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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 January 26th, 2006, 01:06 PM   #1
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annoying newbie questions

Hi everyone,

I've been considering a new camera, and this board has been a great source of valuable information. I feel drawn to the A1, but am afraid that I'm being naive about the whole process. Frankly, I've gone from excitement that nearly brought me to buy the A1, to being fairly overwhelmed by the monstrous amount of information that it seems I'll have to assimilate to even start filming anything.

I don't have a particular project in mind. I have begun a documentary on SD, and it is something I may well continue. I'm also interested in the possibility of doing projects where I capture images, then add sound later (music video style, I guess). I do not have an unlimited budget. It now seems that, in order to properly achieve any editing I'm going to have to buy an expensive new computer and editing software (Vegas, Final Cut, Avid... something). I'm wondering if the A1 is too good for me now, and whether I should just use a regular old camcorder to try my ideas first. My concerns: what if I succeed, and am stuck with (comparitively) crappy footage? In a way, $2k isn't that much more than buying a $600 camera that has no sound, no HDV, no CMOS etc... or is it? Will the 1080i60 that I get with the A1 hold up for a long time? Any advice about whether to "just do it" is appreciated.

Also, should I care about 24p? What's so bad about 25p? I find it difficult to believe that the eye discerns a huge difference, and I have no reason to believe that I'll be needing to worry about ease-of-transfer to film for quite some time...

I suppose this is long enough for now :) Any advice from all of you pros out there would be really great, and thanks in advance for your time!

DH
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Old January 26th, 2006, 02:09 PM   #2
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One opinion re: Moving to A1

Cost Issues:

Here is what you can expect in costs for move up to HDV.

PC: I updated my computer system, with new Mother board, Dual AMD processors, and even a power supply, Added new Disk drive. Out of pocket about $ 900 when I was through there. Essentially, I replaced every thing and built a new PC, exept for the box. If you are a Mac user, you are on your own.

Software: PC user. I am not sure what you are editing in, but you will need to move up to software that can capture and edit in HDV. Most users are singing the praises of Cineform wedded to Vegas or Premiere Pro. You can figure expense of between $400 to $700 for that expense, depending on whether you are upgrading existing software, or buying new. If you have put enough into your computer system, you may be able to edit, depending on program, in the m2t stream format, and avoid using Cineform or other intermediate program. (Premiere Pro 2.0 provides that capability, as well as Vegas and Pinnacle Studio 10 and Liquid Edition).

HDV: There are hundreds of posts in this forum where this argument rages. In the end, I think you get a very nice video product, that you can convert to about any output format, with good results. Yes, HDV is compressed video, but it is done well. I have the FX1, and I am tickled with whatever I see, whether is is 4:2:2 or 4:2:0, or whatever. The problem you have with HDV when you get it is you keep wanting to use it, because it looks so good, even though, you really may not have a place it can be aired or shown. In that respect, I am of the belief that using HDV in capture and rendering to DV gives you a superior end product. I've compared it with my VX2000 output, by eyeball, and find that to be true.

Good luck on your decisions.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 04:29 PM   #3
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Thanks Chris! Most appreciated, especially the HDV sum-up. I'm currently PC, sans-editing system... my computer is going on 4, so I'm thinking along the lines of upgrade pretty soon anyway, and PC v Mac is another bridge to cross at that point. My gut tells me that in the end I can still get more bang with my PC dollar than I can w/ Mac; same unfortunate hard truth I faced when I moved from Mac to my current PC...
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Old January 26th, 2006, 06:36 PM   #4
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PC v. Mac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Herzog
Thanks Chris! Most appreciated, especially the HDV sum-up. I'm currently PC, sans-editing system... my computer is going on 4, so I'm thinking along the lines of upgrade pretty soon anyway, and PC v Mac is another bridge to cross at that point. My gut tells me that in the end I can still get more bang with my PC dollar than I can w/ Mac; same unfortunate hard truth I faced when I moved from Mac to my current PC...
I get the urge to go Mac every now and then, but I think of other things I can blow my cash on, and the urge goes away. I have been building my own PCs since early 90's, and I am sure I cannot mod MAC stuff as easily.

On the cheap end of editing, you can try the Movie Studio +DVD Platinum, that includes a reduced feature Vegas, a reduced feature DVD Architect, and a Reduced feature, Acid-- all for about $ 100.00. It works with HDV, but with your system you'll want to add HD Connect from Cineform, which will allow you to convert the m2t HDV stream to a workable .avi file. Everyone seems to like Vegas, though I am having a hard time getting away from Premiere Pro. I just upgraded to 2.0. With the dual core processor, I am actually able to edit in the .m2t. in Vegas or Premiere Pro, though most authorities on this forum seem to indicate it is still better to edit in Cineform intermediate codec.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 03:12 AM   #5
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Dave,

I'm a Vegas user, and can second the suggestion of Vegas Movie Studio +DVD Platinum. I have the full "professional" version but started with the Movie Studio range. The Movie Studio range is very powerful...really had all I needed, though I got a good deal on the full version and couldn't resist....

And you don't need to add HD Connect - Vegas comes with the Cineform codec, you can capture the HDV files and convert them to Cineform. HD Connect would save you time, but is not needed.

SD or HDV you'll need editing software regardless... the HD version of Vegas Studio is $130, the non HD is $100 (list prices), so not much difference.

And as has been pointed out, you can shoot HDV and have the camcorder downconvert to DV for you, if for any reason you find the HDV editing flow too difficult. So other than the initial cost, no real downside.

