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Old June 30th, 2008, 08:55 PM   #1
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HDV vs. DVCProHD

Okay, so I'm new in the HD world, just getting into it, and I've spent the last six weeks at my job doing nothing but researching the different formats and cameras and learning about HD video. Right now I'm trying to convince my company that DVCProHD is better than HDV because it uses a higher bitrate, has better chroma subsampling, and the P2 workflow is just plain sweet. But they still want to try to find a cheaper camera--something along the lines of the Canon XH-A1 or equivalent. But those use the HDV codec which, I've learned from my research, is a pain to work with. Am I right about that? And if so, what's the best way to convince my superiors that we need to go with DVCProHD (specifically the HVX200A) over an HDV camcorder? And if I'm wrong, please explain to me how I'm wrong and why HDV is better. Storage space is not an issue.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 09:40 PM   #2
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HDV uses interframe compression and has a fixed bit rate of 25Mbps. Color sampling is 4:2:0.

DVCProHD doesn't use interframe compression and has a fixed bit rate of 100Mbps. Color sampling is 4:2:2.

The question (to me) is: what are you trying to do? e.g., traditional event videography vs. scientific/technical video analysis etc.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 10:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Beisner View Post
Right now I'm trying to convince my company that DVCProHD is better than HDV because it uses a higher bitrate, has better chroma subsampling, and the P2 workflow is just plain sweet.
Have you looked at the archiving issue with P2? *Every* format has hidden costs.

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Originally Posted by David Beisner View Post
But they still want to try to find a cheaper camera--something along the lines of the Canon XH-A1 or equivalent. But those use the HDV codec which, I've learned from my research, is a pain to work with. Am I right about that?
Not right or wrong, just not informed. I recently completed a one-hour documentary drawing from 1.5 TB of source HDV material, and it was a breeze to work with in FCP.

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Originally Posted by David Beisner View Post
And if so, what's the best way to convince my superiors that we need to go with DVCProHD (specifically the HVX200A) over an HDV camcorder?
Show them glossy promotional materials and hope that they are susceptible to marketing hype?

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Originally Posted by David Beisner View Post
And if I'm wrong, please explain to me how I'm wrong and why HDV is better. Storage space is not an issue.
The P2 vs HDV/this vs. that debate has been going around in circles for several years now and always comes back to the same place- let your priorities make the call. I have used both the Panasonic/HVX and Canon/HDV workflow on short form and long form, creative, commercial and broadcast projects and I can tell you one is not better than the other- they are different. All you need to do is educate yourself about those differences, and the buying decision will become easier for you.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #4
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The question (to me) is: what are you trying to do? e.g., traditional event videography vs. scientific/technical video analysis etc.
I agree whole-heatedly and with all he stuff Benjamin said. HDV is better and more cost effective in some situations and vice versa for DVCProHD. People have shot everything from weddings to feature films in both formats.

"Which codec is better?" is a dead end conversation. "Which codec is better for the work I do?" will set you on the right path...
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Old June 30th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #5
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David,

My question for you is what is the intended purpose for the camera?

I would say the the financial difference between a Canon A1 and a Panasonic HVX-200a is about ~$2,000.

Not a lot in the video world if quality is important.

If your company feels the difference is too much for a camera, then you might be pushing for something "they" are not interested in.

Maybe shift your focus to buying lighting or a steadicam ect... to improve the production in other areas.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 04:58 AM   #6
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Like others said: you just have to inform yourself.
HDV isn't just the HDV in it's first generation. The quality of the Canon codec is very good, for instance, and considering the price/features of the Canon next to the HVX200 makes it a very compelling competition.
Of course you also have the P2 workflow versus a tape based workflow.

Don't forget the Sony EX1: a workflow comparable with the P2 workflow, a codec at a higher bitrate then standard HDV, 1/2" CMOS sensors, cards that are a bit cheaper then P2, ...

