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Old August 17th, 2006, 07:47 PM   #1
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Is progressive HD really video?

I was thinking about what video actually is, and I think this is a question worth asking. Is 24 fps progressive scan at 1920x1080 really even video? It's not film, but I could argue that it's equally separate from video.

Video... originally... was motion images not captured on film, but on tubes that could record a low resolution interlaced image onto analogue tape. This was what video was originally known to be. Eventually we evolved past tubes, but we still had the interlacing and still recorded analogue but of course the name stuck. Now we're shooting on several flat computer chips, one frame at a time at high resolution, and recording to digital media. Is this really still video?

If you don't see what I'm trying to say, let me propose a hypothetical situation:

Imagine that all video cameras are still tube cameras shootng interlaced and analogue. Now imagine that a brand new kind camera comes out. This new camera is comething completely different from those video cameras... it has chips... it has progressive scan... it's digital. If that new camera (today's top of the line DV/HD cam) were to come out than, without the gradual progression of technology that led to it, I don't think it would be called a video camera.

That said, I would also say that what we're shooting now is not video (at least not by it's original definition). I know what you'll say... "definitions change, that's how language evolves!" But there's no denying that progressive HD footage looks completely differnt from news-room footage... as it looks different from film as well.

One problem with this is, where do you draw the line? What's video and what isn't? I'm not sure... maybe once it's progressive and it's digital, it's not video? Maybe once it's those two things, but HD too, it's not video? The thing is, the history of these cameras wasn't the scenario I depicted above. It was a very slow evolution of technology, which was called video the whole way.

How about this... if there was a word that sounded good and that was obvious to use to call our cameras, that name would probably have become the new word for motion-picture that's not film but it's not quite video either, right? If there was some word that just begged to be spoken because it's a better description of what we shoot than is video, we'd probably be using it. right? But what word is there that's obvious and that sounds good that it would catch on? cineo? cideo? vinema? They all sound awful!

And THAT, I believe, is why we're still shooting on video... because there's no better word for it.

Does anyone agree? If so, than I proclaim throughout the land that this thread should be devoted to coming up with a new name for what we shoot, and that this word should be disseminated and yelled from the highest mountaintops until... until Meriam Webster makes it official. Ok, maybe that last bit was too much ;)
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Old August 17th, 2006, 08:16 PM   #2
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It is digital video. Time was you distinguish video from film. Those days are in the past. Tomorrow, it will look even better. The problem is that people are so used to film that they resist change. You give them 60P and 4K and they say "It's too real." Let them eat film!
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Old August 17th, 2006, 08:23 PM   #3
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Wait until they get cameras with "full size sensors" like that Canon 5D Mark II (I think that's the right model) that has sensor to replicate 35mm film! 16.7 megapixels I believe

When they get that technology to video, THAT will be the replacement for film!
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Old August 17th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #4
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Actually, yes it can be too "real" so real it loses the imperfections of real life. Synthesized instruments have been around 30 years and they just now are getting it right. CGI still is not as good as real life and video, even HD, is not close.

It will be 4K digital video that will finally knock off film, not HD. It is like people who were proclaiming the death of still film when 1.2 megapixel cameras came out. We just now are seeing film start to die off with professional photographers but most the pictures you see in print are still shot on film.


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Old August 17th, 2006, 09:33 PM   #5
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Historically, there were greater technology barriers between the two worlds. If you transfered film <--> video, the results wouldn't be that great. Then better telecines came along and the film --> video side got better, which meant you could see theatrical films in the home. However, film still provided better quality.

The technologies are starting to converge, where you can shoot digital video and output to film with good quality. Since a lot of manipulation is done with computers for both film (DI) and video, the two worlds are becoming more interchangeable (technology-wise).

There are many who argue that film looks better, but video is undeniably getting better and better.

2- On the political/economic side of things, there's forces that try to keep the worlds seperate. Theatre owners don't want home viewers to have theatre quality in their homes... otherwise, why would you go to the theatre to see a movie?
This affects the technology... DCI went with 2K resolution over 1920x1080, to differentiate between the two. It would've made sense to go with 1920x1080, since there are economies of scale behind HD. But that's not the case.

3- You're shooting "digital".
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Old August 17th, 2006, 09:33 PM   #6
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Hmm, quick responses so I must have sparked interest...

...but I think you guys misunderstood what I was trying to say.

I wasn't trying to compare video to film, or say that we don't need film because video is so good, or say that video is at all better or more useful than film. All I was suggesting is that the name "video" might not be so accurate, given that there are two very different types of video cameras out there now. The "true" video cameras that embody the classic video look (soap-opera video), and the cameras that have a look that is distinctly not "classic video".

Just the word "video"... that's all I'm talking about. I think there should be three classifications; video, film, and x (x being high res progressive stuff that looks good in other ways, but that we currently classify as video).