When I moved to HDV, I made no hardware changes (still using a 1.6 Mhz Pentium M laptop), and the only software change was purchasing the "Gearshift" add-on for Vegas (for $40, which makes the editing flow easier, especially on a slower computer using proxies). But I already had Vegas. Note Gearshift doesn't work with the "Studio" versions of Vegas... but it isn't required, just a tool to make things easier.

For me, the main difference was figuring out the best editing workflow. Editing HDV isn't really "harder", but there are more options and such it is a bit more complicated: do you edit the HDV natively, do you use an intermediate like Cineform, do you buy HD Connect to convert on the fly, do you use a DV proxy... DV is easier in that way, as there are many editors and all of them edit DV with good performance on even the most modest of machines.

I suggest go for it - shoot HDV. Get an editor which is HD capable. Try and edit HDV. If you find this too difficult or time consuming, have the camera convert to DV and edit that.

Mark
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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:33 AM   #6
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Thanks Chris and Mark! That's really good to know Mark - I feel better that you are able to edit using your 1.6MHz computer... I'll still upgrade eventually, but it's nice to know that I could begin to play around without getting everything brand new. Also, Vegas definitely looks like the way to go. How much better is Vegas Production Suite + DVD (blue box; Vegas 6, DVD Architect 3, and Dolby Digital AC-3 encoding software)? It looks like this retails around $1k, but imagine that i could get it for less than a third of that - is it worth $200 more than the Movie Suite plus DVD platinum? Is that the one you have, Mark? It seems to indicate that I can edit HDV in real-time, which, if I understand correctly, is the advantage of the Cineform HD connect you've both mentioned. Right? And assuming it IS the "pro" version, I could benefit from the "Gearshift" add-on... Right?

Thanks,

DH
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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:36 AM   #7
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Price on Movie Studio Plus Platinum

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Herzog
Thanks Chris and Mark! That's really good to know Mark - I feel better that you are able to edit using your 1.6MHz computer... I'll still upgrade eventually, but it's nice to know that I could begin to play around without getting everything brand new. Also, Vegas definitely looks like the way to go. How much better is Vegas Production Suite + DVD (blue box; Vegas 6, DVD Architect 3, and Dolby Digital AC-3 encoding software)? It looks like this retails around $1k, but imagine that i could get it for less than a third of that - is it worth $200 more than the Movie Suite plus DVD platinum? Is that the one you have, Mark? It seems to indicate that I can edit HDV in real-time, which is the advantage of the Cineform product you've both mentioned. Right?

Thanks,

DH
I purchase Movie Studio + DVD Platinum for about $125 with a rebate at Frys, if I recall right, the difference is a lot more that $200. I believe it limits the amount of video and audio overlays, where as the full vegas allow unlimited stacking. I am sure there are other technical features not there, too, that pro users will want.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:50 AM   #8
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I think you're normally right, Chris, but I can get it for $300... Movie Studio + DVD platinum looks to be just over $100 on Amazon. So I'm just wondering if I'll be happy I spent 3x the price for the "real deal" later on.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #9
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Dave:

If you know Vegas is going to be your dedicated editor, go for it. I'm still deciding between PP 2.0 and Vegas. Leaning toward PP 2.0. I am having trouble with the advice everyone is giving that we should be editing HVV in Cineform's intermediate format, and Premiere seems to be agreeing with with their 2.0 version that is supposed edit in m2t.
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Last edited by Chris Barcellos; January 27th, 2006 at 01:07 PM.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 12:39 PM   #10
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Dave,

Yes, I have the blue box - retails at $675. If you can get it at $300 that's very good.

Vegas has had a "basic" version and a "professional" one for many years. When I started, the "basic" version was called "Video Factory". Then "Screenblast"... now Vegas Studio. I just looked at the comparison, and they have improved Studio... so it now has features like Chroma Key/"Green Screen" effect that it didn't used to have.

As was already mentioned, one big difference is the full Vegas has unlimited audio and video tracks, "Studio" has 4 video, 4 audio. Generally that should be enough... but if you want to get fancy, sometimes extra tracks are useful. Studio doesn't support ac3. It doesn't support scripting (which is what Gearshift uses, which is why it only works with full Vegas). Those are the most obvious differences. The DVD package is also more advanced with full Vegas.

The advantage of the Cineform Connect (which costs $199 in itself, I don't have this) is that when you capture it creates a Cineform file in real time, which is easier to edit. Otherwise, if you want to use Cineform, you would need to capture the original HDV m2t first, then render to Cineform, which can take some time.

You can also not use Cineformat all, and edit the HDV m2t directly with Vegas, but it can't preview at full speed, and will seem sluggish. And if you are adding fancy effects it will be hard to see what they are going to look like.

I generally use a proxy, with Gearshift. There is a $10 discount if you use the DVInfo.net discount code "SaveNow."

Vegas can't do "smart render" of the m2t directly, I think Premiere now can, which would make it better at a direct edit of the m2t. But some argue that going to Cineform is better anyway.. this is a confusing area.

I started with the basic version, and upgraded, actually because I was able to get the full Vegas at a good price (also around $300), and I thought it worth it. But at that time I already knew I was happy with Vegas. I suggest at least downloading a free trial and using that first before you take the plunge.

Mark
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Old January 28th, 2006, 06:08 PM   #11
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The free trial seems like a wise move, thanks. Of course, I'll have to get my hands on the camera first :) I guess I'm still on the fence, but if I get one, I think it'll be an A1, and I'll definitely give Vegas a try... Like you, my feeling is that the deal on the full version is too good to pass up.
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