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Old August 18th, 2008, 04:19 AM   #1
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HDV - over-hyped at the moment?

Ok - guess I've got your attention!

Interested in your opinions ... I'm a hobbyist that in my spare time shoot small projects locally, e.g. concerts, company promos, etc. The end product normally goes on DVD or the Web in SD.

I currently have an XM2 (GL2) and VX2000e, and think that they're great cameras. I did buy a cheap Sony HC3e HD camera, and was impressed with the results. I've now been offered an FX1e but would have to sell one (or more) of my other cameras.

My thoughts ...

Although HD looks good on my HDTV, the uptake of Blu-Ray players is slow in the UK. Streaming HD over the internet is still not really feasible. So here in the UK, there is still no popular medium for distributing HD footage - IMHO for at least the next 2-3 years.

Most of my clients are happy with SD because that is all that their audience requires. A lot of people seem to say that you can at least shoot in HD, down-convert it, and have the original in an archive for future use. Whilst I respect that opinion, I would ask (a) how many of us get the time to go back and re-edit old projects, and (b) in 2-3 year's time, how many clients are going to come back and say that they want their wedding / concert / birthday party in HD? I'm not so sure.

Then there is the argument that SD from a HD camera looks better than SD from a SD camera ... maybe ... I'm no expert but surely other factors such as lighting come into play? Properly and well-lit footage shot on an SD camera seems to rival that from a HD camera ... there seems to be a suggestion that if it's HD, it must be better ...

So, I'm not so sure about the upgrade ... until HD becomes more readily available to the masses. It strikes me that there are a lot of very good second-hand prosumer SD cameras coming onto the market at very reasonable prices.

Are we - the hobbyists / small business - jumping on the HD band-wagon too early?

Interested in your views ...
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Old August 18th, 2008, 04:29 AM   #2
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I think you are right that HD is overhyped at the moment and the TV's in the shops are being sold with very little HD being available.

Even the HD on sky etc is compressed but I suppose you pays yer money and makes your choice.

I personally have bought a sony Z7 camera so it gives me the best of both worlds as I can shoot HDV and DVcam at the same time. The advantage of this is tapeless workflow with the compact flash in HDV or DVcam and a tape back-up in HDV.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 04:47 AM   #3
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If you have no demand for it you are right, why pay extra for it now. I have been able to sell it as most people like hearing "HD Video" when talking about what I capture on video. To deal with the lag I shoot HD and will often deliver a DVD with an HD Copy in a data folder of the DVD in Windows Media 9 or h.264 which can be viewed on a computer. I shoot, capture and edit in HD. I then render to all formats needed. That way, down the road or right now even, when they ask for HD, I can burn them a blu-ray disk without any "extra effort" sure, render times are longer which costs money but I have been able to reflect that in my prices.

In short, HDV has its place and can do some very cool stuff. Like any tool, it needs to be used properly.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 07:22 AM   #4
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I definitely agree with you on this. When I bought my camera I went for the FX7 as I thought that HD will be the way to go but in reality, here in my country at least although most people buy HD ready TV sets they seldom use it as most of the DVDs available are in SD and all the transmissions here are SD so I also shoot in SD, edit in SD and works 100% for me and my clients. I think the biggest change in cameras is the tapeless recording now. That's where I think most people will invest and we will see more and more of these camcorders and as a result of this prices will come down as well.

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Old August 20th, 2008, 09:58 AM   #5
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It depends...

I love HDV the quality is far superior to SD, even if I deliver all my projects in SD my Canon XHA1 produced much better footage than my PD170's SD cameras ever could, I consider the PD170 a webcam compared to HDV. I shoot a lot of wedding and I'm selling Blu-Ray although I do not have the ability to produce them yet, I inform my clients that as soon as it becomes affordable that I will provide them with a HD version, I actually feel sorry for all those weddings I shot in SD, the quality of HD is incredible, in three years HD will be a common sight.

I also shoot concerts and the detail I get from HDV is by far superior to SD cameras, the quality closely matches high end SD broadcast cameras. HD has allowed me to increase my prices with 50% and I have an competitive advantage over my competition. In post production I now have the ability to digitally zoom in almost 2x without any loss of quality, that alone is a great aspect for me, I can shoot medium shots at concerts and digitally zoom in closer without worrying about distortion.

I thus strongly disagree with your statement that HDV is over-hyped, quality speaks for itself, and the clients like the idea of future proofed products.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #6
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Just wanted to emphasize Nicholas' point about being able to zoom in - this is one of those things that I think doesn't get mentioned enough in the discussion of shooting HDV for SD delivery. Most of the work I deliver to clients is SD for online delivery, but I shoot everything in HDV (XHA1). I've found a lot of opportunities to use the extra resolution to zoom in and get a close up when I didn't shoot one in the first place - single camera interviews especially. I've also used it for shooting presentations, where you can fit both the projector screen and the presenter's podium into a single wide shot, then cut in SD and go between cropped shots of the screen presentations and close ups of the presenter, all with a single camera.

