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Old October 10th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #16
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I read something last year on here where Steve and Alister were talking about Discovery and BBC saying they will go 1080 and not 720. The 2700 is 720 native maybe that is why the great deal. A 1080 version might be on the way.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 10:50 AM   #17
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In what way did you notice the codec difference? Was this on transmission, or did you see codec breakdown from the EX just on viewing rushes?
With my HPX2700 the CAC seems to make virtually 0 difference! I have a Fujinon HA18x7.6, and I can only assume that as this is a quality lens that has fairly low CA anyway it doesn't change much with the CAC. This is what I believe is the general feeling; if you have a decent lens it'll make little difference, if you have a cheap lens it'll make quite a bit of difference.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett
......partly due to the massive superiority of the AVCINTRA 100 codec over the XDCAM EX codec
"Massive"? I think that's overstating it. Some very involved EBU tests gave both AVC-Intra 100 and XDCAM 422HD (50Mbs) a full seal of approval as future general purpose acquisition codecs, and rated both of them higher than HDCAM or DVCProHD.

The EX (35Mbs) version of XDCAM didn't make it on to the list because one of the criteria is 4:2:2 capability, otherwise it is similar to to the 50Mbs version in terms of compression efficiency and overall quality. By and large, a difference is only really noted if there's a lot of FX or grading etc to be done - the end product is likely to be 4:2:0 anyway, be it broadcast or Blu-Ray.

And how do you make the comparison? The EBU did it scientifically, making sure that the same test material from the same source was coded with both codecs to perform a like for like test. If two cameras are simply compared, how can anyone tell what is down to a camera front end, and what to a codec?

As far as broadcast acceptance goes, then I don't think the list given earlier is quite right. AFAIK, *NO* 1/3" camera has got unqualified acceptance for broadcast HD use, and that lumps the HVX200, 171, in with the likes of the Z7 and other HDV cameras. They are subject to the same restrictions as upconverted SD, or require case by case authorisation. (The HPX300 may now be an exception to that rule.) Last I heard the EX was the only camera in it's class (sub £5,000) to be fully broadcast approved.
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Originally Posted by Paul Cronin
I read something last year on here where Steve and Alister were talking about Discovery and BBC saying they will go 1080 and not 720.
The BBC HD channel has been 1080 since day 1. A mixture of 1080i/25 and 1080p/25 (transmitted 1080psf/25) depending on material. The EBU have also recommended that in future, as far as possible, it's preferred *production* format will be 1080p/50, 1080p/25 when the look is actively preferred - transmission is more complicated, though the eventual hope is 1080p/50 as well.

Hence yes, a general desire for 1080 native resolution cameras and codecs, but they are not hard and fast rules. The BBC Natural History Unit, for example, currently uses 2700s as replacements for Varicams because the off speed abilities are more important than absolute resolution. If a 1080 camera had been available with the same facilities, I'm sure that would have been seen as preferable.

For other programmes, such as drama, different priorities may apply and a 2700 may not then be seen as good enough.

As far as this thread goes, I suspect a big reason for the price drop is that now the 300 is on the shelves there is far more of a general expectation that sensors will be 1920x1080 native. There's a limit that can then be asked for one with 1280x720 resolution.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 02:08 PM   #19
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Well said David,

