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Thinking of switching to HDV?


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#1 Drew

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 03:31 AM

With the release of the Sony H/A/FX/Z 1, the market is now getting ready for the next format change from DV, which for the last 10 years has broken the market for video, making even a dent on DigiBeta sales based on cost and form factor.
HDV comes in 2 forms: 1080i(supported by all HDV camcorders) and 720P(supported by Panasonic,Canon and JVC). 1080i is the resolution leader but being interlaced, the picture on a noninterlaced screen like LCD, Plasma and CRT monitors is not as good as 720P. Broadcast networks have thrown in on both sides but all TVs should support both. With higher resolution, a crisper native 16:9 look compared to DV, why would anyone buy DV again?
Well the benefits are advertised but the downsides are many too. Using CMOS sensors, the low light ability of the HDV cameras are 0.5 to 1.5 stops less sensitive than their CCD DV counterparts. Comparing the PD170, the venerable "big daddy" of low light performance, the Z1 looks to be 1 to 1.5 stops less sensitive. I will have definitive numbers soon once my friend gets his IMATEST gear going.
HDV is very highly compressed. As such the probability of dropouts and artifacting occurring is a bit higher than DV. Due to the compression, quick pans soften the image and create artifacting, something even the Z1 does.
The biggest drawback of HDV at the moment is output. Normal DVDs cannot play HD signals. The only players available right now to play HDV are the Sony HVR-M10 and the camera itself using the miniDV tapes. The other format is the D-VHS tape from JVC. This limits the number of options available to share your video.
2005 will be the first year (by xmas) to debut the HD DVD movies supported by Toshiba and NEC. You will have to buy a new DVD player which supports HD DVDs to watch them. Sony's Blu Ray will be supported by players and of course the PlayStation 3.
So where does that leave consumers with HDV cameras? In short, we're still going to have to use normal DVDs for awhile until HD DVD or BluRay(whenever they will become available) reach a price point where it's feasible to use them. So is there anypoint to shoot HDV and then downconvert back to DV resolution, an extra step in post processing. Depends on who you ask.
Many a shooter will tell you downconverted clips are superior to clips captured on DV. Brighter, richer colors and a tad sharper too. Well the higher resolution HDV's color is 4:2:0 at 1440x1080. So downconverting to DV should give you 4:2:2 which means the colors are slightly richer and saturated. But that also depends on the subject etc. It's not a guaranteed free lunch.
After all this talk, what does it mean? HDV is a great format which is slightly ahead of its time. Without no reasonably priced output format except to downconvert to DV, is it worth switching now? The question really is, is the improvement in color and saturation (AND the future ability to show it in HD when it becomes more widespread and available) worth getting a new camcorder/housing/new computer to edit? Sure it's great to have the latest and greatest, and the gain in quality is perceivably there. It really depends on the camera you have, anyone shooting the PD170/VX2100 will not see that big a difference and will lose the lowlight ability crucial to u/w shooting. However someone with a TRV900/PD10 will see a bigger difference in video quality. Plus the camera is out of production so switching isn't that big a hit.
In the end, the user has to decide based on the cost/benefits and of course the wow factor of saying you shoot HD. :)

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#2 MikeVeitch

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 03:43 AM

Good post Drew, and some good points.

I for one am just downconverting my daily videos through the camera and stockpiling a nice collection of HD stuff.

Soon i believe i will be the only one in the world with HD mating mantas....... :) B)

So BBC, Discovery, Nat Geo, Animal Planet etc can contact me now if you are reading this.... :(

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#3 DeanB

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 08:16 AM

Cheers Drew,

You have spoken all my thoughts and worries as well..

I spoke to Doug Allan who has just bought two Z1E's and is over the moon with the footage of Humpbacks he filmed for the new BBC prodution (and he's used to the big guns) In his last email to me, when i queried the pro's and cons of PD170 against Z1E he said that the PD170 will be dead in the water in 2006. for production companies anyway..So there for go get a High-def..

Alright for him who is up there doing the dream (i thought). I myself am just starting out. I do not have the backing of the BeeB to pay my excess luggage when i travel and i do not, at the moment have the luxury of getting paid for what i do. Its all self financed and i do it because i love it.. I just want to make smaller documentaries for (maybe) DVD sales. But then you have to look at the future as well, What if ????

