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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.

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Old August 4th, 2006, 07:48 AM   #1
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The Pudding

I've sat here for awhile now, quietly listening to all the HD discussion, a bit removed as I didn't see myself wanting (or able) to put down the price of membership in your little club. But fortune called, so to speak, and I received my shiny (actually I guess she's a sandblasted matte) new girl yesterday, and took her out for a spin to see if she was everything you guys said she was.

She's more. You see, the image I saw displayed on my 34" Wega (Tube) HDTV last night was nothing like the material I've seen here on the web that you've all so kindly shared. In truth, it was far superior to all of that and to the 20" Sony HD lcd set that I used to demo the camera down at Samy's Camera before I bought. The image I saw last night was better than anything I've seen from a camera that I could actually own. Unbelievably detailed, colorful in the most natural way I can describe, with nary a hint of some of the defects I've spotted on the footage posted here.

So this got me thinking about how my camera could be so much better than all of yours, and then I started thinking about pudding, as in "the proof is in the...." I work in print graphics, where a proof is supposed to be a reference print used by printers to guide their color on press. Theoretically it's supposed to be an ideal graphic representation of what could be achieved by a given digital file on a given press.

For now, my proof, with this video camera, is going to be my home HD set, certainly not my computer monitor, because I know as soon as I start capturing to my mac at work, that I'll be seeing an image that is just not the same (or as good). I wonder how many of you have had this same experience. I also wonder how many haven't.

We all know that the variability of output devices has always affected video to a great extent, but at least for me, now, it seems that HD makes this issue more acute. (I never thought that my DV footage looked bad at native resolution on my computer monitor as the defects were not so easily seen). Today I hope to run some of my footage into a Canon Realis projector, in hopes that there was at least some cross polination between the two divisions of our favorite company.

I guess the discussion I want to have is this. How best do we see the footage from our cameras? Where is the reference or ideal? Or better, where is the most likely (and desired) output medium you see your footage ending up. The be all, end all. Is it the home set, or film-out, or compressed web delivery or digital projection or some expensive studio reference monitor or simply all of the above? Do you have any experiences with viewing your footage from the XLH1 on devices that were shining examples, or dismal failures?

Barry Goyette
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Old August 4th, 2006, 08:14 AM   #2
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What you're experiencing is "normal". Computer monitors has inifinitely higher resolution than any NTSC monitor, even HDTV by far. My 30" Apple display is 2560 by 1600 - that's more than double HDTV res at 720p. So any digi-video camera image will look "muddy" and have far less color contrast than even a good Wega SD TV.

If you want a "real" reference of what any cameras output really is, you should be using either a plasma HDTV or, a broadcast-standard NTSC color reference monitor.

If however your video projects were going to be transferred to film, then using an LCD would look more like film when projected on a screen from a color perspective, not resolution.

Simply put, you can't use any LCD-based monitor as a real video reference, you need an NTSC standard monitor - tube or plasma.
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Old August 4th, 2006, 08:58 AM   #3
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There was a recent thread "Bad Lense[sic]?" in which the battle was extensively joined on a related theme. If you didn't follow that one you might want to have a look (it's still on this page). My feelings, expressed there, are that this is a TV camera, not a movie camera, and that as such it uses the technologies upon which TV is based in particular that the color bandwidth is at most half (SDI) if not a quarter (HDV) of the luma bandwidth and that, therefore, if one looks at the images while sitting close enough to see individual pixels on a display which is good enough to resolve individual pixels one will see colored "artifacts". In that thread these were blamed on chromatic aberration but eventually a clear demonstration that at least some of them were "chroma subsampling" was posted by Lauri Kettunen.

If you look at the images on a TV (including HDTV) at normal TV viewing distance you should not see these artifacts (unless you have visual acuity better than that of the general population). The design of the system (camera, display and everything in between, e.g. codecs) is based on this assumption.

Last edited by A. J. deLange; August 4th, 2006 at 03:36 PM.
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Old August 4th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #4
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Right, if it looks good, it's good - kinda like the duck (you know, if it quacks)...

I see many things that are obvious artifacts in big budget features, but I only notice them if the story is lagging,, keep the audience riveted and it's amazing how all the (little) imperfections seem to go away...
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Old August 4th, 2006, 01:56 PM   #5
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Barry, it's interesting and good to hear you got a good image immediately. That's quite the opposite to my case; had to work a lot with the custom presets to squeeze out what the camera can really do. However, eventually got, and still get occasionally amazed on the footages XL H1 produces.

Recently, I've been thinking that the transition from the expensive Betacam cameras from the beginning of 90's to the HD images of XL H1 is almost unbelievable. Without saying anything of the editing possibilities; In the past the time in any editing studio was so expensive that the coffe breaks tended to be as short as possible. Nowadays, (with Cineform codes) one can do all editing on a PC in real time. Never even dreamed about such things a decade ago.

To answer your question, I produce programs to be viewed on ordinary TVs. Consequently, I set the criterias for the best as how the image appears on a TV screen. And as Steve says, then it's not only about technical quality, but the story itself should be inspiring.

Still remember well your posts when you got the first XL2, and sometimes wondered why you have posted anything about the XL H1. Wellcome to the "club".
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Old August 4th, 2006, 05:12 PM   #6
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When I first viewed my H1 footage on my 26" HD widescreen CRT via the component out jack, I think some saliva drueled out of my mouth. I was awestruck by the image quality. I showed some friends who were equally blown away.

Bear in my though, I took a couple of years off and my last working camera was a Hi8. It was the lack of an affordable 'broadcast quality' camera and affordable editing options that drove me away during the mid 90's.

