HVR-Z1 Downconvert edge crop to letterbox "glitch" at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old June 6th, 2005, 03:57 PM   #1
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HVR-Z1 Downconvert edge crop to letterbox "glitch"

Shot a wedding this past Saturday and had a really wierd thing happen to me in post.

Shot with the Z1 in HDV mode, recording to both internal HDV tape and via firewire out to a Citidisk DV (downconvert mode set to edge crop)

When I played my footage from the Citidisk on my FCP timeline, I noticed at one point, the footage changed from edge crop to letterbox mode for about 3-4 seconds.

This is during the ceremony in the middle of a slow zoom. when they are beginning their vows. The ceremony was done in one take (15 minutes long), and I don't remember hitting any buttons during that part where it jumps to letterbox mode. I know the Citidisk breaks up long takes into smaller sections, but this letterbox "glitch" shows up in the middle of one of those smaller sections. Luckily I had a cutaway to cover it.

Has anyone ever encountered something like this before? This is the second wedding I've done using the Citidisk with the Z1 (no problems the first time)
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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Mizomi
[...]Shot with the Z1 in HDV mode, recording to both internal HDV tape and via firewire out to a Citidisk DV (downconvert mode set to edge crop)
I know I'm new to these forums, but perhaps the "Direct-to-Disk (Tapeless) Recording Solutions" be the more appropriate place for this issue.

-Mike
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Old June 6th, 2005, 07:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Farrington
I know I'm new to these forums, but perhaps the "Direct-to-Disk (Tapeless) Recording Solutions" be the more appropriate place for this issue.

-Mike
Why would there be a more appropriate place to discuss a Z1 issue than the Z1 forum?
The disk is only recording the signal that's being sent to it by the camcorder, not the other way around...

When I read that you were in HDV mode, but recording via firewire to disk as an in camera SD downconvert with cropping - as well as tape at the same time...

To be honest, I'm surprised the Z1 could even pull off such a stunt!! That's one hell of a lot of processes going on in one camera all at the same time. I'd be inclined to think that if you recorded to both media (tape and disk) in the same mode, rather than HDV to tape and DV to disk, the chances of data 'miss-matches' would be reduced.

It's nice to read a post from someone who's using these devices... not an armchair pilot pontificating... but a bona-fide practitioner.

How's the Z1 holding up doing wedding work?
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Old June 6th, 2005, 07:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Crisdale
Why would there be a more appropriate place to discuss a Z1 issue than the Z1 forum?
Okay, maybe not "more appropriate", but perhaps more helpful. I probably should have just kept my comment to myself, since I've seen the moderators of this forum move many posts if they think it is warranted.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 09:21 PM   #5
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I thought about it a lot before I posted the question in this section rather than the direct to disk section. I felt it belonged here because like Steve said, the disk is only recording what the camera is outputting, therefore I felt the problem was with the Z1 itself and not with the Citidisk. I had the Z1 set to record HDV 1080i to tape internally and downconvert to SD and edge crop via DV out to the Citidisk. There should have been no reason for the Z1 to suddenly switch to letterbox mode right in the middle of a shot like it did. If I didn't have the cutaway to cover it, I'd have had to recapture from the original HDV tape. While not the end of the world, it would have wasted time, and the purpose of having the disk recorder was to eliminate the process of capturing from tape to hard drive in the first place.

In answer to your question Steve, I have been using the HVR-Z1 on a regular basis to shoot weddings in HDV, and editing and delivering in SD. I'm mostly shooting tourist weddings. Mainlanders like to shoot on the beach at sunset, and Japanese weddings in various churches on Maui, usually in the middle of the day, when the sun is directly overhead - really harsh lighting.

The camera has been holding up pretty well in wedding work. I'm still tweaking the settings a bit, working off of suggested settings from other posters. For the lighting situations I have to deal with, I have some difficulty trying to get good exposure on the face without blowing out the wedding dress detail. I've been trying out the black stretch, but at times it seems a bit muddy. Gotta keep tweaking for now.