EDIT: Glenn, we posted simultaneously. Just calling it "digital". Hmm, that seems reasonable enough! But still, it woud be easy to tack on "video" and we're left with digital video.
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Old August 17th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #7
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So it all 60i video then? Even 1080? but yet 24p 1080p is something new to you, there seems to be a grey area in your idea.
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Old August 17th, 2006, 11:00 PM   #8
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"Video" refers to any moving image that is electronic in nature.
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Old August 18th, 2006, 11:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack Fisher
So it all 60i video then? Even 1080? but yet 24p 1080p is something new to you, there seems to be a grey area in your idea.
Well, I admitted that the defining line was very fuzzy (pun... intended?)

All I'm saying is that it seems sensible to easily distinguish between the video cameras you'd shoot a newscast with and those you'd shoot a movie with... by calling them different things.

Jarrod, a textbook definition to be sure, but there's no denying that when you're watching digital cinema video vs. newsroom video they are very different things, so much so that I just think they should have different names.

I guess no one agrees with me :P

Ok, back to tweaking my mini35 so I can a sweet film look ;)
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Old August 19th, 2006, 05:11 AM   #10
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I think maybe the issue is already resolved with cameras such as the Viper and Arri D20 being called "Digital Film Cameras"
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Old August 19th, 2006, 07:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant
I think maybe the issue is already resolved with cameras such as the Viper and Arri D20 being called "Digital Film Cameras"
And then there's Silicon Imaging with their "Digital Cinema" cameras, which sounds like a good term to me to resolve Justin's question here. If you think "video" has a less than satisfactory connotation and "film" should be used to refer to physical film, then "cinema" is a reasonable compromise. It also fits with Webster's definition, which is basically that cinema is the generic term for motion pictures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
It will be 4K digital video that will finally knock off film, not HD. It is like people who were proclaiming the death of still film when 1.2 megapixel cameras came out. We just now are seeing film start to die off with professional photographers but most the pictures you see in print are still shot on film.
Film is quickly disappearing now for anything but big-budget movies and a few die-hard photographers. (I hear that even National Geographic is switching to digital.) And as far as movies are concerned, aren't most scenes digitally processed somewhere between the camera and the viewer these days? In other words, few of us ever see motion pictures recorded and viewed directly on film without a digital intermediary. Given that, the only meaningful difference between a good digital video camera and movie film converted to digital format is the way the original image handles subtleties of light, and the presence of film grain, dust and scratches. The physical imperfections of film do nothing but detract from image quality, so it's mainly the subtlety of response to light which matters here. At some point digital sensors and video recording formats will rival or surpass movie film in every meaningful way, and that can happen at HD resolution as well as at 4K.
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Old August 19th, 2006, 07:50 AM   #12
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I'd say video because the techniques used for capturing the image are the same as they have been from the first days of color television. The images are much better and the numbers (resolution, frame rate, 'scan' method, color space, sampling) may be different but they still have the same properties. One of the most important, IMO, 'features' of video is the reduction in bandwidth of the color signal which was present in the earliest color cameras and is still with us today (except in 4:4:4 equipment). This leads to interesting and annoying artifacts which are unique to video.

Another aspect of video not seen with film is the regular array of pixels which creates 'jaggies' and moire neither of which is seen in film. These are still with us though better controlled in modern cameras. In fact we now have horizontal quantization as well as vertical (only vertical in the days of orthicons and videcons).

It's video because the image is captured electronically and things like gamma and matrixing (and thus contrast, hue and saturation) are under the immediate control of the operator or editor - not a chemist at the Kodak plant. In order to obtain this flexibility with film it must be converted to an electronic (digital or analog) form at which point, IMO, it becomes video.
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Old August 19th, 2006, 08:12 AM   #13
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I agree that 'Digital Cinema' is a very nice name for those cameras.
I like the sound of it.
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Old August 19th, 2006, 01:40 PM   #14
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Justin,

I like what you're asking and I dig the philosophical attitude about technology. It is interesting how digital technology has problematized all sorts of conventions and definitions...

Someone mentioned the Viper, I agree that "digital film" is the perfect term for high res, progressive frame digital recording. "Film" not only because of frame-by-frame nature of it, but also because more often than not (at least for the moment) we are recording to an actual linear tape.

But especially because of the mental associations of "film" vs. "video". "Film" implying cinema and art, connoting quality, expense and craftsmanship, while "video" seems to imply cheap, or low-res, accessible, or industrial. And is associated with live sports, news, stuff like that.

I agree there should be something in-between, and to me "digital film" is as good as anything.
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Old August 19th, 2006, 03:02 PM   #15
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Excellent topic, Justin!

My opinion: yes, video is still video and will be video; I don't think we need to change the name. Audio is audio whether it's limited to 3 KHz (phone), 20 KHz (audio CD) or higher for professional gear. The term video describes the technology used for capturing and storing moving images - and it's video regardless of the actual technology used or the resolution.

Strictly my opinion. You know where the BIG difference is? Film is dying while video just got into a new era going all digital and will be here for a long time. Maybe we'll have to change it when we move on to holographic real 3D stuff...
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