Then add the Nano to the EX and kick up the bit rate to 100Mbps at 422 and you have a great package.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 03:21 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
"
For other programmes, such as drama, different priorities may apply and a 2700 may not then be seen as good enough.
.
I'm not even sure if that is true. AFAIK there is absolutely no limit on use of the 2700 anywhere, and as I've said, many people would subjectively prefer the 2700 image to that of an F900 or PDW700 when viewed on a decent size TV or monitor. I've yet to hear anyone comment that the 2700 looks nice but appears to lack resolution.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 03:28 PM   #21
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Steve I think it is not always the station as it is the producer. I had a shoot where the EX would not be accepted and they said I could use F900, PDW700, or Varicam 3700 but not the 2700. This is a very high end TV production company. So I rented the F900.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 03:40 PM   #22
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That is a surprise I must say. Unless it's destined for cinema release that seems crazy. Even the old Varicam was always on the top rung of the ladder with BBC/Disco etc, and was the mainstay for Planet Earth.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 04:20 PM   #23
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Yes it is destine for cinema release.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 05:23 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
I'm not even sure if that is true. AFAIK there is absolutely no limit on use of the 2700 anywhere, .........
The point was intended in a very generalistic way. Trying to say that the 2700 had features that currently may make it best choice in one situation, but not in another. There may be no specific edict to say it can't be used for drama for a broadcaster, but practically another camera may be better.
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Even the old Varicam was always on the top rung of the ladder with BBC/Disco etc, and was the mainstay for Planet Earth.
But wasn't Planet Earth shot with a mixture of Varicams and HDCAMs? I'm sure I've heard it said that the money people wanted to use one camera throughout for cost reasons, but the battle was won to try to use whatever was more appropiate to subject. So Varicams where off speed was most important, HDCAM in other cases.

And time moves on. No doubt they were the best choices at the time, but I suspect the makers would agree that there is better around now.

Regarding codecs, the EBU recommendations do apply to "general broadcast acquisition", they don't make out they are the best available. Hence I suspect Sonys line would be that there is HDV for low end work, 35 and 50Mbs XDCAM for general HD broadcast etc, and HDCAM-SR for the very top end.

A colleague has expressed the opinion to me that he considers the XDCAM codecs to have a massive advantage over AVC-Intra - a third or half the bitrate, with the 50Mbs version being equally broadcast acceptable. That makes the use of solid state viable to him in a way that would be less possible if 2-3x as much memory was needed.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 06:20 PM   #25
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Planet Earth was Varicam, HDCam, Super 16, 35mm, all sorts of stuff! But for the general wildlife behaviour it was mostly Varicam, with HDCam for under water and aerials AFAIK.
Times do change but Varicam is still the current choice (ie Frozen Planet, billed as Planet Earth 2), including the Natural World strand and the new Life series, plus all other current NHU series like Great Rift, Madagascar etc.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 09:58 AM   #26
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A lot of broadcasters in Europe, and EBU, recomend and will problaly broadcast HD in 720p50. Luckily NRK here in Norway didn't only count pixles when they choose the Hpx2100 a few years ago as camera for one of their top drama series "Himmelblå".

On Discovery HD Survivorman looks pretty good in HD and thats shot with the old varicam and hvx200. Earlier seaons of American Chopper also where shot with varicam. XdcamHD(not 422) and HDX900 also se a lot of use on the top rated Discovery series, none of them 1080p native cameras. Even BBC's HD "test" with Topgear going to the North Pole was shot on HDX900. Ofcourse 1080p looks good, but ain't always needed for broadcast.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 12:01 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
A colleague has expressed the opinion to me that he considers the XDCAM codecs to have a massive advantage over AVC-Intra - a third or half the bitrate, with the 50Mbs version being equally broadcast acceptable. That makes the use of solid state viable to him in a way that would be less possible if 2-3x as much memory was needed.
Most AVC Intra modes are Native, so for example, 720/24PN require only around 40Mbps, not 100Mpbs. Native modes are also available in 1080/24Pand 30P with AVC Intra 100, unlike DVCPRO HD, where Native modes were 720P 24 and 30P only.

It's important to know that AVC codecs are typically twice as efficient as MPEG 2 and DCT based codecs. XDCAM is MPEG 2 based, DVCPRO is DCT based. The I-Frame aspect of AVC Intra 100 is also nice vs. Long GOP.

In my opinion, the biggest advantage of AVC Intra 100 over most of the competition is the 10-bit part--that's huge!

