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Convergent Design Odyssey
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Old June 25th, 2008, 06:47 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mike Schell View Post
Hi Ofer-
You will definitely get the full 1920x1080 4:2:2 via the conversion from HDMI to HD-SDI (which is a totally lossless step). But, just to be clear this is an 8-bit path not 10-bit. I have yet to see a 10-bit signal out the HDMI port from any camera.

Otherwise, you should get beautiful video quality. We actually use a Canon HV20 connected to a nanoConnect as our video feed for most of our Flash XDR tests in the lab. The video quality is astounding from this little $800 camera, especially when we crank up the bit-rate to 50/100 Mbps level.
Thanks for your reply Mike !
I am going to place the pre-order and the deposit in a few days. Can't wait to put my hands on what looks like wonderful device !
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Ofer Levy
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http://www.oferlevyphotography.com
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Old June 25th, 2008, 08:54 AM   #17
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With this adapter - will I get 1920x1080, 4:2:2 10 Bit and the rest of the upgrading in signal quality?
It's worth noting that whilst the EX1 chips are about 2 Megapixel each(1920x1080) those of the Z7 are half that - about 1 Megapixel - hence the camera won't (can't) give full 1920x1080 resolution, even if it outputs a 1920x1080 signal. I wouldn't expect to see a resolution improvement when using the XDR over the cameras native abilities.

What XDR recording WILL undoubtably give is improved colour space, and much lower compression.

I see it being very worthwhile (with a Z7) for those factors alone.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 12:20 PM   #18
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It's worth noting that whilst the EX1 chips are about 2 Megapixel each(1920x1080) those of the Z7 are half that - about 1 Megapixel - hence the camera won't (can't) give full 1920x1080 resolution, even if it outputs a 1920x1080 signal. I wouldn't expect to see a resolution improvement when using the XDR over the cameras native abilities.

What XDR recording WILL undoubtably give is improved colour space, and much lower compression.

I see it being very worthwhile (with a Z7) for those factors alone.
Hi David-
Thanks for this additional clarification. You are absolutely correct, you will not see any improvement in the horizontal resolution as the camera will upsample from 1440 to 1920 before sending out the HDMI port.

It is worth noting that we do see this improved picture quality and color space when capturing video from the Canon XL-H1 which is also limited to 1440x1080 sensors. The 50/100 Mbps 4:2:2 video is head and shoulders above the native HDV.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 04:09 PM   #19
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It is worth noting that we do see this improved picture quality and color space when capturing video from the Canon XL-H1 which is also limited to 1440x1080 sensors. The 50/100 Mbps 4:2:2 video is head and shoulders above the native HDV.
That's what I like to hear Mike! My biggest headache is how to get rid of the bad degration in motion that I get when using the HDV-compression. Hopefully this unit will be in a reliable quality for tough wildlife use!?
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Old June 25th, 2008, 04:26 PM   #20
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That's what I like to hear Mike! My biggest headache is how to get rid of the bad degration in motion that I get when using the HDV-compression. Hopefully this unit will be in a reliable quality for tough wildlife use!?
Hi Per Johan-
I have been absolutely amazed at the quality from this Sony CODEC. This is their 7th generation part and they truly did a stunning job designing this part. It has very low-power (around 3W in 4:2:2 mode), small size and superb video quality. It's the same CODEC as inside the PDW-700 camera, we just cranked up the bit-rate from 50 to 100 Mbps.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 05:32 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Mike Schell View Post
It's the same CODEC as inside the PDW-700 camera, we just cranked up the bit-rate from 50 to 100 Mbps.
Folks, one thing that's very exciting about the Flash XDR and its upcoming little brother is that Convergent Design is basically leap-frogging the slow incremental progression of Sony and giving us the "end game" of what these MPEG chips can do.

Think about it... Sony, in the PDW-700, is basically selling the smallest fraction upgrade from their 35 Mb/sec current standard that they can get away with at 50 Mb/sec.

How many generations of new cameras will Sony take to give us the full 100 Mb/sec or 160 Mb/sec I frame only that the Flash XDR instantly delivers? My bet is that they try to pass off a new 75 Mb/sec camera before unleasing 100 Mb/sec. Their history with camera bandwidth upgrades supports this (25 Mb/sec to 35 Mb/sec and now 50Mb/sec)

With the XDR/nano you can basically see into Sony's future at least two generations and take advantage of that potential today with the EX1/EX3.

