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Old December 4th, 2006, 07:08 AM   #1
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Return to Balance on PBS A1/V1/HX200

I may not have all the numbers exactly right and this may not be the right forum even...but last night there was a video "Return to Balance" HD shot on the Panasonic HDVPRO. I thought for the most part it was well done photography wise. Image quailty looked pretty good. At least it would be good enough for my purposes.
With all these "experts" here in these forums... are the 3 new cameras mentioned above, Sony, Canon and Panasonic capable of producing that level of image quality as seen on PBS? I believe the photographer was Sterling Johnson. I googled the title and found Snow Creek Consort website. A little info was there.
I am looking for a professional opinion. I just purchased the A1 from Canon but have tme to exchange it for something else if need be. Would appreciate some opinions
Thanks
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Old December 4th, 2006, 07:43 AM   #2
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Hi John,

Just to quickly note, that Panasonic format is not HDVPRO. It's DVCPRO HD.

To address your question: it's crucial to understand that in this business, image quality is *not* determined by the camera or even the format. Image quality is determined by the camera operator. The piece you saw on PBS made it to air primarily because of the nature of its compelling content (of course), but thanks also to the skill sets and techniques of the people involved in the production. Camera choice had nothing to do with it at all. What mattered instead were the people who shot it well, lit it well, recorded audio, etc. etc.

Choosing an HD format is a decision based on workflow (and budget). Choosing a camera is a decision based on ergonomics and feature sets (and budget). As far as the "image" is concerned, it's all good. And, as tweakable as all of these cameras are, you can make anything look like anything. The most limiting factors are how much money you can throw at it and how good are you with the gear.

We've made a big deal around here before about the fact that HDV is accepted for broadcast. The HDV camera original tape is referred to as a "pre-camera master." It's immediately bumped to HDCAM and that becomes the camera master tape. That's how the workflow originates on last summer's "Lovespring International" sitcom on the Lifetime Channel, which was shot with the Canon XL H1 (the exact same CCD block and processor is in your A1). The limiting factor in that production was again, not the choice of camera, but the talent and ability of the crew to crank out twelve hours per day in order to produce an Edit Decision List within four days.