Anyhow: The Canon XH-A1 is a great camera, with some disadvantages. For the HVX goes the same, and for the Sony EX1 and all these cameras, it's all the same.
But don't judge by the numbers. I repeat: don't judge by the numbers.
For instance: the 100MB/s codec of the HVX isn't necisarrily better then the 35MB/s codec of the Sony EX1, because it's a higher number.
Most people say the images from the Sony are better in many aspects (of course you can disagree, but I was just making a point: don't judge by the numbers).

Look at these camera's, test them, hold them in your hands, shoot with every one of them (or your top 3 choices) in comparable conditions and view it on a screen. That would be ideal. If not: read, view films on the internet. I know it's not as good, but not everyone lives in a region where you can just test camera's.

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Old July 1st, 2008, 06:31 AM   #7
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The P2 codec and workflow are decent but the HVX200 uses 960x540 sensors, which yield a soft image compared to the Canon XH-A1 with 1440x1080 sensors or the Sony EX1 with 1920x1080 sensors. Plus the P2 memory cards can cost a fortune if you need to do a lot of continuous recording, at which point the Firestore hard drive recorder makes more sense - but still adds about $2k to the effective cost of the camera. As far as editing is concerned, you can convert HDV during capture to an I-frame intermediate codec which works just as effectively as DVCProHD, but you won't have as much color depth from your source material as with the latter.

So DVCProHD is good for color depth while HDV and XDCAM cameras are sharper and more cost-effective, with little practical difference in workflow if you use an intermediate editing solution. At one of my local dealers the Sony EX1 is selling briskly with corporate clients, so you might take a closer look at that as an option - or get two Canon XH-a1s for about the same price.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 06:52 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the advice.

In answer to a popular question: this camera is going to be used to make promotional films in an effort to 1) attract students and their parents to our college, and 2) raise about $20 million to complete a number of big development projects. The vast majority of my promo pieces will fall into the first category, which will primarily see distribution via the web. So the web's compression codecs will probably remove any visible difference. But the most important of my projects will fall into the second category and will be delivered via SD DVD and Blu-Ray DVD.

I've spent the last six weeks researching all these cameras and originally was set on the Canon XL-H1 until I began to learn about some of the hassles with HDV in post (and turn-around speed is somewhat important--I've got about 100-150 ten to fifteen minute promo shorts to do here--so I don't want to mess with converting to a different codec before post). Then I began reading about tapeless workflows and initially liked the EX1 better. I watched a lot of comaprison footage between the HVX and the EX1 and I love the EX1's low-light handling and just the overall beauty of the footage. And if I was just doing corporate commercials and interviews, I'd be all over that camera. But I also have to do promo stuff for all our sports teams which means that I'll have a lot of fast action. And with the rolling shutter issues of the EX1, that means that it's not an option for me. So then I turned to the HVX and started reading up on it, and so far, the only downsides I've found to that camera are the cost of P2 and the native resolution of the chip.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a a prosumer camera hotspot (just north of Chattanooga, TN) and I've been completely unable to find any of the cameras I'm interested in anywhere within three hours of where I live, so I've not been able to test any of them out.

Anyone know what the HPX's native chip size will be? I like what I've seen of that camera...
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Last edited by David Beisner; July 1st, 2008 at 06:54 AM. Reason: fixed a typo
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Old July 1st, 2008, 08:32 AM   #9
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There is no workflow issue with HDV if you capture to an intermediate codec, and you can use a Firestore drive with HDV cameras if you need immediate access to the footage for rush projects. The rolling shutter issues on the EX1 are arguably over-rated, but I can see wanting to be cautious about that given the sports coverage - look around and see what people are saying about that who are shooting sports with this camera.