It's not just the prosumer cameras that can profit. Yesterday I was chatting with a fellow who works with an F900 CineAlta with the 4:2:2 back option. Running that output into the XDR is better quality by far than the native recorded 3:1:1 HDCam signal on tape. Previously, the only way to utilize that full 4:2:2 1920 by 1080 from his camera was either to digitize into a land-locked NLE system, the AJA IO box converting to ProRez, or using one channel of the HDCam SR deck... nanoFlash will be a far less expensive option than any of those previous choices.

Interesting times...

Regards,

Jim Arthurs
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Old June 26th, 2008, 04:05 AM   #22
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Folks, one thing that's very exciting about the Flash XDR and its upcoming little brother is that Convergent Design is basically leap-frogging the slow incremental progression of Sony and giving us the "end game" of what these MPEG chips can do.

.............How many generations of new cameras will Sony take to give us the full 100 Mb/sec or 160 Mb/sec I frame only that the Flash XDR instantly delivers? My bet is that they try to pass off a new 75 Mb/sec camera before unleasing 100 Mb/sec.
You raise a very interesting and valid point, Jim. If the chips can deliver 100, 160Mbs MPEG2, why aren't Sony enabling it themselves?

I think it's worth remembering that the PDW700 is primarily an optical disc camera, though an addon SxS unit was announced for it. As such, the data rate is limited by the write speed to the disc, rather than the coder chip, so any implementation of higher bitrate mode would have to be to SxS only.

Sony have stated for a long time that they believe solid state will become more important as time goes by, but the consumable nature of XDCAM disc is more appealing to many users at the moment. When the solid state/disc scales finally come down in overall favour of the former, that's when I think we'll see a "solid state PDW700" and likely with the option of higher than 50Mbs bitrates.

In the meantime, the 50Mbs mode seems to be getting some pretty good reports, and broadcasters seem to be approving it for unrestricted HD acquisition.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #23
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You raise a very interesting and valid point, Jim. If the chips can deliver 100, 160Mbs MPEG2, why aren't Sony enabling it themselves?

I think it's worth remembering that the PDW700 is primarily an optical disc camera, though an addon SxS unit was announced for it. As such, the data rate is limited by the write speed to the disc, rather than the coder chip, so any implementation of higher bitrate mode would have to be to SxS only.
Hi David, just jumping around all over Sony's product line, and I don't mean to flame them specifically for this. All the big guys milk existing tech and provide features at a slower than possible rate accessed by new "B" models or basically new models that are just firmware upgrades and/or a few extra user buttons. Think about how much mileage Panasonic is getting out of pixel shifting SD chips and limiting access to their top of the line full raster codec, etc.

I'm just excited to have access to the maximum that the latest generation of mpeg chips can do, and have it today with my existing EX1!

Reframing my point to just the top of the line prosumer models, the EX1/EX3. and what will follow.. I imagine the next model introduced at NAB will provide 50 Mb/sec 4:2:2 data rate (basically the same level of compression as the 35Mb/sec EX1, just at 4:2:2 instead of 4:2:0), but I'd bet a good chunk of money that it won't be higher than that even though the chips could do it. I think we're two iterations out from the EX1 before we see Sony take full advantage of their already existing option of 100 Mb/sec in the top of the line prosumer camera.

Of course the "head end" sensor and lens package will be more advanced on this "future" cameras, but I'm just focusing on the recorded data rate and compression because that's the area that Convergent Design is addressing...

Just my 2 cent's worth...

Jim Arthurs
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Old June 26th, 2008, 10:21 AM   #24
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50 mbits/s is not a bad format at all. In fact I could see a lot of people using that format even on the XDR. One of the main reasons why using 50 mbits/s is important is record time. You can get a lot more video onto a card which means less card swapping and less money invested in cards. 50 mbits/s 4:2:2 is a very capable format and 100 mbits/s is only a few percentage points better in quality. SONY picked 50 mbits/s because it was the perfect middle ground between high quality and storage space. The way mpeg2 works the higher you go in bitrate the less important it really is. 40mbits/s to 50 mbits/s might be a noticeable jump in quality but going from 50 mbits to 60 mbits wouldn't be as noticeable. The higher you get the less you will actually notice a change in quality. 100 mbits/s is great because it is virtually perfect but for 95% of shooting situations it would be total overkill. People want to be able to record lots of video per dollar and one of Sony's claims to fame is that you can get better then DVCPROHD quality at half the bitrate which equals much more record time. If Sony did use 100 mbits then they would no longer have that advantage over Panasonic. Trust me you will find 50 mbits/s to be a very solid format.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 10:41 AM   #25
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Dear Thomas,

I agree completely.

Our testing has shown the 4:2:2 50 Mb format to be very good and very close to 4:2:2 100 Mb.

I also think that for many applications the 50 Mb format will be widely used for the reasons you mentioned.

