Live from Iraq…It’s the elections in High Definition on HDNet

One of the amazing things about owning a TV network, is that I get to take chances. For those who don’t know, I own HDNet. It’s the first all high definition TV network, and includes 2 channels, HDNet and HDNet Movies.

As the first all HDTV network, we have had to take the lead in many areas of technology. Oneis byhaving the first high definition fly away pack. A fly away pack is basically a TV studio in a box that we can send anywhere in the world and broadcast live.

We decided to send it to Iraq to cover the elections.

It took about 2 weeks to get there. It took armored escorts, alittle bit of hook and crook, and a lot of luck, but it made it to the roof of a building in a key location in Baghdad. Once we made it to this location (whichI can’t disclose given we have been told by the US Military,Iraqi Police and more than a few of the bad guys on the other side, that if anyone finds out where we are, or if they can see it from the street, they will shoot it down first, and ask questions later) it took us another 3 days to mount the uplink so that it could make a continuous connection with our satellite.

After a lot of hard work from our crew, we now have a continous feed of Baghdad, in glorious 1080i high definition.Since it’s my network, and this is something I think is amazing and compelling, we are going to broadcast the feed continuously on HDNet during daylight and twilight hours in Baghdad. No talking heads. No interruptions for commentary. Just the sights and sounds of Baghdad, uninterrupted and unedited. What you see, and in High Definition you see and hear a lot, is what you get.

We will have our HDNet World Report crew out covering the elections for their show, but from 2am to 10am EST the next several days, what transpires in Baghdad, that is visible from this rooftop, HDNet viewers are going to see as if they are sitting on that rooftop themselves.

It’s technology. It’s access. Its choice. We have absolutely no idea what will happen. But its the first taste of democracy in Iraq, ever. HDNet viewers will have a clearer view of what happens than most Iraqis.

If you don’t have HDNet, get up in the morning and get to a Home Theater Store, or consumer electroncs store and check it out. There is a list of places to watch it on our website, www.hd.net. If you have a high def set and don’t get HDNet yet, call your cable or satellite company and get it turned on asap.

This is history in the making. Who knows what will happen. Who knows if it will be in camera range. But if it does and it is, you will see it as if you were there.

35 thoughts on “Live from Iraq…It’s the elections in High Definition on HDNet

  1. I imagine there are parts of Baghdad that are semi-stable, but even you stated that your location had to be kept secret. I hope you’re looking forward to 16 hours of boring democracy versus even one second of terror.

    Comment by runescape money -

  2. Other options would be to provide the feed in HD DVD formats to people who request it – perhaps for free, or perhaps for a very low cost. If you just made it available to journalism schools as an experiment, I’m sure the results could be very intriguing – though I’d personally like to see filmmakers, artists, and “common” people’s take on it as well.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. I like the idea. Sunrise Earth on Discovery HD has a similar concept:
    “SUNRISE EARTH features no music or narration, just the all-natural. 5.1 surround sound of the pounding surf, noisy ravens, grunting elephant seals, or an overhead blast of a hot air balloonists’ propane burner. ”

    Sadly, I don’t think TimeWarner will let me swap NBATV HD for your channel.

    Comment by buy paroxetine -

  4. To me in general to like HDNet! I love their telecasts!

    Comment by whales -

  5. Pretty much nothing seems worth thinking about. It’s not important. I can’t be bothered with anything recently. What can I say? I don’t care. Whatever.

    Comment by Gambia phone card -

  6. I’ve basically been doing nothing. My mind is like an empty room. Pretty much nothing seems worth bothering with. It’s not important.
    phone cards

    Comment by phone bell -

  7. I was in Iraq at the time of the elections and actually was in and around Baghdad, I am curious and would like to see this is there a chance for a rebroadcast in the future or making it available someway?

    thank you

    SFC Mikes

    Comment by SFC Stephen Mikes -

  8. News Item
    Samara, Ohio — Today the bandages came off and Missy Potamia’s family got to see the 13-year-old’s reconstructed face for the first time. Two years after an unfortunate misunderstanding when she tried to deposit money at her local bank, extensive surgery has undone broken cartilage, smashed cheekbones and shattered teeth.

