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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old October 2nd, 2007, 05:12 PM   #31
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Before I even get going- I am not interested in a flame war. I am responded because you say I offended you, and frankly because you make some good points.

I am not interested in offending anybody, and I hope anyone who is offended accepts my apologies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Smet View Post
um what does any of this have to do with 720p from the EX1?
The EX1 is a complete system- its the camera, lens, codec, i/o options, recording media- everything. In order to understand the eventual results you have to understand all the parts.

Right now I am excited about everything this camera offers except the codec. This is ameliorated by the presence of an uncompressed HD/SDI 4:2:2 output. Ameliorated- not entirely set aside.

Quote:
Alexander, the only reason why you feel as though mpeg2 isn't good enough is because you have not seen it done the right way.
That is an assumption on your part that is both irrelevant and incorrect.

For your information, I've worked with XDCAM HD, DVCPRO HD, HDCAM, HDCAM SR, HDV and a lot of other formats. Both on set and in post.

Quote:
I also write software that deals with a lot of mpeg2 encoding and I know what it is and is not capable of. If you give it enough bits it is virtually perfect.
That is argument from authority, and its great- but just as useless as me telling you I worked with the various codecs.

Here is the crux- do a difference key between the compressed format and the uncompressed images. Concrete experimental data.

Quote:
The whole and only point to this thread is that 720p 24p does have a lot of bits to work with which is why it will look so good. Intraframe is kind of a waste because even if you have a solid black frame it still takes up the same amount of space.
Here is where our objectives differ. As a result our evaluation of the image data will differ.

You are interested in coding efficiency. You want the image to "look good." Perceptual image quality.

I am interested in image data. I need the image to not only have a good deal of perceptual image quality, but for the data to support a great deal of objective image quality- as shown by compositing and manipulation tests.

I remain very disappointed that XDCAM offers 4:2:0 encoding. I thought it offered 4:2:2. That extra image data matters enough to my work that I'd be willing to accept a bit more compression.

Quote:
Personally I am affended that you said I was irrational.
Again I apologize for any perceived slight.

However, I'd like to draw your attention the fact that I was using Alan Greenspan's phrase- "irrational exuberance." I hoped my audience might catch that and realize it as a way of saying that I disagree with the fundamental assumptions, the subsequent analysis and resulting optimism.

It certainly isn't a comment on you personally.

Quote:
I am pointing out a fact that the encoded video is going to look so much better at 720p 24p due to how many bits it can have. Clearly you have never dealt with mpeg2 quality at this level before.
Sorry- you are making unfounded assumptions again.

Quote:
I suggest encoding a SD video at 15mbits/s and taking a look at just how good it is compared to the source.
A test that involves "looking" isn't much of a test for my workflow. Like I said earlier a comparison of difference keys is useful. I can think of a few other tests... but that's what I am after.

Quote:
There is also a huge difference between interlaced 4:2:0 and progressive 4:2:0. Progressive 4:2:0 isn't all that bad even for keying if you have the right tools.
"isn't all that bad for keying" is a nightmare. I need a codec that is actually good for keying.

Quote:
I know a lot of people who have used XDCAMHD footage even interlaced from the 350 for keying and they said the results were great.
Keying what? Shot under what conditions? The variables are too many.

I can unfortunately speak only from my own experience. XDCAM works reasonably well for simple green screen footage. Spill suppression is a bit harder than it should be. XDCAM work's more poorly for bluescreen, and rather badly for keying orange or other colors.

Once you pull the key integrating the plate with the new background is a bit harder to manage.

Quote:
DVCPROHD from the HVX200 is far from perfect for keying
The key element in your statement is the HVX200. I am quite underwhelmed by the HVX200's performance on set as a camera.

Try footage from the AJ-HDC27 Varicam instead, then get back to me. I am very intrigued by the HPX500 as well- but haven't posted it yet, but for the little bit I operated it it seems rock solid.

Quote:
and is only nice for those who are too lazy to actually try to capture to an uncompressed or lightly compressed format.
Too lazy eh? I can think of a thousand situations where laziness isn't an issue... its just next to impossible to manage uncompressed capture.