For the most demanding of shoots, I would consider the 100 Mb or the full uncompressed in very special cases. It is much easier to work with 50 Mb or 100 Mb data, as you are well aware, but for high dollar productions, some will want full uncompressed.

Personnally, I feel that it will be very interesing to see how many adopt the 50 Mb and 100 MB options over the full uncompressed.

I wonder if some full uncompressed users will test the 50 Mb and 100 and find these options very desirable. Time will tell.

I like the fact that we can now choose the bit rate, in one piece of gear, for the task at hand. Full uncompressed may be just what is needed for one shoot, but the next may be better suited by 50 Mb.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 10:45 AM   #26
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Nothing wrong with 50 Mb/sec, but the compression (macroblocking) is visually the same as the 35 Mb/sec flavor, that extra 15 Mb/sec just gives you the advantage of the better 4:2:2 color space. Which gives you an overall better picture, no argument there.

However, I would disagree about the marginal gains going from 50 Mb/sec to 100 Mb/sec. When you kick it up to 100 Mb/sec the macroblocking all but vanishes compared to 50 Mb/sec . The 160 Mb/sec I frame version has about the same compression quality as 100 Mb/sec, the value for your data rate is that each frame is unique.

I tend to always look at this stuff from the end game of "how good will it key?". My apologies, as I'm always coming from that point of view and there are always equally valid concerns for different scenerios.

The great thing is that these products will give you a choice, based on your scene requirements; day to day shooting at 50 Mb/sec, 100 Mb/sec long GOP for critical work and 160 Mb/sec if you're concerned about motion artifacts on a particular subject. And, down the road, uncompressed on the XDR for those situations when none of the above will work for you.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 11:30 AM   #27
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Hi David, just jumping around all over Sony's product line, and I don't mean to flame them specifically for this. All the big guys milk existing tech and provide features at a slower than possible rate ..........
I didn't read it as a flame, Jim, but just wanted to remind everybody that there is a technical reason for not going above 50Mbs on the 700 - the speed of optical disc. My take is that Sony think that consumable media is more important in this market sector at the moment than absolute quality (and they will sell you top end HDCAM SR, of course) and I'm inclined to think they're right.

Of course, there's no reason (??) why higher than 35Mbs couldn't be provided on the EX series, and I guess that is where marketing does come in - they couldn't be seen to have any higher spec than more upmarket disc models.

I fully agree with all that has been said about bitrates, though the move to full raster recording (1920x1080) I think as important as 4:2:2. 50Mbs is likely to be more than adequate the vast majority of the time, but as Jim says, the great thing is to have the choice.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 03:45 PM   #28
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Flash Memory Prices will likely continue to drop

I certainly agree that the 50 Mbps 4:2:2 looks great and I can say that the majority of our customers who plan to use XDR / nano in TV production work are planning to use this data-rate. But we still do see some improvement as you go up to 100 Mbps, but is is substantially less than the jump from 35 to 50.

Keep in ming that this is a constantly changing equation as the price of solid-state NAND Flash memory will continue to drop. I get a bimonthly report on DRAM and Flash memory chip prices. With rare exception, the prices are always down 1-2% over the previous report. I also know that Samsung is in full production on their 64 Gb Flash chips, which means that 64GB CF card can't be too far behind.

Looking out further, NAND Flash density and a prices are expected to make further drops with the advent of SSD (Solid State Drives) and ever increasing sales of iPhones, iPods, and cell phones in general. The good news is that we will ride this wave with low-cost Compact Flash memory, already 1/10 the price of other solid-state media.

So, in the not too distant future, we may not worry about bit-rate issues for acquisition as the memory capacity and cost will be so low, that we will always shoot at the highest compressed data-rate.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #29
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I also know that Samsung is in full production on their 64 Gb Flash chips, which means that 64GB CF card can't be too far behind.
Different people have different needs, but what some are waiting for are cheap, smaller, single cards, able to contain a reasonable amount of video. I'd say 30 minutes was a reasonable figure.

At 50Mbs that equates to 16GB cards, and I agree that in the Compact Flash form they should be comparable in cost to a 30 minute tape in not too many years. When that happens, solid state won't mean harddrives, laptops, and a transfer process at the end of a shoot - the cards will just be given to client in the way tapes are today.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 04:57 PM   #30
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Dear David,

I just did a rough calculation.

1080i60 at 50Mb yields a little over 30 minutes of footage using one 16GB CompactFlash card. (I calculate 35 minutes, but I am trying to be conservative.)

A Transcend 133x 16GB CompactFlash card is now available, including shipping for $72.00.

A 8 GB card costs $34.00 (over 15 minutes of footage).

It will be interesting how this plays out in a year or two.
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