2001 Tech Emmy Awards

Last Tuesday night, the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences presented its annual Technological/Engineering Emmy Awards
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Pioneering development of a digital HDTV upconverter

BBC, Sage's Faroudja Labs Division, Leitch and YEM

With the broadcast community looking to HDTV as the future, the HDTV upconverter, which was developed by such companies as Faroudja, Leitch, YEM and the BBC, has proved instrumental.

Leitch's development of the Juno HDU3800 involved a design team based at Leitch's UK R&D facility, headed at the time by technical directors John Clayton and Trevor Barnes.

Faroudja's team was headed by Dr. Xu Dong and Yves Faroudja. The result was a patent for Directional Correlational Deinterlacing (DCDi) circuit for video-originated material.

YEM's contribution was the HSC-1125D1A upconverter, developed by Chief Developing Engineer Yoshiaki Takahashi. The unit allows digital (D1 Serial) signals to be converted in real time to digital HDTV signals, and motion-adaptive digital conversion technology plays a key role.

BBC research department employees Martin Weston, John Drewery, David Ackroyd and Victor Devereux developed a non–motion-adaptive fixed-interpolation method. It was commercialized by Snell & Wilcox and was first used during 1990 Wimbledon coverage.

Pioneering the development of personalized in-home digital video recorder (PVR) and accompanying personal television service

Replay TV and TiVo

The concept of the personal video recorder, which was brought to the consumer market by TiVo and Replay TV, no doubt will have an important role in television's future.

TiVo co-founders and developers Michael Ramsay (CEO & president) and Jim Barton (CTO and senior VP of Research & Development) worked with an engineering team consisting of Andy Goodman, Rod McInnis, C.T. Chow, Jean Kao and Alan Moskovitz to develop its product. The idea began in the late '90s when Ramsay and Barton were working together on the Full-Service Network Project in Orlando, Fla. In January 1999, TiVo was unveiled to the public at the National Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

ReplayTV also tapped into the growing market, offering a service without a monthly fee. The company is currently looking to move its technology into cable headends and set-top boxes in an effort to create a new revenue stream for cable operators.

Implementation of a multistandard precision digital test transmitter for use in receiver chip-set development and set-top-box evaluation and characterization

Rohde & Schwarz

The SFQ transmitter, first shown to the industry publicly in September 1997 by Rhode & Schwarz, is a multiformat, frequency-agile digital test transmitter.

The SFQ has played a role in testing of a number of standards. In December 1997, it was used for FM-modulated TV signals and DVB-C and DVB-S. In March 1999, it was available for DVB-T; in October 1999, for the ATSC T3/S9 committee looking at 8-VSB enhancements; and in February 2001, for ITUR J-83/B.

With respect to 8-VSB testing, SFQ accepts MPEG transport streams with a packet length of 188 bytes. Related patents include a noise generator, input interface and BER-option.

Those involved with the development include Albert Dietl, head of the development team; Josef Handl, product marketing; Erhard Kretschmer, basic concept; Guenther Huber, ATSC coder; Stefan Ritthaler, ATSC coder; Franz Josef-Zimmerman, firmware; and Walter Werner, documentation.

Development of consumer camcorders

Kodak, Hitachi, JVC, Matsushita and Sony

There is no doubting the impact of citizens' being able to capture events in action. Witness the WTC attacks or Rodney King beating.

The development of consumer camcorders started with JVC's first portable video system (Vidstar) for consumer use in 1977. According to JVC, this development allowed users to produce their very own affordable color videotapes. In 1984, Kodak and Matsushita made their contributions: the first 8mm camcorder. Kodak is credited with being the first company to conceive a one-piece consumer video camera/recorder, exemplified by a patent filed by Dr. James Lemke in 1974.

Sony also played a part in consumer-camcorder development, introducing the first Betamovie and Hi8 format camcorders as well as the first camcorder with three CCDs (in 1992).

