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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Even if the performance is there, HDV is an inherently lossy format which will suffer noticeable artifacts if you make multi-generational changes. And since HDV isn't currently a practical distribution solution, there's no reason to maintain that format at any point in the production chain. It's nice to have the straight-through workflow for simple edits and output back to camera, but that's about it.
Did you miss the part about DVDSP?
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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Even if the performance is there, HDV is an inherently lossy format which will suffer noticeable artifacts if you make multi-generational changes. And since HDV isn't currently a practical distribution solution, there's no reason to maintain that format at any point in the production chain. It's nice to have the straight-through workflow for simple edits and output back to camera, but that's about it.
When will anyone ever have a multi-generation issue? If you need to change something later and your media went offline, just use Media Manager to reconnect the camera-original clips from your source tape(s).

There's plenty of reason to maintain the format in the production chain. It saves time and maintains quality. Transcoding to DVCProHD, DC30+, ConnectHD or whatever else takes too much time.

I figure that Apple has engineered FCP 5 to actively process HDV so that all frames become I frames on the fly.

The above quoted sentiment sounds like a reincarnation of the bitrate misgivings ("19mbps? Oh no"). We'll all judge by our eyes soon enough. :)
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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:59 PM   #18
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Good points, Murad. I suspect once we actually see it, we'll be able to make judgment calls.

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Old April 19th, 2005, 11:27 PM   #19
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Regarding HDV editing artifacts, this is a potentially significant issue which is discussed and demonstrated at the following URL:

http://www.cineform.com/technology/H...tyAnalysis.htm

If Apple has found some clever way to deal with this while using the native HDV format that's noteworthy, but it sure seems like an inherent problem with editing HDV directly.

Regarding DVDSP and HDV distribution, that doesn't sound very realistic at the moment. If you put the video on a standard DVD it's going to have to be pretty short, and your options for playing it back are limited. Seems like H.264 is going to be a much more useful option, but there aren't any consumer-level players for it yet.

All in all good news, but still not a complete solution...
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Old April 20th, 2005, 09:17 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Regarding DVDSP and HDV distribution, that doesn't sound very realistic at the moment. If you put the video on a standard DVD it's going to have to be pretty short, and your options for playing it back are limited. Seems like H.264 is going to be a much more useful option, but there aren't any consumer-level players for it yet.
Personally I'm hoping that we'll be able to go from HDV to H.264 without much loss.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 05:29 AM   #21
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If Apple has found some clever way to deal with this while using the native HDV format that's noteworthy, but it sure seems like an inherent problem with editing HDV directly.
Uh, that page makes no sense to me at all. Who's going to keep recompressing their HDV footage in MPEG-2? The point of 'native HDV' editing is that you capture it as MPEG-2, edit from the raw MPEG-2 files, and then recompress only to do the final output to the camera... until then you're working with the original source footage, and it's impossible to get a better image quality than that.

Now, I'd agree that editing MPEG-2 and then recompressing for output is going to introduce artifacts: but 'what format do I master to?' is one of the biggest unanswered questions about HDV so far. I guess for a consumer product you don't care about the quality loss, for a professional edit you'd online it on a high-end HD system and go to HDCAM or similar for the master.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 09:36 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Grant
Now, I'd agree that editing MPEG-2 and then recompressing for output is going to introduce artifacts: but 'what format do I master to?' is one of the biggest unanswered questions about HDV so far. I guess for a consumer product you don't care about the quality loss, for a professional edit you'd online it on a high-end HD system and go to HDCAM or similar for the master.
As far as disc distribution goes, that's simple: you output to a compliant h.264 or WMV9 as both are required for High Definition DVD players (whether Blu Ray or HD-DVD), which means all players will play both formats (in the way now that all players have to play both PCM and ac3 audio, and in Europe, also MPEG layer 2 audio).