The big advantages to DVCProHD are color depth and variable frame rate recording, the latter being the more significant factor in your situation. If you can convince someone you need that you can rule out HDV cameras, and then it's just the HVX200 versus the EX1. As far as the HPX camera is concerned, that's getting into a whole different price class which doesn't sound plausible given the budget sensitivity. But if they're trying to raise $20 million maybe they need reminding that a few thousand extra up front is a small price to pay to do the project right...
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:08 AM   #10
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David,

you are in a difficult place, not because of the camera choice but because of the finacial bind your superiors are putting you in.

100 to 150 10-15 min shorts and the hope of funding up to a 20 million dollar effort and they want you to get the "cheap" camera.

Are you a university employee of an outside contractor?

Sad to see this type of thinking.

On another approach, which NLE will the fottage be edited on?

This might help you decide which codec is best.

With regards to sports, I don't think you would have any issues with the EX-1, especially if you shoot the sports in 720p60.

Keep us updated!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 01:25 PM   #11
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Nope, I'm not an outside employee of a contracted firm. Here's a little history:

I'm entering my "fifth year" as a student at the college. I could have graduated on time, but took too many classes for fun. During my tenior at the college as a student I have proven myself to have a good work ethic, an ability to learn quickly, and an exceptional ability with technology (not sure why, I'm just REALLY good at it.)

Even though I'm only 23, I've owned my own professional audio company for almost 8 years and I've been in the pro audio world for 10 years (one of those kids who had friends in the right places and an interest in tech stuff!) As a result, I've been able to prove myself in professional audio work, having gotten the contracts from my school's music department to do ALL their recording work since my freshman year (something that's caused some friction between me and the IT-AV department here).

I also really love my school and I've wanted to work here long-term since my sophomore year. All that said, the president of the college has seen my skills and my willingness to work hard and actually created this full-time staff position for me and hired me before I've even graduated!. Aside from a hobby, I have no prior experience with video at all--he's pretty much expecting me to learn the techniques and do a good job as I have with every other specialized task that's been given me. In fact, in the last six weeks I've been on the job (with no equipment) I've learned so much about HD video and the technical aspects of video work (just through research online) that the director of our Film and Technology department is relying on me to advise him on HD cameras for the department's use in instructing students!

My immediate boss who is the Director of Advancement, the director of the Film and Technology department, and the President of the school are all behind me and confident in my abilities despite how short of a time I've been in this field. The hard part so far has been in convincing the IT services director (he's required by the board to make any tech purchases over $250) that we need a decent camera. If he had his way I'd be using a VX2000. His reasoning is that his AV department all use VX2000 cameras and he thinks it is wise to have everyone using the same camera so that if one breaks down, you can get another quickly and easily to cover while the original camera is being fixed. Also makes multi-camera shoots a breeze in post. Makes sense, but if the AV department doesn't need HD, and I do, you shouldn't cripple me by tying me to what the AV department needs. Anyway, short of sticking with SD, he wants to go as inexpensive as possible to get the job done. Also makes sense. We're a small, private institution and our budget isn't big--less than $1 mil annual operating budget right now. But if I'm supposed to be assisting in raising this money through the work I do, then we need to be able to impress corporate america who is giving us these grants. SD on a VX2000 ain't gonna impress my grandma, let alone a millionaire watching it on his DLP projector in his boardroom, trying to decide if he's going to give us a grant to construct a building.

All that said, I would LOVE to have a Varicam or an HDCAM or even an HPX500--but those are way outside of our budget. I'm trying to put together a complete HD production package, complete with mics, computer, editing platform, lights, tripod and camera--all for around $15k. So far I've got a pretty nice system based on the HVX200A running just over $14k for everything but lights--and for now I'm gonna be stuck with using 2500 watts of construction lighting I have from my last job. (I know, it's not great--don't need to get into that here. Already been over those issues in other forums.) Just finished building myself a steadicam for about $15 and I've got the plans already underway to build a jib for $75 and a dolly w/ track for $50.

