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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #1
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Is there still a place for SD video?

I'm a video production professional and shoot (professionally) in 1080p with DSLRs. (So I understand the advantages of wide-screen HD video!)

But I'm really starting to wonder if casual, home-use, amateur video hasn't gone beyond the limits of today's average broadband connections and home computers?

My point is that 1080p video cameras at the consumer level are proliferating like mad. But I don't personally know anyone who...

a) has the patience to wait an hour or more to upload their HD videos to sites like Vimeo and YouTube, and
b) has the computing horsepower at home to easily edit HD video.

I'm talking about our parents, our kids, our grandparents, etc. I've heard from many people like this who are all excited about their latest HD video toy...only to be disappointed (or downright angry) with how large the files are and how difficult it is to edit on their (often older) home computer systems.

So I'm wondering...isn't SD video good enough for these uses? Let's face it...while most people don't argue that HD is superior, most people (non-video professionals) are perfectly happy with SD video.

I'm even considering tracking down and buying a flash-memory-based SD camera for my own casual use...just because there are times when it's nice to have relatively small file sizes and to be able to edit video (with effects!) on my aging WinXP laptop.

Finally, it's worth remembering that well-framed and well-edited SD video will (in my opinion) beat poorly-shot HD video any day.

Does anyone else agree there may still be a need for SD video? Or is it "Damn the old formats---full speed ahead! Let 'em suffer and upgrade their computers and connections!"

Scott
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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:43 AM   #2
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Not only do I agree, but, I am actually a video production professional who still does 95% of my work
in SD. Almost all of my clients chose the SD option when hiring me. I do NOT charge the same
amount of money for producing a video in HD as it takes more time (editing HD takes longer on
my computer), Most of my clients end up choosing the cheaper SD option, many of them are
looking for a DVD as the finished product, and they do not want to be 'upsold' on the benefits of
HD, if SD production is cheaper. I think the only clients I have had that have chosen HD in the last
couple years, have been the federal or state government....maybe the economy is somewhat the
problem here, but my clients have very little interest in HD.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 12:24 PM   #3
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Since the advent of HD I have only had 1 corporate client even ask about it and only out of curiousity. Every corporate job I have done has neen SD.

Weddings have really been the same. Perhaps 1 out of 25 ask if I shot HD. I always ask them "do you want HD?". Only one time has the answer been an emphatic "YES". The clientel I service want solid stable, well composed, properly exposed footage and at least up to now don't care about HD.

Next year might be different but hopefully I'll be retired by then. Til then, for me SD is the way unless something comes up that requires HD, then I''ll rent what I need.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 01:05 PM   #4
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I just got this in my email box:

Advertisers Slow to Adopt HD

13% of TV ads in HD......not very high.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 01:10 PM   #5
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I know of quite a few HDV cameras that have never shot HD.

When the JVC GY-HD100 first came out I was wondering why so many local camera people were buying them, even though people were having problems with the HDV post at the time. Turned out they were all shooting DV.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 01:32 PM   #6
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Gotta say that for many years I shot 16:9 SD in the Z1 simply to make tapes that suffered less when a dropout occurred and could be replayed in my DSR-11. Now with the NX5 I only shoot HD - and why not - what's the point of SD im MPEG?

Sony think there's still a market for SD - their PD175 is mopping up the demand in - how shall we say?- less well to do countries such as Africa, India, South America.

And anyway, by DVDs get upscalled into my big TV and look just grand. You can't upscale the BD - it's already hit the ceiling. I love the ubiquity of the DVD as well - hand 100 people a BD and see how many people can play it in their car, on their portable, in their laptop.

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Old January 25th, 2011, 01:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe Strong View Post
I just got this in my email box:

Advertisers Slow to Adopt HD

13% of TV ads in HD......not very high.
That is very intresting.

I have an upcharge for HD just because of the time to edit and additional rental of a P2 store. Most people I have talked to has also said HD is not important to them. EXCEPT, my music video prospects. They seem to want HD.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 01:48 PM   #8
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Interesting replies! I half-wondered if I'd get a pile of posts shouting "BLASPHEMY!!! How DARE you impune the perfection that is HD and suggest people reduce themselves to knuckledraggers by shooting SD!" LOL

Looking at the retail marketplace for video cameras (across the consumer-to-pro spectrum) you'd think SD was all but gone for good. (But I guess this is no surprise.)

Though I have a high-powered Mac/FCP system for editing HD at work...at home I only have my lowly Pentium 4, WinXP system with Vegas 8. It chokes and wheezes on HD...but slices and dices SD without a hitch. I have a feeling I'm not alone.

I've always been amazed at the number of HD vids uploaded to YouTube...but then these are probably being uploaded by folks who are happy to babysit their uploads for hours hoping for a moment of online glory...

We (the general, average public) typically assume that technological improvements are in fact "improvements." Sometimes they are...(as in the case of more pixels for finer detail). But when you get right down to it, the 16:9 ratio is pretty arbitrary. (I doubt there is anything inherent in the anatomy of our human eyes that adds up to 16:9.) 4:3 is arbitrary too. They're just standards that stuck.

It's like arguments over how wide a lens to frame a subject. Some gripe about a given lens not being wide enough...but how wide is too wide? And why is it always better to capture everything in one view versus a slow pan? (After all, we sometimes have to turn our heads to take in a wide view in real life!)

I'm getting a little off-track. Nice to see some pros out there still shooting and producing in SD.

Finally, one of the most powerful (and only) arguments I can think of these days for HD is that it fares better when run through the "Mangler" of YouTube compression. If the major video hosting sites would allow full-res uploads (with no recompression) of SD video...I think a lot of people would be surprised by the quality of SD (especially SD shot on a good camera).

