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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old March 9th, 2008, 08:52 PM   #1
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Z1 conclusions

HD recorded looks great from camera to TV or camera to NLE.
HD recorded,downconvert in camera to NLE looks crap and soft. To try and fix this i have to sharpen the footage which is madness as you buy a camera for the resoultion or so i thought i did.

HD recorded to NLE looks great but as soon as i downconvert to SD Mpeg-2 for the client it looks crap and soft. So yet again to fix this i have to sharpen the footage which is still very soft.
Now i'm thinking why did i buy a HD camera if at the end of editing and downconverting all i get is a picture a little bit better tha the Sony PD170.

I'm very upset with myself for not checking the total quality(downconverted that is) before i left the store.

Simon
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Old March 9th, 2008, 09:35 PM   #2
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Not exactly sure what you're saying Simon. I shoot HDV and use the camera to downconvert when I play back the tape, so I can capture as regular DV. I think that looks very good for standard definition DV personally and have hundreds of hours of footage shot this way. I know there are other workflows where you downconvert with software which are supposed to give better results, but doing it in-camera is much easier and doesn't involve any rendering.

I would agree that shooting in regular DV mode doesn't look as good, which is why I don't do it.
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Old March 10th, 2008, 05:28 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Ash View Post
Now i'm thinking why did i buy a HD camera if at the end of editing and downconverting all i get is a picture a little bit better tha the Sony PD170. I'm very upset with myself for not checking the total quality (downconverted that is) before i left the store.
FWIW, the BBC have lorry-loads of Z1s used simply as a "16:9" PD170 replacement, shooting pretty much exclusively in DVCAM.

The 'Shoot HDV, downconvert for SD' is a very common workflow, but in-camera down-converts lead to interlaced SD footage, but I am passionate about nice progressive footage, so I have to jump through the HD edit/Deinterlace/downsize hoops.

One thing I did pick up on if using FCP downconverts is to specify Progressive in the timeline, else the footage looks... (dramtic chord) soft.

Here's an example:

http://www.mdma.tv/z1/

I don't usually air my laundry in public, but in this case the diagonals and fine detail is useful.

Last edited by Matt Davis; March 10th, 2008 at 06:11 AM. Reason: Added web viewable example
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Old March 10th, 2008, 06:09 AM   #4
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Boyd,
The results from HD downconvert and also recording SD looks like the footage has a blur applied or the pixels have distorted which gives it the soft look, not sharp at all.
I have taken the camera back to the place of purchase and we tried many different ways of playing and looking at the footage. The shop person said thats what he would expect to see from the Z1.

HD looks great as you would expect it to as resoultion is more but as a stand alone SD camera i think it looks very cheap.

HD DVD players are a long way from being in homes in Australia so i need this camera as a SD camera, which with this quality it is not.

Could be a problem with the camera but after many exhausting hours of problem solving i dont think so.
I edit and watch all footage on LCD and CRT TV

If you have a fix it i would like to hear what you have.


Cheers
Simon
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Old March 10th, 2008, 06:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Ash View Post
as a stand alone SD camera i think it looks very cheap.
Compared with what? A PD170? Or a DSR450? And please do check out the example above. Was the first pass what you were seeing?
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Old March 10th, 2008, 07:11 AM   #6
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Matt,
Looking at your link, yeah the first pass is very similar to what i'm getting. The second pass is better.
I would be comparing it to a PD170 as i have not really had much experience with the DSr450.

Thanks for the link.
Simon
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Old March 10th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #7
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Getting really good looking SD DVDs from HDV is a headache for everyone. It's not just a Z1 problem. I notice on the XDCam EX forum, the CineAlta EX shooters are having the same problems.
I have spent a huge amount of time trying many different workflows in the attempt to produce SD DVDs that approach a "broadcast" quality look.
The best result to date is as follows:
Shooting with Z1 and V1, 1080i HDV
Editing with the Cineform Intermediate Codec CFHD 1080i in Premiere CS3
Exporting the edited timeline movie to Cineform CFDV 480p
Transcoding the 480p with Procoder 3 to (non-interlaced) m2v 480p, 2 pass, VBR 6mbs
Procoder filter settings (this is to some degree personal taste, but this is what I have currently evolved to): Gamma Adjustment: 0.90-0.95; Color Correction: Saturation +10; Sharpening (unsharp mask): use default except for "Blend Area" setting which should be 7-10.
This produces a very nice image, but requires DVD players that will do "progressive scan". If played on one of the new Sony HDMI "upscaling" DVD players ($80.00 at Costco) onto a 45" Sony HDTV, it looks absolutely brilliant. Grading the DVD images on sharpness, color, exposure and dynamic range, and lack of artifact (alias, twitter, moire, etc.) this is the best I have ever achieved to date. The images are certainly not "tack sharp" like true Hi Def, but they do not have that striking "soft" quality on a large screen display. The images look like typical broadcast cable TV to most viewers, including myself.
To achieve the image quality level of a Hollywood movie DVD apparently requires very expensive hardware transcoding, huge render times, and a level of expertise that is probably beyond my reasonable scope.
I think I am finally satisfied for the time being, at least enough so to set this issue aside for a while.

