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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old May 10th, 2007, 06:48 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by James Binder View Post
I think the Canon XHA1 is getting some pretty good buzz. For the price, it's hard to beat right now...

<pleased A1 owner!>

Thats what I like to hear hahaha. The more video I see from that camcorder I'm impressed. Need to get my funds together ASAP!!
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Old May 11th, 2007, 01:36 AM   #17
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Yes, and I've seen what the tapes cost, so either way it's not a cheap format. Of course if you ditch most of your footage before archiving it and don't count the value of your time to do the archiving then it's almost competitive with other formats, but that's a lot of "ifs." Practically speaking, DVCProHD is more expensive than either HDV or XDCAM HD: that's one reason we're not all using it.
Well I just looked up XDCAM and DVCPRO media. I have to admit I was surprised at the price of XDCAM media, which is cheaper by half than what I remember.

I still think that DVCPro HD is a cheap format to shoot, even at $0.83 per minute. It isn't as cheap as XDCAM ($0.67 per minute) but it is still dirt cheap compared to the rest of production expenses.

As far as archival goes... these days the only thing I archive on tape is DV/HDV camera masters. Archive is too grand a word... I just store them.

Everything else is archived using an IT workflow as data. Archival costs me the same, in terms of time, for that stuff regardless of what format I use.

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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
DVCProHD has less spatial resolution at both 720p and 1080p than competing options, but does make up for some of that by being able to handle extreme motion better. Call the resolution issue a wash if you'd like, but it's not "far better" on that point. What DVCProHD does have going for it is better color depth, and we'll see how that compares between the HVX200 and the XDCAM EX
Well, I think we are agreeing contentiously. Part of that may be that you may be conflating the codec and camera performance. While it is important to look at the whole system, right now I am talking about just the codec.

Seeing the same footage (out via HD-SDI) from an XL-H1 in DNxHD, DVCPro HD and HDV... it pretty much made me want to kick the people who decided HDV was a good codec. XDCAM is essentially HDV when you are running 25Mbps. For it to be better you need to run it at 35 or 50 Mbps. (Check out the Texas Shootout results of the F350, by all accounts a superior camera. XDCAM at 25Mbps kept its results comparable with HDV.)

I really want to impress upon people that some of the cameras we are shooting are better than HDV allows for. The XL-H1 and the XH-G1 definitely fall into this category, and you can test that yourself. I think other cameras in this price range would perform just as well if we could get to their signal before its compressed.

Both 4:2:2 and motion quality matter, but intraframe compression (i.e. the lack of long GOP) is what earns the DVCPRO HD codec the "far better." I don't want to discuss it more, except to say that while I like this codec it is far from perfect.

I am pretty excited about XDCAM EX. My take however is that the codec we'll see on the SxS drives is the same codec we presently get on Professional Disc. I think XDCAM is better than HDV, despite its flaws, and its pretty darn good for acquisition. But that is it.

That means I have to consider a workflow that gets me out of XDCAM and into something more resilient.

I am hoping that the FCP 6 mixed timeline will allow me to create a Pro Res sequence with XDCAM clips, and have any compositing on those clips done entirely in Pro Res space. Essentially I am hoping that I get "upconversion" to Pro Res for "free" on the timeline.

I can't wait for a chance to test it and see what I get. I am such a geek, I'll probably have way too much fun.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 04:44 AM   #18
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Canon XH-A1 - The more I use it the more I love it! Show the footage to people and sit back and listen to the "ooh!"s and "arh!!"s and gasps of amazment as they take in that HD magic.

The ONLY downside is that the body is made from plastic and it has a bit of a cheap feel to it,but that really is the onlt downside.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 09:20 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Alexander Ibrahim View Post
XDCAM is essentially HDV when you are running 25Mbps. For it to be better you need to run it at 35 or 50 Mbps.
Can we assume the XDCAM EX will offer a 35 Mbps mode? If so, I would think footage recorded in that mode from 1/2 inch sensors will look very nice compared to typical HDV footage. And note that 35 Mbps is just a few percent shy of the 40 Mbps mode used by many people recording DVCProHD on the HVX200.

