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Old February 26th, 2005, 08:30 PM   #1
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How To Distribute Hdv???

I'm planning my first HDV documentary with the Sony Z1U and my question is:

Given the fact that DVD is still standard definition and likely to remain so for another year, what are the options for HDV distribution at the moment???

I 've heard of a Sony HD-VHS or HD-VTR. What exactly is this? Would an HD-VHS tape be playable in a regular VCR???

Are production houses able to somehow get HDV footage onto a standard DVD??? Or is everyone stuck DVD-wise until HD-DVD or Blue-Ray DVD arrive???

Also, is it possible to export HDV out of Final Cut Express or iMovie as a Quicktime file? Will Quicktime show HDV in all its glory or not be able to go beyond standard resolution???

Looking forward to feedback.

- Nicholas
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Old February 27th, 2005, 10:08 AM   #2
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<<<-- Originally posted by Nicholas Natteau : I'm planning my first HDV documentary with the Sony Z1U and my question is: Given the fact that DVD is still standard definition and likely to remain so for another year, what are the options for HDV distribution at the moment??? -->>>

Your options are DVHS (more later) or HD MPEG-TS (ie mpeg2), HD DiVX (ie mpeg 4) or Windows WMV9, all on DVD or downloaded from the net - the only player I know about that plays these formats is the AVEL Linkplayer.

<<<-- I 've heard of a Sony HD-VHS or HD-VTR. What exactly is this? Would an HD-VHS tape be playable in a regular VCR??? -->>>

There is the JVC DVHS system which uses identically sized/shaped cassettes to VHS, but they're different (just as Betacam tapes physically resemble Betamax tapes but are incompatible). Regular VHS tapes may play in DVHS decks, but certainly not the other way around.

<<<-- Are production houses able to somehow get HDV footage onto a standard DVD??? Or is everyone stuck DVD-wise until HD-DVD or Blue-Ray DVD arrive??? -->>>

If you are asking can a HD file (be it MPEG2, DivX or WMV) be put on a commercially authored DVD, yes. The Terminator 2 DVD does exactly this. there's a full 720p WMV file as well as the old fashioned DVD movie set. I don't know how they've fit it on, on a separate disc (which is good), as a dual side/dual layer "flipper" (which is also good), or compressed enough to fit each on one layer of one side (which would be bad).

It should be pointed out that there is no format for including things like menus, alternative soundtracks, or subtitles for these non-standardised HD formats. The AVEL linkplayer for example would simply detect the raw mvoie file and offer to play it, in much the same way as some CD or DVD players handle <SD DivX or MP3 files

<<<-- Also, is it possible to export HDV out of Final Cut Express or iMovie as a Quicktime file? -->>>

Yes.

<<<-- Will Quicktime show HDV in all its glory or not be able to go beyond standard resolution???

Looking forward to feedback.

- Nicholas
-->>>

Depending on the codec chosen, you can create a Quicktime .mov at full HD resolution. Whether or not the computer will be able to play it back at full res, without dropped frames depends on the power of the computer. Anything less than a G5 (especially for 1080i) will have difficulty I guess. I've not seen it first hand, but word is not good about AIC quality, so it's questionable as to whether you're seeing the footage in "all its glory" or merely at full resolution with added artefacts.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 07:34 AM   #3
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distributing HDV...continued

Hi Dylan,

Thanks very much for your feedback. To follow up on this:

Regarding saving an HDV file as a Quicktime movie, wouldn't choosing a smaller frame size (like 640x480 or 320x240) than 1440x1080 allow you to preserve the HDV quality while not putting too much stress on the computer to play it back???

Regarding the T2 DVD. That's fascinating. I have the "T2: Ulimate Edition DVD". There are two versions: one is the "theatrical version" and the other is the "special edition". Which one is the HD version???

Regarding the lack of HD format for DVD menus, did you happen to see this DVD about surfing??? I believe it's called "Step Into Liquid".

The DVD menus I believe are 16x9 size and if I'm correct the feature was an HD documentary film. Can you tell me more about this?
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Old February 28th, 2005, 09:15 AM   #4
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16:9 footage on a regular DVD is achieved using exactly the same resolution as 4:3 footage (i.e. standard definition 720x480, or 720x576 for PAL). The widescreen look is achieved by using rectangular rather than square pixels.

>....like 640x480 or 320x240 rather than 1440x1080 allow you to preserve the HDV quality ?

HD is basically anything with a resolution greater than the SD dimensions referred to above. So yes, you certainly can resize the footage to SD or smaller. And yes, you will get good quality because the encoder has lots of pixels in the raw footage to work with. But it won't be "HD" anymore.

I'd suggest your best option for broad distribution right now is to down-rez to 16:9 SD mpeg2 suitable for standard definition DVDs (since your average punter thinks DVD are great quality).

But meanwhile, keep a HD master copy so that in a year or so, once more people have HD DVD playback capability, you can reauthor to a disk in whatever the most popular format is by then.
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