Making the Film World Safe for HDTV

There's nothing else in home theater like a cinematically stunning film transferred to HDTV videotape and displayed at 720p or 1080i/p. The only problem is that the frame rates for the two formats are not the same, creating a syncing nightmare for the transfer studio. Solutions have involved running a single film frame through more than one scan of the faster DTV format to create a seamless presentation. As networks begin DTV transmission this fall, the ability to transfer film---a major source of primetime programming---and to create original high-definition content in a variety of DTV formats has become even more critical.

According to Laurence Thorpe of Sony Electronics' Broadcast and Professional Company, the company's new 24-Frame System (to be introduced at NAB '99) will bring about greater convergence between 35mm film, Super 16mm film, and HDTV production through its ability to master at the same frame rate as film---24/23.97 frames per second---eliminating any 3:2 pull-down issues associated with film-to-tape transfers. Once a "super-sampled" master has been created, Thorpe said, it can be downconverted into any number of DTV transmission formats.

"The beauty of our 24-Frame System is that, whether through telecine transfer or shot with our 24-Frame camcorder, the resulting HD master can be easily converted to any number of progressive or interlaced transmission formats, including 1080i, 720p, 480i, or 480p," Thorpe said. "This saves post facilities and networks from the necessity of investing in multiple post-production systems to satisfy different DTV format demands."

For the technically minded: The 24-Frame HDVS post-production mastering system will consist of a 24-Frame multiresolution telecine, progressive VTR, switcher, DME, editor, and conversion and distribution equipment. It will provide an all-progressive 24-Frame technology, from film origination through production, mastering, and distribution. The 24-Frame switcher and DME will also be able to switch over to conventional 1080@59.94 interlaced HD operation. In addition, a 24-Frame camcorder will make it possible to originate DTV programs or commercials on 24-frame progressive HDTV via the camcorder, convertible without loss to any DTV format.