With broadcast bit's trickier, but h.264 will also be a DVB HD standard.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 01:59 PM   #23
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"Uh, that page makes no sense to me at all. Who's going to keep recompressing their HDV footage in MPEG-2? The point of 'native HDV' editing is that you capture it as MPEG-2, edit from the raw MPEG-2 files, and then recompress only to do the final output to the camera... until then you're working with the original source footage, and it's impossible to get a better image quality than that."

You're missing the point here. MPEG2 (on which HDV is based) is an inherently lossy editing format, such that if you make a change to something, save it in HDV and then re-edit it again, your first set of changes can get degraded in obvious ways during the second revision. That's exactly what Cineform demonstrates on the web page I referenced, but you have to scroll down a ways to see the examples. For professional purposes, this is potentially a very serious drawback to editing HDV directly. By partially decompressing HDV source material to a higher-bandwidth intermediate codec, it is in fact possible to maintain higher quality during the editing process than when working on HDV directly. Of course this assumes that you have a properly designed intermediate codec, and I'll leave it up to others to comment on whether AIC does a good job in this regard.

HDV is also a "non-symmetrical" codec, meaning that it takes a lot of processing power to recompress changes back to HDV after decompressing for internal calculations by the editing software. Hence any "native" HDV solution will be slower (with fewer real-time capabilities) than an HDV editing solution based on an intermediate codec running on the same computer. On the PC side we see this demonstrated by the fact that people can do a lot more with HDV without rendering when the footage is converted to an intermediate format, like the Cineform solution mentioned above or Canopus HQ. It sounds like Apple has done a decent job of enabling native HDV editing on today's high-end Macs, but I'm already hearing that the preview quality has to be degraded to even play back a simple transition in real time. That's not what I would call an efficient, DV-like workflow.

If Mac users find that the native HDV solution in FCP5 is adequate for their needs then that's great, but I wouldn't be too quick to assume it's necessarily better than using AIC. Try both and decide for yourself.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 02:23 PM   #24
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Kevin,

I'm sorry, but I believe you are grounding your viewpoint in yesterday's version of dealing with HDV format. Apple(and a few others) have now come up with a method of dealing with HDV without the pitfalls of yesterday's workflows. Keep in mind that the forthcoming release of Tiger(64bit OS) and the new production suite that can take advantage of that power are part of the 'enabling' process. I really wish you were able to be here and watch the live demonstration so that your jaw would fall open as far as ours has. The new FCP has 'dynamic' RT processing whereby it will adjust framerate and quality as you view more streams. As soon as your timeline goes back to a single stream, the quality goes back to 100%. They also show a slow dissolve of two HDV streams in realtime and it looks fantastic.

Seeing is believing in this case.

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Old April 21st, 2005, 04:21 PM   #25
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The native HDV editing will do everything behind the scenes. While editing, realtime performance is done on the fly in buffers and shown on the preview monitor. The only true recompression is on final output.

This is the same for any intermediate compression, such as AIC or cineform, in that, you are already losing a generation just on capture, because you have already recompressed to an entirely new codec, which then in turn has to be recompressed AGAIN to get back out to camera. So Kevins point of the lossy format isnt really all that valid considering, if you just capture to AIC, then output immedialtely to tape, you have lost 2 generations (due to twice recompression).

The Cineform codec is very good at this, in that, very little issues seem to come up, but the AIC codec is downright horrible, and unusable for anyone doing any type of serious work.

From the sounds of Kevins post, I dont think he has done any real world tests using AIC, because to make it fail, its takes all of about 5 minutes of testing to see the major downfalls.

I have a huge investment in Apple and a FCP workflow, but unfortunately, for my company to offer HDV, we had to once again bring PC's into the mix, in that I tried EVERY possible solution for editing HDV, and right now, Cineform Aspect HD was the only viable solution. Every other solution has some major downfall that made it an unreliable product.

