Z1 tv show looks bad. Why? at DVinfo.net

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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 December 19th, 2005, 12:35 PM   #1
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Z1 tv show looks bad. Why?

The Sundance channel has a show running called the ICONOCLASTS that is shot with the Sony Z1 HDV camcorder. You can even see it in some shots.

After reading they were using the Sony I was anxious to watch and see how good the footage looked. Boy, was I surprised. It looks (IMO) terrible. Why? I've not been able to see this camcorder in person, but I have seen the Sony HC1 and except for the soft blur problem when panning the picture was very sharp with a lot of detail. The Z1 should be even better.

The ICONOCLASTS always looks soft and LACKING detail with overblown whites and smeary color. Is this what downconverting to SD looks like? Is this a bad downconvert to SD? Were they using Cineframe or what? I've read that uprezzing makes a picture look stretched and strained -- this is kind of how this show looks. Is it the same problem when downconverting to SD?

I think the same people made the Metallica doc SOME KIND OF MONSTER (shot with Sony PD150s), this looked great on my SD tv. What gives?
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Old December 19th, 2005, 02:20 PM   #2
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the original sundance footage was probably re-encoded at least two or three times before it arrived at your tv; the low-bandwidth mpeg2 used in hdv can't handle too much of that... did you watch the metallica doc on dvd, by comparison?
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Old December 19th, 2005, 03:51 PM   #3
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John, most of the stuff on my digital cable looks horrible due to the massive compression used. Doesn't matter if it's film originated or SD DV. If you're sensitive to compression artifacts, like I am, everything drives you nuts.
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Old December 19th, 2005, 04:20 PM   #4
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Here we go again... I wish producers, directors, and ultmately the audience would finally realize that a camera is an INSTRUMENT. The look produced from a camera is MOSTLY the operator and more and more people are trying to save money by hiring guys that are average at best at operation. It takes a skilled DP to use his creativity ALONG WITH THE TECHNICAL to produce a great image.

If I pick up the exact same guitar that Eric Clapton uses I bet it would sound like crap. Anyone listening would not question the guitar, but rather my playing. Unfortunately with pro-sumer video, people are too quick to judge the instrument, while forgetting the operator.


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Old December 19th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Trent
The Sundance channel has a show running called the ICONOCLASTS that is shot with the Sony Z1 HDV camcorder. You can even see it in some shots.

After reading they were using the Sony I was anxious to watch and see how good the footage looked. Boy, was I surprised. It looks (IMO) terrible. Why? I've not been able to see this camcorder in person, but I have seen the Sony HC1 and except for the soft blur problem when panning the picture was very sharp with a lot of detail. The Z1 should be even better.

The ICONOCLASTS always looks soft and LACKING detail with overblown whites and smeary color. Is this what downconverting to SD looks like? Is this a bad downconvert to SD? Were they using Cineframe or what? I've read that uprezzing makes a picture look stretched and strained -- this is kind of how this show looks. Is it the same problem when downconverting to SD?

I think the same people made the Metallica doc SOME KIND OF MONSTER (shot with Sony PD150s), this looked great on my SD tv. What gives?
Not to imply that their are some folks who'll never be able to wrap their heads around certain fundamental concepts... I'd prefer to say it straight out.

Watch HD on a HDTV if you wish to make judgements. If a HD broadcast is inferior to 'known' quality of HD - i.e. that shot with a Varicam or a HD conversion from 35mm film, then you can begin making some valued and possibly slightly informed judgements about why it is inferior.

For me to stick my head out and say that the HDV shot on my FX-1e is superior to the vast majority of broadcast HD in Australia, and equal to the very best I have seen, implies that:
a) I own an FX-1e
b) I own a quality HDTV to be able to view HD from broadcast sources as well as from the camcorder.
c) My eyesight is good enough to make such a judgement.

The fact that some TV networks have been suckered into employing 'know-it-all' self opinionated fascists who have no intention of ever conceding that they could ever 'stuff things up' just adds to the likelihood of visually poor material being the outcome of using new technology.

I've had several discussions with such network types... They're the sort of dudes who make self-fulfilling prophecies. They're comfortable with the narrow and minimal amount of knowledge they have, and anything that may encroach upon that is a threat, best dealt with by derision - or better still proof of the threat's failure; even if the proof is manufactured...

Many employees of broadcast networks love the fact that they are worshiped as God's of everything to do with video by mere mortals. This is one mortal who sees most broadcast network employees as seat warmers who need something besides vacuums where their brains should be.
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Old December 19th, 2005, 09:22 PM   #6
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I have some friends working at a local TV station in L.A. and they constantly ask me why their show looks bad. They downconvert, then go to an mpeg2 compression for TV. No wonder! Editors need to start doing the shows in uncompressed HD and go to TV as a downconvert.

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Old December 19th, 2005, 09:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
I have some friends working at a local TV station in L.A. and they constantly ask me why their show looks bad. They downconvert, then go to an mpeg2 compression for TV. No wonder! Editors need to start doing the shows in uncompressed HD and go to TV as a downconvert.

heath
Yikes!!

I'll bet these same friends would advise anyone who asked, against purchasing a HDV camcorder.

Even a basically educated person can understand the principal of generational loss - let alone those working in the video field who should be acutely aware of the formats they work with and the workflow/s required to present the best possible product to an audience.