Also other camera people who make DVD's for a living and who are doing really well say to stick with the PD170's for another year or two then upgrade as more householders can afford the new format..? But are they just saying that because they have forked out a fortune on soon to be obsolete gear.?

Its a bloody minefield. But i will hold off till next year when Sony will bring out a light weight, low lux, interchangeable lensed beast that makes you a pizza and keeps your beer cold. All for for under a pound.

Keep smiling

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DeanB

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#4 Drew

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 08:53 AM

Dean
If you are in broadcast production, then you have no choice but to get into HDV. But then you have to realize that HDV programs are not accepted by the Beebs or Discovery. They will accept clips and they will upconvert to HDCAM resolution.
Anyone thinking broadcast production will have to look at the Panasonic HDV200. Output 4:4:4 at 720p DVC Pro HD at 100mb/s will definitely look a lot better than HDV. I just hope housing developers account for the big FW drives needed to get more than 16mins those silly P2 cards can take.

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#5 DeanB

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 09:46 AM

Hi Drew,

My next project is a freshwater doccy. Viz usually is around 5-7m but on a good day can reach 12-15m.

I was going to go for a PD170 for its low light capability but since there will be hardly any wide angle shots, mostly close-ups and mids filmed in around 5-7m depth. I have opted (for now) for the A1E with decent HID lighting and filters. I reviewed some of my old stuff using my TRV950 and it was alright even without lights and green water filter. This gives me the option of having HDV footage i can convert to HDCAM for the DVD's.. Apparently the A1E has a better Lux rating than the 950 anyway so all seems good there.

This also leaves me with a light weight HDV cam for travelling/ filming later on..

See, I've persuaded myself. :)

Any comments, gentlemen.. & of course, Ladies...

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#6 spaceflight

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 12:50 PM

Just wanted to give my 2 cents about HDV.
About a month ago, I had the opportunity to shoot with a Canon XL H1, pre-production camera. To put it lightly, I was blown away. Because of this, I have decided to wait until these housings are out.

The camera is scheduled to be out next week at the latest.
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#7 ronrosa

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 05:13 PM

Newbie here.

If I can transfer the footage to the PC, edit it, transfer it back to the camcorder, connect my camcorder to a HD TV and watch an edited HD video, that is a big reason to go HD now.

Granted, I can't easily share my full resolution work across the world, but I still get to experience the full technology.

Currently I don't really share my DV work at full resolution. My videos are compressed and on my website for easy downloading. The number of full resolution DVD's I make is minimul since friends and family that live locally can watch it on my TV and those non local are satisfied with what is on my website.

I guess if I wasn't just an amateur hobbyist I'd be more concerned.

For those of you looking to sell your work I can see your point.

#8 larsdennert

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 06:04 PM

I agree that you need the right setup to play 1080iHDV on a progressive display. My monitor does 1920x1440 at 60i so it matches the refresh rate of the footage without interlacing. The machine has to be fast enough to play 30fps HD or it will stumble and you will see interlacing artifacts. The deinterlacing software and player is critical too for progressive viewing. There just isn't enough bandwidth on the tape to do 1080p. A shame.

I still think 1080i beats 720p for overall quality but both are good.

Sensitivity may be less, lens size for lens size and sensor for sensor size but there are many cameras in use that have worse low light than these HD cameras from Sony.

Motion blur is undesireable when you move the camera quickly. Even more important is focus since the picture is so much more detailed.

I get very few dropouts using just the premium Sony tapes. I havent' tired the expensive HD tapes.

Playback? Well a fast computer will playback footage (3ghz). Everyone is distributing on DVD data disks as WMV MPEG2 MP4 or MOV. There are many media players on the market now that play these formats to an HD TV. They also play stills. They can stream them from DVD, Ethernet (PC), Wireless net or from an internal HD. I forsee the HDDVD and BLURAY as a joke. They can't decide what the standard should be and meanwhile everyone else is going with established standards coming from PCs. They just make the player smart to read many formats. Down the line these media players will probably carry a high capacity DVD drive but for now the 9gig standard is big enough to distribute HD in the above formats.