    Her mother was delighted.

    “To tell the truth, Missy was always a plain child. Her big blobby nose and buck teeth were a real drawback, but we could never have afforded braces, let alone plastic surgery. Fortunately, the bank’s insurance paid for it, and since her face was so totally ruined, it gave us a chance to give her the look she always wanted.”

    Bank security guard George W. Bush declared that Missy’s beautiful new face vindicated his own actions two years ago.

    “Even though it appears she wasn’t actually trying to rob the bank,” Bush said, “it’s now clear that I still did the right thing in taking prompt action with that baseball bat.”

    Bush’s contract with the bank has recently been renewed for another four years.

    Comment by John M. Burt -

  9. News Item
    Samara, Ohio — Today the bandages came off and Missy Potamia’s family got to see the 13-year-old’s reconstructed face for the first time. Two years after an unfortunate misunderstanding when she tried to deposit money at her local bank, extensive surgery has undone broken cartilage, smashed cheekbones and shattered teeth.

    Her mother was delighted.

    “To tell the truth, Missy was always a plain child. Her big blobby nose and buck teeth were a real drawback, but we could never have afforded braces, let alone plastic surgery. Fortunately, the bank’s insurance paid for it, and since her face was so totally ruined, it gave us a chance to give her the look she always wanted.”

    Bank security guard George W. Bush declared that Missy’s beautiful new face vindicated his own actions two years ago.

    “Even though it appears she wasn’t actually trying to rob the bank,” Bush said, “it’s now clear that I still did the right thing in taking prompt action with that baseball bat.”

    Bush’s contract with the bank has recently been renewed for another four years.

    Comment by John M. Burt -

  10. Finally someone with the balls to actually provide decent footage from Iraq. I thank you.

    Comment by hdtv info -

  11. To anyone who thought, “why HD?” … it really is one of the best uses of the medium I’ve ever seen. To see the Iraqi people interacting with each other and the soldiers … see the expressions on thier faces … without someone elses constant commentary, it was really an experience.

    Thank you!

    Comment by Mike -

  12. I watched a few hours of the “feed” I have to say it was surreal to be sitting there just watching and hear explosions off in the distance -to see armed men standing around guarding and policing to help make that area a safer place – only to find myself thinking what it must be like to live that day in and day out.

    Mark, thanks.

    Comment by Tim -

  13. I watched a few hours of the “feed” I have to say it was surreal to be sitting there just watching and hear explosions off in the distance -to see armed men standing around guarding and policing to help make that area a safer place – only to find myself thinking what it must be like to live that day in and day out.

    Mark, thanks.

    Comment by Tim -

  14. “One of the amazing things about owning a TV network, is that I get to take chances. For those who don’t know, I own HDNet….”*

    *Small chances compared to the Iraqi voters, police, or U.S. service men and women… or your crew in Baghdad for that matter.

    Comment by Cosmo Kramer -

  15. Excellent idea. Although Brian Roberts isn’t on board with my Digital Cable, but I have made a call…

    I wish you much success and safe return for all of your crew members in the Middle East.

    I wish you less success with your team coming back against my shorthanded Sixers tonight. (Dirk looks out of sorts.)

    Comment by UncleHornHead -

  16. Shannon,

    Ya I failed to mention that my suggestion was specifically for real-time use during the live broadcast. What you are describing is equally as intriguing, just slap a creative-commons license on the video and setup a bittorrent tracker and/or distribute on DVD(s). Then when people create their own versions from around the world (hopefully from some creative Iraqi citizens as well) HDNet could broadcast those; I love the way technology is making this world so much more interesting =)

    Comment by Haig Shahinian -

  17. just to elaborate – I realize that streaming HDTV may be bandwidth intensive, what I was suggesting was more that a copy of the feed be made available in a digital format for community editing/reediting/use etc. This could be online as, admittedly, very large files – or offline via DVDs of some form (or conceivably with the price of 100 gb hds down well under $100 as loaded disks sold or distributed to journalism schools etc.