I bet very few broadcasters who have purchased or are accepting HDV material are requiring adequate training of their staff to adjust for this new technology... so editing and encoding practices that are based on either ignorance, previous practice or even outright dislike lead to a perfectly useable format like HDV being labelled as "inappropriate for broadcast".

Wonder whether the poo would hit the fan if some broadcast network executives gotta hold of a HDV camcorder and watched HDV stuff they shot on their HDTV... and then compared what their own employees were putting to air?
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Old December 19th, 2005, 10:00 PM   #8
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HDV isn't bad at all, and they're using it on shows like JAG, HDNet, Discovery HD, behind-the-scenes and some background stuff in KING KONG and MIAMI VICE, a new HBO tv show and much, much more. BUT, no one accepts HDV, it's still HDCam. No one accepts DVCPro HD, either, which is why everyone sends their shows to post-houses to go to HDCam, which is what the networks and such agreed on years ago.

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Old December 20th, 2005, 01:58 AM   #9
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My wife has a non-profit organization that distributes backpacks and school supplies to poor children overseas. I put together a promotional video for her and pieces of it were used by a major spanish television station that was covering one of her trips. I, of course, taped the broadcast. I couldn't believe how much damage was done to the video by the time it reached our TV via cable. The color was washed out and it really looked terrible! I wouldn't really judge any camera by the way it looks on broadcast.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:43 AM   #10
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The way things work at TV stations is interesting, from my years in local broadcast news. My suggestion would be to either go uncompressed HD in your final NLE timeline, then send it out as HDCam, or go to SD in the timeline to whichever SD format they prefer. We've proven on our VASST tours that staying HD until the end provides better SD video than capturing from the camera and letting it do a downconvert to SD and editing that way. Doing that keeps the video from looking as crisp.

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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
The way things work at TV stations is interesting, from my years in local broadcast news. My suggestion would be to either go uncompressed HD in your final NLE timeline, then send it out as HDCam, or go to SD in the timeline to whichever SD format they prefer. We've proven on our VASST tours that staying HD until the end provides better SD video than capturing from the camera and letting it do a downconvert to SD and editing that way. Doing that keeps the video from looking as crisp.

heath
Those folks like Douglas and yourself (don't want to add myself to the mix, but I've experimented with HDV for 2 years now) who have taken the time and effort to extract the appropriate workflow for HDV to 'XXXX' delivery format, know exactly what HDV is capable of.

The VASST tours will certainly go a long way towards adjusting some professional opinions from anti to maybe. In the meantime; there's going to be much animosity towards a format that is denigrated, even on this forum, as not worthy of using for "professional broadcast production".

What saddens me more than the anti-HDV bias of many broadcast networks, is the unquestioning belief by 'joe schmo' that these network types are the font of every piece of video wisdom. Many of them are just butchers, who use the 'attack first' method to quell any resistance to their opinions.

The sort of personalities that would have made the perfect officers for WW1's most incompetent Generals.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
Here we go again... I wish producers, directors, and ultmately the audience would finally realize that a camera is an INSTRUMENT. The look produced from a camera is MOSTLY the operator and more and more people are trying to save money by hiring guys that are average at best at operation. It takes a skilled DP to use his creativity ALONG WITH THE TECHNICAL to produce a great image.

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Ash,

You've got it all wrong. It's not education and experience behind the camera that count. It's how much the camera cost and how many accessories you can hang on it that make for great video. Understanding the fundamentals and knowing how to light are way over rated, that can all be fixed in post production. Get with the program would ya.

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Old December 21st, 2005, 11:49 AM   #13
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I watched the Metallica doc and really everything on DirectTV. It has other problems but not the crummy picture I hear digital cable subscribers complain about.

I've seen XL1, VX/PD, and DVX footage from tv shows and movies and none of it looked as bad as the ICONOCLASTS. It's on Sundance again tonight, with a new show tomorrow featuring Paul Newman with Robert Redford. If you got the channel please check it out.

To those implying these professionals don't know what they're doing....I don't know, I mean they made a dv film that was in theaters and have a series on tv. They're not unskilled kids playing with toys. I don't know when the show was produced, maybe Cineform wasn't around to stop generation loss, maybe they work on Macs.

Watch the show and let me know what the problem looks like to you. I want someone to tell me that downconverted footage doesn't always look this way.

Thanks.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 03:25 PM   #14
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Just remember that a program goes a loooooooong way from the source tape until it gets to your TV set through a cable system and a lot of people can screw with and screw up the signal in the process. Was watching "CSI" a few months ago on my cable and the commercials were coming in so hot that they were blasting me out of my seat like the guy in the JBL speaker ads. Urban myth that commericals are louder than program? Maybe, but I grabbed my SPL meter and found that the average program level was about 65-75db, comfortable listening for my ears. But as soon as local originated commercials came on it jumped up into the high 80's and one or 2 actually hit 95db!!!!!! Someone at the station that night obviously wasn't aware of how to use tone to set levels.
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Old December 22nd, 2005, 01:57 PM   #15
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I know the directors are professionals but I have seen the show and I dont think it is shot particulary well. It seems in general that the picture is noisy to begin with, even outdoors. In this style of show it is quite difficult with the changing natural conditions, etc. You have to be able to quickly dial in settings to adjust to the environment. The easy thing to do is just bump the gain but you have to adjust for the noise by reducing sharpness, crushing the blacks a little, etc. etc. etc.



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