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Old May 7th, 2008, 02:14 AM   #1
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Sony consumer HD Newbie questions

I am a still photgrapher usingt Fuji DSLRs in a commercial studio. I want to try some videography using the new consumer Sony camcorders, especially the SR 11 and SR 12 models. Basically I know nothing about the subject yet except that I used Sony Hi camcorders in the distant past and want to get myself up to speed on the new directions. I hope this will not be too painfully simplistic for the old hands here...but here goes.

Firstly, I get the impression that the Sony HD format (is it AVCHD) used in these camcorder models is as yet non editable or at least so difficult to deal with that it may not be worth it. Is this issue alone a deal breaker making these Sony machines non starters.

Some questions about dealing with HD content from these new cameras follow. I take that it that the best way to view HD content is direct from camera to HD TV set. I have seen this demonstrated in camera stores and output is nothing less than stunning. But what happens to HD content if it is fed into a SD TV set. Do you see an SD version of the video or do you see nothing? What happens to the audio in this case?

If you burn the HD footage (is "footage" the right term for this digital age)from the camera, or after downloading to a computer, to a standard DVD disc and play back that disc on a standard DVD player (non-Blue Ray) what do you see? An SD picture or nothing at all? Do consumer grade internal or external Blue Ray burners exist yet for use in conjunction with a computer?

I guess what I am asking is if you elect to record, say, your holiday in HD, are you locked into HD playback or can you also show the footage in SD so that friends who have no HD facilities yet can also enjoy the footage. (Of course they would be viewing it in SD...I understand that) Or do you have to make a decision for capturing either in HD or SD at the outset.

Many permutations and combinations I agree, so I would also be grateful to be directed to any site where all this compatibility stuff is ex-plained.

Finally, I have a PC compter running Win XP Pro with an AMD 3000+ CPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 3 HDDs, 2-160s internal and 1- 500 external. Am I in the editing ballpark using these camcorders and the Sony AVCHD format withy this computer?

Most of all I would be interested in opinions as to whether the SR 11 and SR 12 are ready for prime time, both from a capture and from an editing point of view).

Many thanks.

Fred
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Old May 7th, 2008, 02:59 AM   #2
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Hi Fred -

Let's try to answer all the questions - you may want to peruse the AVCHD sections of DVinfo for more information!

AVCHD is editable, I'm mixing down a multicam event right now with 2 SR11's and a CX7, all AVCHD... AMD Athlon 64x2 6000+, 2G RAM, several SATA and PATA hard drives. It's doable, reminds me a bit of how HDV was early on, still feels a bit less than optimized, but the software is catching up. To my eye the video quality is better than HDV, so worth the extra effort.

Your computer is probably on the lower end of feasible, but if you're patient, "maybe" it would work - personally I'm looking at a quad core upgrade one of these days... but the x2 6000+ is quite acceptable.

The cam records HD, period (unlike the HDV tape based cams, which retain the SD option), BUT can downconvert over the composite cable included (typical yellow RCA plug). There's a built in guide for setting up your output - you might want to go pick up the SR11 manual at Sony - there are links somewhere here on the forum.

You have to render your edited footage to whatever final format you want - and output to "SD" widescreen is my usual end target right now. Works and looks great. Better input = better final result.

HD has a learning curve, both for edit workflow and for getting rid of bad shooting habits, but the results are worth it. Patience and perseverence are desirable going in, but if you come with the right attitude, you'll get great results.

Hope that helps a bit!
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Old May 7th, 2008, 07:33 AM   #3
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Old May 7th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Phillips View Post
Firstly, I get the impression that the Sony HD format (is it AVCHD) used in these camcorder models is as yet non editable or at least so difficult to deal with that it may not be worth it. Is this issue alone a deal breaker making these Sony machines non starters.

Some questions about dealing with HD content from these new cameras follow. I take that it that the best way to view HD content is direct from camera to HD TV set. I have seen this demonstrated in camera stores and output is nothing less than stunning. But what happens to HD content if it is fed into a SD TV set. Do you see an SD version of the video or do you see nothing? What happens to the audio in this case?

If you burn the HD footage (is "footage" the right term for this digital age)from the camera, or after downloading to a computer, to a standard DVD disc and play back that disc on a standard DVD player (non-Blue Ray) what do you see? An SD picture or nothing at all? Do consumer grade internal or external Blue Ray burners exist yet for use in conjunction with a computer?