Exporting edited footage back to tape is possible but I haven't bothered. I was in need of a camera anyway which is why I went to HD and I'm accumulating hardware to match. I already had an HDTV monitor and I have an dual core Pentium with 600gigs of SATA to archive edited raw footage for the moment. The last link, for me, is the 2wire.com media portal to integrate my HDTV to my computer.

Presentations for our dive club are not at the HD level. We have an XGA projector. At 1024 wide, I can't really down convert to 1280x720p. A match is 1024x576 which is only a bit better than DVD 720x480. Also you need a laptop with some hp to play back some of these files.

I have some footage comparing the three different output formats of the camera at www.larsdennert.com/hc1 You need something like VLC from videolan.org to playback smoothly on a fast machine. Forget using Bloatware Windows Media Player for this stuff.

My 2 cents.

#9 Drew

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 07:28 PM

Lars
that is precisely the problem. To show your clip, you have to make sure the viewer has a P4 64 bit , 128MB graphics card etc etc. Just to play downrezzed WMV or MOV files. That means only maybe 2% of the entire population of computer owners can watch it without hiccups. Using DVD with H264 compression or WMV compression is still not HDV at full rez. There is very few very viable output channels at full 1440x1080.
In all probability, HD DVD & Blu Ray will be the only viable outlet since movies will be released on those formats. Players now adays can take VCD,CDR,DVD and progressive blah blah. I assume they will later too. Which is why I say the output arena is not ready for HDV yet. Nobody knows what's going to happen with HDDVD vs Bluray and computer based formats are limited in spread.

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#10 DeanB

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 07:24 AM

Hi all,

I have had a look at reviews for the new canon and yes it looks the dogs gonads.. But I suppose you could wait a few months and get the XL H1(S) which they did with the XL1-1S. I was thinking about using the H1 for above water wildlife filming and the A1E for the underwater stuff.

But then again (HOW MUCH !!!)

still, it will soon be make your minds up time ???

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#11 Drew

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 07:38 AM

Dean check out the Panasonic HVX200... beats all other HDV contenders in quality... but at a price! oh what a price.

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#12 DeanB

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 08:02 AM

Hi Drew,

I'll take a gander, but have been warned off pannies by so many people. Lack of decent housings, lenses etc..

But maybe they all secretly work for Sony ????

Dive safe

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#13 wagsy

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Posted 27 November 2005 - 10:35 PM

Yes 1440/1080 wmv files are hard to play and I find converting down to 1280/720 @8mbps will let most normal computers play them and the quality is heaps better than normal DVD.

I have been messing around with Divx...not bad..1280/720 @ 3-4mbps is like 1280/720 wmv @8mbps. There are alot of DVD players comming out that can play the format and most computers can once they download the free Divx player.

A 70 minute 1280/720 8mbps wmvfile = 4gigs
A 70 minute 1280/720 3-4mbps Divx file = 1.54gigs
Divx also encodes heaps faster than wmv.

Discovery does not like the HDV format? Well if you have stunning footage of something they need, I'm sure they would take it.

Some of my underwater stuff was transfered to 35 mm filmed, it was beemed up on a 45 foot screen as a test and the people did not believe it was shot on a video camera.

The whales that Doug Allen was shooting I believe is for the big screen as well.

But yes the Panasonic HVX200 would be nice to have....anyone want to buy a car?

I find motion blur real shows up if you are zoomed right in tight on a subject that is close to a background and its moves and you pan with it having the lights on. I have yet to try it without the steady shot on to see if it still does it. Full wide seems fine, natural light and with the macro lens on I did not get any. Also if your shutter is to slow it will make it worse. Don't have it on Auto.

But having said all that, watching DVD's made from HDV are better even downconverted HDV to DV are not as good, and when you go back to ediitng normal DV you think something is wrong as you are so use to seeing this huge stunning image in your editing screen.

The other day I took the FX1 and Phenom to 22 meters in not so clear Exmouth Gulf water and it white balanced no probs still without any URPRO filter. I was on 50 shutter, Odb and gettting f9.6+.

