Changing TV’s Shape

With few exceptions every graphic we use on the air today will be unusable in a few weeks. Everything has to be re-rendered.

Take a look at your TV. What shape is it? Sort of (but not quite) squarish? Maybe it’s much longer than it’s wide? We live in a TV world that’s in transition from 4:3 to 16:9. That second ratio, 16:9, is where TV is headed.

Alas, headed is an indefinite word. Until a few months ago TVs made in the late 1940s were functionally fine. Even now an old Philco or DuMont will do just fine with a converter between it and the on-air signal TV stations transmit.

We are headed to 16:9 but we’ve got to keep 4:3 working too!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I’ve begun the arduous job of converting our 4:3 weather graphics to 16:9 for HDTV. With few exceptions every graphic we use on the air today will be unusable in a few weeks. Everything has to be re-rendered.

Wait–there’s more. (It’s about TV. I can use that line). Because some folks will still be using the old nearly square tubes we’ll have to safely concentrate the most important stuff in a 4:3 box cut out of the 16:9 box.

There’s a lot of work because there are lots of different graphics to produce. Many are frameworks or scenes which are populated with live data when called on-air. A satellite or temperature map are good examples.

Did I mention we’re changing the peripheral graphics that frame my maps and charts too! Oh yeah, new size, new shape, new look. Even the font is changing.

While I’m working on weather other people are working on other pieces of the overall pie. We’ve all got to block out the same ‘safe’ spaces so graphics from different places will all fit with each other.

The work started this afternoon. It will be my main chore for the week.

If you hear me scream you’ll know why.

8 thoughts on “Changing TV’s Shape”

  1. What really stinks is that here in Danbury we are in the NYC TV market. So I get WABC, WCBS, WNBC, WNYW in HD, but no CT stations. They’re all still in SD. I should whine to them because I watch WTNH only for news. Darn FCC and their mapping…

    Oh, also Geoff, weren’t you having an exchange with Gerry Brooks not long ago when they switched to HDTV for news and you were thrilled that WTNH wasn’t there yet? Coming back to bite ya! 😉

  2. Hope you have better luck with the technology than the team had during the 6pm spot tonight. The gremlins were in full song tonight. Off air a couple of times and the tape for Mark’s spot was MIA. I felt bad for Ann and Keith.

  3. Jimmy – hopefully the gremlins leave with native 4:3.

    Mikey – No one should see me more clearly. It’s not good for them.

  4. It is amazing how fast the technology is running ahead of us, but yet we still have to leave breadcrumbs for those who aren’t quite there yet. It is a very frustrating task.

  5. Geoff, welcome to 2010. I still cannot believe that it has taken your station this long to get on the HDTV bandwagon. I travel often and almost every news station I have switched on is in HD.

    As pathetic as it may sound, I refuse to watch programming on non-HD channels, it is just not he same tv experience!

  6. Can’t wait for the local stations to start the wide-screen transmissions. It’s annoying having to look at a cropped screen.

  7. Geoff –

    Best of luck on the transition. We basically “started from scratch” with our graphics instead of converting to 16:9 which was exceptionally time consuming. Took me a couple weeks to get everything ready to go but I learned a lot in the process.


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