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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
Topics about HD production.


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Old December 24th, 2009, 05:53 AM   #61
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All XDCAM HD cameras can now record multiple formats and frame rates on the same disc, so no need to change disc anymore.

Nat Geo specify delivery on HDCAM SR at 1920x1080.

I can clearly see the drop in resolution when channels switch from 1920x1080 to 720P on my 42" TV.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 09:31 AM   #62
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Alister,

That's odd because Nat Geo's commercial submission specs call for 720/59.94P on D-5 or SR, according to a document I have dated 9-1-08. I wonder why they would have two sets of HD standards for submissions?

At normal viewing distances I cannot see a difference between a well upconverted 720P image and a 1080/60i to 60P converted signal on a 42" 1080P LCD display.

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Old December 24th, 2009, 09:32 AM   #63
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A couple of notes. I spent a fair amount of time at Abel Cine in NY (Thanks Charlie and Andy) with the 350 they now have on the showroom floor. The packaged Fuji is a useable lens not spectacular. All my comments are based on this lens not any other. Also the camera settings have not been optimized so the colors were nice but not seductive. typical Sony out of the box look. On the showroom floor was a Panasonic 300 next to it and a 700 or 800 (can't remember which). In truth the 700 looked a little sweeter than the 350 but it did have a good piece of glass on it and had been set up where the 350 was just out of the box.. The differences between the 300 and 350 on the monitors was not night and day. Depth of field and sensitivity a nod to 350. Color and size went to the 300. The 350 body is lighter than the 700 but the same height and length. It is thinner than the 700.
Sony 350 was better on motion blur and roll from Cmos than 300. Not sure you could shoot any differently with it but Sony does have some advantage in that respect. Camera was very clean so you could see very little extra noise in the first few gain positions. This may turn out to be a godsend in the field but at the showroom it was not as important.
Viewfinder is pretty nice and seems sharp enough to tell focus while showing Color. Of course everything looks rough edgy with the peaking in the viewfinder compared to the actually pictures coming out of the monitor.
Playback controls were a little odd as you can get clip view and or use the play rewind controls like the disc and tape cameras on top. once you selected a clip you still hit play on the top controls. Also you had to hit stop to get back to camera it didn't go back to clip view at the end but stayed on the last frame still. May be software settable.
The lens is similar to the Fuji that comes with the 300. What I really noticed was the 16X ends up being only slightly wider than the one on the 300 17X but is definitely not as long as the 300 lens. Personally I don't like the Auto Manual switch on either lens as it goes forward and back instead of side to side but it is a minor complaint. Andy Shipsides was noticing the zoom was a little sticky at slow speeds and seemed to be difficult to feather starting and stopping. Not sure if this is intrinsic or not. The focus had no breathing which was nice if you want to do a rack.
Overall it is a much better package than the EX-3 if you have the dough and don't mind the bigger size (which is easier to use). Not sure how much of a premium people will pay for it in rental but it certainly would be a good choice for the run and gun doc news crowd as well as medium to high end industrial work.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 09:49 AM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
All XDCAM HD cameras can now record multiple formats and frame rates on the same disc, so no need to change disc anymore.

Nat Geo specify delivery on HDCAM SR at 1920x1080.

I can clearly see the drop in resolution when channels switch from 1920x1080 to 720P on my 42" TV.
Hey Alistair,
Good point on the disc info.

As far as delivery of a Master to Nat Geo that doesn't mean the spec for production precludes using something else as most are not shooting on HDCAM SR in the field. Of course over time I think production people will prefer the higher pixel number formats but the end viewer will not necessarily care.

As far as seeing a resolution drop between 720 and 1080 on your TV I think there are many possible explanations.
In my experience monitors tend to look better when receiving the signal they are meant to display compared to the transcoding done to display the other formats they might be receiving so a 1080 monitor has to scale a 720 signal so you may be seeing the difference caused by the monitor electronics or the cable box not necessarily what the signal would look like on a 42 inch 720 display. Fair side by side tests are hard to come by

