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AVCHD Format Discussion
Inexpensive High Definition H.264 encoding to DVD, Hard Disc or SD Card.


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Old January 15th, 2010, 03:56 PM   #1
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Best image quality

Hello!
This is my first post. I am beginning my search for a camera to make an independent film. With no budget to speak of and limited personal capitol, I am destined to be as frugal as is possible. I am also committed to obtaining the best image quality that I can afford. That is my starting point. Until it proves cost prohibitive I am also committed to High Definition Digital Video. My question is this: In HD Digital recording, which destination records the best original video quality? I believe the choices are to a hard drive, a flash card, a miniDV cassette and a mini DVD. If there are others , please educate me!

Thank You!
Steve Clemens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 15th, 2010, 06:08 PM   #2
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First, the target storage media is immaterial - it's the compression scheme/CODEC and the other various technical capabilities of the camera that count. That said, tapeless is rapidly becoming standard, either flash memory or hard drives (you need a fast computer though), HDV (HD to MiniDV tape) is still going for a while at least, avoid cameras that record to those silly mini-DVD's - too much compression to stuff the bits onto those!

Second, remember that CONTENT IS KING - if your topic/script/idea is good, you can in theory shoot it on a cell phone and it will be a good watch. You can also make drek with hundreds of thousands of dollars of budget...

You're contemplating starting a journey of 10,000 miles and your first question indicates you may not even know what direction you're headed... You have come to the right place to learn though, so spend some time reading and learning, and it'll come if it's meant to be.

As a general bit of advice, get your hands on a camera... ANY camera you can get without spending too much, IOW money you won't miss if you later decide you prefer painting or basketweaving... and start shooting! Try putting the ideas in your head into the camera, and editing them to learn the process/craft. You'll either be hooked, or find another less frustrating endeavor!

It's about the content, not the gear, but you do have to learn the basics (and details) of how the gear works, DVinfo is probably the best place to do that, so brew up large quantities of your drink of choice, and settle in and enjoy!
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 15th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #3
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Personally, I think a used HV20 (or perhaps an HF100) would make a great first cam for anyone that's totally green and wants to get their feet wet shooting HD video, and they are pretty dang cheap to get used nowadays.

Lock the zoom speed down to the slowest speed. Learn to use zoom very judiciously. If you get the urge to zoom faster than the HV's slowest speed, think to yourself, that's just because I'm a total newbie who doesn't have a clue yet! Unfortunately, you can't lock down a setting that will prevent you from panning at warp speed, so that just plain takes genuinely paying attention to what you are doing, and discipline. Just think to yourself, don't move, don't move, don't move the camera, unless I really, really need to.

While you don't have "proper" control over shutter speed, aperture and gain, you can at least learn to lock them down, rather than leaving control over exposure to the camera (auto-exposure), learning to indeed exercise meaningful control over exposure, one of the two basics you should almost never (if ever) leave to the camera.

The other basic that should never be left to the camera, is white balance. It's not hard to manually set white balance. Using presets can often work well, if you understand a little about light color temperature, enough to reliably choose a preset that's reasonably appropriate for the lighting situation as well as know when no preset is going to get very close. Even a preset that is poorly matched to the lighting conditions, is usually a better choice than leaving the camera on automatic white balance though. At least that can be fixed later. Automatic white balance will leave you with color that is continually shifting as the camera is constantly re-evaluating what it thinks is right (very difficult, if not impossible, to fix later).

A lot of folks here will probably shake their finger at me, but I'm a big fan of good auto-focusing capability in HD camcorders. Manually focusing an HD camcorder, that has a small, low res LCD or viewfinder (which is the majority of camcorders costing less than $10k) is challenging, to say the least. Canon's camcorders have something called instant auto focus, and it nails focus more reliably than I can on the fly (even after lots of practicing - perhaps I'm just a dolt that way, I dunno). You can use the button that switches from auto-focus to manual focus to learn how to use "push-auto" focusing. What you do is leave the cam in manual focusing mode, push the button to engage the camera's auto focusing system and obtain what it thinks is proper focus, and then press the button again to lock the focus down. That does the same thing as pressing the "push-auto" button on a prosumer camera, but with a proper "push-auto" button, you simply press the button to engage the camera's auto focusing system, hold it, and then release the button when focus has (hopefully properly) been achieved, to lock it down there (rather than pushing the button twice to accomplish the same thing).

If, after shooting a couple dozen tapes, you actually find yourself still having loads and loads of fun (and so long as folks aren't still getting motion sickness from watching the video you shoot), go out and spend the money you've been saving up for your kid's college fund to get a real camcorder!
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Old January 20th, 2010, 02:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
First, the target storage media is immaterial - it's the compression scheme/CODEC and the other various technical capabilities of the camera that count. That said, tapeless is rapidly becoming standard, either flash memory or hard drives (you need a fast computer though), HDV (HD to MiniDV tape) is still going for a while at least, avoid cameras that record to those silly mini-DVD's - too much compression to stuff the bits onto those!
I agree that tapeless is rapidly becoming standard, and consumer HDV is on its last legs. Furthermore, nobody makes any HD camcorders which record to "those silly mini-DVDs" any more due to their very low capacity (you can barely stuff 15 minutes worth of HD content at the AVCHD DVD maximum of 18 Mbps on even a dual-layer mini-DVD) although several manufacturers did offer one or more such models in the past.
Randall Leong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 21st, 2010, 02:29 AM   #5
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take this for what it is worth:
i have an XH-A1 that i think is pretty great, but i bought a HV-30 and a Merlin for alternate shots:

much to my surprise, *90% of my last project consisted of the HV footage!*

if you are on a budget, an HV-X0 (or two) hopefully leaves you $ to buy a good tripod, a Merlin, and a few decent mics. and maybe a wide angle lens...
Brian David Melnyk is offline   Reply
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