As far as editing goes, converting to an intraframe codec for that shouuldn't be hard to do these days, if you need the extra resiliency that offers. Edius will do what you described for editing in an intraframe codec space; hopefully FCP gets the same ability in the new version.

I don't see any affordable way to record DVCProHD compared to HDV (at ~5-10 cents/minute), and the XDCAM EX will be more practical than the HVX200 in terms of solid state memory cost. All three formats will have their place for different reasons, along with AVCHD and any other new HD formats to come along.

But getting back to the original topic of this thread, the XDCAM EX seems poised to become "the" camera to beat in the sub-$10K price range. People who don't like GOP-based recording will keep buying the HVX200, and those on a budget are mostly getting the Sony Z1U and Canon XH-A1.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 12:12 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
Can we assume the XDCAM EX will offer a 35 Mbps mode? If so, I would think footage recorded in that mode from 1/2 inch sensors will look very nice compared to typical HDV footage. And note that 35 Mbps is just a few percent shy of the 40 Mbps mode used by many people recording DVCProHD on the HVX200.

As far as editing goes, converting to an intraframe codec for that shouuldn't be hard to do these days, if you need the extra resiliency that offers. Edius will do what you described for editing in an intraframe codec space; hopefully FCP gets the same ability in the new version.

I don't see any affordable way to record DVCProHD compared to HDV (at ~5-10 cents/minute), and the XDCAM EX will be more practical than the HVX200 in terms of solid state memory cost. All three formats will have their place for different reasons, along with AVCHD and any other new HD formats to come along.

But getting back to the original topic of this thread, the XDCAM EX seems poised to become "the" camera to beat in the sub-$10K price range. People who don't like GOP-based recording will keep buying the HVX200, and those on a budget are mostly getting the Sony Z1U and Canon XH-A1.
Kevin,

You seem to have a few facts wrong. First the XD Cam's 35mb/s codec is variable; it averages 26 mb/s. The 50mb/s XD Cam codec will be better. In any case the XD cam's codec is a tad bit better than HDV, but a compression codec doesn't make the whole camera. Images from an XD cam look stunning, and with an HD-SDI jack, professional lens and 1/2 inch sensors it will be a great camera.

The HVX 200 records in the DVCProHD Codec which is 100mb/s, not 40mb/s. Its downfall isn't the codec; it's the low-rez 1/3 inch chips. If Panasonic comes out with an HVX 250 or 300 with 1/2 inch sensors, then look out; there will be a heck of a war between Sony's and Panasonic's under $8G cameras. However, right now Panasonic does have the edge on SD by offering DVCPro50 and 25 on the HVX 200.

I won't comment on P2 vs SxS because we don't know how SxS is going to perform.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 04:44 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by John Bosco Jr. View Post
The HVX 200 records in the DVCProHD Codec which is 100mb/s, not 40mb/s. Its downfall isn't the codec; it's the low-rez 1/3 inch chips.
Shooting 720p24 DVCproHD is only 40Mb/s. This is the most common shooting mode for the cam as you get extra minutes on the P2 card and the 1080p mode doesn't get you any more real resolution. Considering HDV's 4-5 times compression advantage the numbers aren't as cut and dried as many DVCproHD fans would believe.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:09 PM   #22
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Perhaps the reason that DVCPro100 was universally described as 'soft' compared to other 1/3" cameras was that the codec is permanently limited to 1280x1080 -- so a 4:2:2 chroma will better a 4:1:1 by some, but not as much as you'd guess: 640 chroma samples per line, as opposed to 480 ... but still only 1280 luma samples not 1920. And it is luma samples that will define 'resolution'.

