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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 March 26th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #1
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Which way yields better results?

The goal is to get the best quality SD footage possible.

1) Should I:

Shoot in HD and downconvert to SD internally (no software used) or:

Just film in plain SD.

2) Which XH-A1 presets (custom or otherwise) closely matches the warmth and "magenta pull" which the Canon GL-2 generates as I will be using those 2 models together? have any of you tried to color match these?

3) If I shoot in HD & downconvert to SD is there any way I can tell how much will be cropped/loss in the process? Is tehre some sort of a guide/safe area that displays on the screen so one can plan/frame their shots accordingly?

Thanks for your help!

Bruce
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Old March 26th, 2010, 08:37 AM   #2
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I should of also asked

In your opinion and experience,

Should/Would the quality of the SD footage obtained from an XH-A1 as directly compared to the GL-2, be appreciably & significantly better and if so why?

Thicker glass, better lens, etc?

Thanks!
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Old March 31st, 2010, 02:55 AM   #3
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1) shoot in HD and downconvert. My XH-A1 footage looks better, but that is likely to be (at least in part) because I was using the GL2 in auto-everything mode. I certainly didn't appreciate just how unsharp the lenses can be when closed down in sunny conditions - until I got the XH-A1 which is so much easier to use in manual or semi-automatic modes.

2) don't know, haven't tried.

3) down-converting reduces the size of the whole frame, so you get pretty much what you see in the viewfinder.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 07:06 AM   #4
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I know you haven't asked about the audio but if you are recording straight in to the camera the audio in Standard Def should better quality, at least in theory.

Another possible reason you might prefer to go with standard def is if you are at all troubled with dropouts when filming HD, this is very much less likely to happen when shooting SD.
I often film SD widescreen so that I can use cheaper tapes with confidence, but I'm a miserable mean Scotsman.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:29 AM   #5
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Firstly, save yourself a lot of headaches, and decide whether you want to shoot progressive 30p, or interlaced 60i...

If progressive, then downscaling is not a real big issue. It simply resizes full frames, and then the look will be determined in post.
If interlaced, then it's a bit more work. You need to properly deinterlace, and then resize. It's an extra step, but worth it for fast motion scenes. There are many threads on the subject, so enjoy the reading..

As far as progressive vs. interlaced, that's a personal call.
As far as loosing on crops, it's not an issue..You're simply working with 16:9, and downscaling to 16:9..

Good luck!!!
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:38 AM   #6
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Thanks all for participating in this query.

It's been very informative and helpful.

I concur that the XH-A1's audio is vastly superior to the GL-2's.

I now have enough ammunition, hopefully, to convince others in the church AV group I work with that it wouldn't be a disaster to to try the downconvert option and see what happens.

The trio of replies nailed down the answer and things to consider.

Thanks again!
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Old March 31st, 2010, 01:06 PM   #7
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I assume you're wanting to go from 16:9 to 4:3 crop - The XHA1 has guides for different aspect ratios that place a small white box over the cropped area.

I would recommend mixing these two cameras to a final aspect ratio of 4:3. From past experience, the quality of GL2 16:9 is simply garbage compared to the XHA1, I would even call it distracting. Keep the GL2 in the aspect it was made for, 4:3.

If you find one camera to be considerably sharper than the other in the final edit, you could always apply a minimal amount of blur filter to the better looking footage to "dumb it down" to match. Really a personal call on that one.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 01:42 PM   #8
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Nate,

Thanks for another key tip.

I had a pair of XH-A1's in the fall of 2007 but could not afford to keep them.

Last week for the first time since then, my local cable access tv station let me borrow one of theirs for a shoot so it's been a long time since I used a machine with this depth of sophistication. It appears that this unit is now out of production.

Copied and pasted from your reply:

"The XHA1 has guides for different aspect ratios that place a small white box over the cropped area."

Is it "safe" to state that what you were referring too occurs live while shooting?

So, when I shoot live in HD, "the small white box' will appear in the LCD screen so I then know how to best frame my shots?

Would you please care to amplify/clarify that statement so I can understand it?

Thanks
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Old March 31st, 2010, 08:36 PM   #9
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Apologies for the jumbled reply, sometimes that happens...

You can turn on guides to appear as overlays on the LCD when live shooting. The guides are not recorded to tape. As far as I remember, I don't have my camera with me, you can turn on the guides from the "display" menu option when in camera mode.

So yes, you are correct in your assumption. You can use the guides when recording the full 16:9 frame to know how to best frame the shot when planning to crop later In post.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 01:32 AM   #10
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Always shoot in HD even though you are outputing SD only. You can always convert HD to SD but not the other way around.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 11:25 PM   #11
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If you have an HD camera I would certainly shoot in HD. I have had my XHA1 for just about a year and I have never even used the SD setting. I shoot in hd, pull the footage into my timeline and export to dvd. The quality is amazing.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 09:16 AM   #12
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In general, higher quality video can be achieved by shooting in HD and downconverting to SD using video software. BUT, not all downscaling algorithms are created equal. I have found that downscaling in-camera using "HD down-convert" is one of the lower quality methods. In fact, just shooting in SD to begin with looks much sharper than down-converting in-camera during capture. Most NLE's (non linear editing software) do an O.K. job of downscaling. The best method of downscaling I have come across is using Dan Isaacs' HD2SD. Dan's method uses only free and open source software. Here is a HD2SD video tutorial created by Independent Videographer, Jeff Bellune.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 04:44 PM   #13
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I've heard people speak of thrid party software to down convert. I simply export my hd footage to dvd and it looks amazing. I'm not sure I understand the need for third party software? Even if your creating a file, while not just export as an mpeg2?

Last edited by Kevin Lewis; April 3rd, 2010 at 06:11 PM.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 06:57 PM   #14
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Mitch, your reply and video tutorial reccomendation contained therein looks to be brillant! Thanks so much. My Prem Pro software tops out at CS3 and I suspect that if I had CS 4 there would be more opportunity and export options. One of the thrusts of this post is that most of the cameras are GL-2's and/or shoot only in DV, the XH-A1 is the only cam I have access too that shoots also in high def which I used again today. Since my entire editing experience and most of my shooting experience has been in SD & on an SD timeline, I don't want to mix and match both SD and HD footage on the same timeline and potentially come up with bad results. Maybe that last statement opened up a can of worms. Anyhow, I want to use the A1 to yield the best quslity SD footage whichever method and workflow is utilized. All options are open. Am surprised that the internal downconvert feature is proported to be inferior to software options. I'd like to hear more feedback and personal views on that and what you experts can achieve with Premiere Pro CS 2 or 3.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #15
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A word of warning: not sure whether any of the posters have much experience shooting SD on the A1 but I found it to pretty awful and far worse quality than the Canon XM2 I used to use and I tried very careful and precise adjustments to a custom preset to get the best possible image and failed. Excellent quality in HDV of course and by careful use of Compressor, the conversion to SD is very good and far better than shooting in SD.
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