Hitachi's contribution was in 1985 with its first VHS camcorder. The company's camcorder design team, led by Norio Ogimoto, also introduced the first MPEG-standard camcorder in 1997, and its most recent contribution was a DVD-based camcorder developed in 2000.

Development of 24P video

Kodak, Laser Pacific and Sony

The development of the 24-frame progressive format and post-production system in 1999 was one of the more important advances in the move to HDTV. Most important, the new format and system allowed television-program producers to easily overcome the challenge of producing and post-producing material for the multitude of digital television formats.

Leading that charge were Sony, Los Angeles post-production facility Laser Pacific and Eastman Kodak. Together, the three companies worked on developing a system that captured 24 progressive frames in the camera and then processed those frames into 48 segmented frames in order to make it possible to handle the signal in other post-production and production equipment (provided there was a 24-segmented-frame interface).

The system was based on Sony's HDCAM tape format, and the first facility to receive the system was Laser Pacific. Emory Cohen, head of Laser Pacific, worked with Sony and others to create a system that he believed would answer the critical post-production challenges facing Laser Pacific and every other facility and broadcaster.

Development of flat-screen CRT technology for consumer TV

Sony and Zenith

While flat-panel television technology awaits tomorrow, it's flat-screen television technology that is changing living rooms today. Cutting down on glare and offering improved picture quality, flat-screen televisions more accurately display the received signal.

Zenith, which no longer manufactures CRTs (it licenses its technology to others) began working on flat-screen technology as far back as the 1960s, with intensive research taking place in the 1970s. Its "flat tension mask" (FTM) was the industry's first perfectly flat, high-resolution color CRT. Commercial shipments began in 1987.

Sony's development of the flat-screen CRT-based television displays took place quickly in 1996 when Suehiro Nakamura, executive deputy president of Sony, decided he wanted to release one in time for Sony's 50th anniversary, a deadline of six months. A team of engineers made a presentation that outlined 12 reasons why it couldn't be done. At the end of the presentation, Nakamura simply said, "OK, let's do it." The key engineering managers who made it reality were Yukinobu Iguchi, Kanemitsu Murakami and Kazumasa Nomura.

Pioneering developments in shared video-data-storage systems technology

Leitch, Pinnacle, Sea Change and Thomson

Video servers have had a major impact on broadcast facilities, but it's the ability for multiple users to share the information stored on the servers that results in the big efficiencies.

The contribution of Philips Digital Networks (now Thomson Multimedia) was Media Pool, its first product to use Storage Area Network (SAN) technology.

Leitch's first video server, the VR30, was introduced in 1994. The technology was the brainchild of Todd Roth, who was awarded the "Shared video-data-storage system with separate video data and information buses" patent in December 2000.

Pinnacle Systems' MediaStream 900 is another example of shared-storage technology in action, offering more than 1,000 hours of online storage and DVB and HDTV support.

SeaChange's contribution was its MediaCluster technology, a RAID-based, fault-resilient media-storage technology that was introduced in 1996 and patented in 1999.

Pioneering efforts in digital asset management for television news

CNN, KGO-TV, ITN and Quantel

One of the more challenging tasks for today's engineering departments involves asset management within a newsroom environment. With news footage being ingested and handled digitally, faster and more accurate access to data files that contain video and related metadata has become a must. And in many cases, it's broadcast operations that are driving the technology.

CNN created a media-management framework for server-based networks such as CNNfn. It also advanced the evolution of "triage" (or preselection and cataloging of clips from a live incoming signal directly to a video server) and the development of "MediaSource," CNN's home-grown digital-asset-management system.

KGO-TV San Francisco also advanced the ball, bringing asset management to a local station level. And ITN 18 months ago went to a tapeless environment for its global newscasts that can be seen here in the U.S. on public television.

Quantel helped out CNN (as well as ITN) and was involved with development of triage for CNN Sports Illustrated, because Quantel's ClipBox and V406/407 software were used.

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