Most of all I would be interested in opinions as to whether the SR 11 and SR 12 are ready for prime time, both from a capture and from an editing point of view).

Many thanks.

Fred
I have the SR11, so please let me take a stab at these questions.

AS for editing, the editing programs are still catching up. The latest products can edit AVCHD (most can), but they are not all that proficient yet. It may take a year or two before any lower cost editing programs will be available that will be able to handle AVCHD smoothly and efficiently. More importantly, AVCHD takes a very powerful computer to handle everything in a timely manner. Unless you have a quad core/4 gigs of RAM, rendering times/production of a finished product, will take a long time.

Playing footage directly from your camcorder to a non-HD tv is possible, but the picture will be very inferior. Using the supplied componant cables, I have tried this on a regular TV while on a shoot, and the resulting picture was nothing like I could see in the cams LCD. It just looked terrible on the TV. I would never use a regular TV to try and sell what this cam can do.

When I use the Picture Motion Browser program that came with my SR11, I can, after downloading to my computer, produce either an HD (AVCHD) or SD DVD. The SD DVD is watchable (certainly better than what is seen on a regular TV in the situation above). It is also better than what I produced with my old DV camcorder, but not nearly as nice as what is produced when I burn an HD (AVCHD) DVD. I recently burned an HD DVD and played it on my sons' PS3, and it looked great. And yes, you can watch this SD DVD on any DVD player and it will look OK. IF you burn your footage to a regular DVD choosing the HD (AVCHD) mode, then you must have a BlueRay player to see it. It is warned to not try and play it in a regular DVD player.

Ready for prime time? Perhaps it is a tad early, but it is do-able. The cam produces a very, very nice picture, and it is possible to archive your footage and save it until you purchase a good editing program and/or you upgrade your computer.

I got my SR11 because I wanted to get my pictures NOW, captured in the best form I could afford. Yes, I can burn them to DVDs, and even edit them to a small degree with the Picture Motion Browser program that is supplied with the cam. Once I purchase a decent editing program, I will be able to edit and produce my product on an HD DVD for viewing on my plasma (fingers crossed).

These are my opinions and ideas, and may not be totally accurate in the real world. But it is my story and I'm sticking with it.

Respectfully,
Mike
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Old May 16th, 2008, 04:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Burgess View Post
I have the SR11, so please let me take a stab at these questions.

Playing footage directly from your camcorder to a non-HD tv is possible, but the picture will be very inferior. Using the supplied componant cables, I have tried this on a regular TV while on a shoot, and the resulting picture was nothing like I could see in the cams LCD. It just looked terrible on the TV. I would never use a regular TV to try and sell what this cam can do.
I'm also looking towards buying a HD handycam and the SR12 is one of the cams i'm looking for. I was a bit surprised to read about the poor playback directly on no HD tv's. Can you tell me how poor ? Is it for instance worse than a traditional SD camcorder ? And are other HD camcorders performing better at this ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Burgess View Post
When I use the Picture Motion Browser program that came with my SR11, I can, after downloading to my computer, produce either an HD (AVCHD) or SD DVD. The SD DVD is watchable (certainly better than what is seen on a regular TV in the situation above). It is also better than what I produced with my old DV camcorder, but not nearly as nice as what is produced when I burn an HD (AVCHD) DVD. I recently burned an HD DVD and played it on my sons' PS3, and it looked great. And yes, you can watch this SD DVD on any DVD player and it will look OK. IF you burn your footage to a regular DVD choosing the HD (AVCHD) mode, then you must have a BlueRay player to see it. It is warned to not try and play it in a regular DVD player..
Just to get it clear fo me if i'm understanding you correct :

Burning HD footage to a SDDVD gives watchable results. Off course it aint as good as a HDDVD. But i it still betterthan the results of a traditional SD camcorder ?

The option i was thinking of as a temporary solution, is burning HD dvd's and playing them on a bluray or ps3 to a non HD tv.. How would the results be ?

Regards,

René
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Old May 16th, 2008, 07:05 PM   #6
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As I reread my earier post, I realize the confusion. Heck, I don't even clearly understand what I said.