Last edited by Robert Young; March 11th, 2008 at 01:26 PM.
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Old March 10th, 2008, 04:54 PM   #8
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Thanks for the details of your workflow, Robert. Awesome. I've been struggling with this as well, although I had not tried anything as sophisticated as your method. I thought I was destined to average SD DVDs as I choose to shoot the Z1 with neutral settings. Have you converged in a set of parameters for shooting?
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Old March 10th, 2008, 05:20 PM   #9
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Thanks Robert,
What a work flow you have but if it can improve the SD output i will give it a go.
I have just got Premiere CS3 so i'm at the very early learning stage. ( have been a Vegas user for years) I'm a bit confused with your capture method. How do you capture? or are you using the Cineform Intermediate Codec CFHD 1080i in Premiere CS3 to capture?

Thanks again Robert.

Regards
Simon
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Old March 10th, 2008, 06:10 PM   #10
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I'm using Cineform Aspect HD. It is probably the most widely used intermediate Codec for HDV editing. It installs as a plug in to Premiere Pro.
When you open a new project in PPro, the Cineform formats are available as project types (i.e. Cineform 1080i, 29.97 fps, 1440:1080, Par 1.33, etc.).
Anyway, once the project is opened, the regular PPro capture window will capture the HDV from your deck and the Cineform software will convert it on the fly to CFHD 1080i. Basically, once you have purchased and installed Cineform, PPro works exactly as you are accustomed to.
Check out www.cineform.com . You can download a trial version and check it out. CFHD 1080i files are an .avi file that is only compressed around 1:4 (similar to DV.avi), and is fairly lossless. So, you can do lots of filtering, color correction, effects, etc., rendering, re-rendering, and so forth without taking a big quality hit on the final output. The files are about 4 times as large as DV or HDV (maybe 45 Gig per 1 hour, as opposed to 11 Gig for DV), so you need more storage, and fast drives (data rate is around 100mbs), preferably RAID 0. However this work flow is less demanding on the CPU/RAM part of your system than editing in native HDV.
The real reason that I shoot and edit in Hi Def is to be able to archive the project back to HDV tape, and on hard drive as a CFHD 1080,avi movie. I just feel strongly that the options for transcoding and delivery of HD material are going to change radically in the next few years. This problem that we are all dealing with right now will be solved. People at the lower end of the video production food chain (like me) are raising their standards- none of us can look at our gorgeous HDV footage on a big screen HDTV, and still be satisfied with the quality of SD DVD output obtainable with the current software solutions. We are a fairly large market (advanced hobbist, semi pros, mini pros, wedding video shooters, etc.) There is plenty of financial incintive for developers to go after this issue. If I have my productions archived as HD material, it will be a snap to update and re-release them at a later date.
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Old March 10th, 2008, 06:21 PM   #11
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Gints
Everyone has their favorite in-camera settings. You can do a search on this forum to see a variety of suggestions. I will say this- the in-camera settings absolutely will not solve the problem we are discussing- which is the degeneration of breathtaking HDV images into soft, "home video" looking DVDs.
I think that whatever settings you choose should be based on getting the exact best Hi Def image you can, with the characteristics you are looking for.
What happens to that image as it gets the crap kicked out of it on the way to DVD is a different set of problems.
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Old March 11th, 2008, 06:43 PM   #12
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Hi Robert,

Actually, I'm interested if you're using neutral settings to reduce compression/post-processing artifacts. So, the HDV image stream would be softer, less brilliant, but the control would be passed to the output processing stage. I'm wondering how much sharpening contributes to motion artifacts.
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Old March 11th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #13
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I have several Picture Profiles that I use for different shooting situations. But they are all geared to give me the HDV image I want without any consideration for downstream processing
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Old March 12th, 2008, 09:51 PM   #14
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Ok it seems that i have a backfocus problem with the camera.
I normaly zoom in focus, zoom out to frame no problems but when i zoom out to frame the camera, it is slightly going out of focus and i cant see this on the LCD screen on camera.
When its all downconverted etc.. and the viewed on a large screen here is where the damage can be seen.
I will have to send it back for repairs and hope it will not take too long.

Cheers
Simon
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