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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 July 18th, 2008, 01:27 PM   #1
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Upscaling DVD players

The good bit is the picture quality, and Iíve been photographing my 46Ē Samsung LCD TV screen in an effort to show you what you can expect. Have a look at the picture and remind yourself that this is an un-retouched shot of me sitting in front of the TV, with the DVD player on pause and the screen filled with last monthís bride and groom singing from the same hymn sheet. All standard definition.

To light me for this photo Iíve simply held my little video light in my hand and aimed it at my face. The upscaling Toshiba DVD player is in the 1080i mode and Iíve paused it on a frame. My Canon 10D DSLR is shooting on delayed action to give me time to get into the shot.

For the technically minded a bit of background information is in order, because this isnít a specially set up photographic situation, this is a real-world anybody-can-do-it demonstration.

I used a Sony Z1 camcorder on a Manfrotto tripod. The footage was shot in church at maximum aperture (f/2.8) and with +9dB of gain-up dialled in, so the camera is working hard, struggling in the gloom. If I look carefully I can see that focus is on the groomís face, and his bride is very slightly softer.

The film was shot in the HDV mode and down-converted to DV in-camera. It was edited on a pretty ancient Premiere 6.5 system, encoded to MPEG2 using the Canopus Storm at a 7mbps bit rate and burnt to a 16x Verbatim DVD. Iíve been into the TVís menu and switched it to the Ďall-scaní mode, meaning I see the entire frame with no information lost to overscan. Putting the DVD player into pause very slightly softens the screen image, but not unhappily so.

tom.
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Old July 19th, 2008, 04:41 PM   #2
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Very nice indeed Tom.

Can i ask what the upscaling Toshiba DVD model number is exactly?
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Old July 19th, 2008, 04:51 PM   #3
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Certainly Stu. It's the Toshiba SD370 EKB. Very slim, very cheap, and has a horrible flimsy drawer, but it does the biz up there on the screen. I'll attach some more shots (all taken for an article I did on upscaling).

Fig 5 is another shot of me this time lit only by the light from the TV screen, and sitting up close like this I can easily see the crude MPEG2 compression artefacts that block together like-minded groups of colour. If I run the original HDV tape the jump in picture quality cleanliness is remarkable, but as few of us can watch this footage itís somewhat academic.

At normal viewing distances and with normal programme material this footage looks splendid. You have to look pretty closely to see the TVís individual LCD pixels because at 1080 x 1920 theyíre very fine indeed.

tom.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 03:56 AM   #4
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Looks nice Tom, can I ask if the image you are showing was zoomed in? I just ask because completely zoomed in footage from my SD camera looked the same on a regular dvd player and on a 50 inch Pioneer tv (don't know if it was lcd or plasma) at one of my clients. Only when zoomed out completely you clearly see that your dealing with SD footage.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:17 AM   #5
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I've never felt like I've been reading a science book until now. Tom you are meticulous! Very precise images and interesting analysis of the upconvert process. The real question is what happens when you upgrade your editing system to exclude Premiere and get an HDMI input (Black Magic Intensity Pro) to record your Upconverted SD out of your Toshibaís HDMI. Then downconvert in your NLE to standard definition, burn a new SD DVD and play in the Toshiba again. Or maybe my idea is an exercise in futility.

Although if you did compare the digital files, Iíd be interested in knowing clarity level. Imagine a workflow with your Toshiba being the vital key to delivering HD from an SD source. The potential is limitless. Toshiba Upconverted out to a Blue-Ray recorder in. HmmmÖ

-C
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Old July 20th, 2008, 06:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
Looks nice Tom, can I ask if the image you are showing was zoomed in?
I'm not sure what you mean here Noa - was my image zoomed in? Do you mean was the image shot at full telephoto on the Z1? Yes, which is why I had to use +9dB of gain up as my max aperture was only f/2.8. The Z1 is not famed for its sharpness at full telephoto BTW.

Do you mean was I zoomed into the TV picture? Many DVD players will allow you to zoom into the image (to give massive overscanning in effect). The answer's no - the image in my photos is the entire SD frame.

I like your inside-out exercise in futility, Chris. Would that there were more days in the week.

My DVDs now look far superior to anything received via satellite Freeview; hugely better. Broadcast is far more heavily compressed than my DVDs, and their pictures are not being up-scaled remember. As TVs go 46Ē is pretty big, but as screens go (thinking Super-8 projection) itís not big at all. If youíve got an HD TV, I reckon the next thing you should buy is an up-scaling DVD player and let the price of Blu-ray players, films and blank discs drop to something more reasonable. OK, itís not as good as Blu-ray, but then itís cheap, and all the DVDs you own will now be seen in a new light.

tom.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 07:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
I'm not sure what you mean here Noa - was my image zoomed in? Do you mean was the image shot at full telephoto on the Z1? Yes, which is why I had to use +9dB of gain up as my max aperture was only f/2.8.
Yes, that's what i meant, at full "telephoto" of faces in close-up (like you did) my sd camera also gives a quite sharp image on a very large lcd or plasma without upscaling, only when going fully wide with the lens you clearly notice it's "just" SD. how does the upscaling handle very fine detail?
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Old July 20th, 2008, 07:49 AM   #8
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Up-scaling DVD players take a normal DVD but display the picture at an interpolated higher definition. What this means is that the 576 line picture on the DVD is output to the TV as 720 or 1080 different lines, the intermediate lines being mathematically guessed at (interpolated) at the rate of 25 per second.

There's no difference between wide shots and full tele - in fact the Z1's lens has higher resolution at wide than tele, and the upscaler 'guesses' every intermediate line regardless. Closeups only look good because it's generally one dominant object filling the screen whereas wide shots tend to have more in them to look at.

tom.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 09:38 AM   #9
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Thank you Tom

This is really good news since I will buy my first HD TV this fall.
It will be the new 32" Sony 1080P " Full HD" (and the Toshiba)

I´ve wondered how my SD DVD´s will look. I was a bit afraid that they would look like crap.

Now I know better.

Once again Thank you.

Cheers

Hans
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Old July 20th, 2008, 10:09 AM   #10
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It looks like the Toshiba is a very nice up converter...

some claim the OPPO to be the best...

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/cd-dv...rk-review.html

Also remember that the Sony PS3 is also an up converter for standard DVD and of course
is a blu ray player too, this gives the option of only having to purchase a single unit
that plays HD 1080P blu ray and up convert standard DVD disk to 1080P output...
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