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Old May 12th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #23
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I used to be really into the techni-babble about pixel numbers and such, but nowadays the yip-yap bores me. Never have I EVER been aware of any of my audiences having an issue with the picture quality of my FX-1, and this is on 40 foot screens after deinterlacing, 24p conversion, enough post-processing to take some of the punch out of the resolution. All I get is "wow what great quality!" I think the only way to properly select a camera is to view equatable test footage and decide for yourself. 2K seems to be the max resolution people notice, and most HD cameras these days come pretty close.

I had one guy tell me 720p has more resolution than 1080i. And I think he was right too, although I can't remember his explanation. So number specs for cameras mean nothing to me anymore.

If you think camera quality has to do with making a good film, watch any of the Dogme95 movies. Especially "The Celebration."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogme95
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Old May 13th, 2007, 06:42 AM   #24
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Not sure what you mean at all by '2K seems to be the max resolution people notice ...' , but reading your post you maybe don't mean anything at all.

Not caring is one thing -- circulating false information entirely another. 'Good' films are made from good ideas -- but understanding the technology you work with is an indication of a good craftsman too. You can have one without the other, though I don't see why you wouldn't aim to have both.

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Old May 13th, 2007, 08:37 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Ben Winter View Post
I had one guy tell me 720p has more resolution than 1080i. And I think he was right too, although I can't remember his explanation.
No, not true. Vertically, there may not be a great difference, as the interlace effect with motion goes a long way towards cancelling out the benefits of the greater number of lines. But horizontally, 1080 is potentially far superior to 720, no argument. (Assuming the camera is capable of making use of the potential.)

But it's not as simple as that. The EBU is currently in favour of 720p FOR TRANSMISSION, but that is down to how the relative systems compress with limited bitrate transmission channels. The 1080 signal may look better in a lightly compressed form, but worse than 720 for a given allowed (low) bitrate.

But all this assumes a 50 or 60Hz motion rendition, 720p/50 v 1080i/25, and ignores that a huge amount of production desires 24/25Hz rendition - "the film look". That the EBU seems to take no account of 1080p/25 may be one explanation why many broadcasters are preferring to go the 1080 route.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by John Bosco Jr. View Post
You seem to have a few facts wrong. First the XD Cam's 35mb/s codec is variable; it averages 26 mb/s. The 50mb/s XD Cam codec will be better.
Good point about the variable bit rate, but even there I would think the extra overhead yields better results than fixed-rate HDV. Has there been any indication whether the XDCAM EX will support the 50 Mbps recording mode?

Quote:
The HVX 200 records in the DVCProHD Codec which is 100mb/s, not 40mb/s.
As someone else noted, I was referring to the commonly used option of recording in the 720/24pn mode, which is only 40 Mbps. The option to use a higher bit rate is good, but impractical and unnecessary for some purposes.

Quote:
However, right now Panasonic does have the edge on SD by offering DVCPro50 and 25 on the HVX 200.
The widescreen SD options on the HVX200 are potentially useful, but even for those P2 memory card prices are a problem. This is what makes the XDCAM EX interesting: it promises high-quality flash-based recording using affordable non-proprietary memory cards.

Quote:
I won't comment on P2 vs SxS because we don't know how SxS is going to perform.
Sony's promising 800 Mbps throughput on a 2.5 Gbps bus, which sounds feasible. SanDisk is already shipping CF cards with read/write speeds of 320 Mbps (40 MB/sec), or several times the required speed for recording XDCAM HD.

Last edited by Kevin Shaw; May 14th, 2007 at 07:44 AM.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 01:21 PM   #27
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As things have strayed quite a bit off topic, back to the original post.

Right now, (as defined by what we can purchase AND take delivery on TODAY) the market seems to be quite saturated with great products, all of which carry the "but" suffix.....

