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  • Broadcast Video – Reference book recommendations?

  • Tom Cooper

    March 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Hi all,

    I am looking for some reference books that give a good overview of general broadcast video principles. Here are two I’ve found so far:

    Video Demystified (5E) by Keith Jack

    This looks to be a very comprehensive tome, which also goes into quite complex detail in later chapters. However, from reading reviews on UK and US amazon, it appears to have several errors and also misses out on important topics such as pixel aspect ratio. On the surface, a complete reference for video, but with some very big question marks over accuracy.

    How Video Works by Marcus Weise and Diana Weynand

    This looks like it gives a much briefer and simpler view of broadcast video. It covers all the basics and goes into a little detail where necessary. However, I am concerned that it is very much geared towards NTSC. I don’t mind a book that covers all formats, but would like PAL to be at least considered in all chapters. Perhaps the basic principles of video are not that different between NTSC and PAL, in which case it might not be an issue? Perhaps any experts could let me know.


    So has anyone bought either of these books and can recommend them? Or are there others out there that would suit my needs? Am I being overly cautious about finding a PAL book, as generally it isn’t an issue to understanding video?

    All thoughts and comments appreciated


  • Bob Zelin

    March 10, 2009 at 2:42 am

    the best books are free. If you want to learn about video levels, comapanies like Tektronix, Leader, Harris/Videotek, and Hamlet all have free on line documents like “how to read a waveform monitor”. You can email them, and get this info from them. Every TV station has different delivery requirements, so no matter what it says in the book, you can contact your local station, and ask for the delivery requirements. This will be a free document. When you say “gee, what does this mean” – you can google this information, and usually find it from one of the companies I mentioned above (like Tektronix and Leader).

    I see no reason to buy a “book”, when you can get current, brief, detailed info for free. I am unaware of a “Brodcast Video Levels for Dummies” book.

    Bob Zelin

  • Tom Cooper

    March 10, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for your reply.

    It’s not so much broadcast video levels as general video principles: aspect ratio, analog/digital systems, test patterns, PAL/NTSC, blanking etc. Maybe this is the wrong forum. I work for a production company and it would be useful to have a reference guide at work. The internet is surprisingly bad for this kind of information, and trust me, I’d rather look on the internet than get a book, but when I type in “pixel aspect ratio” I get hundreds of different interpretations and for many other specialist technical questions the information simply isn’t out there, or is just very difficult to search for. I appreciate a lot of it is subjective and all TV stations require different delivery requirements but a single source of professional information would be highly appreciated. Does it not exist?

    I see no reason to buy a “book”, when you can get current, brief, detailed info for free.

    Why have you put book in apostrophes? Your condescension is noted.

    I am unaware of a “Brodcast Video Levels for Dummies” book.

    What a shame. I have many people I work with in junior production roles who do not work on the front line and would greatly appreciate entry level information on the subject, even if it is not to the level of detail required for them to operate in that area.

    Maybe this is not the forum for questions such as mine.

  • Bob Zelin

    March 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

    when you hear me “babble” facts on these forums, particularly broadcast standards, I usually quote them from Tektronix White Papers. This way if an “expert” says “oh no, you are wrong” – I can refer to industry standard information from Tektronix. They offer a lot of free information.

    Bob Zelin

  • Bob Zelin

    March 11, 2009 at 3:15 am

    This is just a sampling of what is out there. The National Association of Broadcasters probably has a “book” that you can purchase from them. Just be aware that many authors are idiots, and put in mis-information, or compile information from sites like these, without understanding what they are even writing about.

    The web has revolutionized getting information, and compiling information. I NEVER EVER trust “one source” for all of my information. I have learned that there is no “one guru” that knows all.

    Bob Zelin

  • Tom Cooper

    March 11, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Hi Bob,

    I suppose the fact of the matter is there is no easy single source of this information. It seems strange as there are usually text books for most subjects, but perhaps really I am just being lazy and should be putting some time into researching the various sources on the internet. Maybe broadcast video just isn’t the sort of area that can be easily summarized, due to differences between regions and individual stations and also the fact it can become out of date or redundant quite quickly.

    My biggest problem is I have to explain a lot of these principles to people who need a basic working knowledge of them. Maybe I just need to compile a list of links on our intranet.

    Thanks for all your help, I look forward to learning much more from the forum!



  • Del Holford

    March 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Back in the day there was “Television Production Handbook” by Zetl, a college level textbook. It covers a lot of areas like aspect ratios, square vs. rectangular pixels, etc. I’m not sure if it’s still around nor if it has been revised for the digital era. You might go to a university website like USC or UCLA and see what books they use in digital production classes. These could be a good resource.

    fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
    Charlotte Public Television
    del underscore edits at wtvi dot org

  • Trent Whittington

    March 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Back in the day there was “Television Production Handbook” by Zetl, a college level textbook. – Del Holford

    Funny you say that, its up to its tenth edition which we use in University at the moment, great overview book
    If you want to learn more about the technical side of broadcast and how it all works you should definately get ‘Television Technology Demystified by Aleksander Louis Todorovic and distributed by Focal Press.

    Trent Whittington – Currently studying Associate Degree in Digital Television

    iMsc – 24inch 3.06Ghz, FC STUDIO 2, Adobe Production Premium CS4.
    Asus eee – 8.9inch 1.6Ghz 1Gb Ram, Windows XP

  • maurice jansen

    March 24, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    one of the big advantage’s of a book
    that it’s there waiting on the shelf to grab when you need it.
    off coarse the internet is also near by but a book works better in my
    opinion. i own video demystified which is a very large book with good info. but the info is not entry level.i use it a lot. educating the new guy’s is one of my daily task’s in our company. the writer asume that you have some experience. so it’s sometime’s hard to copy paste if your educating newbees. unfortunatly these kind of book’s are getting history.
    i often fall back on book’s discribing the basic’s with were written in the 80’s of coarse lacking in uptodate data.


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