Using the Picture Browser from Sony, you can choose to burn your footage to a regular DVD as HD. That HD DVD can then be played on a BR player, such as a PS3. I did this with my sons PS3 and it looked good on his analog TV. You can also choose to burn to a regular DVD as SD. This you can play on a regular DVD player. It looks good on my plasma, and very good on a regular analog TV.
Where the picture looks the worst is when you play your footage directly from your camcorder to an analog TV. At least that is what happened to me. Granted, these TVs were in two different motel rooms on two different nights. I was curious to see what I had gotten after a day of shooting and so I hooked up to the motels TV. The resulting picture was oversaturated, and looked as if the 16 x 9 picture was sqeeshed to fit the TVs 4 x 3 picture.
Now I don't know if that will be the case with all 4 x 3 analog TVs.

Hope this cleared up the mud somewhat.

Respectfully,
Mike
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Old May 17th, 2008, 01:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Phillips View Post
I am a still photgrapher usingt Fuji DSLRs in a commercial studio. I want to try some videography using the new consumer Sony camcorders, especially the SR 11 and SR 12 models. Basically I know nothing about the subject yet except that I used Sony Hi camcorders in the distant past and want to get myself up to speed on the new directions. I hope this will not be too painfully simplistic for the old hands here...but here goes.

Firstly, I get the impression that the Sony HD format (is it AVCHD) used in these camcorder models is as yet non editable or at least so difficult to deal with that it may not be worth it. Is this issue alone a deal breaker making these Sony machines non starters.

Some questions about dealing with HD content from these new cameras follow. I take that it that the best way to view HD content is direct from camera to HD TV set. I have seen this demonstrated in camera stores and output is nothing less than stunning. But what happens to HD content if it is fed into a SD TV set. Do you see an SD version of the video or do you see nothing? What happens to the audio in this case?

If you burn the HD footage (is "footage" the right term for this digital age)from the camera, or after downloading to a computer, to a standard DVD disc and play back that disc on a standard DVD player (non-Blue Ray) what do you see? An SD picture or nothing at all? Do consumer grade internal or external Blue Ray burners exist yet for use in conjunction with a computer?

I guess what I am asking is if you elect to record, say, your holiday in HD, are you locked into HD playback or can you also show the footage in SD so that friends who have no HD facilities yet can also enjoy the footage. (Of course they would be viewing it in SD...I understand that) Or do you have to make a decision for capturing either in HD or SD at the outset.

Many permutations and combinations I agree, so I would also be grateful to be directed to any site where all this compatibility stuff is ex-plained.

Finally, I have a PC compter running Win XP Pro with an AMD 3000+ CPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 3 HDDs, 2-160s internal and 1- 500 external. Am I in the editing ballpark using these camcorders and the Sony AVCHD format withy this computer?

Most of all I would be interested in opinions as to whether the SR 11 and SR 12 are ready for prime time, both from a capture and from an editing point of view).

Many thanks.

Fred
You can always down convert HD footage (yes, still footage. Megabytage will probably not take its place :) ) to SD.

As for the camcorder choice...

...well, I'm a professional photographer, too, and was in a very similar situation as you are now not long ago.

I decided to go with mature technology, and decided for the Canon hv30. The reasons were: best image in its class, no problems with editing and capture.

To be clear: AVCHD has matured and is being used by many here. But it may not be the best for you right now.

As Mike said, you'd need a faster computer for it. Also, the capture process will need some rendering, which doesn't make it faster than capture from tape.

Tape isn't outdated yet.

What I also like about the Canon hv30 is the quality of light it can capture.

I see you are shooting with Fuji, very likely the Fuji S5 professional, so you care a lot about skin tones and fine graduation.

For this reason I'd recommend to look at the Canon hv30.

Also: your computer will have less trouble with editing hdv footage.
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Old May 17th, 2008, 01:22 AM   #8
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Could have been a hookup error, haven't really tried hooking to a non-HD TV, but it shouldn't look THAT bad...

I rendered one recent project as an experiment - the SD version looked great playing back on my computer, and the HD version was slightly sharper to my eye on the computer monitor playback. Both looked great, and I don't have a BR player to test with, or I would... but the SD DVD's are great, displayed on a farily large LCD TV, 720x480, 24P done in post. And one of these days if I get updated to BR, I'm sure that will be even better!
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Old May 17th, 2008, 07:07 AM   #9
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Could have been a hookup error, haven't really tried hooking to a non-HD TV, but it shouldn't look THAT bad...

