Motorola has news on the wire this morning out of the NAB show, and much of it has to do with high-definition broadcasting. First, the company announced that its MPEG products will now support Active Format Description (AFD). Sounds technical, but the concept is exceedingly simple. By supporting AFD, the MPEG encoders and transcoders can determine how best to convert and depict an HD signal on a standard-definition television set. For example, with some HD content it’s best to maintain letterboxing even on a 4:3 TV set – i.e. black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. On the other hand, with some HD content it’s better to crop the image for a 4:3 set and maintain full size.
NBC has been a major proponent of AFD, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has implemented it as well for HD/SD simulcasting. According to Wikipedia, US broadcasters are working hard across the board to implement AFD in 2008 in time for the DTV transition next February.
In other HD news, Motorola announced that the HBO Latin America Group will add MPEG-4 AVC channels using Motorola equipment. More HBO HD south of the border.
UPDATE: One other interesting tidbit just came in about the AFD support. Programmers can specify scene by scene how they want HD content to appear on SD TVs. Cool.