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Old June 9th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #1
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Is 720p a 'dying' format?

While everything is obviously changing from SD to HD, it seems to me that 720p is becoming scarcer and scarcer as far as HD acquisition tools go. 1080p is seemingly the watchword now. My question is: is 720p a format that is effectively dying? I'm looking at the JVC HD200 as something that really appeals to me, but is its 720p format a potential issue if trying to shoot for television? Heck, even joe average TV owner knows that 1080p is the big thing, even if he has no clue what it means. Thoughts?
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Old June 9th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #2
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Not anytime soon. There will be a home for 720p for a long while. Key broadcasters have elected 720p60 as their transmission format - namely: Fox, ABC and the ESPN networks. There is an argument to be made about 1080p being "better" than 720p, which is true in an apples to apples comparison, I suppose. But you're not going to have to worry about being outmoded with an investment in a 720-only system. At least not for the realistic service life of any new camera purchased today.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 01:47 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Eric Darling View Post
Not anytime soon. There will be a home for 720p for a long while. Key broadcasters have elected 720p60 as their transmission format - namely: Fox, ABC and the ESPN networks. There is an argument to be made about 1080p being "better" than 720p, which is true in an apples to apples comparison, I suppose. But you're not going to have to worry about being outmoded with an investment in a 720-only system. At least not for the realistic service life of any new camera purchased today.
You have no idea how good that is to hear, especially about the networks choosing to use 720p60. Do you mean that when I watch ESPN HD, I'm seeing 720p60? Is that their acquisition format as well?

What is the difference between 720p60 and 1080p30/24 or 1080i? I know about the number of pixels (720 vs 1080), but does the 60p frame rate of the 720 hold any type of advantage over 1080p24 or 1080i?
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Old June 9th, 2009, 02:04 PM   #4
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720p - Much smaller file sizes and can be edited on sub-super computers.

I think 720p will be there for a long time!... in fact, I wish the 5Dmk2 had an option to capture to 720p
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Old June 9th, 2009, 02:45 PM   #5
 
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If you go thru the numbers, you'll see that 720p has greater resolution in the vertical axis than 1080i. Furthermore, if you're intending to go down the distribution path with DVD, 720p downrezzes to SD much cleaner than full HD at 1080. Finally, 720p60 will do a better slomo than footage acquired at 30p or 24p.

All things considered, 720p has a number of advantages over 1080i. As for 1080P, I really am not sure what's up with that. Many NLE's don't currently import 1080p, altho' more do every day.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 03:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bill Edmunds View Post
You have no idea how good that is to hear, especially about the networks choosing to use 720p60. Do you mean that when I watch ESPN HD, I'm seeing 720p60? Is that their acquisition format as well?
Yes, indeed. On both accounts.
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Originally Posted by Bill Edmunds View Post
What is the difference between 720p60 and 1080p30/24 or 1080i? I know about the number of pixels (720 vs 1080), but does the 60p frame rate of the 720 hold any type of advantage over 1080p24 or 1080i?
There's not just one difference between the different formats. There are three separate things at work here... 1) pixel resolution 2) progressive vs. interlaced 3) frame rate. Essentially, these are mutually exclusive elements that describe a video signal.

The main advantage to progressive video is temporal resolution. Obviously, you're capturing a lot more time-based information if you have 60 whole frames every second. This is especially good for slow-motion playback, which as you can imagine, is particularly important in sports coverage. But it's also a creative technique that finds its way into a fair amount of other production work having nothing to do with sports whatsoever. Progressive frames are preferred to interlaced frames because they don't flicker or alias, where every other line is combined with picture information from 1/60th of a second away. In today's world, where CRT displays are quickly being ushered out by flat panel progressive displays (both on the computer as well as the TV set), interlacing leaves a lot of smoothness of picture to be desired.

That being said, there are many times when the 24p frame rate is preferred (whether shooting in 720 or 1080, some cameras offer both at this frame rate). Film production is traditionally 24 frames/sec. Using 24p leads to a more cinematic viewing experience versus 30 or 60 frame modes. It quickly becomes a discussion over aesthetics.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 04:05 PM   #7
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Until 1080P does 60P, 720 will always have a place. Even on Sony's EX series cameras, the only way to get 60fps in progressive is in 720P mode. 60P provides a much more NATURAL look to motion. 24P, 25/30P, 50/60i and 50/60P all have distinctive looks. I MUCH prefer 60P to any of the alternatives and have never had to explain to any clients why my videos "look funny and stuttered". Is it for everyone? No. Is it easy to shoot fast motion without having to learn a new way of shooting? Yup.

As well, 720P60 downconverts VERY nicely to DVD and is pretty much tailor made for web video in HD.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 05:05 PM   #8
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Hi,

I think 720p is a great format and here in Europe many TV stations decided to use 720/50p. So I guess it will be around for a long time.
I own a HD110, work with the HD200, HD251 and HM700. All great cameras. And I do all my filming with 720/25p.
One exception: If I shoot a cinema commercial I use 1080/24p.