    My thinking being not to do what MTV has done (badly IMHO) but to, perhaps, experiment with the feeds and pro-consumer editing tools and capabilities and see what people. Some may take it and edit it into short news segments, albeit in HD. Others might take it as the basis for art (again in HD), still others might downres it and use the content elsewhere. HD, as I understand it is more than just great video, the audio can also be very good – so some might take the sounds and use them creatively.

    I guess I’m personally not interested in realtime commentary, but in short delay individual (though people can and will likely work together in groups) editing and refining. I’m also very interested to see, personally, how people with very different politics, languages, and worldviews might take the same source materials and reedit them – my guess is it will prove that image, while powerful, can still be manipulated to make points.

    Anyway it could be a great experiment.

    Shannon

    Comment by Shannon Clark -

  18. I don’t have HDTV yet, but I would love access to that feed…

    Comment by Paul Mooney -

  19. HD is a nice idea, but a small audience.

    Having HD as an option, but with a QuickTime stream, a webcam-style (1-second updated JPG file), and a streaming sound would be even better.

    Then everyone can feast at the trough, picking that which they can enjoy at the moment.

    Comment by Michael 'Mickey' Sattler -

  20. I love it, great stuff! As for the commentors who want HDNET to provide the feed online, it’d be awesome but wrong in this case for a couple of reasons: 1.) a 1080i video can’t be streamed (not yet anyway)
    2.) Downressing would defeat the whole value-added that differentiates HDNET as a station/company.

    What would be VERY COOL that keeps in the spirit of collaborative journalism is have a website up where people can engage in discussion/commentary LIVE while watching HDNET, and have some editors at HDNET monitor and pick out choice commentary and overlay that onto the video. Sort of like MTV used to do with chat rooms overlayed on their music videos. Doesn’t cost a lot, not too hard to do, and you’ll have engaged watchers interacting live while history is being made.

    – My $0.02

    Comment by Haig Shahinian -

  21. re: Shannon Clark’s Idea

    Mark,
    I would agree with Shannon that it would be interesting for you to post a “piece” of this coverage, as well as some other HD content, for the public to repackage in anyway they see fit. I am sure you could move pieces of the video to the Internet Archive’s Moving Images library.

    http://www.archive.org/

    From here many of us who have high speed connections could pull pieces of this to use for educational purposes, promotional pieces for HD, etc. I would really like to use some of this footage in some courses that are utilizing Final Cut Pro HD. I would be interested in helping you move the content to the Archive for public consumpution, if it is possible to do.

    Comment by Calisurf -

  22. Beautiful. It’s great that we have you and not some corporate suit running the best HD channel on the (digital) dial. If they had thought to do this at all they would have ruined it with incessant talking heads repeating themselves every 20 minutes. Let the pictures do the talking.

    Comment by J3 -

  23. Sherwin, I get the feeling you don’t have a good HDTV. I was watching a basketball game the other night and a guy who’d never seen HD before was blown away, he said “It feels like I’m in the stands.” You get a sense of being there, like you’re in a house in Iraq looking out the window. Especially if there is only ambient noise. A 100K realvideo stream is not the same.

    Comment by KirkHouse -

  24. Congrats Mark. This is a truly fascinating and historic story and I give you a lot of credit for pushing the envelope to bring it all to America in HD.

    Of course the people who are really pushing the envelope there are the ones with the courage to either run for office or vote. But this is a story that needs to be broadcast to the world and it’s great that you’re attempting to help do that.

    I hope it works out.

    Comment by Scotbo -

  25. Why does this need to be on HDTV, and on a tv channel? Sounds like a bunch of webcams would do the same thing.

    Comment by Sherwin -

  26. I like the idea. Sunrise Earth on Discovery HD has a similar concept:
    “SUNRISE EARTH features no music or narration, just the all-natural. 5.1 surround sound of the pounding surf, noisy ravens, grunting elephant seals, or an overhead blast of a hot air balloonists’ propane burner. ”

    Sadly, I don’t think TimeWarner will let me swap NBATV HD for your channel.

