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Old October 27th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #1
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HDV vs. DVCPRO HD vs. DVCPRo 50

What looks better HDV, DVCPRO HD or DVCPRO 50?

With Panasonic and Canon introducing the HVX200 and XL H1, and prices that are now in between $9,000 and $10,000 (if you get the P2 cards with the HVX200), they are nearing the cost of some entry level 2/3" CCD professional cameras.

If displaying the final product on a High Definition TV was NOT a concern and if one was considering going the HDV route purely for better image quality and color, and looking at a camera that was $9,000 to $10,000, why not save a little longer and go for a Panasonic AJ-SPC700 that retails for around $12k - $13k that shoots DVCPRO 50 and has THREE 2/3" CCD's?

The second part of the equation involves Post Production -
Which format is easier to work with when editing in a NLE?
Would editing in DVCPRO 50 cost more (hardware and storage wise), the same or less than editing in HDV or DVCPRO HD?
Does DVCPRO 50 require the same large amounts of storage space that HDV or DVCPRO HD do?

What do you think?

Case in point (which was pointed out by someone else in another thread) -
XL2 + Mini35 + 35 mm lenses or cinema lenses + misc. equip to hold it all together = $15 - $25
Panasonic AJ-SPC700 = $12,995 (not sure of street price)
Panasonic SDX900 = Retail $26,750 (not sure of street price)
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Old October 27th, 2005, 12:21 PM   #2
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Both HDV and DVCproHD trade resolution for compression. They trade it with different balances, but the result is the same - you get more pixels, but each pixel is compressed more. For SD work, both DVCpro50 and DigiBeta look utterly superb, and especially when shot on a 2/3" camera with decent glass on the front, will also uprez to HD very well. That said, they cost a lot.

HDV offers a lot of bang for the buck, but you're also buying into a set of compromises that may or may not fit in with the way that you want to work. The HVX200 is offering a different set of compromises, but it's still compromised - it has to be for the price.

Graeme
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Old October 27th, 2005, 02:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek West
If displaying the final product on a High Definition TV was NOT a concern and if one was considering going the HDV route purely for better image quality and color, and looking at a camera that was $9,000 to $10,000, why not save a little longer and go for a Panasonic AJ-SPC700 that retails for around $12k - $13k that shoots DVCPRO 50 and has THREE 2/3" CCD's?
Depending on your needs that's a sensible question, but a better question would be why not wait a little longer for HD cameras with bigger sensors? Everything is heading in the direction of having most video content captured in HD -- even if there are no immediate plans to distribute in HD -- because HD will be the standard display format of the future. Unless you have a pressing need to use the best possible SD equipment and have someone willing to pay you to do that, why invest in a recording format which is headed for obsolescence? Just in terms of marketing considerations, all SD cameras will be in peril when customers start asking whether you shoot in HD, at which point a $3K HDV camera may have a perceptual advantage over a $13K SD camera. (Whether or not that really makes sense.)

As far as editing is concerned, note that HDV in its native form requires 1/2 the storage space of DVCPro 50 and 1/4 the storage space of DVCProHD at full 100 Mbps bandwidth. This difference could be significant for small producers considering P2-based HD recording, because simply archiving your master footage could get expensive if you shoot a lot of material. The bottom line here is that HDV is easily the most cost-effective way to produce HD output, so as HDV cameras get better they'll be useful for a wider and wider range of projects. Cameras using more robust recording formats will still have a quality advantage, but HDV will likely be considered the "best value" recording format of the future. We should be better able to assess what this means when we start seeing cameras like the Sony XDCAM HD with 1/2" sensors or the JVC pro HDV with 2/3" chips.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #4
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Good points Kevin, and now knowing that the storage requirements would be double that of HDV, I would rule it out based just on that fact. I rented a Z1 over the weekend and could not believe how much storage the footage took. I knew it would be a lot, just not that much.

After I posted this question I found an interesting thread in another forum from a SDX900 owner wondering if he should sell it and get two HVX200's when they are available. That thread had 10 times the amount of traffic of any other recent threads, so I guess it's on quite a few minds right now.