The only question I have about the native HDV editing on FCP 5 is the speed. What speed computer will it take not to make the system painful to use. (I have a Dual 2.0). native HDV editing is stressful on todays computers (My 3.2 ghz PC has trouble doing it), so unless they have some really good code behind the new FCP, I'm a bit concerned, but I do have some faith. (Although AIC was a failure, and anyone who doesnt realize this yet, I beg you to run more tests, because its AWFUL)
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Old April 21st, 2005, 04:25 PM   #26
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I agree about the AIC, but it's nice for small projects, like a short I did that won't go to fests.

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Old April 21st, 2005, 04:32 PM   #27
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AIC is fine for my kids birthday parties and such, but for that matter, so is Imovie. I cant deliver corporate videos to clients with large "Boxing" patterns from AIC compression though.

Or how would a wedding client like paying for an HD video, only to have the brides face hidden behind AIC interference during the vows? Not good.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 04:54 PM   #28
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Greg: I'm willing to believe that Apple is doing what they can to make HDV editing effective, but I stand by my previous statements as being inherently true about HDV based on what I know about it. If someone who is thoroughly familiar with the inner workings of FCP5 can explain to me how it can get around the technical limitations of editing MPEG2/HDV directly, I'd be happy to hear about it. Sounds like marketing hype to me.

Regarding your other comments, "dynamic RT" sounds like a clever marketing term for "degraded previews." There's a similar feature in Sony Vegas and I'm not particularly impressed by that either, compared to the option of having true real-time HD/HDV editing with full-resolution, full frame rate output. The latter is what you can get today with the best PC-based HDV editing solution, which uses an intermediate codec to sustain 3-4 layers of 1080i in real time at full quality on today's fastest computers. (Using Canopus Edius NX.) Please don't take that as simply a cross-platform comparison statement, but if the best Apple can do at full quality for HDV is one layer then they're running well behind other currently shipping alternatives. I still say using the Apple Intermediate Codec should yield better performance than editing HDV directly, but I'll have to leave it up to Mac users to test that theory.

Either way, I'm happy to see all sorts of developments coming along to make affordable high-definition video production a reality. Bring on the HD DVDs!!!
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Old April 21st, 2005, 05:00 PM   #29
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Kevin,

Yes AIC yields better performance. But if the image degrades, whats the point?

I'll give up a realtime layer or so, if I get the correct output.

What good is nice new HDV cameras, if we degrade the image coming out of them, just so we can get nice performance out of our editing machines?
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Old April 21st, 2005, 05:20 PM   #30
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"The Cineform codec is very good at this, in that, very little issues seem to come up, but the AIC codec is downright horrible, and unusable for anyone doing any type of serious work...From the sounds of Kevin's post, I dont think he has done any real world tests using AIC, because to make it fail, its takes all of about 5 minutes of testing to see the major downfalls."

I intentionally refrained from commenting on the reported quality issues with AIC because I didn't want to make my comments sound like just a cross-platform comparison rant. If native HDV editing in FCP5 is the best solution for working with HDV on the Mac platform then I'd certainly expect Mac users to act accordingly--but I'd say we're seeing from the posts here that FCP5 won't measure up to PC-based editing solutions in terms of support for the HDV format. I've seen posts elsewhere from people I trust stating that PC-based intermediate HDV codecs are visually indistinguisable from the HDV source files, so if Apple wasn't able to do likewise that's a miss on their part.

Based on what I've been hearing, I'd expect a lot of Mac-based videographers to opt for the Panasonic P2 camera over HDV and skip all the hassle with HDV on the Mac platform. Just be prepared to spend at least $5000 for P2 memory cards for each P2 camera you buy, or to buy a stack of Firestore-like P2 hard drives. If you really want to work effectively with the HDV format, come on over to the "dark side" and have a look around. We've got all kinds of effective HDV options including solutions which work well on $1000 laptops. As a former Mac user, I can tell you that things really aren't all that bad over here... :-)
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