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Old June 9th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #9
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Keep in mind that the standard for Internet broadcast is 720p, as Vimeo got the ball rolling with 720p24, and YouTube, Blip.TV, and other services have 720p30.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 10:34 PM   #10
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I think the true answer to this question is with your shooting and work requirements.

If you shoot for indie films or anything needing 24p, then 1080p is your best way to go. shooting 720p24 is just throwing away detail if you can shoot 1080p.

If you shoot for television, live events, normal consumer sales etc... 720p60 is not going anywhere.

The broadcasters just invested mega bucks to move to HD with a 720p/1080i network. They are not keen to respend mega bucks to offer 1080p60 when the cameras are not out yet and the average comsumer will not notice the difference from 720p.

Consider what you audience is comparing it to. SD to 720p is a big jump. 720p to 1080p not so large of a jump visually.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 05:59 AM   #11
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Not anytime soon

Bill E.

I don't think 720 will go away soon. The others have already pointed out why. But here's another proof why it won't be obsolete soon. Sony and Panasonic have agreed (with others as well) on a AVCHD Lite. That basically is a 720 rez output for cameras. We are going to have problems when the camera has AVCHD Lite but it's not supported on our TVs and monitors. In fact, Panasonic is already coming out with "lite" video output with their P&S cameras.

When you have such endorsement and standard on the cameras themselves, then you know that it is here to stay.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 11:22 AM   #12
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I would think fewer people are shooting 720p24 and 720p30 than perhaps when the JVC HD100 first came out, but 720p60 is another story. I've been reading quite a few comments from people who really like shooting 720p60 with some of the newer cameras, like the Panasonic HMC150. Personally, I love the fluid, life-like motion of 720p60, and I just can't see it dying out until 1080p60 is well established someday (which isn't in the foreseeable future as yet).
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Old June 10th, 2009, 05:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
The broadcasters just invested mega bucks to move to HD with a 720p/1080i network. They are not keen to respend mega bucks to offer 1080p60 when the cameras are not out yet and the average comsumer will not notice the difference from 720p.
That may be true for TRANSMISSION, but ACQUISITION is a different matter. In Europe, the EBU is definitely in favour of progressive formats (largely because progressive formats compress more easily) and their favoured current transmission format is 720p/50. (Though most HD European networks seem to be 1080i/25-1080psf/25.) But they see all programmes being ultimately acquired in 1080p/50 in the near future, even if transmitted 720p/50, partly to futureproof archival content, partly because it will downconvert well to any other format.

It's also worth making clear that the bandwidth required to transmit 1080p/50 is nowhere near twice that for 1080i/25 or 720p/50, even though simple logic may seem to indicate it would be twice.
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Consider what you audience is comparing it to. SD to 720p is a big jump. 720p to 1080p not so large of a jump visually.
That may be more true in the US than in Europe. The jump from 576i/25 to 720p/50 isn't as big as from 480i/30, and SD transmissions have already been mostly 16:9 for quite a while. It also depends a lot on screen size and screen resolution, and since 1920x1080 screens are now probably in a majority - at least in the 40"+ category - there is quite a difference.

But realistically 1080p/50 is still in the future at the moment for most people, so it becomes a question of which is the least objectionable compromise. If you actively WANT 25fps motion it's easy - shoot 1080p/25 - it's when you want fluid motion that a compromise has to be made.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 06:14 PM   #14
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I agree.

This space is pretty complicated and I would guess it will continue to get more complicated as manufacturers keep pushing the envelope with resolution.

Kind of like the megapixel race in the still world. What are you going to say to people when they start seeing higher than 1080p resolution televisions?

I hope they (the makers) can stay settled on the 16:9 aspect for televisions for quite some time as we can not be expected to keep buying cameras every 5 years only to throw the old ones on the trash heap due to an aspect difference.

If they keep 16:9 as long as 4:3 at least we can keep on shooting while the race to diminishing returns wizzes by.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 06:57 PM   #15
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I hope they (the makers) can stay settled on the 16:9 aspect for televisions for quite some time .............
Ah, well, 16:9 wasn't just arrived at by accident.......

It brings up the whole subject of the "Golden Rectangle" - Golden rectangle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and the theory that the "ideal" aspect ratio in art is about 14.5:9. Interestingly, it's an aspect ratio that works very well in art both horizontally and vertically, and it's interesting to see 16:9 displays now being increasingly used vertically as "electronic posters".

Historically, TV started off nearly square not because anybody thought it looked better that way, but because early CRTs had to be made with circular fronts. Historically, the early 405 line TV broadcasts in the UK were 5:4, they only later became 4:3. But it was never thought it was an ideal artistic format, (unlike the argument for "a bit wider than the Golden Rectangle") and hence the move to 16:9 when technology made it feasible.

As for 1080p, then above that it becomes a law of diminishing returns. The EBU 720 recommendations stem a lot from a time when it wasn't envisaged that home screens would be anything like as large as 42" in a normal living room, yet now 46" aren't uncommon, and it's with these sizes that 720 isn't fully adequate. But it's difficult to see how very much bigger can be fitted into a normal home, so my feeling is that better than 1080 formats are likely to remain for cinema use.
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