory speed and capacity continue to advance at an unprecedented pace, while costs of the media have seen sharp declines. Based on current trends, it will soon be possible to consider solid-state media devices as economically “consumable,” much the same way magnetic tape is thought of today. By consumable, we mean that the costs of some types of industry-standard, solid-state memory cards will become similar to the cost of videotape. . With applications as far-reaching as digital photography, consumer audio and home video recording driving the price down, the possibilities of consumable solid state media are really endless and the potential is huge.

At NAB, JVC will preview a new camera-mounted, combination hard disk/solid-state media recorder, the MR-HD200, which offers long record times at affordable prices while also leveraging nonproprietary Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) solid-state memory.

Designed to attach permanently to current and future ProHD cameras, the new recorder features a detachable module that utilizes widely available SDHC memory cards. A single 16GB SDHC memory card can store 1.6 hours of HD in the 720p mode, and about 1.2 hours in the 1080i mode. Additionally, the unit has a built-in hard disk drive for longer recording times—up to 10 hours. Files are recorded in an editing-friendly native format so that postproduction can begin without file conversion, transcoding or re-wrapping.

With SDHC, users get significantly more capacity at a cost per minute; one that’s similar to Betacam SP videotape. JVC feels the SDHC format will be very popular in the production community because the solid-state media is widely available while the quality is not compromised.

Offering a combination of hard disk and non-proprietary solid-state recording in the same module offers advantages not found in any other product. JVC recognizes that the different formats offer their own set of advantages, so we’re placing the choice in the hands of the customer, who knows their workflow best. This modular approach allows JVC to consider other types of high-performance, removable, solid-state storage going forward, ones whose form factor won’t become obsolete and that make the most of the current industry trends to leverage cost efficiency for the customer.

JVC ProHD: High-Quality Signals Captured With Full HD CCDs

At the end of the day it’s all about the pictures viewers see in their living room, which will keep them tuned in to your HD channel. JVC ProHD cameras use true native progressive-scan, full-raster 1280 x 720 CCD imagers that offer pixel-for-pixel HD compliance. Images captured with progressive CCDS have better resolution, especially with motion, and are much easier and efficient to compress than interlaced signals. Pixel-for-pixel compliance in a native 720p workflow environment means that the image will never be scaled or converted in the production chain, further ensuring the highest quality HD signal.

Therefore, committing to use progressive CCD technology in all of JVC’s cameras is one of the main reasons the company is able to offer such a high level of quality. The advantage of a 720p system is something JVC has recognized for a long time and will continue to support.

Interchangeable HD Lenses: Adaptable Front-End View

Another HD production area sometimes overlooked is the lens, which may well be one of the most important pieces of the production chain. JVC understands that professionals need to have flexibility in what lenses they use and how they use them.

That’s why JVC cameras feature a Bayonet-style mount that accommodates a wide range of interchangeable lenses. The user should not be limited by a fixed lens selected by a manufacturer that may or may not be optimal for their type of projects. All types of lenses, from wide-angle, telephoto, ENG-style to box-style studio models are being used every day, for a variety of applications, with JVC cameras.

High-quality lenses--including those with 2X extenders--are also part of the JVC production landscape because that’s what our customers have told us they need. We’re in a time of technology choice, so that choice should be afforded to the user in every way possible.

JVC LCD Monitors: Displaying HD In Its Best Light

At the same time, JVC also continues to market four unique high-quality flat-panel studio monitors that fit in nicely with the ProHD product family and accurately display these native HD images in the best possible color renditions. The technology is now so advanced that these latest-generation models rival traditional CRT monitors, including those from JVC, used for live feed evaluation.

While many manufacturers have chosen to offer matte finish screens that cut down on reflections and glare, this has been proven to compromise color rendition quality. JVC provides its monitors with a clear flat-panel screen in order to maintain deeper colors, rich tones and color saturation, and better viewing angles.

As one of the largest OEM display suppliers, JVC’s innovative technology and manufacturing quality empowers many familiar Broadcast display brands. JVC monitors are widely respected and can be found in studios, postproduction suites and on production trucks across the country. They are by far the clearest, sharpest, most color-rich, most cost-effective LCD monitors on the market today.

Our impressive broadcast flat-panel monitor line now includes four models, each designed for specific applications. Along with wide viewing angles, high-speed LCDs, and precise color reproduction, they also offer area markers, tally, AC/DC power supply, and rotary images controls.

There’s the DT-V24L1DU, 24-inch monitor (1920 x 1080 native HD resolution) and the DT-V20L1DU, 20-inch monitor (1680 x 945 display), as well as the compact DT-V17L2DU 17-inch unit and the DT-V9L1DU, 9-inch monitor. There are also built-in HD-SDI and DVI-D digital inputs, for direct connection to broadcast and studio sources.

Total Commitment to Broadcast Market

With the success and acceptance of JVC’s ProHD product line, JVC has undertaken a direct to market sales initiative directed at Broadcast Networks and Group station owners in the United States. Unique demands come with selling to broadcasters and JVC has decided to expand its initiative to include a group of highly capable broadcast reps that will operate under a newly established JVC Broadcast Rep program. JVC Broadcast Reps are highly qualified sales and service organizations that will represent a limited number of JVC models available exclusively--and directly--to call-letter broadcasters. One such model is the Libre microwave ENG camera system. Another is a specially configured GY-HD250 camera with a special “LoLux” feature that allows ENG users to shoot more effectively in extreme low light conditions.

No One but JVC

JVC is the only company to offer the ability to facilitate and manage the entire production chain of an HD program, from acquisition to contribution. And we do it at a price and operating efficiency stations can’t afford to ignore.

At about one-third of the cost of other HD production equipment, ProHD systems are ideally suited to today’s tightening economics. This includes cameras, player/recorders and LCD displays. JVC’s ProHD product family also offers the most economical media costs: whether it be tape, hard drive or non-proprietary, solid-state media. Prices will continue to come down while the quality will only improve with time.

Now fully embraced within the industry, JVC ProHD products also perfectly complement other companies’ low-cost workflow solutions, such as those from Apple, Bit Central, Omneon, and others.

For those looking to be the first in their market with HD, while reaching those millions if HD sets already in consumers’ homes, there’s no better or more cost-effective way to get it done than with JVC ProHD. The quality compares favorably to any competitor, in any market. To the hundreds of stations not doing HD news, we say, what are you waiting for?

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