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#14 wagsy

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 04:04 AM

Why not another post..

Hey Lars..downloaded your 85meg 1920/1080 VBR 18500mbps wmv file and watched it. Nice test there.

I then re encoded it to a Divx 1280/720 CBR 4mbps 12 meg file.
You can download it here.
www.ningalooreefteach.com/HDVCompare.avi

I'm begining to like this Divx format.
You will have to download the Divx free player to watch it.
http://www.divx.com/divx/

I think 1280/720 is a better size as alot of new TV's can play that res now and it's alot easier for computers to play it as wel.. True 1920/1080 TV's are way to $$$ still.

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#15 DeanB

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 08:29 AM

Small question..

Can you record straight to DVCAM on a A1E or do you have to down convert from HDV in camera..?

If you can, is the pic quality any better or the same. I would like to know as it looks as though i will have to upgrade my computer or just splash out on a designated P.C just for editing.. DVCAM takes up less time, space etc.. than HDV- right or wrong.. Try not to baffle me with techno science please.!!!

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#16 LERF

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 10:32 AM

You can record directly in DV format on the AE-1,affirmative! Quality should be as good as any comparable DV cams,if not better! No need to splash out your computer yet! :(

HDV is still at your fingertips, so you're ready for the future! Good buy, the AE-1 !
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#17 meekal

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:04 AM

awesome thread topic.... the scarey thing is that i almost understand most of what you guys are talking about (man... i need to get out more - hehehehehe). i can't add any REAL WORLD experience, but i was reading this interesting article in the library, (ok, so the library has a flush handle, but it IS where most of my reading gets done!)

http://videosystems....orld/index.html

INTRO :
"So if you're not looking at HDV editing technology strictly from the point of view of “which is best,” why do you care? Two reasons. You need to understand the strengths and limitations of the approach you're buying into. First, you need to know if your computer system will adequately support the approach. That is not just CPU gigahertz — it is also motherboard chipset and disk storage systems. For example, you may need to buy a RAID with several terabytes of storage depending on the NLE you choose."

SCAREE PART:
"Upon HD input, the uncompressed digital video can be stored to disk using Apple's uncompressed 8-bit and uncompressed 10-bit. A RAID is required because, for example, 1080i video requires a data transfer data rate of 124MB per second. In fact, a very large RAID is required because an hour of 1080i requires 448GB. Moreover, this is using uncompressed 8-bit video. These values increase — for 1080i, to 166MB per second and a whopping 597GB per hour of footage — were you to digitize to 10 bits."

to heck with being able to afford the camera/housing.... i've gotta take out a Small Business Loan just for the computer to process the video that nobody can watch?!!?!?!

i'm just an avid amateur in Florida... i guess i'll keep playing the Lotto and if my 6 numbers ever hit........

#18 wagsy

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 05:46 AM

Hey Meekal
I like that: to heck with being able to afford the camera/housing.... i've gotta take out a Small Business Loan just for the computer to process the video that nobody can watch?!!?!?!

When it gets that high in $$$$$, one might as well use a linear editing system as its quicker to edit the raw tapes as you are not wasting all that time sucking the stuff into a computer. I have watched professional linear editors in action and its amazing how fast they can go through the tapes and edit it all onto a master tape.

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#19 DeanB

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 09:02 AM

Lerf, I love ya !!!

Good straight to the point answer..My wee brain analysed that quick time.(ha,ha)

Wagsy, Sorry if I sound stupid, :D :P But can you get linear editing system for HDV / DVCAM and how much ??? I am really thinking about a designated system either P.C or Mac or whatever for my films and DVD's..

Dive safe

DeanB

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#20 wagsy

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 01:25 AM

Sure can.
HVRM10P is what you need. About $4500 AUS each
You would need two but three decks is better.
One or two to play the tapes to grab and store the footage.
One to build the Master tape.
Ediitng software to drive them and a TV monitor to view your work on.

The beauty is you build the master tape as you go. No wasting time sucking in all the material. I have sat and watched guys cut commercials with graphics and its amazing how fast they can do it. Takes alot of skill though.

Its not cheap though but just another way of doing it.

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