For example.... how about a jib shot from a dolly of some fast moving subjects. Or maybe steadicam footage? How about handheld?

Quote:
DVCPROHD isn't very far from DV in terms of compression artifacts and in fact it gets compressed even harder.
Yeah, but DV is a huge step above HDV, just as DVCPRO is to XDCAM, despite being an older codec.

The HDV codec was designed to optimize storage efficiency and costs. The DV based codecs were designed around image quality. I am convinced Sony sees XDCAM relative to HDV the same way they saw DVCAM relative to DV.

Both HDV and XDCAM produce great images in terms of visual perception. For a simple project without a lot of compositing and grading you'd be silly not to consider them. Sticking to these two formats XDCAM is much better- because of all the bits it has to sling around compared to HDV.

Once you do add those elements to your post mix, the extra color data in DVCPRO HD matters a LOT.

No, it certainly isn't perfect. For one the image raster in DVCPRO HD sucks. Also the compression technology is old.

I am looking forward to working with AVC Intra cameras. Full raster HD, 4:2:2, VBR , up to 100Mbit/s and a modern codec.

<dream>I'd like to start the EX2 wish list right now- give me a high bitrate intraframe codec like AVC Intra- with more bits if practical. A new 2/3" 2K imager block capable of doing justice to a ARRI/Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom.

Oh- that would be a Silicon Images camera eh?</dream>

Quote:
Who told you 24p on the HVX200 uses 54 mbits? Everyplace I have ever checked says 40mbits which is 2.5x smaller then 100 mbits the max for 60p. That is pretty simple math there. Are you sure you are not mixing in the amount of space the audio takes up on the card?
Uh nobody told me anything. I based that on the fact that we got 10 minutes on a 4GB P2 card.

I did forget about audio- because we were using two system sound on my last show. I looked at the HVX200 footage on my system right now. 24psN is ~49Mbits/s, including 4 channels of PCM audio- which comes out to 2.92Mbits/s. So call it 46Mbit/s for the video.

So... I am "wasting" 11Mbits/s compared to XDCAM, but for my trouble I get 4:2:2 and intraframe compression.

Sorry, this got so long- I still have more to say. I've said some of it peripherally already- but is really in response to other posts.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 05:29 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Ibrahim View Post
I am looking forward to working with AVC Intra cameras. Full raster HD, 4:2:2, VBR , up to 100Mbit/s and a modern codec.

<dream>I'd like to start the EX2 wish list right now- give me a high bitrate intraframe codec like AVC Intra- with more bits if practical.
AVC-Intra requires too much computer horsepower at the moment for real time editing. This is part of the reason why Sony is not adopting it at this time.

It's quite obvious that you feel the XDCAM HD format is too inferior for your needs. XDCAM HD is Sony's mid level HD offering. If you have to have an extremely pristine image for your workflow, this is not the camera for you. You'll need to look towards the PDW-700 using 50mbit 4:2:2 recording.

And don't worry about a flame war, it's NOT going to happen at DVINFO.

-gb-
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 06:49 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Parks View Post
After all, in the final analysis I've never had a client go:
"Man, Long GOP MPEG 2 4:2:0 is inferior to Intraframe 4:2:2." They almost always say, "That's look so clear. I'm glad I hired a professional."

Keeping one foot in the real world.

David
lol

Good point- but a point that depends on who your client is and what they expect.

If I am selling to a private client a "Joe Sixpack" I think they'll be very pleased with any of these cameras. Heck, I could use some of the consumer HDV and AVCHD cameras and my results will often leave them thrilled to tears. (literally!) MiniDV is still an excellent format for this market, and production costs are king. These guys say stuff like

If I am selling to an industrial client who is going to distribute my program as a DVD advertisement, then they'll be pleased as plum.

If I am selling to a local business client for broadcast the format starts to break- but I can still do 98% of things they are likely to ask for. Actually I can do 100%, but there will be times I have to rotoscope stuff that should be keyable.

