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Curious About Something

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Aaron Cadieux
Curious About Something
on Oct 30, 2011 at 1:15:37 am

OK, I am curious about something. My wife and I were watching Top Chef on Bravo in HD. The commercials came on and there was a commercial for Top Chef's new upcoming season on Bravo, but the promotional spot was shown in letterboxed 4x3 (so there was not only black at the top and bottom, but black on the sides). Why would Bravo's HD station also air their promotional spot for a show shot and broadcasted in HD in SD?



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Andrew Rendell
Re: Curious About Something
on Oct 30, 2011 at 10:25:56 am

Sounds like a mistake to me. No doubt they would have made a 4:3 SD version of the promo as well as an HD one, so maybe there was some mix up and the wrong one went out... just a guess though.


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Mark Spano
Re: Curious About Something
on Oct 31, 2011 at 4:25:26 pm

Yep - happens every day on every station. Most of the time stations have a must-air for a commercial, and since specs are thrown around loosely or not at all, you air what you are given. Not many broadcast stations can afford to properly up/down/cross-convert ads to match, so it just goes. That pillar/letter-boxing is best described colloquially as "litterboxed", which I think might have to be attributed to Ross Daly since that's where I first heard it.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Curious About Something
on Nov 2, 2011 at 8:03:02 pm

Bravo comes to you via a cable or satellite feed. Assuming it's cable, the ad spots for every show are sold in different packages and various places along the line on the way to you, spots are dropped in or switched around. There could be spots built into the master, but also, independent spots on carts, reels, or servers, tied using complicated automation, to customize which spots get seen where off the one main program. Imagine it like a parade where at certain intersections, clowns come out and divert one of the floats to a side street and add a new one to replace it. In this case, the clowns are the ones operating the traffic department and/or the master control rooms where these decisions are executed in real time. They make mistakes sometimes.

Then the cable company gets ahold of the parade, and gets an additional chance to swap out parade floats or add shriners... Call this your "local insertion"; customized to your specific town, this might be where the local pub and grub gets one of their locally produced spots inserted over the top of one of the other spots, or jammed into a hole left blank for this purpose by all the folks who ran the parade before it got to your screen.

my guess is that at that final Master Control room for the local cable company, they have the wrong aspect and resolution spot set up to be inserted into the program stream.

I see this happen on every break when I watch Saturday Night Live on my ATT service. I'm watching the show in SD, fed to ATT by the local NBC affiliate, which I think is using an upconverter or downconverter. Anyhow, every time the show comes back from 4:3 SD commercial breaks, we get a split second of wide-screen HD version befoer it slams back into a 4:3 center-cut SD version of the show. Somewhere in the signal chain, before it gets to my DVR, a black box is a half second or so slow keeping up.


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Tom Matthies
Re: Curious About Something
on Nov 2, 2011 at 8:29:28 pm

Pillar Box + Letter Box = Litter Box

E=MC2+/-2db


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