I rendered one recent project as an experiment - the SD version looked great playing back on my computer, and the HD version was slightly sharper to my eye on the computer monitor playback. Both looked great, and I don't have a BR player to test with, or I would... but the SD DVD's are great, displayed on a farily large LCD TV, 720x480, 24P done in post. And one of these days if I get updated to BR, I'm sure that will be even better!
Yes, on the motel TVs it was pretty bad. I used the component cables that came with the camcorder. I'll have to try to hook up the cam to one of my old analog TVs and see how it looks. As for computer monitor playback, I agree, it looks good directly from the cam. Can't comment on playing a DVD back on computer. Haven't tried that yet.

Respectfully,
Mike
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Old May 17th, 2008, 06:49 PM   #10
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I played back the rendered files before burning (at least the SD DVD...), so it was direct off the Hard Drive - while the 1080 24P version looked a bit sharper, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the SD version looked. While I could see the difference, stand back a bit and ask a novice, and I don't think they'd see a lot of difference - probably different on a big screen, but this was windowed on a 24", both SD and HD versions looked quite good! The SD DVD looks great on a big screen, w/ a 24P DVD player...
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Old May 18th, 2008, 11:45 AM   #11
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Could you guys tell me how you would rate the playback of the sr11/sr12 on a non hd television in comparision to a good SD camcorder ?

regards,

René
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Old May 18th, 2008, 07:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mike Burgess View Post
Yes, on the motel TVs it was pretty bad. I used the component cables that came with the camcorder. I'll have to try to hook up the cam to one of my old analog TVs and see how it looks. As for computer monitor playback, I agree, it looks good directly from the cam. Can't comment on playing a DVD back on computer. Haven't tried that yet.

Respectfully,
Mike
Well, I tried hooking up the SR11 to one of my older analog TVs using the USB cables supplied with the cam, and I got a similar picture that I had gotten on the motel TVs, although not quite as bad. The picture on my TV had oversaturated colors, with the picture being squeezed to fit the 4x3 screen, and of course the low resolution of sub SD (not 480 lines of resolution). Things looked better on my computer monitor.

I can also say that the same footage burned to a regular DVD as SD, was better than the picture produced by directly connecting the cam to the SD TV. Why? I don't know.

Respectfully,
Mike
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Old May 27th, 2008, 06:15 AM   #13
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You need to set TV output in menu to 4:3 output,than should be ok as on my old HC3.
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Old May 27th, 2008, 06:44 AM   #14
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Pinnacle Studio 11.1 and Edius 4.6 can edit AVCHD without any problem.
(There are also other software but i prefer them).
Premiere CS3 will provide full avchd support as soon as possible.

off course you need a very performant system, beacause, in general, High definition, is really expensive in term of resource.

There is also another path. That is to avoid NLE.
You can intermediate in some way your avchd clip. You can do the same thing with an hdv clip.
In both case you will have a little better result than passing by NLE sw.
I mean, for example, the following 'chain':

avchd clip -> Dgavcdecode (to read and indicize avc video, freeware sw) or DgIndex (to read mpeg2 video) -> avisynth -> virtualdub + intermediate codec (cineform, blackmagic or also some completely loseless codec).
In this way you will have a big .avi file that can be loaded also in softwares that don't support avchd or hdv standard...

ciao!
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 06:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
You can always down convert HD footage (yes, still footage. Megabytage will probably not take its place :) ) to SD.

As for the camcorder choice...

...well, I'm a professional photographer, too, and was in a very similar situation as you are now not long ago.

I decided to go with mature technology, and decided for the Canon hv30. The reasons were: best image in its class, no problems with editing and capture.

To be clear: AVCHD has matured and is being used by many here. But it may not be the best for you right now.

As Mike said, you'd need a faster computer for it. Also, the capture process will need some rendering, which doesn't make it faster than capture from tape.

Tape isn't outdated yet.

What I also like about the Canon hv30 is the quality of light it can capture.

I see you are shooting with Fuji, very likely the Fuji S5 professional, so you care a lot about skin tones and fine graduation.

For this reason I'd recommend to look at the Canon hv30.

Also: your computer will have less trouble with editing hdv footage.

Thanks for your comments. I am using a Fuji S2 Pro and have never ceased to be amazed by the skin tones produced by this, now a little long in the tooth, camera. New S5s are selling for just over $1000 now so I may jump. My still picture experience will probably make me restless about the results that are achievable in the video world, but what I have seen in SR 11 demos in camera shops has been quite impressive. Also the reviews I have read so far about the SR11-12 cameras make them sound like nothing short of the second coming. Would hv30 therefore be a step backward? You can see from my questions that I am really a neophyte when it comes to video matters.
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