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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 November 7th, 2006, 03:50 PM   #1
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Z1U help

I have access to a Sony Z1U for two days and want to use the cam for a commercial I'm shooting tomorrow. So far, I'm shooting in 1080i at the moment but I wouldn't mind shooting in 30p, which I think the cam can do! Also I wouldn't mind using the cinegamma but this is the first time I have ever shot HDV and want to consult you experts, first.

I'm a little confused on the best way to shoot, import, and edit on a computer. Do I need to downsample? I have never used a cam as I want to make sure the end product will look good i.e. proper aspect ratio, etc... Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 05:31 PM   #2
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I'm also new to the Z1U, but I can answer some of your questions.

If you need to edit in DV instead of HDV in the near-term and don't want to alter your workflow, just use the in-camera HDV->DV conversion over the iLink connection. I tried this, and it's so easy.

As for shooting in 30p, the Z1U doesn't do progressive capture. The 30f mode is faked as the CCDs deliver interlaced information. So you're probably always better off shooting in 1080i and converting in your editing software.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #3
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Most people agree that shooting in HDV mode, then downconverting with the camera gives a better image than shooting in DV mode. However, if you shoot in HDV mode, remember you need to have the camera around to digitize the footage. A regular DVCAM won't play the Z1 tapes shot in HDV.

You say you only have it for two days. If you only intend to output in DV, you might consider making DV dubs from the Z1 to another cam or deck. You can use these dubs for digitizing with a regular DV camera. If you have any intention of ever outputting in HD, however, don't do this as you'll lose the original timecode when you dub. Capture it from the Z1 with the downconvert function before you have to return the camera. If you lose any footage, however, you'll have to get the camera back to recapture.
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Old November 9th, 2006, 12:05 AM   #4
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How much of a noticeable quality improvement is there in down converting than just shooting regular DV with the Z1?
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Old November 9th, 2006, 02:20 AM   #5
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Hi Joe. I haven't used the Z1, but I saw a demo that Spot gave in Singapore recently. The SD analogue output of the Z1 was connected to a monitor, and Spot showed us the image when the camera was first set to HDV acquisition mode and then DV mode. For the first case, the camera was downconverting before output, for the second, it was SD all the way. There was a BIG difference in the image quality, the HDV-sourced picture was sharper (i.e. it appeared of higher resolution) and much more colourful. There was no tape involved in this signal path, so it's not exactly the same scenario that you have, but anyway it does demonstrate the quality benefit of having a higher res source even when the final format is the same.

If I was in your position, I would try to shoot HDV and worry about the next steps later. Of course, if you have a tight deadline and no means to capture or edit HDV material, then it is a different story and you don't really have a choice to make anyway.

Richard
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Old November 9th, 2006, 02:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Riggs
How much of a noticeable quality improvement is there in down converting than just shooting regular DV with the Z1?
I did some very unscientific tests in the summer, shooting sequences and flipping from HDV to DV and back again. I ingested the HDV as in-camera down-sampled DV then cut them together as a split-screen, down-converted HDV on the left, DV on the right.

Downsampled HDV has a slight softness (not blurriness) and lower edge sharpening than the equivalent DV footage, though the effect is subtle. The motion is softer, but still definitely a video motion.

I think these all stem from the MPEG2 compression.

If you shoot and edit HDV then downsample to DVCPRO-50, you can get a very nice downconvert - better than in-camera. The main issue is that the edge sharpening is reduced, and as a byproduct, strong colours keep their resolution.

A couple of things - engage 'black stretch' in your custom Picture Profile, and if you use an adaptive de-interlacer (e.g. DVFilm.com), the HDV->DVCPRo50 progressive can look like Super-16.

More scientific tests (e.g. shooting charts) on down-converting in-camera have shown that detail suffers and that the quality is 'disappointing', though these tests were performed on an A1 not a Z1. Sony staff at various trade shows have said that there should be no difference in the down-convert in A1 and Z1, but nobody's done a specific test yet.

Certainly I now shoot everything HDV and i) shoot and edit HDV then downconvert if the client's got the time and budget, ii) downconvert to DV 4:3 for most conference work - but I have 16:9 HDV rushes to rework later, and do a straight downconvert for all 'standard' stuff. The only time I shoot DV or DVCAM is when I'm handing tapes over (i.e. I'm just a cameraman).
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Old November 14th, 2006, 02:06 AM   #7
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Thanks for all your help. I have a new challenge now, which is how do I edit my footage in hdv. Originally, I was going to downconvert in camera to be able to work with dv, but I shot in 1080i and would love to retain that quality. I have premiere 2 and tried to edit some hdv footage with their hdv preset, but I could not even get the footage to play in the timeline.

Any advice or programs that I need to edit in hdv?

If I downconvert the footage in camera, then edit it. When I recapture in HDV, will I have to edit the footage all over again?
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Old November 14th, 2006, 07:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Riggs
I have a new challenge now, which is how do I edit my footage in hdv. ...Any advice or programs that I need to edit in hdv?
If I downconvert the footage in camera, then edit it. When I recapture in HDV, will I have to edit the footage all over again?
There are several programs now which will edit directly in HDV without needing an intermediate Codec. The one I use is Vegas 7, update B.

There may also be Avid, Pinnacle, Canopus, and Premiere solutions to do this as well, but I like Vegas.
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