I think after learning all that I have over the past couple of weeks, if someone was to ask me which camera I would buy (or pre-order) today, it would be the HVX200.

I really love my XL2, but after using the Sony Z1 for the weekend, I never realized how much easier it would be to handle a smaller camera. Does it mean I'm going to sell the XL2? No, especially when I see new footage every day on-line shot with the XL2 that looks amazing (and downloads FAST). BUT, if I did not own a camera right now and was looking to get one, it would be the Panasonic HVX200.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 03:58 PM   #5
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DVCproHD v HD Uncompressed

Could someone tell me the difference between the two formats in regard to the 4:2:2: compression as they both seem to share the same. I guess I'm really talking about the XLH1 (HDSDI out) and the Pana HVX, and which would be better for chroma keying.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 04:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek West
I rented a Z1 over the weekend and could not believe how much storage the footage took. I knew it would be a lot, just not that much.
Derek: did you capture the HDV footage directly or convert it to an intermediate editing format? In its native form it shouldn't take up any more space than DV material; in the intermediate formats it's somewhere between the storage requirements of DVCPro50 and DVCproHD.

One of the problems people are going to encounter with the HVX200 is that simply archiving your master footage requires 1GB of permanent storage per minute of source material, plus another 1GB if you want a redundant backup of that. If you do that on hard drives it could start to get expensive; if you use any other solution it's going to take time to do the archiving. Also, since the HVX200 has 1/3" chips while the SDX900 has 2/3" chips, I wonder whether owners of the latter would be happy with images from the former. We'll find out in a few weeks.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 05:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Costa
Could someone tell me the difference between the two formats in regard to the 4:2:2: compression as they both seem to share the same. I guess I'm really talking about the XLH1 (HDSDI out) and the Pana HVX, and which would be better for chroma keying.
Your question is quite complex, because it's not apples-to-apples. For example, HD-SDI is not a format. It's a cable.

The HVX shoots HD and records it to DVCPRO-HD, using 4:2:2 color sampling.

The XL H1 cannot record using 4:2:2, it only records using 4:2:0. However, it does provide access to an uncompressed output port, HD-SDI. If you were to attach a device that can record that signal, you would be getting full uncompressed high-def, which would almost unquestionably be superior, for chroma keying, to the compressed DVCPRO-HD.

However, the question becomes: how do you record it? Do you run a cable to a $25,000 DVCPRO-HD deck? If so, you'll be compressing again, and giving up any advantage. Do you run a cable to a $50,000 HDCAM deck? You'll be compressing again, and also cross-converting the color sampling to 3:1:1. Do you run the cable to an HD-SDI hard disk box? If such a thing existed, that would be an option that would preserve the full quality; but someone here posted a link to such a product and it was $40,000.

If you were to run that cable to a desktop computer with a SATA RAID of hard disks, you could record and preserve the full quality directly on the computer. Of course, that computer setup is probably going to set you back $15,000 but it should also make for a quite killer editing station too. Wouldn't exactly be field-portable, but that's part and parcel of the tradeoffs that would need to be made.

The HD-SDI is a great port for getting a pristine digital signal out of the camera head. The question you have to answer is: what will you do with that signal? If you can find a way to record it that works with your workflow, then yes it would be the ultimate for keying.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 05:59 PM   #8
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Wow! Thank you Barry. The knowledge and community spirit of members and their willing to share never ceases to amaze me.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 08:45 PM   #9
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Kevin,

Sorry, but I don't know. I was doing several things over the weekend and did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked with the Z1. When I captured the footage to my G5 on Monday morning I just used the same process as I do with my XL2 - Just plugged in the FireWire, turned the Z1 into the VCR mode, hit play and then hit Capture in FCP 5 (after changing the easy setup in FCP to the 108060i format).

After reading your post, I was probably doing the 1gb per minute scenario.