    Comment by KirkHouse -

  27. “If you don’t have HDNet, get up in the morning and get to a Home Theater Store, or consumer electroncs store and check it out”

    … Dont rub it in. We are still waiting for the CRTC’s approval to get you here in Canada. Regardless, well done to both yourself and Jeff. Its great to see footage that is crisp yet unrefined, facinating and yet so simple. Looking forward to having you in Canada!

    Comment by Arash -

  28. Unfiltered coverage in HD. Great work.

    Comment by Matt -

  29. This is ground breaking TV. With all the coverage avaiable to see, this is the only in HiDef. The window into another world is unthinkable.

    -Brian

    Comment by Brian -

  30. how are you going to keep the bad guys from watching your channel and figuring out which roof the crew is on?

    Comment by Dwight Knoll -

  31. Mark,

    A suggestion – given that you own the network, and in this case the entire feed is owned by HDNet (it’s news, you recorded it, no other copyright issues) can you look into making the feed available online as well as broadcast?

    And if possible, online with an explicit license to be edited.

    Then, my suggestion would be to let it loose and ask for the community’s help is repackaging your feed and other footage into spots that might both compress and illustrate what happens in Iraq this weekend.

    This could then be a fantastic set of experiments.

    1. In showing a value to HD – showing off the clarity, the fidelity, the sounds, etc

    2. In experimenting with community edited news – you provide the raw footage, we (the community), help digest it and we, not someone catering to advertiser’s interests and the FCC etc, help set the focus.

    3. I think that many people’s takes on the footage would each be unique and different – so many focus on how the light and sounds change over time, others on “hard news”, others on some reoccurring image or images captured throughout the footage.

    I don’t know all the technical details and restrictions from making the footage available on the web – and certainly it is unlikely to be at the same level of quality (except perhaps for people with really high bandwith connections) as your HDNet feed – but perhaps it can be “good enough” to get community input and alternatives to editing.

    Other options would be to provide the feed in HD DVD formats to people who request it – perhaps for free, or perhaps for a very low cost. If you just made it available to journalism schools as an experiment, I’m sure the results could be very intriguing – though I’d personally like to see filmmakers, artists, and “common” people’s take on it as well.

    If you must recoup some of the costs – get Sony, Apple, and/or other vendors who sell pro-consumer editing software and hardware to underwrite it – I’m sure they’d support anything which helps highlight the power available to an owner of a high end Vaio or an Apple G5 desktop (or powerbook).

    Shannon

    Comment by Shannon Clark -

  32. Mark… what was your criteria for selecting a location? Also, since Iraq has proven to be an extremely unstable place at the moment, what will your network do if something terrible should take place in the camera’s field of vision? I imagine there are parts of Baghdad that are semi-stable, but even you stated that your location had to be kept secret. I hope you’re looking forward to 16 hours of boring democracy versus even one second of terror.

    Comment by Chad -

  33. Mark,

    Great work. As one of the few unedited and unfiltered sources for information, your coverage will be interesting and fascinating to watch. I hope other networks see your broadcast as an example of the value of High Def news coverage.

    Keep it up!

    Ethan

    Comment by Ethan S. -

  34. I find this incredibly funny, but incredibly fascinating. I think it is exremely important for the people of this country and the world to keep up on what is going on in Iraq, especially over the next few months. The funny part comes from seeing it in high def. the fascinating part is seeing it in high def. High def seems like a little overkill, but this is a very historical event and people are going to check it out, so why not?

    I am not one of those fortunate to have high def, but I will check this out. Thanks for the info.

    Shoe

    Comment by Shoe -

  35. Excellent Mark, keep up the good work. The decision to climate the talking heads, while I’m sure was partly financial and security, is a great idea. I hope it leads to HD feeds in other places around the world and the US.

    Will.

    Comment by Will B -

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