Now after tinkering with CP settings and such, I'm still in awe.

Even a couple of 5 min pieces I did by downconverting to SD and rendered to DVD looked far superior to what I was expecting to me.
C100, 5DMk2, FCPX
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Old August 4th, 2006, 06:55 PM   #7
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I really have to say that I was quite surprised that the image looked as good as it did on the first go round...I plan to do a controlled shoot to dial things in a bit, but I have to say that if it's going to get even better than this, then I don't know what I was worried about as I stressed out making this decision (between the hvx and xlh1). I'm sure now that other camera is probably just as nice, but I'm happy with camera I got given these very rudimentary findings.

I'm a commercial still photographer by trade, and a few years ago, our industry was revolutionized by the introduction of the 22-megapixel sensor. I had suffered for a couple of years during my transition from film to digital using a 6 mp camera and always feeling like I was shorting my clients with the work I was producing. When the 22mp came out, and I was lucky enough to be able to afford one, it really energized my photography in a way that I would not have expected, all of a sudden I was able to achieve the highest quality image (really, better than film) in every frame.

For those of you who do video for a living then, this time must seem like a similar revolution...the ability to record what you see in such detail and color at a cost like this is truly a gift from the technology gods.

I think one of the things that spurred my post was seeing "Miami Vice" while I was waiting for my XLH1 to arrive. I'm cool with all the chromatic aberration and video-ey halos, (I'm the first one to defend the "video aesthethic" in a film like this...after was a TV series) but there were more than a few moments in the film that left me shaking my head. At times that it looked like simply a really bad print. So I'm thinking...if this is the best the Mr. Mann can do with Hi this film transfer thing such a good idea? So I was curious how you all plan to show the world your stuff. For me, for now... it will probably be in my living room, over a little take-out thai food and a nice bottle of wine.

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Old August 5th, 2006, 04:18 AM   #8
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Correction of pudding artifacts

A.J's reply inspired to do some further studies on the correction of color subsampling. And, indeed, there are tools alvailable to correct the small artifacts of XL H1 if they are found disturbing.

In the new Photoshop CS2 there are tools to adjust color fringing. The online manual explains:

Fix Red/Cyan Fringe Adjusts the size of the red channel relative to the green channel. This compensates for red/cyan color fringing

Fix Blue/Yellow Fringe Adjusts the size of the blue channel relative to the green channel. This compensates for blue/yellow color fringing

So, I exported couple footages from PPro2.0 to tif files and created a droplet which corrects automatically the color fringing parameters of every frame, and then imported the footage back to PPro2.0.

Here's couple examples of the frames. The original files are owl.tif
(notice the magenta line on the right bottom corner) spo...oodpeckers.tif
(notice the edges of the pines on the left and right)

and the modified files are owl-corrected.tif spo...-corrected.tif

Apparently, it takes an effor to export files to Photoshop and then import back to Premiere, but the idea is just to demonstrate that such artifacts can be removed in post at will. Furthermore, likely, it's just a question of time somebody creates such a filter to Premiere and other editing systems. The crucial thing is first to understand what is going on, and thanks to A.J, one part of the XL H1 puzzle is now more clear.
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Old August 5th, 2006, 07:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Barry Goyette

I'm sure now that other camera is probably just as nice, but I'm happy with camera I got given these very rudimentary findings.


I really don't think if you tried that "other" camera you would have felt the same about it. It is better at some things but I can't help feeling if you had gotten it then watched your initial footage you would have felt "empty" about the image quality. Sure the colors would have been nice and the variable framerates are great. But the feeling of seeing amazingly clear HD from the H1 is different than the HVX.....I know....I had one and got rid of it.

Then the day I tried the H1 I felt the way you felt in the initial post on this thread.

Funny thing is I see my experience with the recent cameras this way.

DVX100= Blew my mind for the era and was "thee" camera from the minute I popped it out of the box. I just knew it had the magic. It was obviously a step up from my 4 year old XL1.

XL2=something missing. Good camera but always had my doubts and felt like I was looking for it. Made me miss my DVX and often pined for it...

HVX: Should have been the DVX on steroids. Instead felt like enhanced definition and noisy. In many ways I compare it to my XL2. Same set of drawbacks....poor low light and noisy.

H1: DVX revisited. I had found "it" again. Blew my mind and blew away all that had come before it. Canon really knocked it out of the park. Highest res and lowest noise IMHO.

I did not have a second thoought about it at all until the Canon XH cameras were announced. Even that is not because I am not happy with the camera. It's just if I could save 5K and still have the same exact image quality...well you know. I digress......

However I am sticking with the H1 for the foreseeable future.

Welcome to the club!

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Old August 5th, 2006, 07:46 AM   #10
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You may find this software helpful as well.

DXO has essentially built precision profiles for each lens to correct a variety of distortions including Chromatic aberration. Unfortunately, like your photoshop technique, it is built for still photography not video. However, DXO's product was in response to a problem that raised it's head in still photography several years ago, as the critical mass of photographers adopted digital cameras and found out their lenses weren't as good as they thought. I see a day when a commercial product like this hits video, probably as part of an NLE filter package.

I've often wondered though, why canon with it's still cameras, doesn't incorporate this technology into its image seems the best and easiest place to do it. Perhaps it will make its way into future versions of its high-end digital slr's and then hopefully it's hi def video line.

also, robert sanders mentioned this software over in the sample clips's design to introduce chromatic aberration, but also has negative settings that might help correct it..I think its for FCP only though, don't know whether it would work in PPRO.

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