Overall, however, I'm very happy with the Z1.
If I can just figure out what caused that letterbox glitch....
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Old June 6th, 2005, 09:44 PM   #6
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Did you check the tape to see if it happened there too? If not, I'd guess it's a disk issue.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 11:12 PM   #7
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The tape is fine - it recorded in HDV 1080i. I don't think it's an issue with the Citidisk, because it only records what comes out of the firewire from the Z1. The Z1 internally controls what is output through the firewire - HDV, DV letterbox/edgecrop/or squeeze. As far as I know, the Citidisk cannot change the output settings on the Z1. It is strictly a recording device.

Just to be a little more descriptive of the problem I'm seeing in the recorded footage on the drive:

It shows the edge cropped video , then for several seconds, shows letterboxed video (meaning I can see the sides that are supposed to be cropped out), then goes back to normal. There's no "glitchiness" or something to suggest that there is a disk error.

It's as if during the taping of the ceremony, I went into the menu settings and change the DV out mode from edge crop to letterbox and back again. I'm pretty sure I did NOT do that during the ceremony. I'm also quite sure I haven't assigned that function to any of the 6 custom buttons on the camera.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 01:22 AM   #8
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My instant reaction when I first read your post was... to try thinking of this problem as more of an internal processor 'glitch', rather than as any menu or button mode 'failure'.

I haven't - from memory - seen anyone post their results on using the Z1 (or FX-1 for that matter!!) with the same hardware as you; let alone downconverting to external via firewire whilst capturing HDV to tape.

Not that I know the exact data pathway that Sony engineers gave to the FX1/Z1 camcorders, but it would seem logical that the firewire connection comes after the encoder, and processor...

What I'm getting at is... just like in computers, where you may 'command' a device with software instructions, anomalies that 'glitch' settings do occur. Could have been a data 'shortfall' or a 'spike' that the extra 'crop' action couldn't deal with.

I wonder whether Sony themselves have tested the FX-1/Z1 with hardware setups such as yours? They may have encountered this same circumstance and have some insight or even a solution.

Nice to hear how you're making use of your equipment. Open-air ceremonies would certainly alleviate the 'low-light' performance issues some posters have targeted as a failing of the FX-1/Z1 for wedding work!!

How do your clients react to the quality of DVD the Z1 SD clips provides? Any felt it's sub-par? Not that many of them would have DVD's made from SD video material to compare it with anyway!!
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Old June 7th, 2005, 01:41 AM   #9
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"it would seem logical that the firewire connection comes after the encoder, and processor"


That is probably right on, because on the FX1 the image is almost a full 2 secs behind, out of the firewire, but the Z1 is realtime, I wonder what's going on inside each of the cameras to cause such a difference? Maybe a minor fluctuation in the data coming out of the camera in realtime caused your harddrive to read the firewire signal differently for a few secs.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 03:12 AM   #10
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Just to be sure, I double checked the assign button settings on my Z1 - I only have 4 of them assigned right now- backlight,spotlight,allscan mode, and rec review - none of which I thought would affect the DV output. Then I went and reread the manual and found the answer on page 88 - when the allscan mode is activated, it outputs letterbox to the DV output.

I have Allscan mode set on button 3 - I usually use it before the wedding to check to make sure nothing unwanted is in the frame (flag, microphone, etc.)

I'm guessing what may have happened is that I pressed it accidentally during the ceremony when I was reaching for the push auto focus button (I usually have it set on manual focus and use the auto occasionally). I don't remember doing that, but seeing as how close button 3 is to the push auto focus button, that must be what happened. I'll have to reassign it to the upper row, where there is less chance of that happening.

D'oh! I thought allscan mode only affected what we saw in the viewfinder and LCD. The HandsOn HDV Training DVD never mentioned that it affects the output via firewire.

I'm shooting another wedding tomorrow, so hopefully I won't make the same mistake twice.
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