Is firewire DtoD from XL-H1 worth it? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > External Video Recording Solutions > External Recording Various Topics


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 9th, 2007, 08:21 AM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles, CA & London, England
Posts: 12
Is firewire DtoD from XL-H1 worth it?

I have a dilemma, I'm just starting out on the rocky road of indie film production, and think I have managed to tackle most of the pitfalls in terminology and standards so far.

I've purchased the first piece of kit on the way down what looks like it's going to becoming an extremely expensive path (the XL-H1), but am now looking at the best way of actually capturing footage on it.

Initially I was just going to use with HDV tapes, then I discovered the FireStore FS-C which sounded superb. Then I got to thinking (always a foolish move), that the FireStore was effectively just a firewire capture device, and for the price, surely I could just get a decent tablet pc with a firewire 400 (or 800 expansion card) and use it as a full capture and field monitor device (using Adobe OnLocation CS3). Now I've been investigating HD-SDI capture solutions, and quite frankly I no longer know up from down or right from left.

So, to the question. For a beginning indie filmer, is the firewire output (MPEG-2 stream I believe) from the XL-H1 acceptable quality? I know it's going to be uncompressed and then recompressed in whatever post software I use, and that's going to introduce more artifacts, but is it actually that bad?

My alternative is to investigate getting a Magma ExpressBox and using that to house an HD-SDI card going straight to the laptop/tablet. But that adds on some serious extra cost and performance concerns.

If I'm capturing to a laptop then it would be a 160Gb 7200RPM drive with 4Gb of RAM and a 64bit Os so I doubt I'd hit any major performance issues, but you never know.

Anyway, I know it's a bit of a "how long is a piece of string" question, but any pointers or direction from those that know or have already done the maths would be extremely appreciated. I've searched through these forums and read countless threads, but all the ones on this subject seem to be a few years old.

Thanks for all and any help

Seri

Last edited by Seri Al-Najjar; July 9th, 2007 at 11:26 AM.
Seri Al-Najjar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 9th, 2007, 11:57 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seri Al-Najjar View Post
...Initially I was just going to use with HDV tapes, then I discovered the FireStore FS-C which sounded superb. ...I could just get a decent tablet pc with a firewire 400 (or 800 expansion card) and use it as a full capture and field monitor device (using Adobe OnLocation CS3). Now I've been investigating HD-SDI capture solutions, and quite frankly I no longer no up from down or right from left...
First, the decision to record direct to hard disk is typically made for efficiency of post workflow, not quality.

Tape, Firestore, or OnLocation will all get you the exact same quality.

Tape pros: It's a relatively cheap way to store several days worth of shoots. It's the same quality as firewire capture. Semi-permanent archive.

Tape cons: Later transfers into the computer are done in real-time. Tape may very occasionally have dropouts, losing a half-second of content when they occur (HDV).

Firestore pros: Small enough to stick on the camera, especially for tripod work. Outstanding post workflow - transfers into the computer go fast. It's the same quality as tape, but without dropouts.

Firestore cons: More weight on a handheld camera. Another battery system to futz with, keep charged, etc. Fragility of firewire 4-pin connectors (6-pin is quite a bit better). Possibility of expensive repairs to blown firewire port if a few simple procedures aren't followed by you or someone else. Where will you put your on-camera light - microphone - other accessory now that the firestore is in the hot shoe? A limited number of hours you can shoot before transfer.

OnLocation pros: Get a fairly decent HD reference monitor. Get a waveform monitor. Get capture to a hard disk, you're ready to edit, no transfers at all. Same quality as tape but no dropouts. Shoot multiple hours straight, as long as you have disk space.

OnLocation cons: Now you need to juggle a laptop/tablet! Where does it go? Pretty expensive if you drop it. Fragility of firewire connections, blown ports as above. Is it actually shipping (August?) Need a large internal hard disk of at least 5400rpm, (13GB/hr for HDV), or an external disk that probably needs to be AC-powered... and juggle it, too. Do you know how to read a waveform monitor?

I'm a huge fan of DVRack, the predecessor to OnLocation. I use it primarily as a monitor and waveform monitor - HD recording is a bonus. I've got a setup to strap a laptop to a tripod like this http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Platform.html but with a superclamp to get it onto the tripod. This setup comes out a lot for studio work, or other controlled environments that I'll be in for a while.

For field work, I mostly record to tape. Learn to use the zebras and you lessen your need for a waveform monitor. (Does your camera have a histogram function? I'm loving it on the Sony HVR-V1!)

Someday I may spring for a firestore, or the sony equivalent - if I do, it will be for workflow efficiency reasons.

HD-SDI is gonna' cost you. If you don't know that you definitely need that quality for something you're doing, I'd leave it alone until you're further along and able to evaluate it. Likely, this too would be in a studio/controlled shoot solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seri Al-Najjar View Post
...So, to the question. For a beginning indie filmer, is the firewire output (MPEG-2 stream I believe) from the XL-H1 acceptable quality? I know it's going to be uncompressed and then recompressed in whatever post software I use, and that's going to introduce more artifacts, but is it actually that bad?
Yes, HDV is acceptable quality. You should start with tape or firewire HDV. The quality holds up to get you into the editor. Compression after that point in the workflow is a matter of what you'll need to do for distribution, which is a constant no matter how you acquire your video.

You're fortunate to start with such a good camera. Learn to light, shoot, and get good sound and you'll be able to get fine quality with it. Put it on auto-everthing, don't light, use the on-camera mic and sometimes the quality will be acceptable, sometimes not.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 9th, 2007, 12:50 PM   #3
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Los Angeles, CA & London, England
Posts: 12
Thank you

Wow, thank you Seth, for such concise, informative, structured and well reasoned answers to pretty much all the questions I asked.

I am glad I waited until I could spring for the XL-H1, I've spent the last month and a half with it setup in manual everything, just learning my way around the beauty. My only gripe, which seems to affect all DV cameras, is the large depth of field, but that's correctable in post with a lot of time and effort in after effects/premiere.

After reading through your responses, I think I'm still going to go the tablet/laptop PC route and simply double bag the recording to both tape and disk. The FireStore looks very nice, but seems to be too much of a one trick pony for the cash. Especially when you add in the additional batteries and such.

So I'll be leaving SDI until I win my first SunDance award ;) and until then investing my time and hard earned cash in a decent audio mic.

Oh, and no, unfortunately, no stereo gram function on the XL-H1, which I'm already missing, I use it a heck of a lot on my dSLR and really rely on it without having a decent light meter.

Thanks ever so much again.

Seri
Seri Al-Najjar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 9th, 2007, 02:43 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Good luck!

I was just on Adobe.com, OnLocation is shipping (as part of Premiere), and, there's a trial version download.

The reference monitor and waveform are great for benchmarking camera operation, as well. I've been very happy with DVRack.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > External Video Recording Solutions > External Recording Various Topics

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:41 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network