Last edited by Daniel Epstein; December 24th, 2009 at 01:22 PM.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 12:32 PM   #65
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I agree with Alister, the difference between 720 and 1080 is noticeable, I'm viewing on a 37" Plasma and I can see the resolution difference between many of the aerial shots on "Planet Earth" shot at 1080 and the 720 Varicam shots, I'm also not at all impressed with most of Nat Geo HD's output, If I switch to Rush HD which has much more 1080 material the difference is obvious, even my wife can spot it.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #66
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Steve,
While I agree with your observations about HD outputs and what looks better on your monitor I still think the argument as to why you are seeing what you are seeing is not as easy an answer as you think. Everything is being transcoded and recoded depending on the edit as well as transmission so what we end up seeing at home can be handicapped towards one side or the other. My set up at home evolved over a few days while I got the correct cables and I can tell you there was more of a difference in what the cable box was doing to the signal than almost any production issue. First off try looking at an SD signal box into an HD set. My old Sony Trinitron CRT looked better using that signal than the new HD sets. When I got the HD set top box the HD set blew away the old CRT I had. Still had some issues until I had the HDMI cable compared to the analog HD component cable. I also noticed that SD signals had improved once I was in HDMI Land on the same monitor. I did notice however that color saturation, brightness and contrast changed from looking at the SD signal to the HD signal of the same program leading me to the conclusion that there are differences in the signal path which I can only set up to completely correctly if I don't change the channel. Also watching different channels I see tremendous differences in how they approach detail. Again all of this doesn't preclude what you are saying but I attribute a bit more variance to the distribution end making absolute judgments tenuous at best. I do know that all this technical stuff has very little to do with actual content of the programs so my feeling is if you are noticing differences in a program from one shot to the next then there is a production consistency issue not only a 1080 vs 720 issue.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 04:57 PM   #67
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Daniel I've been an online editor for about 15 years and I've been on-lining HD for the last 5 years so I'm up to speed on how monitors and television vary by setup.

What I'm saying is it is possible to spot the difference during a single programme between 1080 and 720 material where there are no differences in setup

Whether the paying public can tell the difference most of the time that's another question.
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Old December 25th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #68
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Steve,
Merry Xmas. I don't disagree that it is possible to spot the difference between 1080 and 720 material in the same program at home but the certainty as to why and what you are seeing is much harder to determine as it is not like you actually know the process that was used to put the image on your home set unlike say looking at it when you are doing the online.
Again since the specs are different it is almost impossible to use side by side comparisons of the same material in both 1080 and 720 handled optimally in both and then displayed optimally in both. As you know if you online material in 1080 then any 720 material has to be converted to 1080 at some point. Same goes for 1080 converted to 720. It is also almost impossible to match the set up of cameras so they have the same visual characteristics unless they have been matched side by side which would seem unlikely if setting them up to record 720 and 1080.
What I will say is if you see differences when you do the online they may still be visible by the time it reaches somebodies home TV.
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Old December 25th, 2009, 09:30 PM   #69
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Spatially, there are twice as many pixels per frame in 1080 as there are in 720. Theoretically that should be visible and apparent. If that advantage cannot be observed, it owes to degradation from the down processing of the 1080 rather than some inate ability of 720 to upscale into something that looks better than it is. So the choice given, is whether to target to the lowest common denominator with 720, or to the peak potential of the HD formats with 1080. I choose the latter.

As to whether in practice it's possible to recognize all of the transmission/conversion factors at play when a signal is broadcast, it appears to me that 720p football broadcasts on ABC/ESPN always appear inferior detail-wise to 1080i images broadcast by CBS or NFL network. There must be something to this, because I have never been able to make the judgement that 720p looked better. That includes viewing on 50 inch plasma monitors both 720p native and 1080p native panels. I have both. I believe 1080i downscales to 720p at least as well as 720p displays natively on my 720p panel. On the 1080p panel, 720p loses decisively.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 06:54 AM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
All XDCAM HD cameras can now record multiple formats and frame rates on the same disc, so no need to change disc anymore.

Nat Geo specify delivery on HDCAM SR at 1920x1080.

I can clearly see the drop in resolution when channels switch from 1920x1080 to 720P on my 42" TV.
Wish this had been the case before I sold my PDW700! Why can't they just make the products with all these features before they release them?
I must admit that I can see a "resolution drop" in Planet Earth Bluray going from aerials to Varicam stuff, but saying that you can see it when going from the aerials to the Emperor penguins - and that was shot on 35mm, so what does that say? The other difference I see between the 1080 and 720 is that the 720 looks smoother, more gentle and more subtle - maybe even less "video-like" than the biting sharp aerials, got to be a good thing. Is there such a thing as "too sharp" - perhaps.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 07:09 AM   #71
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Why can't they just make the products with all these features before they release them?
The team developing these firmware upgrades are pretty small and they are under a lot of pressure so they don't often put everything in from the start so they can make release deadlines while keeping it reliable. What Sony usually do is design the cameras with a lot of features in mind and built in with the capability for later when the firmwares have been tested. Sometimes though I think that they discover that they can do something that they didn't think they previously could.

