Lights, camera, operate! The technology that brings you America’s Most Wanted is the same video technology used throughout healthcare, and the service techniques used in Hollywood have practical application in endoscopy, radiology, telemedicine and other locations in the hospital. From test patterns to automated systems, tools for video quality are ready for prime time.
The next time you generate a SMPTE test pattern to check a monitor’s performance, you should feel a special kinship with your counterparts in Hollywood. While you may not be broadcasting that endoscopic image of a patient’s liver tumor for the next episode of Malcolm in the Middle, technicians at Fox Broadcasting and other networks run similar SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) test patterns on their equipment to meet standards for commercial broadcasting.
“No matter if you’re doing some entertainment TV program or medical information is being transferred, it is important to have levels the way they’re supposed to be and everything looking the way it should,” says Andrea Stuber, manager of network operations, Fox Broadcasting Company (Beverly Hills, Calif.)
In Tinseltown, digital capture of images is followed by diligence throughout the imaging chain to ensure the highest quality end product.
“When we shoot in digital format, we can produce a higher resolution picture,” says Gary Hall, director of post production, Fox Television Studios (Beverly Hills, Calif.) “We see more detail; a more pristine picture. Throughout the process of color correction and duplication we must make sure we keep the colors without degrading the picture any more than we have to.” Using SMPTE color bar test patterns and a 1kHz tone for sound checks, attention to detail in maintaining equipment performance is a critical function in the entertainment industry.
So it is with medical imaging, only the stakes are higher.
“In radiology, the correct grayscale in absolute terms is important to being able to see all details in an image,” explains Roy Shipley, CBET, associate clinical engineer, Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, Md.) “In medical video, it is not the absolute accuracy that matters, but color consistency is important. Whatever they’re looking at should be uniform across the screen.”
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