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Old July 1st, 2009, 11:47 AM   #1
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Achieving better quality

Ok, last night our show had its national network premier. I noticed that our video quality was not as good as I thought it would be. While it was better than many others, some shows displayed a better resolution than ours. The show is broadcasted in SD, and we shoot with SD cameras. The xl1s is the lowest res we shoot with. My show last night was filmed with a Sony 390L which is FAR better than what almost everyone is shooting with.(outdoors tv) I think I may need to adjust a setting on my editing system.

We are playing the tapes in a Panasonic player into the Mac via Firewire. All editing is done in FCPS2. Once we are done it is recorded back to tape on the panasonic and then sent off for beta conversion. What are some settings I need to look at to make sure everything is coming out in the highest possible resolution? Thanks!
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Old July 1st, 2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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BetaSP or DigiBeta? This can make a difference.

If you are going to DigiBeta, you can try editing in a higher bit-rate codec, DVCPRO50 for example, this is twice the bit rate as regular DV. When you finish, you bring a QuickTime movie to the dub house and get a direct dub via SDI. I've done this often and it works well. This will make a difference if you do a lot of rendering. You can also capture in 8-bit uncompressed or 10-bit but this will require an investment in a capture card and RAID arrays. The files are huge compared to DV25 files. If you are editing on an iMac, you'll have to get a MacPro.

If you are dubbing to BetaSP, DVCPRO50 will help but not much. You might investigate how the dubs are made. Ideally the dub house has a FireWire to Analog Component Video converter. This could be a DVCAM deck or a stand alone device. If not, they should use S-Video at least. In my office I make BetaSP dubs with a Canopus FireWire to Component converter and the dubs look great.
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Old July 1st, 2009, 12:58 PM   #3
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thanks

We are dubbing to beta sp
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Old July 1st, 2009, 02:17 PM   #4
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Shoot HD, shoot RED. Dub to D5, HDCAM or DigiBeta. You get what you put in.

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Old July 2nd, 2009, 08:09 AM   #5
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No HD

At this point HD is not necessary for my projects and I'm not comparing my picture to that of HD cams. I'm just worried that I am not getting out what I have put into my MAC PRO. Perhaps I am not capturing at full quality? Maybe its just in my head....but it seems like I am loosing some quality somewhere. Its subtle, but I can see it.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 10:20 AM   #6
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By laying back to tape, you are going back to DV or DVCam. Dubs from DV to BetaSP don't gain anything.

To get better quality, edit in Uncompressed SD 8 or 10 bit OR ProRes 422 SD and take in a hard drive with your finished program on it for layback OR get an appropriate I/O solution for your Mac and rent a Beta deck for tape output when you need it. There are plenty of options for IO, depending on what Mac you have (Pro or iMac or...): some use FW800, some use ExpressCard, others use internal busses.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 10:21 AM   #7
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As well, the dub house MAY be going from your DV tape to Beta via composite connections. ICK! Find a way to get it onto Beta using component connections. You WILL see the difference, even better than S-Video (which of course is a significant step up from composite).
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 12:45 PM   #8
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You have to step it up from Mini DV and Firewire. If unable to secure some Digibeta cameras at least try and find some DVCAM cameras that have bigger chips. Your only as strong as your weakest link and in this case it is your source material. Cutting in uncompressed is complete overkill honestly. I do uncompressed 10 bit for HDV in our HD online's and it doesn't color correct any better but it breaks the Long GOP.

If you can't break free of Mini DV/DVCAM at least go for the bigger better chipped cameras. That and look into getting a Blackmagic card or Kona card for ingest and monitoring. Teamed with a good deck you will be doing good.

Word to the wise Firewire isn't frame accurate aside from a bandwidth limiter, you sound like you've got some good stuff going for you so don't let this slow you down.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 01:17 PM   #9
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FWIW: The 390L is a 1/2" chip camera and produces reasonable quality for DVCam. Granted, not DSR500 quality but certainly better than PD150/170, XL1 quality.''And investing in DigiBeta at this point is NOT a great idea from a cost recovery perspective. Rent, don't buy, Digi at this point.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 01:44 PM   #10
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Thanks

Thanks for all the tips. Its not that my footage is bad...its just that I think I am loosing a touch of Res somewhere once its on my time line....but it could just be me...

Hmmmmm I thought the 390L was a 2/3 chip camera but your right its a 1/2".
I know I am about ready to let the XL1S go. I'm not satisfied at all with the resolution of that camera. I'm thinking of letting it go and moving to a HD in the $2-3K range. How will my video resolution be on a SD tv broadcast vs the SD cams I am shooting now? I know it wont be hd, but will it be a slight bit sharper? Thanks.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 01:48 PM   #11
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Or it could have nothing to do with your process and completely on how the broadcasting station is broadcasting. They are re-compressing your show before it goes to air. It could also be happening as the closed caption is adding another pass to the process. By going from mini dv to beta you're taking a hit, and depending on where captioning is added, you're taking another hit. Than a hit at the station as they need to compress it for broadcast. Then there's the whole issue what system you're watching it on. Over the air antenna? Satellite? Cable? Over the air would be the best quality. Depending on your Satellite or Cable provider the station you're airing on my only be alloted so much bandwidth.

The show you see broadcast will never look as good as the show leaving you're studio.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 02:24 PM   #12
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BetaSP has slightly better color depth than DVCam but lower resolution, 360 lines vs. 480. That's a hit right there although some people like the analog softness. DigiBeta dubs will retain the resolution. See if the station takes DigiBeta and then see if your production can afford the costs of the dubs. Regardless, a better camera will look better on BetaSP.

A $3000 HD camera might not be the way to go unless you can deal with work compromises compared to the Sony DVCam camera you have now. Avoid AVCHD cameras, go for Sony HDV or the JVC HM100 (which is more than $3000). Also smaller HD cameras have lower light sensitivity compared to SD cameras. You have a good camera now and as long as an SD product is what you are delivering, you are in good shape.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 03:07 PM   #13
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I agree with William (no shock there...): if you can retain the 390 for your SD work, do it. Don't jump into HD before you need to.

And the glass sitting in front of your 390 is worth more than the ENTIRE camera you're looking to buy in the $3k range.

I've got a TON of time on the XL1, Sony PD150/170 and the DSR 300 (2nd precursor to the 390) and the images produced by the 300 were FAR superior to either the Canon or Sony "palmcorders". And yes, I MISS the beautiful soft but colourful look of BetaSP shot on a 600 series Sony Betacam but I could never go back to an analog workflow at this point in my career.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 04:20 PM   #14
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I'm very satisfied with the 390L. Its shoots great footage and it does it in conditions my other cameras are useless in. Its amazing how much light that camera pulls in. I started out loving the XL1S but am quickly finding myself not liking much of the footage.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 04:26 PM   #15
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website

If any of you are interested, take a look at our website under episodes. Our 1st episode is on there. Tell me what you think from a video stand point. Be warned, this is an outdoors show, so fish are caught and animals are harvested.
reelshotoutdoors.com
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