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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old April 5th, 2008, 04:35 PM   #1
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Downconverting question

OK, I'm waiting for delivery of my HC7, so can't play around with it to quickly find out the answer, which I why I'm turning to the luminaries here.

My HC7 will be a PAL model In some cases I'll be marrying its images to PAL SD shot on a PD150. I intend, however, to record on the HC7 in HDV (to futureproof the archive footage) and downconvert to DV via the i.Link. Editing will be in FCP 5.1 with final output to be SD 4:3

My question: I'll be looking for a 4:3 ratio on the HC7 downconvert. How do I best go about this? Is this ratio automatic when one downconverts, or does it come out letterboxed? If letterboxed, does this mean I'll have to crop the sides in FCP? (And does this necessarily mean lost resolution?) How should I do this?

Any help muchly appreciated!
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Old April 5th, 2008, 05:10 PM   #2
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Hi Marc,

Been to Sao Paulo many, many times in the last 2-3 years (rarely staying though, usually en route to Porto Alegre!)

I have Sony HC1 and use PD150 also. With HC7 I imagine it's the same as with HC1 so here goes in answering your questions. I work with Vegas 7, not FCP though.

Basically you should, in my opinion, shoot everything in HDV for reasons you already understand. However, that means it will, by default, always be 16x9 apsect ratio. My advice would be to shoot with some "wastage" at either side of the picture if you know your final output (for now) is going to be 4x3 SD. Then in your (4x3) timeline in FCP you can then move the frame around the (16x9) clips and crop etc. to get the bits you want for 4x3 output.

Personally, I'd NOT downconvert to Std Def from the camera when capturing your footage as the result looks very soft - but that's something you'll have to try out and see for yourself - actually, the PD150 clips will look very soft to you once you see what the HC7 can produce in good light! I always capture HD and edit in HD all the way through (very easy to do in Vegas)...which allows you to zoom in in pan and crop (in whatever aspect frame you want, 16x9 or 4x3 or custom) when needed whilst still retaining superb resolution.

I then downconvert to Std Def at the final rendering stage (in my case always 16x9) before making DVD's. This workflow works best for me. It may not for you.

If your final ouput is 4x3 Std Def then I think you'll still notice that the HC7 is sharper than the PD150 but low light performance will be much better on the PD150 and it's superb colours probably a bit more "alive." The issue I have (since I like 16x9) is that this means the PD150 gives very poor resolution in this format (as in my case I'm throwing away a lot of lines top and bottom of the frames in the clips it gives me = further loss of resolution.) You really notice this when viewing on a big HDTV.

One other point. If it's like my HC1 you CAN (if you really want to!) set the camera to shoot in DV (i.e. Std Def) in EITHER 16x9 or 4x3 format. I did this briefly when I first got my HC1 nearly 3 years ago, shooting some stuff in 4x3 SD but now really regret ever doing this as I work mainly in HD now (and I've had to re-shoot, where possible, some stuff again in HDV....and of course this is usually NOT possible!!!)
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Old April 5th, 2008, 05:29 PM   #3
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Andy, brilliant, nothing like somebody who's gone through the same experience to enlighten proceedings.

Thanks for your insight.

I was debating whether to shoot in SD, but wasn't keen to do so, for the reason you mentioned (didn't want to come back to my tapes in a couple of years to re-use shoot scenes and be frustrated with SD format).

You answered the question: the downconvert yields only SD 16:9, not 4:3.

The only possible problem I see now is mixing HD and SD footage on the FCP timeline. Not a problem with FCP 6, but seeing as I'm locked into a corporate set-up I don't have the upgrade option from FCP 5 yet. I may well have to just decide to edit the HC7 sections separately in HD and then export them in SD and THEN put them in a timeline with the PD150 SD footage. Which would be a pain, but I guess what I'm looking at.....

Thanks again!
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Old April 5th, 2008, 05:35 PM   #4
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You're welcome, thats what this place is for - sharing and learning!

I forget now I'm using Vegas (which seems to allow you to put almost anything you want into the timeline regardless of format/resolution/aspect ratio etc!) that other editors are not quite so "forgiving." Your suggested solution should work out quite well I think.

Say hello to the sun in Brasil for me - snow is forecast here in England tonight!
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Old April 5th, 2008, 05:45 PM   #5
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Yeah, well a relatively cool evening in Sao Paulo tonight.... Had to wear a long-sleeved shirt, lol. Makes a nice change to the slight sweat worked up by lifting the caipirinhas to the lips and watching the local fauna flit by.
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