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Old January 27th, 2007, 09:46 PM   #1
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XD Cam HD is an interim format?

I just finished reading an article in the current Videography magazine concerning the BBC and the equipment they use now and will be using in the future.

What was interesting is one of the BBC producers/managers called XD Cam HD an interim format.

From the articles that I've read and most of the people that I've talked to XD Cam is poised to become a de facto standard similar to betamax.

This particular producer felt that Panasonic and its P2 option was the future of video production.

What do you guys and gals think?
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Old January 27th, 2007, 10:20 PM   #2
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Given the increasing rate at which technology changes in this market, all video formats these days are interim formats.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #3
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Based on discussions here and elsewhere recently and hints of coming products from manufacturers, I wouldn't place bets on either XDCAM HD or P2/DVCProHD becoming the future of video production. Although I've argued otherwise at times, it looks like variants of AVC are in a better position to sweep the industry for many purposes, depending on how things play out in the next few years.

In particular, if Panasonic delivers on their proposal to record AVC in an intraframe format to standard flash memory cards at moderate bit rates between those of HDV and DVCProHD, that could give both of those formats a run for our money. (And note that's not using P2 cards for recording.) Meanwhile, if consumers migrate toward AVC/MPEG4 as the most useful compromise between quality and bandwidth for recording and sharing video, that could make it the 'de facto standard' for consumer purposes in the internet era. And with AVC-intra reportedly scalable to very high quality at higher bit rates, that could give other high-end HD formats trouble depending on the details and pricing at that level.

I don't see any other codec trending so neatly toward omnipresence unless something changes soon, so kudos to those who were saying a year or more ago that AVC is probably the future. I think we're still at least 2-3 years from seeing that come to full fruition, but we should have a better idea by then if it's going to work.

XDCAM-HD can't take over without much cheaper camera options, and P2 won't take over because the price of the cards can't compete with mainstream flash memory. HDV can't take over because it's not good enough to satisfy high-end users, and DVCProHD is probably doomed once AVC-intra is shipping. Tape will give way to solid state recording eventually even though tape has some advantages, and sharing video over the internet is going to drive a lot of trends. Time will tell...
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Old January 27th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #4
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Most of us in here have spent over $30k on XDCAM HD. What do you suppose we're gonna tell you!?

Also, what do you think the X in XDCAM is for?
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Old January 28th, 2007, 02:56 AM   #5
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Is XDCAM HD an interim format? ... well that would depend on who you asked.

Define "interim".

Whether any format is interim probably depends, to a great extent, on rate of adoption of the format and thereafter whether the format engenders long term loyalty.

Obviously Sony do not see it as an interim format by any means, and I dare say they're hoping that others don't either!

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Old January 28th, 2007, 04:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Crockett
This particular producer felt that Panasonic and its P2 option was the future of video production.
For XDcam is the perfect format. Built in archiving i.e no need to back up from P2 cards. Proxy files - hopefully FCP will support that soon and good non-linear workflow. The cost of the discs are quite reasonable and the prices are coming down further. The format seems very robust and reliable plus it's very good value for money.

The only questions being asked are Mpeg 2 compression and no 2/3rd inch chips yet. Well the 2/3rd cameras are coming and I would imagine the codecs will also possibly be upgraded in the future via firmware.

Seems future proof to me.

P2 is a great theory but doesn't work for a lot of people in practice.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 11:52 AM   #7
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The idea of any contemporary format being an "interim" format seems like a belief system hangover to the decade long reign when Beta SP was the only viable broadcastable format (anyone remember Panasonic MII?).

But there's so much differentiation in the market now and camera manufacturers (including Sony) have produced different cameras and different formats to suit different people.

I don't think P2 or XDCAM HD are actually locked a winner takes all battle. These different formats suit different people.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 12:23 PM   #8
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You also need to keep in mind that P2 and XDCAM aren't formats. They are a type of storage media. P2 can store several codecs as can XDCAM discs.

You could very well see XDCAM discs holding newer and better codecs in 3 to 5 years. Some of those upgrades are coming sooner than later. And Panasonic is writing DVCPRO HD to P2 media at the moment, but AVC-I is coming down the pipeline and will store on the same P2 cards.

So both media types that we're talking about here have a lot of future potential. Sony has also indicated that any future XDCAM offerings will be backwards compatible, at least for playback of earlier generation discs.

By NAB we should have more official information.

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Old January 28th, 2007, 04:51 PM   #9
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I've heard rumours that Sony is a bit out of favour at the moment in the BBC. Regardless of that, Sony seem to be investing in the optical disk as a recording medium and I wouldn't be surprised if they have a wavelet compression format available on the 2/3" CCD XDCAM HD camera that's supposed to be in the pipeline.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 02:31 AM   #10
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Talk to any engineer and they will moan and groan about AVC and it's very poor multi-generation performance, far worse than MPEG 2. It is very efficient but the currently available AVC codecs produce a multitude of very difficult to hide artifacts when decoding or converting to other standards. Yes technology is moving along rapidly and standards will get updated and changed far more quickly than they used to.
XDCAM HD will be around for the next few years in one form or another. Lets face it it can record a damn good image on a cheap medium. It has a reliable well supported, tried and tested workflow and uses well proven compression technology that most software companies know how to work with. The decks and cameras have a good feature set. What more do you want?
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Old January 30th, 2007, 09:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston
So both media types that we're talking about here have a lot of future potential.
As far as media types are concerned, I don't see how P2 can thrive now that standard flash memory offers similar functionality and performance at a significantly lower price. And XDCAM discs won't get very far either if Sony doesn't start putting them in more affordable cameras, which they don't seem to be inclined to do. So if the price of flash memory cards (per GB) continues to plummet it makes sense for that to become the standard video recording medium of the future, as it has already done for photography.

