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IBC NEWS: Snell Bows HD Standards Converter

Image processing specialist Snell & Wilcox is at IBC with a new HD standards converter, the Alchemist Ph.C-HD.

The Alchemist Ph.C-HD uses Snell’s motion compensation technology to provide frame-rate conversion (50Hz to 60Hz) between the European and U.S. high-definition standards, as well as standard-definition frame-rate conversion. The device will also perform HDTV upconversion, downconversion and crossconversion.

“The product is designed to eliminate boundaries between high-definition formats and international standards,” said Snell VP of marketing Joe Zaller, speaking at a Saturday press event.

To give customers maximum flexibility, the Alchemist Ph.C-HD provides two outputs that can be used to transmit program feeds in multiple standards or formats.

Snell, which has returned to Amsterdam after skipping the IBC show last year, is also demonstrating its latest-generation HDTV upconverter, the Quasar Ph.C, which the company says is the first upconverter to incorporate motion estimation technology.

Snell’s Ph.C motion estimation algorithms analyze incoming images and shift the pixels in each video field to line up correctly, even for complex scenes with fast motion or detailed graphics. Snell says that technique delivers higher-quality images than competing upconverters that rely on motion adaptive bandwidth reduction.

The Quasar system is priced at $15,000. Snell took beta units of the product to the U.S. two weeks ago to show prospective customers, says Zaller, and the company is now starting to receive its first orders.

With HD broadcasts launching in several European countries, Snell’s business for HD equipment has been particularly strong in Europe this year, said CEO Simon Derry, echoing the sentiments of many technology vendors at IBC.

“HD has been a concrete take-off that has clearly stimulated business across the board,” says Derry. “It’s a phenomenon that is drawing lots of purchases.”