If you're shooting green screen you'll also get much, much better results keying the HDV footage and then downscaling to SD than you will if you try to key SD source material.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 01:03 PM   #7
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I'm with Nicholas on this one. I switched to HDV not for HD specifically, but because many of my clients have 16:9 TVs, even if they have no way to really play HD content. While my old VX2000 was brilliant on even the biggest 4:3 TV and unparalleled in low light, its 16:9 mode (really only 640 x 360, effectively) was so bad on a widescreen TV it made me cry. It did look perfect on a 4:3 TV, though.

HDV lets me produce brilliant SD DVDs for widescreen TVs -- handled properly, it's close enough to HD that most people don't know the difference, especially on smaller HDTVs.

And it isn't a matter of going back to re-edit anything; by doing everything except the burn in HDV, you have a completely HDV master to simply burn a Blu-Ray disc when you or your clients are ready. Takes about two minutes of work and then you go get a cup of coffee while it burns.

For me, buying an SD DV cam is like buying a B&W TV.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 01:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Paul Grove View Post
Streaming HD over the internet is still not really feasible.
It looks pretty good on Vimeo.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 02:09 PM   #9
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I think it's mostly because the price point is in a weird place. At a choice between $150 for SD recording and $600 for HD recording on the consumer end, or a choice between $1500 for SD recording and $3000 for HD recording on the prosumer end -- well, we may not need HD, but it's not prohibitively expensive anymore.

It is true that BluRay and programming has been slow on the uptake, but that's mainly because BluRay players are extremely expensive compared to the rest of the technology chain.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 08:39 PM   #10
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If you are shooting something that will never be seen again after the project is done, then fine.

But if you are shooting anything that might have any kind of a shelf life or future purpose -- feature film, short film, internet video, wedding, etc -- it is always wise to shoot it on the highest resolution available, even if you do not need it yet.

Why? Because in 5 years when HDTV saturation is >80% and YouTube streams 1080p and you're trying to squeeze every bit of attention you can out of that film you shot back in 2008, you'll wish you had the HD versions.

That's why studio films do fine now. Because the 35mm print carries more resolution than any existing video format, and therefore they can just keep converting and converting to satisfy the current market.

It could also be a good business move for production houses or wedding studios or whatever to shoot in HD even if their clients don't need it, because in a couple years, they might rethink that decision, and could come pay you for the HD version the same way wedding photographers keep the masters and get paid for prints.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 09:45 PM   #11
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Well, you're probably right about the B&W TV set but I think B&W large format photography is about as good as an image gets from both the technical and emotional points of view, so I would say that B&W shouldn't be written off, even for video. It can be immensly effective - even though most people tend to think of B&W as something that went out with the dinosaurs.

Of course, I get the point you're trying to make, just not sure I'd put SD and B&W in the same category of obsolescence.

And yes, I'm moving to HD.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 05:12 AM   #12
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HD or SD, that is the question

I have recently bought a second hand standard def Panasonic AG-DVX100. My intention is to enter my next film into competitions and sell it on DVD or as a download, but it may find an outlet on TV.

Unfortunately the camera has only a 4:3 sensor so to make it widescreen, which I want to do, I will have to crop it and lose resolution.

Do any of you guys have an opinion on how good my footage will look after this cropping?

Especially considering I want to impress my audience. Perhaps it's worth trying really hard to find a HD camera with 16:9 sensor to borrow or rent?
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 07:26 AM   #13
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with SD cropped in 16:9 on a large screen, you won't impress anybody.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 11:24 AM   #14
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Unfortunately, this is true. Many filmmakers will tell you that if your lighting is perfect, your film will be fine... and while this is largely true, your footage will still obviously be low resolution when projected.

If the end result is the internet, then it might not matter as much, since as of yet, most things are still sub-SD.

The XL2 is a way better camera, does native 16:9, and you should be able to find a used one pretty cheap. Another option would be to get the anamorphic lens for the DVX100, but it's not cheap, and it's a pain to use. It does work, however.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 02:35 PM   #15
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Thanks for the advice guys. I looked at Canon XL2s and they go for about 2000 GBP new, couldn't find any much cheaper on E-bay. Would I have to buy some other lenses for it too? Or would the supplied 20x L lens do the job?

Or there's the similarly priced Sony HVR-Z1 which is ready equipped with an unremovable Zeiss lens, has a 16:9 sensor and high def and is a similar price. Which would you recommend?

I can't afford either camera, but I'm looking into getting a grant for the project. If I get one I can hopefully buy one of these cameras.

Thanks again for your help.

Last edited by Stuart Graham; August 23rd, 2008 at 02:40 PM. Reason: mistake
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