Scott
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Old January 25th, 2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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Some very good points, really got me thinking about this. I definitely agree about slow upload times. I upgraded to a premium internet service with my ISP, but I still only get 1.5 Mbps up, which is pretty bad comsidering it's around 20 Mbps down!

I upgraded to shooting and editing file-based HD a few months ago and don't regret it for a second. I wouldn't recommend an SD camcorder for home use because I think people should collect the best footage possible. Editing may be tough for many home users, but with HD they are capturing their memories in a far superior format. No regrets about it in years to come. Computers will soon deal with AVCHD as easily as they do with DV now. (e.g. SSDs instead of spinning hard drives). I wonder how many home camcorder users really ever edit anything they've shot? I have a feeling most people just put the tape or mini-DVD into the camera and play it back to the TV. Are they doing that with their HDTVs? Probably just plugging their little HD camcorders in and watching them on the big screen. The one big "gotcha" I see is that consumer cameras are quickly becoming flash based or HDD... and they have to dump that footage to a hard drive once in a while to free up more room for shooting. At least with tape there was a physical copy. I kind of doubt many people have backup drives and off-site archives of their footage. Going to be some tears when people lose that precious family footage due to a break-in or a HDD failing or stuff being deleted accidentally.

The one thing I do like about SD though is the nice and easy DV-to-DVD workflow. But with the transition to web delivery, streaming video, and hard-drive based media players, the optical disc may not even be missed.

Last edited by Keith Dobie; January 25th, 2011 at 03:54 PM.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 03:39 PM   #10
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I have been doing wedding videos as well as school theatrical shows for the past 4 years and all my work is done in SD and the reason that I have purchased the Sony HD Z5 is because I can shoot SD 16:9 ratio.

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Old January 25th, 2011, 04:04 PM   #11
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SD is more than sufficent for most purposes.

But try telling that to the marketing departments. They need something to make the masses buy a new TV or camcorder or video-player, so they force the idea that SD is old, outdated, and inferior to HD. Because of what they are fed by the marketing departments, most consumers don't understand all the components in the HD pipeline and how it will effect what they are watching on TV. They don't understand that having a HDTV doesn't mean all those TV shows still shot and broadcast in SD will suddenly appear sharper, or that a Blu Ray player is not very helpful without also buying a HDTV.

They go to the shop, looking for a new camcorder or whatever and the sales clerk says "you have to get this one becuase it does HD" and they believe him. Then they come back a week later and say "my HD camcorder doesn't look any better than my old one" and then the clerk says "that's because to get the benefit of the HD camcorder I forced you to buy, you have to buy this gigantic HDTV and a new top-of-the-line PC as well. Otherwise you basically just threw away $1000 on that camcorder."

The same thing is happening now with 3d too. It's being used as leverage to force consumers to upgrade their TV's again.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 04:31 PM   #12
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The same thing is happening now with 3d too. It's being used as leverage to force consumers to upgrade their TV's again.
Except 3D wont work; consumers bought into the the HD craze easily enough because for the most part they were getting a product that was bigger, better (and slimmer). But with 3D all you're getting is an awkward system that gives you headaches, the glasses will get lost, and it doesn't allow you to multitask. Consumers aren't being fooled by this one.

By the way, the Canon XL1 produced some of the finest images I have ever seen on video - plus it looked great on DVD and it was so easy to edit. Those were the days...
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Old January 25th, 2011, 09:54 PM   #13
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It's a numbers game

The general public gets easily hooked on numbers. While it is true that a higher number of pixels captured by a camera (still or video) gives you more detail, a cheap 12MP still camera produces a far less clear picture than my old 8MP Sony... why? because the lens on the new high MP camera weighs maybe 50 grams and it's made of plastic while my old Sony has a 2 pound glass lens.

Same with video. Under favorable lighting conditions you may get a good picture with a $500 "full HD" camcorder, but an old SD semi-pro camcorder will shoot the same quality both in sunlight and candlelight.

What the sales people will never tell the buyer (consumer or pro) is that the "full HD" camcorder is pretty far from capturing 1920x1080 pixels - most will do 960x1080, or maybe 1440x1080, then double each pixel horizontally, or use some other trick. Heck, even Varicam records only 1280x1080 pixels in the 1080i mode!

Where I see the advantage of HD cameras is: shooting HD gives you more data to work with if you need a high quality SD finished product, especially if you need heavy post production (special effects).
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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:05 PM   #14
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most of my work is distributed via client's websites, via client's dvds and via large venue presentations.

the web and dvd still need standard definition (sd) digital media.

only the last method-large venue presentations-ever warrants hd and even in those situations the source is usually a dvd NOT a blu-ray so i'm back to sd.

if my dvx100b could shoot true 16x9, it would still be my camera of choice.

heck, i still like my 1/2" 3-chip jvc dv500 so what do i know!

ymmv

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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:23 PM   #15
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Sony think there's still a market for SD - their PD175 is mopping up the demand in - how shall we say?- less well to do countries such as Africa, India, South America.
Africa and South America are CONTINENTS... <sly grin>

I shoot 720P60 (JVC ProHD on two GY-HD200s) solely because it gives me:
-60 frames per second for conversion to SD DVD (and the "pixel math" makes sense on downconvert)
-Progressive video which is far superior to interlaced media for web content
-The ability to post HD on web sites as requested.

Agreed, most of my work goes to SD but I PERSONALLY like the workflow for me.

Do I recommend everyone jump ship? Not at all but I did the math and for ME the choice was simple. Having said that, my 200's also work just fine in DV mode which I use for multicamera live switched gigs as I get 1.5 stops better low light performance... The HD200's are light PIGS, especially in 720P60.

You have to go with what YOUR business model tells you.
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