You don't need to return your A1 unless you're not physically comfortable with its form factor (because if you don't like holding it then you're not going to shoot with it as much), or if you've decided you don't like the HDV format and would rather acquire on some other HD platform, which in terms of equal money, the closest thing would be the tapeless flash media format of P2 DVCPRO HD. But whatever you choose to do, it's important to realize that you're trading ergonomics and workflow. Not image quality. Hope this helps,
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Old December 4th, 2006, 08:11 AM   #3
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With out you knowing my background, I know all about "camera operator" "performer" etc. I have recorded professionally for nearly 33 years or there abouts. But I also know that even though Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics recorded their first album to a 4 track Tascam tape he uses Digital stuff now. I work with some of the best in the industry Will Ackerman AKA Windham Hill Founder.Producer, etc. We use all high end Protools for recording audio. It works gets the job done very well.There are other systems that work as well and true the final product is based upon the performer much as a videographer is important to the work. I don't think one would use a Hi-8 camera today unless there was some intended effect. In audio one could have spent $250,000 just a few years ago (maybe 10) and now better than those systems are available for under $25,000. So things change as I am sure you have experienced in the video world. Not really ever shooting any serious video I just want to know if this meets Pro standards or not. Ansel Adams was a good friend of mine and he still used old uncoated rodenstock lenses...so I get the camera operator thing. :)
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Old December 4th, 2006, 08:33 AM   #4
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With numerous examples of HDV going to broadcast, it's safe to say that it meets Pro standards.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 10:41 AM   #5
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So any of these 3 cameras I mentioned will work just fine for a commercial release on dvd or for the DISCOVERY Channel, PBS etc? (provided the camera operator is capable of course)
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:07 AM   #6
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Commercial release on standard definition DVD, no problem. PBS supposedly has tougher standards than others, but if you submit a properly scoped HDCAM master, then "what camera did you use" becomes irrelevant. The short answer has always been that if the content is compelling enough, then it's considered broadcast quality. Considering that Animal Planet for example will show material originated on consumer 8mm and VHS-C for "The Planet's Funniest Animals" during prime time, it makes one wonder if there are any restrictions left on image quality anymore. Basically if you send in your submission on HDCAM (or DVCPRO HD, check which formats they accept), and your production values are top notch, etc., then the question of which camera you shot it on should never come up in the first place. HDV is currently used in the broadcast realm with growing frequency... a famous example is the show "24" on Fox... so I really don't think the camera makes that much difference, as long as you're in the 3-chip HDV league, to me that's where the good-enough-for-broadcast division starts. Heck, three-chip standard definition DV in the same price range has for several years been good enough for broadcast (and still is).
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:27 AM   #7
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Thanks so very much Chris
Great info. Really appreciate your help. Having come from a world where no one would have thought it possible to do Architectual Digest or Cosmopoliton Mag with nothing less than 4X5 format I managed back in 1977 to convince the powers that be at those publications 2 1/4 had great new film and was just fine. (minus swings and tilts) Now we are using $30K 40 MegaPixel Hasselblads and finding out that a Canon 13 megapixel works just fine (they make a TS lens that corrects for perspective).
So I guess an old guy like me can use camera's I never before imagined would be in this price range. I was fully prepared to spend much much more. I looked at 2/3 ccd's but was convinced by a friend that shoots alot of stuff with Clint Eastwoods production crew that these new HDV camera's were all very phenomenal! He just does not use one so he suggested looking on this forum for advice. I guess a partner of his shows up here now and then. So thanks again. When we finish our first project for prime time next year (fall) I will be sure to come back for a visit and let you all know how it was...but by then there will probably be even better cheaper cameras. Heck maybe I'll get 2!
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Huling
So any of these 3 cameras I mentioned will work just fine for a commercial release on dvd or for the DISCOVERY Channel, PBS etc? (provided the camera operator is capable of course)
No, because they don't meet the technical specs of Discovery. Discovery has specific printed guidelines as to what they will accept, and for HDV or the HVX they will not accept more than 15% of the total program content to have been originated on those. They also will not accept material that's been edited as HDV.

For DVD release they're all plenty fine. For local cable use they're all fine. For national broadcasts, you may be able to "fool them" by just not telling 'em what you shot on, but if you want to be in compliance (or, more importantly, if you're asking them to fund your production) then you have to meet their requirements. And no 1/3" HD camera meets their requirements in terms of full, unrestricted acquisition.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #9
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Well now that's a very interesting contridiction!
I am stumped. If the series "24" is shot on cameras with these specs why not? I think the footage I usually got on VHS in the old days was originally shot on Sony BetaCam and some on Hi-8. Of course that was 20 years ago. What are some acceptable cameras today? Only 2/3 ccd's? HD then convert down. I hope someothers will jump in... Spot are you out there? I know you know who I am:)

I think I will sit back and let any experts out there in forum land chime in. HELP!
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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #10
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How about the Sony F900R CineAlta? The HVX200 is not 2/3 Sony 750? Many I thought were going to the smallerchips 1/3". Several stores said that Fox purchased them for shooting their new line up of some of their shows A roll stuff.
"My network" on cable wonder what they used or Croc Hunter or that footage I saw for Animal planet was not that an XL1s?
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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:08 PM   #11
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Well hold on just a minute. We need to make a distinction as to which Discovery Channel we're talking about.... your average plain-jane Discovery Channel that everybody gets through their basic cable or satellite package? Or are we talking about Discovery HD?

