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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 23rd, 2008, 11:29 PM   #1
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Z1U and Workflow - MAC!!!

OK, so I have ready every thread and searched until my eyes are crossed. I need some help. I really want to take my picture (actual look of video) to the next level.

I own the Z1U and shoot run and gun. I do alot of shooting outside and in ambient light. I feel like my images could be better. So I pose the following information for you and you tell me what I should be trying.

I also saw a thread and can't find it anymore where someone posted their workflow to improve the image quality on a Z1 with certain sharpening filters, etc, etc.

#1 - I don't care about time needed to transcode to another format etc.

#2 - The editing equipment I have is (4) Z1U's, (1) Mac Quad G5, 4gig's of ram, (1) Mac G5 dual, 4gigs of ram, FCS-2, After Effects CS3. Hard drive space isn't an issue, however, I don't have any type of raid setup so I think that for the time being uncompressed SD would probably be the max I could accomplish.

#3 - I can get a capture card if need be, however, I was told that this wasn't necessary in a post I made a while back. 99% of the time I can only record to tape due my surroundings. So what is the best way to get this information back out to retain quality.

#4 - I keep reading about these M2T files. I am assuming you mean Mpeg 2 Trasnport. When capturing on Mac, I only get quicktime files. How, do I get these M2T files and are they necessary since once on tape the information is highly compressed.

#5 - Would I be better off going firestore instead of tape?

Sorry to be so long winded, however, I just want to create better images. I like the stuff that I get, however, it just doesn't approach what I am seeing in my head.

Gradients in color have weird banding and are not creating very smoothly, etc. I know you guys have the answer. Basically after all of the above being said, "If you had a choice on how things were captured and edited, what would that choice be?" Keep in mind I am not going to PC, so vegas or anything like that won't work for me. Thanks so much in advance.

Tim
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Old March 24th, 2008, 01:44 PM   #2
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Tim,

Unless you capture directly into your computer, I don't believe there's anything you can do to improve the source quality. Whether you capture to tape (.mov QuickTime) or hard drive (.m2t), it is my understanding that inside these wrappers everything is still HDV encoded. So all you can tweak really is what happens in post, meaning that when there is any additional encoding during editing, make sure you pick a high quality codec for that.

In FCS2 and with HDV source material, the consesus seems to be to capture in HDV but use ProRes for any additional encoding for effects/filters.

- Martin
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Old March 24th, 2008, 02:30 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply

Martin,

thanks so much for the reply. I guess what you are saying is that I can't improve on what I am already doing. What I can improve on is the way the file handles the extra processing I may put it through by transcoding it to something else.

So that brings another question or five. Which file format?

Do I capture using the intermediate codec and transcode?

Do I purchase cineform or something like and capture using that?

Do I capture SD through a Kona or something like using the component input, etc. etc.

Do you gain any resolution by capturing 1080i and transcoding to 720p and editing that way? I have seen that mentioned a couple of times before.

My main delivery has been DVD, however in the future I would love to deliver some HD content.

Thanks again for all the help.
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Old March 25th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #4
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Tim,

I can't give you specific advice on capture cards for capturing as you shoot (avoiding HDV), other than saying that it has the capability of producing better results than recording HDV on tape first and then capturing from tape.

If you do capture from HDV tape, just leave it as HDV. Don't transcode to anything else, unless you change the image by rendering filters, transitions, or other effects:

- When you just have your original image in the timeline, leave it as HDV. Any kind of transcode (unless it's uncompressed) will add some artifacts to what you have. As a general rule, use as few encoding steps along the way as possible.

- When the original image changes (due to filters, transitions, composition, etc.), then you will have to re-encode the image. Your original HDV-encoded image is no longer good, simply because the image has changed. In this case, it makes sense to re-encode it with a higher quality encoder than HDV. ProRes is a good codec to do that.

To combine the best of both worlds (HDV for original footage, ProRes for rendered portions), FCP has a special sequence setting that allows you to edit in the source format but render in ProRes.

You may want to do a search over in the Mac forum to learn more about this topic. That would also be a good place to ask for help with regard to capture cards.

- Martin
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Old March 25th, 2008, 10:12 AM   #5
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Thanks Martin. Off I go. Why can't they make this easy ;)
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Old March 26th, 2008, 08:03 AM   #6
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I am editing some footage shot on FX7s (not exactly your cameras, but close enough), switched with a Panasonic HD mixer and captured live to a Mac with Raid hard drives, using, I believe, an AJA card, into the DVCPRO HD format wrapped in QT @ a little over 100 Mbps (1280x1080 pixels with a PAR of 1.5, dictated by the codec).

It looks absolutely amazing, by far the best footage I have EVER edited. If you're interested, I can get in touch with the people who shot the video and provide you with the specifics on the hardware they use.
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Old March 26th, 2008, 09:16 AM   #7
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I would love to know the specifics. But at 100Mbps wouldn't that make that source captured prior the HDV compression to tape? Either way I am sure the info on how they did it would come in handy.

Thanks for your help.
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Old March 26th, 2008, 09:39 AM   #8
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Sorry, I only read your initial post superficially - just noticed that the only way you can work is by capturing to tape. The workflow I was about to tell you only works when video is captured before HDV compression.

Unfortunately there is not much you can do to improve video that has already been severely compressed. What you are "seeing in your head" (your own words) is probably a higher quality format, higher than HDV.

On your question about capturing the M2T files: as I understand (someone correct me if I'm wrong), when capturing to a PC, all you do is a direct transfer (pretty much that's what a Firestore would do as well). As opposed to the PC workflow, when capturing HDV to a Mac, you wrap the same digital video in a QT wrapper, but the quality of the actual video does not change.

A couple of little tricks that may help you improve your video: always use black stretch on the Z1s. Tune the sharpness down a little. Make sure your exposure is correct, don't ever go above 100%. Experiment with settings!
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Old March 26th, 2008, 09:23 PM   #9
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Cineform can improve HDV

I would be skeptical if I had not seen it myself, but Cineform can improve HDV from tape.

I have been able to get better looking images when capturing directly from my FX1 tapes to the Cineform codec. Pans are especially better than if I go straight to M2T.

You can get a Cineform trial for the Mac. Check out the section on this forum if you have not already. Hopefully it will run on your G5. I'm afraid I don't know if it does or not. http://cineform.com

Good luck.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #10
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Skeptical, of course, but I'd love to see an A/B comparison. Can you post stills or short clips or a link to same? At $1k, I'd be inclined to purchase NEO4K if it's good enough to warrant the purchase.
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