But the footage looked great!
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Old October 27th, 2005, 10:21 PM   #10
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"If you were to run that cable to a desktop computer with a SATA RAID of hard disks, you could record and preserve the full quality directly on the computer. Of course, that computer setup is probably going to set you back $15,000 but it should also make for a quite killer editing station too. Wouldn't exactly be field-portable, but that's part and parcel of the tradeoffs that would need to be made."

If we were to talk minimum specs to get the job done, what would we be talking about? Lets not make it a full editing suite, just a machine that would do its job of capturing. What kind of CPU? Would dual CPU really be nesessary for capture? The MB would have to support what kind of slots? PCi/PCi-X/Pci-E? What are we talking HDD wise? 4 RAID SATA or higher would it need more? What kind of RAID card would that be?
I would like to set-up a similar PC for the 480p60 analog out of my HD10 as training for a full HD uncompressed out of a future cam.
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Old October 27th, 2005, 11:57 PM   #11
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With hard drive prices plummeting and high-end SATA RAID controllers offering impressive performance levels, it shouldn't be hard to build an uncompressed HD capturing and editing system (including software) for under $10K -- or about the cost of 48 minutes worth of P2 memory cards. Depending on how much bandwidth and capacity you need it could be feasible to fit all the hardware in a standard computer case, then pack that with an LCD monitor in a large tote with wheels and away you go. Kinda limits your mobility compared to other recording solutions, but for anything with a fixed camera location near an electrical outlet it could work.

The HVX200 raises almost as many questions about recording options and workflow as trying to use the HD-SDI ports on the Canon camera. Since most people can't afford any useful number of P2 cards and the Firestore drive won't ship until at least next March, what are early buyers of the HVX200 going to do with it? Once the Firestore does ship, how many of those would you need to get through a typical day's or week's worth of shooting? How are you going to archive footage from the camera and who's going to take the time to manage that process? How are you going to edit and deliver footage from the HVX200 to viewers, and will the delivery solution eliminate much of the advantage of having a higher bandwidth recording format?

Some of the challenges posed by these new cameras may not have easy answers, so hopefully people will think all that through before making a purchasing decision.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 05:12 AM   #12
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Lets skip the editing and software part. What are we talking for a barebones capture PC? Anyone care to list out some hardware/specs/prices?
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Old October 28th, 2005, 08:09 AM   #13
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Lets skip the editing and software part. What are we talking for a barebones capture PC? Anyone care to list out some hardware/specs/prices?
That would depend on the bandwidth you need to sustain, but how about this for starters (prices per Pricewatch):

Antec tower case with 550W power supply: $189
Asus P5LD2 motherboard: $110
Intel Pentium D dual-core processor 3.0 GHz (retail): $318
2GB Corsair DDR2-533 memory: $156
Nvidia Geforce 6600 dual-head video card with 256 MB memory: $105
3Ware 9500s 4 port SATA RAID controller: $288
Four Western Digital WD4000KD hard drives (400GB each): $848
Windows XP Pro: $142
Keyboard, mouse, etc: ~$100
Blackmagic Decklink HD: $595

Total cost: about $2850

Add a little over $1000 if you need an 8-drive solution for a total of ~$4000. That's not bad compared to ~$5000 for 24 minutes worth of P2 memory cards...
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Old October 28th, 2005, 08:20 AM   #14
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$2500.00 Apple G5 Dual
$595.00 Decklink HD
$2000.00 Lacie 5 disk raid external SATA II for uncompressed HD.

That would be $5100.00 for the mininum to capture uncompressed 4:2:2 HD. If you wentt with internal hard drives you could get 5 drives for as cheap as $300.00 total. That would make the setup only cost around $3500.00.

You can also buy the Bitjazz Sheervideo lossless codec to cut the hard drive bandwidth in half.

For those who already own a high end Apple G5 system you only really need to add on $1000.00 to $2600.00 and you are all set for uncompressed HD.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 09:30 AM   #15
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The only problem is so now you've got it captured, edited and distributed to your client. Now where do you keep all this great footage for future use????
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