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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old March 12th, 2007, 04:49 PM   #1
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HV-20 and format questions...

Hey Guys,

I am a relatively advanced amateur stills photographher who is looking to pick up an HDV camcorder. Unfortunately, I am a bit of a newb when it comes to video and I have some questions: I spend roughly equal amounts of time in the US and the UK so I was going to pick up an NTSC model as it works out slightly cheaper. I will be shooting in both countries.

I understand the difference between NTSC and PAL and that if I shoot SD NTSC then (obviously) it won't be viewable on a PAL TV. I am less clear when it comes to HD. I know that the States uses 1080i60 and the UK 1080i50 and I assume they are similarly incompatible as PAL and NTSC- correct?

The aim is to produce DVDs and web clips for friends and family who are in a mix of PAL and NTSC countries and with a mix of SD and HD TVs. Obviously I realise one disc won't cover both.

Now, my plan was to kinda copy my workflow from stills which is to capture the image in as much detail (1080i60 I assume for an NTSC cam) as possible and then export/downconvert to other formats as required (the beauty of digital media :-). Is this realistic? If I have 1080i60 footage and capture it to a good quality intermediate codec in an NLE can I produce good quality footage in my required formats from it?

Are there any other gotchas I need to be aware of using an NTSC cam in the UK (or vice-versa)? I read something about problems with strip lighting but I assume this can't be a massive issue otherwise I guess there would be a lot unhappy tourists when they found their footage was ruined ;-)

TIA,

Ben
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Old March 12th, 2007, 05:30 PM   #2
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Hi Ben,

this post by Fergus and others is somewhat along those lines:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=86410

...although it leaves some of your questions unanswered. Some thoughts: First, I think it comes down to the support of individual DVD players and television sets, so you don't have to put out every version thinkable. Next, if you have to resample and care about the pixels, you may want to avoid resampling a 60i stream to 50i. The resulting fields will be somewhat blurry during high motion.
However, 24p and 25p are more-or-less compatible if you allow the slight speed-up from 24 to 25fps to avoid interpolation of the frames. They are also (if needed) easier to scale down to a great-looking 720p.
But then, you have to like the film-like progressive look...
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Old March 12th, 2007, 07:21 PM   #3
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I agree.

If you want to deliver to both NTSC and Pal regions then your best option is to either buy a NTSC model and shoot 24p or buy a PAL model and shoot 25p. You will then have the option of either burning a 24p DVD or 25p DVD for either region that will have the same high level of quality. This is pretty much the same way Hollywood movies are dealt with. in NTSC land they are delivered as 24p and in PAL land they get 25p DVD's. The audio can either be pitch shifted or time compressed to compenstae for the length change due to the framerate change. Pitch shifted is of course very clean but some super hardcore audio people may be able to notice music shifted by the 4% value. Time compressed is of course at the proper pitch but it can can a few funky time compression artifacts depending on how good the tool is.

Shooting 1080p also allows you pretty much any option for delivery in terms of resolution. Progressive will give you very clean web video, super clean progressive scan DVD's and at some point in the future either 720p or 1080p HD-DVD/Blu-Ray disks. Some people do not like the look of 24p/25p because it takes great care to shoot it well but it really is the most universal format in the world.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 06:44 AM   #4
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Thanks Guys. That's some really helpful info. I don't suppose anyone has links to some comparison footage so I can see what these formats look like side-by-side? Right now I am not sure if I know exactly what you mean by the "film progressive look" :-/
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Old March 14th, 2007, 10:54 AM   #5
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Hi Ben,

glad it helped. To me, the 24p film look is best noticed during pans. The image doesn't 'glide' so smooth then, but you can discern the individual frames. You have to like it. To me, it's feels less transparent. For many, it feels... well let them describe. Some even say interlaced is only any good for tv news and soap operas :) Nice article over here: http://www.cinematography.net/Pages%20GB/30FPS.HTM

There are many examples of progressive, or "p" footage around here. Most of the edited and downscaled samples (mostly Quicktime or WMV) will be (made) progressive.
What helps is to prevent shutter times that are too short. Some motion blur helps diminish the effect.

About the pitch shift described above: you may even consider leaving the music in it's original pitch by re-editing it in the NLE to match the changed video speed.
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