Macroblocking on ABC

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I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 69

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

@ghcharters I found the Sabrina Carpenter performance on GMA's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpOq8euG5gA

Although it's is not an ideal comparison (I wish that I could have viewed the OTA broadcast to see the source material at its best), I watched VP9 and AVC1 encodings at 720p and thought that the Ignite TV recording actually looked better.

 

(I also did a voice search for "Sabrina Carpenter on GMA on YouTube" and viewed the same performance again at 720p quality.  I don't know what encoding was used but that DID NOT look very good!)

I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 33

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

@-G-  Thanks very much for your detailed analysis.  I think you are saying that you are seeing the same thing as I am and you are attributing the problem to the source, not to my end or Ignite. Am I reading you correctly? (Some of your terminology is a bit over my head)   It's curious to me  that there aren't other comments if that's the case. I've been told by Rogers that my signal strength is good. Does it seem like something that can be resolved with more examination by Rogers? 

Thanks again for your help.

I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 69

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

@ghcharters It’s hard to to say for sure without looking at the clean source feed, but I suspect that the stage performance on GMA was actually shot at a higher quality and then down-scaled to 720p at the source for transmission.  I don’t think that it’s Rogers’ fault that the details in the picture are fuzzy.

 

The other frustrating thing is that the picture quality can never be perfect.  Full-HD (1080p) and 4K TV’s are now the norm but the source feeds (for most HD channels) are a lower quality, typically 720p or 1080i.  Once Rogers receives the incoming signal, it gets processed through an IPTV encoder where it's encoded/compressed (in real-time, at multiple bitrates) so that it can be streamed to devices and set top boxes for viewing.  1080i feeds also have to be de-interlaced, which is VERY compute-intensive to do properly... and some encoders do a better job at this than others.  If the video stream also get compressed too much, you lose detail and colour accuracy and the overall picture quality becomes awful.

 

So, we start with a video feed that may not be the greatest to begin with, it gets processed so that it can be streamed, then up-converted again for viewing on HD/4K TVs.  If you are critical and know what to look for, any flaws are easy to spot.  However, for most people, if the video stream does not freeze or switch to a lower bitrate (where the quality is noticeably poorer) and the sound is in sync, the Ignite TV picture still looks perfectly fine.

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Resident Expert
Posts: 2,822

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

@ghcharters : I have skimmed through Monday, Tuesday and today (Wednesday) and didn't see any appreciable macroblocking. In today's programme at around the 8:37 time-stamp, when the host is getting off the bus to go into the restaurant, there is a very poor quality image that looks like it was shot in 240i.  Some of the earlier portions of this "outside" segment (around 8:36) exhibited the same sort of "horizontal lines".

 

So, it looks to me like the ABC quality is fine, but there are occasional segments that are sub-par.



I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 33

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

Thanks @57 and @-G- for following through on this and providing such detailed analysis. I guess I'll just have to live with those glitches. One last question ...  Is there any reason why they would be worse on Ignite than on cable?

I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 69

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

@ghchartersI've seen Ignite TV look better and worse than Digital Cable, depending on the source content and the circumstances.  The technologies involved in processing and delivering the program content to your home are totally different.  Ignite TV is still evolving.  It has improved considerably in the last 6 months, and I hope that it will continue to improve as they fine-tune the service.

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Resident Expert
Posts: 2,822

Re: Macroblocking on ABC


@ghcharters wrote:

Is there any reason why they would be worse on Ignite than on cable?


I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that I'm still on Digital Cable, but I wanted to see if I saw the issue you were mentioning.  Since the issues were on very specific segments of GMA, I'm pretty sure I can say that the ABC signal is fine.

 

Have you tried any of the optimization steps that I mentioned in an earlier post? (Reducing Sharpness, etc)



I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 33

Re: Macroblocking on ABC


@57 wrote:

@ghcharters wrote:

Is there any reason why they would be worse on Ignite than on cable?


Have you tried any of the optimization steps that I mentioned in an earlier post? (Reducing Sharpness, etc)


I'm sorry @57, but I have not. Frankly, (I'll call it a senior's brain fart) I forgot. I don't have any recorded any more but will start again for a while then do what you have suggested. There is nothing available "on demand".  If I "videotape" (another senior's term) an example, is there any way I could send it to you and/or @-G-  ?

Resident Expert
Resident Expert
Posts: 2,822

Re: Macroblocking on ABC


@ghcharters wrote:

 If I "videotape" (another senior's term) an example, is there any way I could send it to you and/or @-G-  ?


If you record something, to say a phone, you could upload it to any of the many video-sharing websites and then post a link to that recording in this thread. That way anyone can comment.



I Plan to Stick Around
Posts: 69

Re: Macroblocking on ABC

@ghchartersI would also urge you to follow @57 's advice and optimize your TV's picture settings.  I also still can't picture (no pun intended) how bad the macroblocking is in your case.  Are we talking about minor compression artifacts or is the overall picture quality so bad that it's unwatchable?

 

It's really hard to make comparisons between Digital Cable and IPTV because our perceptions are somewhat subjective.  A few years ago, I had both Digital Cable and Fibe TV.  It was interesting to compare the two together.  Both had their pros and cons.  However, neither compared favourably to the quality of an over-the-air broadcast (for TV content, that was received with a homemade antenna) or to a Blu-ray for movie content.  Other family members thought they all looked great and couldn't really see much of a difference.

 

I first got involved with IPTV technologies and solutions 17+ years ago.  The technology keeps getting better and better but there is no one solution that works perfectly in all situations.  It's unrealistic to expect perfection but I do expect Ignite TV to work well and for the picture quality and service quality to keep improving over time.  When I was a Fibe TV customer, I recorded movies and TV shows, then re-recorded the same content a year or more later and compared.  The picture quality kept getting worse.  Also, software bugs were not getting fixed, aging infrastructure was not getting upgraded, and there were no signs that my service quality would ever improve in the foreseeable future, yet prices kept increasing.  That's when I left.

 

I'm generally happy with Ignite TV, so far, but not totally blown away by Ignite TV.  For example: back in May, I watched "Star Trek Generations" on Space.  The movie generally looked fine but the opening scene caught my eye... when the champagne bottle was tumbling through space with a moving starfield in the background.  You could see "double images" of the stars.  That was an example of REALLY BAD de-interlacing.  I know that this content is challenging for encoders do deal with but I also know that it's fixable.  I recorded the movie and will check to see if it looks any better (or worse) the next time that it airs on the same channel.

 

I also saw "Star Wars - The Phantom Menace" on YTV over the weekend, I tuned in during the Podrace scene and couldn't believe how bad the picture looked.  I compared it with DVD, (not Blu-ray), and the DVD looked better.  Better colour, more detail.  Was it poor-quality encoding, possibly too much compression?  Was the source content DVD-quality to begin with?  Was Rogers was using a cheaper/lesser-quality encoder for a children's channel?

 

I'm not going to get too upset about any of these issues but I do hope (and expect) that any technical glitches with the service will eventually get sorted out.