If we're talking about Discovery HD, then Barry is of course quite correct about the restrictions regarding HDV. Refer to the Source Material Notes in the Discovery HD Technical Specifications paper located here: http://www.discoverychannel.ca/_incl...DSpec.logo.doc

Requirements are different for the everyday plain-jane standard definition Discovery Channel and its subsidiaries (including Animal Planet). Masters are submitted on standard definition Digital Betacam or Betacam SX and no mention is made of any restrictions regarding HDV. See the Discovery SD Technical Specifications paper located here: http://www.discoverychannel.ca/_incl..._Specs_TDC.doc

Here's the Discovery Channel's Producer's Guide: http://www.discoverychannel.ca/_incl...oducers_guide/

I'm sure there are similar resources for PBS as well. I didn't consider Discovery HD in your initial post. I thought you were referring to the regular Discovery Channel. I made a mistake in suggesting the submission of an HDCAM master... obviously it needs to be Digi Beta or Beta SX. I'll stand by everything else I said though.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 03:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Green
No, because they don't meet the technical specs of Discovery. Discovery has specific printed guidelines as to what they will accept, and for HDV or the HVX they will not accept more than 15% of the total program content to have been originated on those. They also will not accept material that's been edited as HDV.

Here is what BBC accepts for their HD trial broadcast. HDV is not an option for them, it seems to me HVX could be the source of the material.


"1.1. Programmes for the HD trial must be delivered on HDCam tape.

..........

Programmes must be acquired, post produced and delivered in high
definition. HD programmes may contain a maximum of 25% non high
definition material.

............

2.1. The following formats are considered to be standard definition:
o All standard definition video formats
o HDV from all manufactures
o Super16 film whether transferred to tape in high definition or not
o 35mm film transferred to standard definition tape formats
o Non linear editing codecs with bit rates below 160Mbs
o Live contributions via links at less than 60Mbs (MPEG2)"

And their HD requirements:

"3.1. The BBC will accept High Definition programme acquired using either of the following:

o 1920 x 1080 interlace at 25 frames a second (now called 1080i25) or
o 1920 x 1080 progressive at 25 frames a second (now called 1080p25)

3.2. All delivered high definition master tapes must be 1080i25 (whether acquired 1080p25 or 1080i25). Rollers and moving captions must be added in 1080i25 to prevent unacceptable judder."


Any idea? I fight a serious war these days whether to wait for Sony V1 or go for HVX - HVX seems to be approved for HD material, at least by BBC.

They consider HDV standard def..:(
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Old December 4th, 2006, 03:14 PM   #13
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Ooops, forgot the source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/dq/p...rmats_v1_3.pdf
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:35 PM   #14
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Eh? Super-16 is considered standard definition by the BBC? Actually for that matter, Varicam wouldn't make the grade since its not 1920x1080.

OK, so are these standards policed to a 100% compliance level or is this a "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" deal. If someone shot a carefully exposed, broadcast legal work using a Varicam, XL H1 or Super-16 and bumped the whole thing to an HD master tape and submitted it, would someone really call back and tell you its not really HD?

Hey, I love the HVX, but the 1080P coming off of it is NOT better than a piece of quality Super-16 ...
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Huling
I may not have all the numbers exactly right and this may not be the right forum even...but last night there was a video "Return to Balance" HD shot on the Panasonic HDVPRO. I thought for the most part it was well done photography wise. Image quailty looked pretty good. At least it would be good enough for my purposes.
With all these "experts" here in these forums... are the 3 new cameras mentioned above, Sony, Canon and Panasonic capable of producing that level of image quality as seen on PBS? I believe the photographer was Sterling Johnson. I googled the title and found Snow Creek Consort website. A little info was there.
I am looking for a professional opinion. I just purchased the A1 from Canon but have tme to exchange it for something else if need be. Would appreciate some opinions
Thanks
Was it shot on a $5000 HVX or a $60,000 Varicam? Huge difference, despite them shooting the same format.
As for the DiscoveryHD restrictions, I that that is a little archaic thinking on their part. If shooting a nature piece for example, the lens options and higher detail capture of a Canon or JVC HDV would be superior to a fixed lens HVX, but because it is DVCproHD it gets a buy? Makes little real world sense to me.
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