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UW video from hacked Panasonic GH2


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#1 HDVdiver

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 11:20 PM

As promised...here is a Vimeo upload of some recent work done with my hacked GH2.

Of course the usual interpolation (1080p to720p) and compression issues, so the original print @ 30mbps (from the timeline @100 -180mbps) looks way better on a 52 inch TV. :P



[vimeohd]42875856[/vimeohd]

Edited by HDVdiver, 26 May 2012 - 01:27 AM.


#2 Davide DB

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 07:31 AM

As promised...here is a Vimeo upload of some recent work done with my hacked GH2. Of course the usual interpolation (1080p to720p) and compression issues, so the original print @ 30mbps (from the timeline @100 -180mbps) looks way better on a 52 inch TV. :) [vimeohd]42875856[/vimeohd]


Hi,

How did you encode the video? It seems suffering from a poor bitrate or not the optimal parameters for vimeo

Cheers
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#3 Drew

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 03:14 PM

Uh oh, watch out for the shark police here on WP!:)

Seriously though, what firmware? Driftwood?

Also in the opening sequence of the pan up to the horizon, I noticed blurring over a second several times. Was that the encoding or image stabilization software crapping out?

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#4 HDVdiver

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 07:24 PM

Uh oh, watch out for the shark police here on WP!:D

Seriously though, what firmware? Driftwood?

Also in the opening sequence of the pan up to the horizon, I noticed blurring over a second several times. Was that the encoding or image stabilization software crapping out?



Before the shark police get too worked up...have a look at the machete damage inflicted on their shouts from not that long ago by fishermen who were either terrified of the whale sharks and/or wanted to scare them away. It was the hard work of the very team I was with (more recently in conjunction with some NGO's) that stopped that practice...and got effective local protection for the whale sharks. Indonesians might be more inclined to express affection by patting the Whale sharks...but that's a lot better than eating them. :)

Hack used was a slight modification of Dridwood's Smooth as F**k. Basically, 220 mbps (in reality about 120 - 180 mbps VBR). Vimeo's recommended encoding settings are crap...especially their re-encoding down to 720p. I've ignored their recommended settings for my next two uploads and it makes a noticeable difference...but slower for the viewer to load. It's always a trade-off for online viewing. The Blu-ray tests I've done (H.264 @ 30mbps) are stunning on a 52 inch Sony or 60 inch Samsung.

I noticed the blurring and will get around to replacing it with another sequence in the final version. Not sure what's responsible. I do remember changing from AF to MF after a couple of takes (I forgot AF was on). Could also have been the boat wallowing a bit as they'd just fixed a small problem with the engine and kept revving it while I was trying to shoot video. Probably not the software crapping out...just AF and/or an unsteady operator.

I'm heading off on the same route in a few days time ...so plenty of opportunity to reshoot. I'm actually more annoyed by the banding in the last couple of Whale shark sequences. Typical situation to really show up the GH2's limitations...blue mid-water, deep (25m) and low light.

But...I'm pleased to say that I've now figured out how to virtually get rid of/greatly reduce the incidence of banding under even the most prone shooting conditions. I'm testing my own new hack settings and I want to confirm this banding solution with actual footage from real world conditions...so if it works as good as it seems so far I'll share my findings when I get back from Cenderawasih Bay. I only had three dives there in January but will be staying for a week or two in June/July.

Edited by HDVdiver, 03 June 2012 - 07:37 PM.


#5 HDVdiver

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 07:46 PM

Hi,

How did you encode the video? It seems suffering from a poor bitrate or not the optimal parameters for vimeo

Cheers



I made the mistake of following the semi-official vimeo tutorial "Exporting for Upload to Vimeo with Edius 6". I've always hated anything to do with Quicktime so I should have considered an alternative encoding method from the outset.

Anyway, now fixed. :)

#6 stargost

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 07:35 AM

Very nice and peaceful video. Amazing 2:29 / 2:30 critter shots.

Dont know about the shark police, there seems to be more pixel police ;-) When you get great/smooth/cool critter video, I'm still not sure of the need for such a high datarate and powerful hacks. Does it really bring to the table compared to the stock GH2 firmware!!

Also liked the "Wendy and the seadragon" video.

#7 Davide DB

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 01:17 PM

I made the mistake of following the semi-official vimeo tutorial "Exporting for Upload to Vimeo with Edius 6". I've always hated anything to do with Quicktime so I should have considered an alternative encoding method from the outset.

Anyway, now fixed. :)


I made the same mistake and I also pointed out on GV forum that the tutorial is completely wrong. Nearly nobody cared of. Strange land Grass Valley :) Now I export in mp4 with the correct parameters

BTW The default Edius WMV codec rocks and you get razor sharp video on vimeo just uploading the wmv files created with default params for hd.

Anyway, nice video indeed!

Bye

Edited by M43user, 07 June 2012 - 01:19 PM.

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#8 HDVdiver

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:38 PM

Very nice and peaceful video. Amazing 2:29 / 2:30 critter shots.