Extrapolating the above considerations, one could say that all current video formats are interim until we have a widely accepted HD recording codec which works on mass-produced memory cards. AVCHD is the first to market which fits that description but is bit-starved for professional purposes, and is currently difficult to edit. DVCProHD could be adapted to become a mainstream format but Panasonic doesn't seem to be interested in making that happen, and same for XDCAM HD. As things stand today the convergence appears to be heading toward AVC for a codec (interframe for consumers and intraframe for professionals), with flash memory as the standard media once prices drop to acceptable levels. It may take a few more years yet for this to become a fully developed trend, but once we get there the transition could be rapid as it has been for still cameras.

P.S. On the other hand, we could see a split develop if Panasonic backs AVC for professional use while Sony adapts XDCAM HD to record on standard flash memory cards. Then you'd have a choice between HDV and AVCHD at the low end and AVC-intra or XDCAM HD for more advanced purposes. Essentially that's a choice between MPEG2 or MPEG4 based codecs for recording, with MPEG2 being more manageable for now and MPEG4 growing in popularity over time.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 12:23 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
As far as media types are concerned, I don't see how P2 can thrive now that standard flash memory offers similar functionality and performance at a significantly lower price. And XDCAM discs won't get very far either if Sony doesn't start putting them in more affordable cameras, which they don't seem to be inclined to do.
P2 is much, much more than a standard flash memory card which is why it's so expensive. It's 4 ZERO DEFECT SPEC memory chips in a RAID configuration with a hardware raid controller built into the P2 card.

XDCAM doesn't need to go into 'lower cost' cameras. That's not the target market for that medium. They want broadcast and indie film makers using it. I mean, look at the size of the discs. They won't fit in a handycam body style.

Both P2 and XDCAM are media types designed to be robust enough to handle the rigors and demands of middle to upper end productions. There will be plenty of life in XDCAM. CBS and all their O&O stations already have or or getting XDCAM. And those folks do not change with the latest craze because the bean counters want to milk every last dollar of ROI they can. Even as we speak, the most widely used ENG format is BetaSP, an analog format that is over 10 years old. With at least one major US network going all XDCAM, you can bet it's going to be around for awhile.

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Old February 1st, 2007, 12:26 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman
Talk to any engineer and they will moan and groan about AVC and it's very poor multi-generation performance, far worse than MPEG 2. It is very efficient but the currently available AVC codecs produce a multitude of very difficult to hide artifacts when decoding or converting to other standards.
Very true, Alister. I and at least one other member of the forum have seen the proof up close. I've seen what happens to AVC-I after 5 generations and it's not pretty.

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Old February 1st, 2007, 08:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston
P2 is much, much more than a standard flash memory card which is why it's so expensive. It's 4 ZERO DEFECT SPEC memory chips in a RAID configuration with a hardware raid controller built into the P2 card.
Factually all true. But is that complexity now NECESSARY? And with Infinity now proving that broadcast quality video can be recorded to a Compact Flash card, the answer must be no, no matter how much Panasonic would like us to believe otherwise. Or at least, I don't believe it's worth the huge difference in cost/GB for the vast majority of users.

And defects on the chip do not necessarily mean defects in the data, my understanding is that they are electronically 'isolated' - good data written and read around them. P2 was an ingenious solution to a problem when first designed, but ahead of it's time. Now it just seems like an unnecessarily complicated (and very expensive) solution, that has been superceded by improvements in standard flash memory, as Kevin says. Have you ever heard a professional stills photographer complain about Compact Flash?

At the moment, if you want solid state, it has to be P2. When Infinity comes to market, all that changes. The expectation is that Sony and JVC will eventually come up with their own solid state systems, and they are very likely to more mirror what GV are doing than Panasonic.
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With at least one major US network going all XDCAM, you can bet it's going to be around for awhile.
In use, yes, but the other factor is annual sales, which is what obviously matters to manufacturers. And here my suspicion is that it won't have high sales for as many years as formats such as BetaSP, DigiBeta or DVCAM. In which sense the tag 'interim' has validity.
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Old February 1st, 2007, 09:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston
P2 is much, much more than a standard flash memory card which is why it's so expensive. It's 4 ZERO DEFECT SPEC memory chips in a RAID configuration with a hardware raid controller built into the P2 card.
Understood, and that's why P2 will remain an obscure specialty item as inexpensive standard flash memory overtakes it for video acquisition purposes. It may still be used for high-end purposes requiring maximum bandwidth and reliability, but everyone who can is going to move away from it. Even Panasonic is reportedly proposing to use standard flash memory in future AVC-intra cameras.

Quote:
XDCAM doesn't need to go into 'lower cost' cameras. That's not the target market for that medium.
If so then XDCAM will also remain an obscure specialty item as inexpensive standard flash memory overtakes it for video acquisition purposes. That's the whole point here: neither P2 nor XDCAM can do what standard flash memory is poised to do, which is become the de facto standard recording medium for most videography purposes. P2 pointed the way but can't compete on cost.

Quote:
With at least one major US network going all XDCAM, you can bet it's going to be around for awhile.
And I still see VHS-C tapes for sale for those who have camcorders using that format, but the format is effectively obsolete. In any case, the notion that XDCAM HD is an interim format which will be displaced by P2/DVCProHD is almost certainly wrong, since the latter is no more viable in the long run.
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