For 80% of situations, in the hands of 80% of users, any of today's cameras deliver more than could ever be asked. However, it all depends on context and market segment. Right now, we don't have any products that can really "grow" with users as their experience and skills improve. The closest to that concept would be the Canon cameras with their easy-mode dial. BUT (there's the suffix), when a user grows past the auto modes of any of these cameras, there is little true manual control. Only panasonic and jvc have figured out that an important part of focusing a camera is having repeatable marks (panasonic IS repeatable within reason). Only JVC has brought to market a usable focus assist feature to allow accurate manual focus. And therein lies the problem.

By combining the feature sets of any number of cams on the market, we could have a fantastic, 99% camera. The problem of the market as dictated by current manufacturers is that they research their "segment" of the market, and deliver for a very narrow band of users. They basically tell us that people unable to spend $18,000 on a camera body (no lens, vf or battery) will be unable to shoot using the skills and controls of an 18,000 camera. And this is partially true. The majority of XH-A1'a or V1's that are sold will never have ANY of their manual controls used.

We have become spoiled by the level of image performance we can now achieve at a very modest budget. We nickel and dime every camera when it comes to this many lines per millimeter, or this level of chroma noise, etc... In real world performance, it's a 0 sum game - when used properly, any of these units can deliver astounding pictures, and it all comes back to the user experience. So the decision on buying a camera TODAY lies in which features you're willing to live without.

Want a real camera that shoots 24p at the expense of battery life? Go JVC.
Want a fantastic compact that can shoot 24 frames, at the expense of terrible zoom performance? Go Canon XH.
Want a tapeless workflow and flexible framerates at the expense of... expense? Go Panasonic HVX.
Want HD-SDI and extreme telephoto options at the expense of ergonomics? Go Canon XL-H1
Want great image quality at the expense of awful manual controls? Go anything Sony.

Want it all? Call it a quiver, a pallette, or whatever you'd like - the truth is that no camera can deliver EVERYTHING, you'll need a few to get 100% of your needs covered....i.e. rent! XDCAM-HD or HDX900's can deliver probably 90% of the time anything you could ever want...BUT they aren't small, cheap, or auto anything. So no, even the bigger cams can't do everything. If you're shopping today, make a grid on a spreadsheet or on paper and compare features side-by side and don't neglect the user interface. Resolution means nothing if you can't get your picture in focus, set the iris properly, or find the proper focal length.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 02:01 PM   #28
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I had one guy tell me 720p has more resolution than 1080i. And I think he was right too, although I can't remember his explanation. So number specs for cameras mean nothing to me anymore.
He was probably talking about temporal resolution.

The only resolution I'm really interested in is my New Years resolution to stop reading technobable, stop pixel peeping, stop worrying about cameras and technology at all... and start focusing on story and actors.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 03:20 PM   #29
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He was probably talking about temporal resolution.

The only resolution I'm really interested in is my New Years resolution to stop reading technobable, stop pixel peeping, stop worrying about cameras and technology at all... and start focusing on story and actors.
....Bingo.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Ben Winter View Post

I had one guy tell me 720p has more resolution than 1080i. And I think he was right too, although I can't remember his explanation. So number specs for cameras mean nothing to me anymore.

I think I may have been the one who made this argument, as I argue pro progressive scan quite a bit. If so, I believe my arguement was more about progressive scan being better for a film print then an interlaced format and pointing out the native resolution of JVC's chips instead of the pixel shifting that some less expensive 1080i cameras are using. Also, of course, progressive scan tends to handle compression better than interlaced formats.

The bottom line, IMHO, is that that there are alot of very good cameras out there, no one is clearly the leader. All can produce super high quality pictures. I think in shopping for a sub $10,000 HD camera considerations such as batterylife and ergonomics should take highest priority, because just about everything will deliver superb picture quality.

About picture quality, I'm sure I'll get alot of arguments about this, but all 1/3inch chips will look more or less the same. There is a noticable quality difference once you go up in chip size, but overall the size of the CCD's your using seems to affect the overall quality of the picture more then any other factor.
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