Dont know about the shark police, there seems to be more pixel police ;-) When you get great/smooth/cool critter video, I'm still not sure of the need for such a high datarate and powerful hacks. Does it really bring to the table compared to the stock GH2 firmware!!

Also liked the "Wendy and the seadragon" video.


Thanks.

Being a hopeless pixel-peeper myself I understand where they are coming from...and constructive criticism is always useful for improvement. :)

The increased bit rate really does make a significant difference in terms of the quality of the original acquisition! One noticeable result is very low noise (particularly in shadows) compared to to a unhacked camera. Also, the HBR provides more data headroom for subsequent manipulation during editing.

The difference can only really be appreciated in a side by side Hacked vs Unhacked GH2 test...but it is significant and worth the effort. However, it's also important to realize that the Ptool hack is about a lot more than just increasing the bit rate. It opens up the camera in many other useful ways (non-Panasonic batteries; PAL - NTSC switching; English menu for the Japanese domestic-only version; specialized raster size for Anamorphic or other applications; allowing 4:2:2 in MJPEG and many other firmware tweaks).

Using a HBR GH2 is the first time I have ever been able to do extensive editing, color correcting. etc. and Print-to-File from the EDIUS timeline (Blu-ray codec) and not see any quality drop between the original material and the Blu-ray ready output. Incredible!

Of course HBR is not always necessary...but it's great if you want the very best original image quality for subsequent flexibility of use.



M43user

Thanks.

I will try the Edius WMV codec, sounds good.

Edited by HDVdiver, 07 June 2012 - 11:55 PM.


#9 Davide DB

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:01 AM

Is the video shot HBR? 25p or 30p?

The shark sequence is breathtaking

Thanks.

I will try the Edius WMV codec, sounds good.


Going back to Edius export for Vimeo...
I'd like to share the best setting I found so far:

H.264 export

Step one: the correct plugin is under H.264/AVC and NOT Quick Time exporter as many suggest.
Here you can resize you video to 720p. Then press export to go to the second dialog...

Posted Image


Step two: For 720p use 5MBps; for 1080p 10MBps. Quality superfine. CBR. High profile should be set by default.
In one of these two dialog, if you are on a Sandy Bridge pc and QS is active, you should find a checkbox already selected "enable hw conversion" which speed up the entire process a lot. I took this screenshots on my old laptop so this option is not there.

Posted Image


VMW Export

Just one dialog box. For 720p use 5MBps; for 1080p 10MBps. Quality setting at 100. You can safely resize your video directly through this dialog.

Posted Image

I made several test and with these settings I found no visible difference between the vmw and mp4 video created (on my pc and Vimeo)

Bye

Edited by M43user, 08 June 2012 - 03:03 AM.

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https://vimeo.com/bocio/

#10 HDVdiver

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:28 PM

Is the video shot HBR? 25p or 30p?



Everything is shot in 24p HBR (Driftwood's 220mbps @ GOP1).

I live in PAL land so I would prefer to use 25p...but until recently there was no HBR 25p available for the GH2. Also, 24p is a good standard for worldwide Bluray output. So I've slowly come to embrace 24p...:)

Edited by HDVdiver, 08 June 2012 - 04:31 PM.


#11 laz217

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 06:23 PM

I was wondering if you have had any better results with the blue color banding issue with the GH2?

I filmed with a hacked GH2 (Sanity 5) for the first time today and although the camera produces amazing details, the midwater colors with any sun in it looks terrible.

[vimeohd]44173975[/vimeohd]

I wonder if there is anything that can help improve this issue or if it is just a limitation of the smaller sensor and its dynamic range. Berkeley White's (backscatter.com) video of the wild spotted dolphins in the Bahamas has a sequence with the sun in the shot and the image holds up a heck of a lot better. His footage was taken with the Canon 5D Mark II.

Berkeley White's video:
[vimeohd]23950185[/vimeohd]
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#12 Drew

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 11:48 PM

Laz
While the GH2 does suffer from a baked-in look where the curve does force gradations of color to band due to the limit of the 420 resolution, I think your issue is compounded by depth. With your clip, the problem is as you go deeper, the gradation of blues are broader than in the shallows like Berk's clips. That does make a big difference is how banding shows up. You'll have to try contain your scenes to keep the water column limited in range to avoid banding.

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#13 laz217

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 05:04 AM

Laz
While the GH2 does suffer from a baked-in look where the curve does force gradations of color to band due to the limit of the 420 resolution, I think your issue is compounded by depth. With your clip, the problem is as you go deeper, the gradation of blues are broader than in the shallows like Berk's clips. That does make a big difference is how banding shows up. You'll have to try contain your scenes to keep the water column limited in range to avoid banding.


Thank you for the explanation, Drew. I was at 100ft when I took that footage so that makes sense. I will try shooting at different depths next time and see its effects.

