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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 18th, 2007, 02:53 PM   #1
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Capture Quality of A1

Sorry if this seems innappropriate for this board, but, I've got Premiere Pro 2.0 and an A1.

Basically, I'm shooting in SD at the moment, and I'm wondering how to retain the highest possible image quality from camera to pc. Now, At the moment, it looks good, but it is nothing compared to plugging the camera into the TV and watching it on that.

So, my question is; is quality loss inevitable in transfer? Or is my set-up affecting it, i.e is PP2.0 bad for capturing video (would somthing like Avid or Vegas capture in higher quality?)

Or is it my firewire cable? Would a more expensive one make it better?

Any advice would be much appreciated...

Best all,

Giles B
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Old March 18th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #2
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Yes. Capture with Sony Vegas and the default NTSC DV codec. It is the best out there. You won't see any loss of quality from the source tape.
It's not the cable.

How is the SD quality of the A1? That's what I'm trying to find out.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 05:09 AM   #3
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If you shot the footage in SD, then the capture process to the PC simply copies the data from the tape to your PC. There is no recompression, and absolutely zero loss of quality, no matter whether you are using Vegas, Premiere or any other other editing program (as long as you stay in the DV format). By the same manner, the firewire cable dosn't make any difference.

Whatever perceived loss of quality you experience is likely due to the way your PC is displaying the image. Remember that the image in your editing window is only an approximation of the real image, really just a glorified thumbnail. If you look at the .AVI file in a something like Windows Media Player, you will get a better idea of the real quality of the footage. If you output the edited footage back to tape, then play the tape in your camcorder connected to a monitor, it will look exactly the same as the raw footage you viewed earlier.

If you do want to view the final product regularly on your computer screen, you will likely have to tweak the brightness and colors a bit, as computer LCD screens will display video very differently from a television. Good luck and happy shooting!
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Old March 19th, 2007, 12:26 PM   #4
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Ok good stuff, cheers for the info. So what happens if I shoot in HD? Is that captured by a different method?
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Old March 19th, 2007, 01:19 PM   #5
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Different NLEs use different codecs, so things can vary.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 01:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
Different NLEs use different codecs, so things can vary.
C'mon, Bill - unless you want to use some special codec (eg. an intermediate AVI), a captured file is an exact, 1:1 copy of the original.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 06:49 PM   #7
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I'm not a tech expert on this stuff, but my understanding is that during capture the unaltered DV data stream is "wrapped" in an AVI file format. I think (not sure) that most major NLEs now use the Microsoft DV codec for capture to ensure compatibility of the captured file, then in the case of PPro I think during edit it uses the MainConcept codec. Thereafter, playback, editing, and rendering for export may vary slightly in quality depending on the codec used to render the new, edited digital video stream. So there's little to be concerned about with capture, but for the purists, the subtle differences from one codec to another may become visible after complex editing and rendering...and each generation of rendering will reduce quality in any lossy codec (rounding errors and all that). FWIW, in the "old days" six or seven years ago when my state of the art PC had trouble doing miniDV, I used a Canopus Raptor card (and the Canopus DV codec) to capture and edit. Now I don't bother...firewire straight into PPro. I wouldn't consider myself a "purist" but it wouldn't take much of a quality issue for me to get a burr in my saddle and PPro 2 captures DV just fine.

For HDV, it'll be much the same. In the case of PPro, it natively captures the mpeg data stream and appends an *.mpg extension. No loss of quality until later in the process...transcoding, editing, compositing, rendering. That's where intermediate codecs come in; HDV is very highly compressed using GOP's and by once going to a good quality, less compressed intraframe AVI codec you can play digital magic with neglible loss with lots of filters, effects, and renders.

That's kind of a layman's paraphrase, but Giles, don't worry about it. Capture the original footage, which will then always be available just as you shot it, and have fun editing!
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Old March 20th, 2007, 01:12 AM   #8
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If you're talking about viewing it thorugh PPro's preview window, check to make sure that your preview quality is at "high" setting, and not "draft" or "automatic". Also, your window size should be 100% to avoid any scaling artifacts/ fuzziness. Once you're assured of the quality, you can change it back to get the best realtime playback.

HTH,
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Old March 20th, 2007, 02:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giles Buchanan View Post
Sorry if this seems innappropriate for this board, but, I've got Premiere Pro 2.0 and an A1.

Basically, I'm shooting in SD at the moment, and I'm wondering how to retain the highest possible image quality from camera to pc. Now, At the moment, it looks good, but it is nothing compared to plugging the camera into the TV and watching it on that.

Giles B
It is worth checking the specs on your video card. I am doing HDV but a card upgrade dramatically improved playback performance for me in PP2. Monitor calibration with a spyder or such will also put your monitor in the ballpark.
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