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Old September 17th, 2016, 10:13 AM   #1
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480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

I recently began a long term project that involves capturing almost 300 hours of DV, DVCAM and HDV tapes that I shot during the period 2001-2011. Since I no longer have any tape based cameras, I purchased a lightly used Sony HVR-M15U DV/DVCAM/HDV deck. It works great and I have no problems capturing from it in any of the supported formats.

However I'm having problems connecting monitors to the component video output of the deck (the only available outputs are composite, s-video and component). The deck can be set for either DV (480i) or HDV (1080i) mode, but you must select 480i output mode when using DV since the deck cannot up-convert. Unfortunately, most of the tapes I'm working with are DV and DVCAM, so I must use 480i mode. I also use the deck for external video over firewire in Final Cut Pro.

I've tested the component video output from the deck with 3 different 720p monitors and 2 different 1080p monitors. In 1080i (HDV) mode, everything works properly. But in 480i (DV) mode, the 720p monitors work properly but the 1080p monitors don't. The results are puzzling… if I play a 480i tape in the deck, the 1080p monitors will display it, but when I press the stop button the monitors go blank and don't even display the on-screen menu and data anymore. And if I use the deck as a firewire external video device in Final Cut Pro, the 1080p monitors are also blank. All of this works fine on the 720p monitors.

I just got a Sewell component to HDMI converter box to see if that would be a work-around, the specs say it is compatible with 480i component video. However it does not recognize the signal from the HVR-M15U when it's set to 480i mode. When I switch the deck to 1080i mode, the converter works properly.

The only menu setting I can find on the deck that might affect compatability is 480i level, which can be set to either Betacam or SMPTE. I have tried both settings and neither one helps on the 1080p monitors.

Any thoughts about what might be going on here? Is there something strange about the 480i component output from the Sony deck, or maybe newer TV/monitors just don't make much effort to work with an old format like this? It's stange that everything seems to work fine on a 720p screen though.
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Old September 17th, 2016, 02:32 PM   #2
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Re: 480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

Might depend on the TV actually. Fully analog TVs with component in might fare better. You should also check if your i.link settings are askew. DV tries to send vertical blanking from the data it's receiving. No data could equal no vertical blanking. Equally so if AV->DV conversion is on.
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Old September 18th, 2016, 05:49 AM   #3
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Re: 480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

Thanks Jack… you are probably right, it may just depend on the TV. But it's strange that everything works correctly on 3 different 720p TV's. With the 1080p screens, the problem doesn't seem to be that they are "incompatible", since they will properly display the 480i image when a tape is playing. The problem is that they can't always figure out that they're being fed a 480i signal.

Have been thinking about getting a Sony LMD-2110W monitor, B&H has a couple used ones in stock. You'd think that a Sony deck would work properly with a Sony monitor, but I just don't know...
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Old September 20th, 2016, 03:04 PM   #4
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Re: 480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

Here's an update…. my Sony LMD-2110W monitor just arrived from B&H (gotta love their free next day shipping). Very nice monitor, but it exhibits a similar problem (not quite as severe, but still unusable for 480i component). The top half of the screen has "tearing" of the image. On my 720p monitors, this sometimes appears on just the top few scan lines, and only with certain types of images. I tried several different cables and also shutting down the computer to be sure it wasn't some kind of interference. No difference.

Just like all the other monitors, if I actually play a 480i tape in the deck, the image on the monitor is fine, but as soon as I hit the stop button, it gets distorted. Maybe something is wrong with the deck, but then why does it work fine when a 480i tape is playing or if I set it for 1080i?

The Sony monitor supports Y/C (s-video) and so does the deck, and that looks pretty good. Color bars definitely aren't as sharp with s-video. But the difference isn't as obvious when watching regular footage in motion (the front panel input buttons on the monitor make it easy to A/B). So maybe that's the best I can do with the deck? I'm going to contact Sony support and see what they say, but am getting tired of spending time troubleshooting when I should be editing!

Perhaps I should look for another kind of inexpensive external video interface to use if I'm not actually capturing from tape? Problem is, it would need to be compatible with FCP 6 and I'm not sure that any current products would do that? Does anyone still make firewire devices? Would FCP 6 detect a more modern thunderbolt or USB 3 output device?
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Old September 20th, 2016, 06:18 PM   #5
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Re: 480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

Just found some fine print in the HVR-M15U manual:

_____________

During recording or in EE mode, the subcarrier of the color signal to be output from the unit is not synchronized with the horizontal sync signal. The color of the picture or the horizontal sync signal may be distorted depending on the type of monitor connected to the unit.
_____________


Sounds like this might be the problem ("EE mode" is what Sony calls firewire input). This seems like quite a caveat to bury in a footnote on page 15! And another thing in the same section…

_____________

To absorb the jitter of input video signals, the distortion of video signals are processed in the underscan portion. You may see this procedure on an underscan monitor, yet this is not a malfunction.
_____________


That is also very evident (and annoying) with my monitor set for underscan.
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 08:35 AM   #6
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Re: 480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

You might want to upgrade to the model with SDI (the HVR-M35U or HVR-1500) if component is giving you that many problems.
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 08:46 AM   #7
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Re: 480i component issues with Sony HVR-M15U deck

Thanks Jack. I looked at that model originally but IIRC it cost quite a bit more. And the M15 works fine for ingesting tapes, which is really all it need it for. I have a thunderbolt Blackmagic Mini Monitor arriving from B&H today, hopefully that will work with my vintage software and be a much more flexible option for external monitoring. And it will give a path forward, since it works current software.

But it cracks me up that Sony released a deck with these isses and said "this is not a malfunction", LOL.
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