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Old January 13th, 2003, 09:37 PM   #1
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Betacam versus dv

Ok I may have this all wrong but this is why I ask. I have noticed that some television shows will use a minidv cam to provide a more expose type of shot when mixed in with regular video shot. For instance if you have ever seen Trading Spaces on TLC, I'm refering to the change in video quality when they have the "Paige Cam" which as far as I can tell is a vx2000/pd150.

How is it that miniDV differs from Beta? How can I make miniDV look like the beta. I assume that the stuff I am seeing/comparing with is beta. Can someone please shed some light on this for me? I always have assumed that the production quality could be made with proper lighting? Is that true?


Thank you.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 12:29 AM   #2
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I believe the Paige Cam is a GL1 (might be a GL2 now).

Production quality is not the same as picture quality. SUre you can make better production quality with a Canon ZR40 with a pro lighting setup and effects. Picture quality will not improve.

Personaly (flame on), I don't find that much of the "broadcast video" you see on reality shows is much better than the picture quality my XL1 shoots. At least for normal conditions. In low light or high contrast situations however, I wouldn't want to go head to head.
Just my humble opinion.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 12:57 AM   #3
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The big difference isn't because of of the tape format. Both formats are pretty close when it comes to potential performance. It's the camera. Betacam cameras are usually $12,000 2/3-inch cameras with $10,000 lenses. The recorder section alone for a dockable can run $7,000. And batteries aren't included.

Compare that to a camera that comes as a complete kit at less than $3,000. There's a good reason for the price difference and it comes at the cost of component quality. Everything from the optics to the imaging block, and the way the signal is processed and laid down on tape.

In this case it's not just lighting. It's equipment performance that makes the difference. The brightness range, lower noise level and color accuracy all favor the more expensive camera. So to make video look better under existing lighting, you'd have to invest in better equipment. While many can do a great deal with relatively low-cost gear, sometimes it's an unavoidable fact of life that high quality comes with a disproportionate price tag. If it weren't necessary no one would spend the money.

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Old January 14th, 2003, 01:34 AM   #4
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Two other thoughts, following on Dylan and Dean's right-on remarks.

First, I really doubt that the "Paige Cam" footage is actually shot from the camera she's shown holding. I suspect that it's actually shot with the main cameras, with the camera operator shooting in "amatuer" mode; poor framing, wiggly movement. The "Rec" is layed over that with a simple filter effect in post. My reasoning: these shows are on tight post-production schedules. The hassle involved in cutting miniDV footage into the Betacam footage probably wouldn't be worth the time.

Second, I've no doubt that you could hand an XL1s to one of the camera operators on these shows and you'd be hard pressed to be able to tell the difference in the final product. Practice, skill and mastery of the camera lend most of the professional look to the end product.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 06:56 AM   #5
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Beta is a very generic term. It can refer to Betacam SP, Betacam SX and Digital Betacam. The later two are digital products. Betacam SP is component analog recording. I used to own Betacam SP packages and when I look at well lit, properly exposed Beta SP footage it is hard to tell from XL1 footage.

I used Betacam SX equipment when I worked in Broadcast TV. We said that the SX stood for sucks. The equipment was not very reliable and the picture quality was only marginally better than Beta SP (or DV).

Digital Betacam is a different story. Basic camcorder packages start at $25,000 (street price probably less, but I don't believe that price includes lens). DigiBeta is used on many network shows today. The picture quality is as good as it gets in SD TV today. Superior picture quality is the result of larger chips, higher S/N ratio, and recording in 4:2:2 color space and A/D is 16bit.

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Old January 14th, 2003, 12:19 PM   #6
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I do know that Monster Garage is shot on DV. There have been a few shots where they show one of the other cameramen and two of them I have seen were holding PD-150's. I also read an article over at Sony DVCAM about Dateline using DV.

http://www.sonyusadvcam.com/content/article_42.shtml

There is the link, although it isn't an especially great article, they talk more about the "film look" for broadcasting.

I think that a lot of "Broadcast" markets are going to DV because of the speed, portability, cost and quality that such cameras as the XL1s and PD-150 have brought to the market. I don't think that they are going to be replacing the studio cameras anytime soon because of the DV format's limitations and previous investment in much better gear but I do expect to see more DV in the field.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 04:34 PM   #7
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Back in December, I was watching the OPRAH show, she was doing interviews with the cast of Harry Potter. They brought a young fan backstage to meet them. They cut to footage back stage, and in the two shot, you could see the cameraman shooting the over-the-shoulder of the fan. He was holding an Xl1s. In the cut to the over -the- shoulder, you could see the wide shot was also an XL1s.

Obviously, the footage was "Suitable for broadcast". Whatever that means today.

Regards.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 06:37 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ken Tanaka : Two other thoughts, following on Dylan and Dean's right-on remarks.

First, I really doubt that the "Paige Cam" footage is actually shot from the camera she's shown holding. I suspect that it's actually shot with the main cameras, with the camera operator shooting in "amatuer" mode; poor framing, wiggly movement. The "Rec" is layed over that with a simple filter effect in post. My reasoning: these shows are on tight post-production schedules. The hassle involved in cutting miniDV footage into the Betacam footage probably wouldn't be worth the time.

-->>>

Ken, I've often thought that as well! They do show Paige holding the DV cam, but I've always been doubtful that the "Paige Cam" was actually shot by her.

Does anyone know what percentage of shows use Betacams vs. Sony DSR series DVCAM's or JVC's DVCPRO (is that correct?)?
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Old January 31st, 2003, 06:43 AM   #9
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I disagree, I think it really is Paige Davis behind the camera. See http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...1224#post41224 if you want my opinion on this.
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Old January 31st, 2003, 10:27 PM   #10
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Patrick, don't confuse recording format with camera quality. If you take a professional camera, let's say a DSR500 which records to DVCAM, and record simultaneously to a Betacam SP deck, say a BVW50, through the 26 pin output, then you probably will not be able to tell the difference in the recordings. Under low light conditions or areas of saturated colors, the DVCAM recording may look better to you.

But if you compare a $3500 camera such as a PD150 to a $40,000+ camera like a BVW600, then the 2/3" chip professional camera will look better regardless of tape format used.

DVCAM is for all practical purposes a digital replacement for Betacam SP. Sony, of course, would like you to think of IMX as a digital replacement for Betacam SP...and before IMX, they wanted you to think of BetacamSX as a replacement for Betacam SP. That didn't work out very well for them.

If you work in TV news, you probably think of DVCPRO as a replacement for Betacam SP. Anyway, regardless of tape format used, it's a question of the camera itself. Most cameras considered by professionals to be professional cameras are 2/3" chip cameras with good lenses, and they may record to DVCAM, DVCPRO, Digital Betacam or any of the 50mbs formats.

I have actually seen professional engineer types refer condescendingly to DV footage because they think DV means a non-professional camera...and at the same time the same engineer types watched a Betacam SP tape of a program that was shot in DVCAM and pointed out how much better it was than the lowly DV program.
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Old February 1st, 2003, 08:21 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone! This answers a lot of my questions.

Patrick
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