When XDCAM was first released it didn't have half the features we now take for granted. It took over a year before the Standard def cameras were given the ability to delete clips in the middle of a disc for example. The cache record wasn't present until a couple of firmware revisions after release. Although I have to admit that many of these features were listed as coming along so I was aware that my camera would get them eventually.

The ability to mix formats has been long overdue. I've never been sure why it hasn't been able to do it from the start given that were are talking about a file based recording system.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 09:12 AM   #72
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Fair enough I suppose.
I remember there was a firmware update when I still had the 700 that allowed "mixed formats" all on one disc and I thought that was problem solved, but it turned out to be just the ability to mix xdcam 422 and 420 etc. rather than allowing both 1080 and 720 on the same disc. Is it the case then that now you can mix 1080 and 720?
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Old December 26th, 2009, 10:47 AM   #73
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I continue to maintain that at normal viewing distances, the resolution difference is not easily discernible on live action content.

A couple of takes on 720/60P vs. 1080/60i, first from ZD Net:

"We still believe that when you’re dealing with TVs 50 inches and smaller, the added resolution has only a very minor impact on picture quality. On a regular basis in our HDTV reviews, we put 720p (or 768p) sets next to 1080p sets, then feed them both the same source material, whether it’s 1080i or 1080p, from the highest-quality Blu-ray and HD DVD players. We typically watch both sets for a while, with eyes darting back and forth between the two, looking for differences in the most-detailed sections, such as hair, textures of fabric, and grassy plains. Bottom line: It’s almost always very difficult to see any difference–especially from farther than 8 feet away on a 50-inch TV…."

This from Wikipedia:

"When broadcast at 60[1] frames per second, 720p features the highest temporal (motion) resolution possible under the ATSC standard. Progressive scanning reduces the need to prevent flicker by filtering out fine details, so sharpness is much closer to 1080i than the number of scan lines would suggest.[2][3]"

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Old December 26th, 2009, 07:09 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Jeff Regan
A couple of takes on 720/60P vs. 1080/60i,....
But it's not just 720p/60 v 1080i/30. What about 720p/24 v 1080psf/24? (Both of which are how "film-look" material is carried over 720p/60 or 1080i/30 networks, respectively.) Then it becomes a very different argument, with 1080psf/24 most definately superior to 720p/24. And since the Varicam really needs a final 24/25 fps output to have any slow motion capability, I'd argue this is where we should be looking at for the comparison.

Equally, 1080p/60 is being looked forward to as the next big step, apart from 3D TV, and that's unarguably better than 720p/60. There's a place for 720 at the moment, due to technical restrictions, but it gives little scope to take advantage of future technology.

I can't claim to have been around at the time, but in the late 50s, early 60s there was debate about what should happen with colour in the UK. There was a quite a lobby in favour of NTSC on 405 lines, the arguments being that it wouldn't mean as big an upheaval in legacy equipment and could be implemented sooner. The proponents also crucially (and reasonably accurately) argued that the technology of the day meant the viewer wouldn't see such a vast difference at home - that 405 NTSC was "good enough". The counter argument was that technology was likely to improve, and it was necessary for the underlying system to be good enough to be able to take advantage of new technology. Fortunately (IMO) that won the day, and 625 line TV was established as standard.

It's a similar argument now. If you're going to go through all the upheaval of a format and system change, it makes sense for the improvement not to be incremental, but allow scope for future improvement. 1080 offers that far more than 720.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 07:47 PM   #75
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David,

Agreed, 1080P should be the goal, if not 2K or 4K resolution. Having said that, too many of us get caught up in pixel counting, aka RED One @4K. I'd rather shoot with an F35 at 1080P for television due to the better latitude, sensitivity, lower noise, in-camera painting.

I had a line doubled NTSC image in the early '90's on an industrial Sony CRT projector, shot test footage for Faroudja Labs in 35mm and video when line doublers were being developed.

I had off-air HD in '99 via a $2000 ATSC digital receiver and a 1080P DLP projector in 2006, when they became available. I expected to see a big difference between 720P and 1080i. Never happened. I often shoot resolution charts and the same live action scenes in 1080/24P and 720/24P with my EX1, playback via HD SDI and can't see a big difference in the live action on the projector. Yes, resolution charts can show some detail difference.

Since owning an HDX900 and HPX2700, I believe 720P is a great format for most of my client's needs. Nobody has ever complained about the resolution of these cameras when shooting in 720P or 1080P. AVC-Intra 100 is full sample in 720P, so that's a step up over DVCPRO HD. I love being able to push a button for overcranking on one of the 2700's user buttons anytime. In fact, I have the VFR button set to 48 fps, and a second user button on 60 fps.

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