Tektronix Helps Video Engineers Stay Up To Date

Free road show attracts government and military community
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The Tektronix “road show” seminars typically play to packed houses. The Feb. 24 Baltimore presentation was no exception.

For more than a decade, Tektronix has been helping to fill in some of the blanks regarding the evolution of television measurements with a series of “road show” day-long technical seminars. These are offered free of charge and are tailored to help broadcast and production facility personnel, who might not otherwise have access to technical training, keep up-to-date in such areas as 4K/UHD, high dynamic range, expanded color gamuts, the CALM Act, compression and more.

Karl Kuhn, a senior video applications engineer at Tektronix, is one of four seminar presenters, and in late February brought his course to a venue in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore region. The session attracted more than 50 persons, with a percentage of those being from the government and military community.

Kuhn, when he’s not handling Tektronix customer demonstrations or speaking at SBE or SMPTE meetings, handles some 12 to 15 seminars a year at venues across the U.S. Middle Atlantic and Northeast regions, as well as in Eastern Canada.


The session opens with a statement and a promise that Kuhn has made hundreds of times previously, but one that remains very relevant:

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Karl Kuhn is one of three Tektronix presenters who are touring the country to provide up-to-date information on digital television and audio.

“What you’re doing today is something you must do every day for the rest of your career—investing in yourself. In today’s world, if you’re sitting still, you’re becoming obsolete by the day,” he said. “What you’re doing here today is something you must do every day: Growing, learning and figuring out what’s happening today and what might happen tomorrow.”

With this preamble delivered, Kuhn quickly jumped into the rationale for testing and measurement in the digital television world.

“Analog degrades gracefully; digital doesn’t,” he said. “You have to ask the right questions to get an answer. Digital can have all the problems and impairments at the physical layer that analog does, but you can’t see or hear them. Digital equipment is always looking for a time not to work.”

With the stage thus set, Kuhn began an overview of analog video systems, side-steped into digital composite video and finally presented a completely digital TV system. He then rapidly moved into color vision, Nyquist sampling and serial digital video.

With this foundation in place, Kuhn segued to tri-level sync, timing of digital video systems and timecode. He next moved into packets, headers and wrappers, gradually building on these concepts until he was ready to take on compression technologies. Before the day is over, there are also discussions about GPS, network timing protocol, latency, the importance of keeping color gamuts legal and the more. He also made sure that his students were exposed to video measurement technologies in the digital age.

By his own admission, this is a tremendous volume of material to cover, but Kuhn’s even, yet rapid-fire, presentation style — punctuated with anecdotes and a video presentation or two — kept his students focused. A glance around the room showed that few of the attendees are perusing e-mail or reading smartphone texts.


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Staff Sergeant Jared Morgan of the U.S. Army Field Band learned about this presentation at the Government Video Expo. Here, Morgan examines some of the latest Tektronix test and measurement gear displayed at the seminar.

“It was a good refresher on video basics, and the part that went into compression, encoding efficiency and encoding algorithms was particularly important for me,” said Michael Cavaliere, a senior production and maintenance engineer at Maryland Public Television. “Management encourages us to keep improving ourselves and glean whatever knowledge we can to help the organization.”

Staff Sargent Jared Morgan, who’s assigned to the U.S. Army Field Band and stationed at Ft. Meade, also found the course useful.

“I have to do a lot of one-man-band type of stuff where I set up cameras and run a lot of signals, and knowing how signals flow is very useful,” said Morgan. “Some of this stuff is way over my head, but you have to open your mind to new things. I found out about this course at the Government Video Expo and saw it as a professional development opportunity.”

Kuhn continues to add new information as the television industry changes, and several in the class are course veterans. Gary Wilson, an employee of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, is one of these.

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Gary Wilson, Defense Intelligence Agency

“I have attended the last three seminars in the Baltimore/Washington area, and will continue to do so,” said Wilson. “Tektronix has been a dominant leader in test equipment products, supporting the television industry for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been in this industry for 30-plus years. The information provided is invaluable; it also tracks well with the constant change within the industry, and one of the many things that impress me with the seminar is that it never comes across as marketing for their products.”

Kuhn, who prior to his employment by Tektronix, spent some 20 years with IBM and holds a number of patents, voiced his pleasure at being able to help broadcast employees young and old keep up with today’s rapidly-changing technology.

“I really enjoy this. I get a lot of satisfaction from the feedback and the fact that I’m actually helping people,” said Kuhn. It feels good to know you’re keeping them keep current and Tektronix gets a lot of positive feedback from these sessions.”

Kuhn said that the seminars sprang years ago from customer requests for on-site technical presentations and instruction in how to use new test equipment.

“We realized there was a need for this sort of thing and decided to take it on the road. What’s nice about this is that we’re able to reach out to a diverse crowd. And by having our seminars in an off-site venue, people are able to give you their undivided attention.”

The seminars are conducted with the cooperation of Tektronix resellers, with CEI of Newington, Va., helping to make the Washington, D. C./Baltimore event possible. For information about future seminars, visit www.tek.com/video/events.

James O’Neal is the technology editor for TV Technology magazine.


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