As far as editing platform goes: for now I'll be using Adobe's CS3 suite. I have it on my home computer so I can take work home if I want too, plus it's what our Film and Tech students currently use. Eventually we're going to be upgrading them to FCS, and at that point I may make the switch as well. But for now we're going with CS3, which, I understand has excellent support for the P2 workflow.

So yeah, that's the background--any further advice would be appreciated. I'm meeting with the Director of our Film program tomorrow morning to go over potential cameras for his department. Hopefully we'll be able to agree on an HD camera that will work for both his department and me. Hopefully then we'll be able to go to our IT director and have two departments asking for the same camera instead of just one, thereby satisfying his desire for "uniformity" in equipment.

Thanks everyone! love these boards... I'll keep y'all updated on what we eventually purchase.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 10:45 AM   #12
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Progress...

Met with the director of our film program this morning and I presented the pro's and con's behind the HVX, the EX1, the XL-H1, and the HD200U. Actually printed off the full-color long form brochures on each one to take to him...I did my best to argue FOR every camera and just present the cons of each, rather than to argue against it. Also gave him an excel spreadsheet that lists out all the possible video formats and all the details on compression, bitrate, color space, etc. for each one.

He likes the HVX best of all of them (helps that its the only one of the above he's had a chance to actually put his hands on) and he's going to second my recommendation for that camera.

I'll keep y'all posted on what happens...
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 12:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by David Beisner View Post
Unfortunately, I'm not in a a prosumer camera hotspot (just north of Chattanooga, TN) and I've been completely unable to find any of the cameras I'm interested in anywhere within three hours of where I live, so I've not been able to test any of them out.
David - I was recently able to compare the HVX200, EX1, and EX3 side by side at a friends house. Not in a technical sense - there's been a lot written about that already. But in terms of ergonomics, usability, first impressions, what they feel like from a cameramans point of view. He had just bought the HVX200 (secondhand) for his own use, and the other two were borrowed. LIke you, he was there evaluating for a third party.

Two things stood out to me. First was the manual lens of the EX1/3, compared to the servo of the HVX200 - no comparison. Second was the viewfinder arrangements. I looked at the EX1 first (OK), EX3 next (wow....!), HVX last - err, is this a joke?

I can only say that my friend wishes he could have afforded the EX3, and that is what he intends recommending to his employer. That said, he got a good deal on the HVX200, so considers it good enough for his personal use.

The third most significant thing that I felt was that all of them were ergonomically poor to handhold, certainly compared to the JVC HD200.

I note you say "HD cameras for the department's use in instructing students". I can't help feeling that a true manual lens may be an advantage here as well. A good grounding for higher end pro cameras?

If the EX3 is just too much, have you considered the S270/Z7 models? Tape/flash hybrid, but solid state at much less cost/min than P2? The S270 is true shouldermount and manual, (so good from a teaching point of view) but still pretty cheap. (Relatively.) The Z7 is cheaper still, and maybe that would be a better choice for your IT department? For multi-camera shoots, the S270/Z7 are compatible together as well.

It sounds like your college is making a big committment. At the very least I'd recommend getting to compare them all together side by side, no matter how far you have to travel. It was an interesting experience for me!
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 08:38 PM   #14
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Quote: so I don't want to mess with converting to a different codec before post..

David - just a quick comment on this point. If you use Cineform's $500 AspectHD (which plays very nicely with Premiere) and even a modest multicore processor, the conversion to the intraframe Cineform codec occurs virtually in real time. Conversion is happening as you capture, and completes just a few seconds after capture ends. From thereon, you have no further contact with HDV mpeg. Highly recommended!

(By the way, I'm at UTK).
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Old July 9th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #15
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David:

It's a good thing you at least have the audio experience covered. Do you already have a good field audio kit assembled; mics, booms, wireless, mixer, etc.? That's gonna run $4,000 to $8,000 for a minimum of decent equipment.

Good luck on the camera decision, that's a tough one. I can tell you that, for your use, any of the cameras you mention will give outstanding results. They are all pretty good nowdays if you do good camera work.
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