BTW, I'm a new HPX2700 owner. To me a camera that can't shoot above 30 fps shouldn't be called a Varicam. The 3700 is an awesome camera, but nowhere near the flexibility of the 2700.

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Old October 12th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #28
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Native modes are also available in 1080/24Pand 30P with AVC Intra 100, unlike DVCPRO HD, where Native modes were 720P 24 and 30P only.
I don't see how that can be the case. Using Region50 figures, the raw rates for 720p/50 are about 50megapixels/second (approx 1 megapixel, 50 times a second), and for both 1080i/25 and 1080p/25 it's roughly the same - though now 2 megapixels, 25 times a second. Hence 100 Mbs needed in both cases for comparable compression. Go to 720p/25 and it's now approx 25 megapixels per second, hence yes, drop the data rate to 50Mbs.

The same must apply in Region60 countries, though OK, 1080p/24 is only 5/6 the raw rate of 1080p/30 or 720p/60, so it could drop to about 85Mbs for equivalent compression.
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It's important to know that AVC codecs are typically twice as efficient as MPEG 2 and DCT based codecs. XDCAM is MPEG 2 based, DVCPRO is DCT based.
All of the codecs above are fundamentally based on DCT techniques. MPEG2 is DCT with the possibility of using extra tools to aid efficiency, AVC is MPEG2 with the possibility of using further tools still to aid efficiency even more.

But how efficient AVC codecs are relative to MPEG2 depends on a number of factors, not least being the number of tools used. AVC-I also uses CAVLC, compared to CABAC for AVC-HD. I think that's the right choice - but does mean lesser coding efficiency, the gain being less complicated coding and decoding.

The comparison also means comparing like with like - so AVC-I with MPEG2-I frame. Practically, XDCAM-HD422 obviously is long-GOP, so will be expected to be more efficient than MPEG2 I-frame itself. Hence two different approaches - Panasonic use AVC techniques to improve compression efficiency, Sony use long-GOP.

Which is best? Frankly it's irrelevant. BOTH of them have been given a big seal of approval by the EBU - go to EBU Technical Review , click on "Digital Compression", and then "HDTV production codec tests" if you want full details. BOTH of them have, in the words of the EBU:
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.....shown quasi-transparent quality up to at least 4-5 multi generations, but have also shown few impairments such as noise or loss of resolution with critical images at the 7th generation.
That's in spite of the tests using positional shifts between generations (to avoid recoding in the same manner) and additionally frame shifts for XDCAM (so that I-frames in one generation were coded as difference frames in the next.

Read the full report. A user doesn't need to worry about using either XDCAM422 or AVC-Intra 100 on quality grounds for general acquisition, end of story.
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The I-Frame aspect of AVC Intra 100 is also nice vs. Long GOP.
If you mean because it causes less processing work during editing, then maybe yes. But the AVC nature causes an overhead of it's own - it's swings and roundabouts.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 05:44 PM   #29
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It's important to know that AVC codecs are typically twice as efficient as MPEG 2 and DCT based codecs.
That is a bit of a generalisation. At low bitrates this is certainly true. But as the bitrate increases the advantages of AVC etc diminish quite considerably.

As David says, it is swings and roundabouts with regard to which codec is best. Either is acceptable, and really the choice of camera should be down to which suits the production best.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 06:18 PM   #30
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A generalisation that's not necessarily true even at low bitrates Simon - it depends on the complexity of the coder, and how many AVC features it uses. A coder in a cheap camera is very, very unlikely to use anything like the full AVC feature set, and very unlikely to therefore achieve anything like that 2x advantage over MPEG2. Look at a broadcast MPEG4 encoder at the end of a studio chain and it's a very different story.

Don't go by the numbers is what I'm trying to say. It's far too complex, which is why the EBU restricted themselves to saying "both these codecs are very good, use either of them with assurance", or words to that effect.

I agree with Simon. Don't choose a camera by a codec. If varispeed is of prime importance, get a 2700. If resolution is more important, there is likely to be a better choice.
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