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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old February 11th, 2008, 11:46 AM   #1
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Shooting in HDV for SD

Hi,

I have to shoot 5 episodes of a kid's show for DVD.

Using the Canon XH A1, I've read here that it's better to shoot in 60i HDV and then convert to SD in post. What is the general consensus on that?

And if that's the way to go, what would be the recommended work flow in FCP? Just create a sequence in DV NTSC 48 khz and drop the HDV footage in there and then pull out picture to fill the frame?

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated...!

Sean
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Old February 11th, 2008, 12:57 PM   #2
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I shoot and edit in HDV, then on the final export change it to whatever I need. But you could do it that way too. If you just edit your clips into an SD timeline and resize, that works fine.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 02:14 PM   #3
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Thanks Bill!

But is there any real quality boost? I mean, I love the camera and want to shoot in HDV, obviously, but for this project is it worth it to shoot in HDV, quality-wise (and all the extra rendering time) as oopse to just shooting in SD from the camera?

And if it indeed is worth it, how do you handle the framing issues? (They don't want letterbox...)

Thanks again, Bill
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Old February 11th, 2008, 03:50 PM   #4
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Sean,
I've had good luck shooting at 60i HDV and editing as such in FCP. Then export to a Quicktime reference file. Using compressor set it to best quality 90 minute and let it run. It will keep your aspect ration at 16x9. Makes a great SD DVD.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 04:24 PM   #5
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If they don't want letterbox, you can shoot everything a little loose and the zoom it up in your SD timeline. I've done that very thing and the initial resolution is so good that the zoomed up stuff looked as good or better than 4:3 SD shot with a different camera.

However, if 4:3 SD is the end result you're after and they don't want letterbox, it would be a lot better to shoot it 43: SD. The only reason for going HD would be if maybe later they would want a wide screen version.

Some people say the quality is a little better shooting HDV and then editing SD, but it's probably not worth it in your case, considering the non-letterbox issue.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #6
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Thanks Bill,

that's probably what I'll do (shoot in SD) for this project. Although... gee, it's hard to go back to SD once you've had HDV.

And thanks, Jim, too. That's good advice for other projects. I always like the letterbox, myself....

Sean
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Old February 11th, 2008, 08:04 PM   #7
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I am pretty new at this but I have found that shooting in HD and then converting to SD after editing looks ALOT better than shooting in SD. My stuff shot in SD has looked really bad

Clay
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Old February 11th, 2008, 08:20 PM   #8
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Sean, definitely shoot in HD. Two reasons, one- the overall image quality on the dvd will be better. Two- if they ever want an HD version, say a year or two from now, you'll have the tapes and you can make more dough.

Use the 4:3 aspect guides you can activate on your XH-a1. That will show you want is going to get cropped out when you blow up to 4:3.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 08:51 PM   #9
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We shoot almost everything in HD, although we deliver almost everything in SD. We sell our clients on the fact that their field footage is "future-proof" and can be reused for years to come, whereas SD field footage will be almost useless in a few years.

The project will dictate if you drop to 4x3 before or after the edit, as there are time, creativity and storage space tradeoffs either way.

In our shop the rule is that there is no rule. It depends on what we are trying to accomplish with that project. Let the project budget (either dollars or time, which are really the same thing) dictate which approach you take. For example, is the small image quality boost worth spending more time moving files about and rendering, or is it better to spend that time on more editing or graphics or such. For some projects yes, for some no.
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Old February 12th, 2008, 12:08 AM   #10
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Thanks for the comments Tracy, Steve and Clay...

Especially for that tip about the aspect ratio guides on the A1, Steve. Man, that's a big help. Little detail I overlooked on the A1.

You guys changed my mind. I'll shoot in HD, which makes me happier anyway... (after all, I paid for the darn HD....)

Sean
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Old February 12th, 2008, 02:01 AM   #11
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I shot and edited a project HDV (XH-A1) for DVD delivery and on the DVD gave the options for both letterbox and pan and scan 4:3. it seems the best of all worlds to have the project HDV, output SD, letterbox and 4:3. no limit for options in the future, and the best quality possible.
a few things, though. FCP doesn't have guides for 4:3 framing in a HDV timeline (?????), a big problem if you are using titles, graphics, subtitles, etc. that you want to work for both 16:9 and 4:3. but a video generator for guides to place in the timeline can be had here (free from the ingenious and helpful Andy Mees):
http://homepage.mac.com/andymees
Also, i followed the HDV to DVD workflow here: http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=102079
BUT had problems with transitions (alternately jittery or jaggy... or both!) so i used compressor straight from the timeline at 90 min best quality and it looks great. (i suspect it may have been a problem with not deleting old renders, but i'm still conducting an investigation...)
hope this helps.
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Old February 12th, 2008, 04:36 AM   #12
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Shooting with XHA1 in HD - means recording HDV. HDV is mpg2 with the some data stream as in DV. Four time more pixels in HDV with identical data stream!
HDV has significant more compression as DV and 4:2:0 colorspace. Only resolution is better by HDV than in DV - but resolution get lost, when converting back to SD.
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Old February 19th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #13
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HDV all the way

I recently shot a project in which the client wanted SD (720x480 with 0.9 PAR) deliverables, so I tried this experiment and I found that the stuff shot in HDV looks so much better than the footage shot in SD (DV codec) that I was embarrassed to give them the SD stuff. I've always thought that DV had a "soft" look to it, but this more or less confirmed it for me. I edit in Premiere Pro CS3 and I took the HDV video (shot using the 4:3 aspect guides) into an SD Timeline and zoomed out on the footage so it fit vertically into my frame. I then rendered the timeline twice: Once using the DV AVI Codec and once using Quicktime H.264. The Quicktime stuff delivered smaller files that looked MUCH MUCH sharper. I wish I'd shot the entire thing in HDV now since the stuff I shot in DV still has that characteristic softness to it that seems to be introduced by the DV Codec. My client went as far as to ask me if I'd been properly focused on the DV stuff. Anyone else care to weigh in on this phenomenon?
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Old February 20th, 2008, 08:54 AM   #14
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What kind of DV AVI codec? There can be extremally differences in rendering quality.
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Old February 20th, 2008, 09:28 AM   #15
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Not sure on too many details. It's whichever codec is used when you go to Export>Make Movie and Choose "DV AVI" as your template in Premiere CS3. It's been a couple of weeks since I did it.
Follow up: The DV footage straight from the tapes had the same soft look, so it would also seem to be present in the DV Codec used In-Camera. It's not that it looks "blurry," per se, it just looks soft, which is a common characteristic of DV Camcorders in my experience. I can try to post some screenshots if someone would like to see them, though I'm not sure quite how to do that (I'm pretty new here).
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Last edited by Alex Chamberlain; February 20th, 2008 at 11:48 AM.
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