Is this a common problem that plagues most/all video cameras when shooting underwater? What are your thoughts on using a GD filter underwater? Do you think this could help reduce such banding or is it simply the limitation of 420?

I appreciate your time and help.
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#14 Nick Hope

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 10:09 PM

Is this a common problem that plagues most/all video cameras when shooting underwater?

Not the cameras I have used (DV, HDV) or seen footage from. Makes me wonder if there's something wrong with the camera or the hacked firmware.

#15 jonny shaw

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 11:27 PM

That is the worst banding ever.... it shouldn't be that bad? Can you control the curve, and flatten the image? Looks like it is pushing the highlights way out, if it capturing at a high bit rate just apply the curve in post.

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#16 wagsy

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 04:34 AM

Gee the banding is really bad, even that first clip.
There is no way you can fix that up in post.
My HDV video cameras footage is never like that.
With EDIUS, just render out a 1920/1080 CBR 12mbps mp4 file and load that up.
If you got Sandy or Ivy bridge cpu, it will spit the file out super fast.
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#17 Davide DB

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 04:48 AM

I haven't a lot of "flight hours" underwater with the GH2 but I never got that horrible effect.

It doesn't seem to me a banding problem but a exposure problem. Highlights are completely clipped. The diver is nearly correctly exposed but the sun and surrounding water is extremely over exposed. It's a question of dinamic range. Actually the GH2 has a good dinamic range at least if not better of most current dsrl. So I don't think that another dsrl would have saved the day in the shot. Maybe closing a couple of f stops...

In extreme case like that it works like the old photography school... fill the subject/diver with an artificial light and calculate the exposure on the water surrounding the sun.

Just my 2c.
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#18 HDVdiver

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 01:22 AM

I was wondering if you have had any better results with the blue color banding issue with the GH2?

I filmed with a hacked GH2 (Sanity 5) for the first time today and although the camera produces amazing details, the midwater colors with any sun in it looks terrible.


I wonder if there is anything that can help improve this issue or if it is just a limitation of the smaller sensor and its dynamic range. Berkeley White's (backscatter.com) video of the wild spotted dolphins in the Bahamas has a sequence with the sun in the shot and the image holds up a heck of a lot better. His footage was taken with the Canon 5D Mark II.



The cure for color banding on the GH2 is to shoot underwater using the MJPEG codec instead of AVCHD. I've tweeked Driftwood's Orion v 4b slightly to my requirements when hacking the camera and tested various color mode settings (for MJPEG) to get the look I prefer. After 4 weeks intensive diving in Indonesia (and checking the results on my VAIO every night) I am extremely happy with the results...way better than any hack using AVCHD. Resolution is true 1080p @ 30fps (not interpolated 720p as on the GH1...and better for motion than 24p) and the colors are lovely (almost certain its 4:2:2 since that was available on the hacked GH1 for MJPEG). I now only use AVCHD topside because of the better audio for interviews etc.

MJPEG is an old codec but it doesn't have the crappy artifacts that Panasonic's stupid implementation of AVCHD has...color banding being one.

The files are bigger (so using a 64Gb card) and there's the very occasional lock-up (but self re-setting after a few seconds)...but the results are worth it. NO MORE BANDING!

Edited by HDVdiver, 19 July 2012 - 01:42 AM.


#19 Nick Hope

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 03:33 PM

The files are bigger (so using a 64Gb card) and there's the very occasional lock-up (but self re-setting after a few seconds)...but the results are worth it. NO MORE BANDING!

How much bigger (what's the bitrate)? Any idea what causes the lock-ups?

#20 HDVdiver

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 05:47 PM

How much bigger (what's the bitrate)? Any idea what causes the lock-ups?


It's hard to say exactly how much bigger the MOV files are over the MTS since both codecs are working in variable bit rate mode and the compression algorithims are quite different (and the AVC that I use is GOP 1). Average bit rate for the MOV (from MJPEG) is about 130 mbps; for the MTS it's roughly 80 to 110 mbps. But this also varies considerably with scene complexity. I allocate about 1GB per minute for the MJPEG acquisition although it's usually less. Having a 64Gb SD card allows a couple of dives before changing battery and card.

The simplistic answer to what causes lock-ups is "scene complexity and bit rate"...but it's not that simple. Lowing the bit rate setting in the firmware does reduce/eliminate lock-ups but it's a trade-off. With the GH1 a lock-up was disasterous underwater since the camera's battery needed to be removed to clear the camera. Fortunately with the GH2 the much greater onboard processing power can handle even VHBR AVC@GOP1 and I've never had this cause a lock-up when using Class 10 SD cards. However, MJPEG must require more processing. This and the higher bit rate is enough to bottleneck the data flow and cause a lock-up. The good news is that these lock-ups are self clearing within a couple of seconds and the camera is funcional again. If it wasn't for this I'd drop the bit rate. Because it's so infrequent (once a day if that) I'm happy to have the camera operating at the maximum of it's capabilities since the MJPEG image quality out of it is simply stunning.