Now, if my client is PBS/WETA or Discovery for HD broadcast, even then for some material XDCAM is awesome, but for material that must undergo heavy compositing they may well reject the resulting work and invoke penalty clauses. Dealing with these sorts of clients I have heard them say, "Man Long GOP 4:2:0 is KILLING me. I wish you had used DVCPRO HD or HDCAM"

If my client is a VFX Supervisor on a science fiction show, again they may reject the work, invoke penalty clauses- and I may not work again with them. I've heard these clients say, "Man TIFF image sequences are hurting... can't you work in OpenEXR?" amongst many other very technical issues.

Now MY reality is I have to deal with all these clients. Despite that, I have terrible budget constraints. I have to use these cameras, and while I have issues with the XDCAM format, overall I feel the camera is strong enough to use on at least some projects- possibly all the ones where I am expected to "bring my own camera."
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 06:51 PM   #34
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We'll just have to wait for the "shootout" between the HVX200 and the EX1

Long GOP XDCAM vs DVCProHD for keying.

720p60 video of fast action slowed to 23.98 to see how the codecs fair when stressed.

Then there's the battle of CMOS 1920x1080 vs CCD 960x540.

How the cameras compare in "low light."

How fast the SxS card xfers vs P2.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 07:21 PM   #35
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swiss army knife

Production is never going to be "one size fits all" industry.

I remember training a group on Panasonic NLE called Postbox about 10 years ago. All of the people there had never worked on any NLE apps and some were not even computer literate. They absolutely hated the fact that there were two or three software applications they were going to have to learn to get the most from their project. One said to me "this is crazy in our old edit suite all I have to do is use the switcher not all these programs".

The EX maybe one of the best cams at 720p for certain projects, for other maybe the HVX would work better, for another maybe RED is the answer. As a professional it's our jobs to find what tools work best for a job and forums like this help us to debate what tools might be better for one of those projects.

We're all really fortunate that there are so many great tools to be creative with in this generation of tech. It's a lot better then lugging around 3/4" porta-pack deck connected to a tube camera.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 07:32 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston View Post
AVC-Intra requires too much computer horsepower at the moment for real time editing. This is part of the reason why Sony is not adopting it at this time.

It's quite obvious that you feel the XDCAM HD format is too inferior for your needs. XDCAM HD is Sony's mid level HD offering. If you have to have an extremely pristine image for your workflow, this is not the camera for you. You'll need to look towards the PDW-700 using 50mbit 4:2:2 recording.

And don't worry about a flame war, it's NOT going to happen at DVINFO.

-gb-
RE: AVC Intra processing. Time will fix this as all things subject to Moore's law. Until then we have i/o boards.

I also would be thrilled with AVC Intra at acquisition then captured/converted to ProRes or DNxHD. I'm thinking AJA ioHD or the like, unless the software conversion is realtime or faster. With AVC Intra that can be a post only solution- my on set workflow can be P2 only.

As an aside- are you sure that an 8 core FCP system can't handle AVC Intra? I thought it could- but I have no experience with AVC Intra.

RE: PDW-700
I would love that camera and that codec- but for the money I can't see not buying a RED. I figure a full RED system is $60K- that includes two zooms and the kit of RED primes.

My guesstimate is that the PDW-700 is going to sell, body only, for about $30k.

Less camera for more? Nope, PDW-700 is officially off my radar.

If Sony expects to sell me a PDW-700 it has to be $30k USD ready to run on set- or less.

The Panasonic HPX500 is on my radar, that can be ready to run for less than $20k USD. Although DVCPRO HD is not ideal, it works on more than 99% of my shots. I'd only use an on set solution like the AJA ioHD occasionally- but it would get used.

XDCAM is on my radar because it is born ready to run, and the HD/SDI out works for me on a film set. I'm almost always tethered to a monitor anyway- so I might as well stick an AJA box in between the camera and the monitor for those shots that require 4:2:2

The EX1 does leave me some shots, like steadicam or handhelds, that could potentially have me stuck in post with extra work.

That leaves me with a ready to run camera system for HD compositing for about $13k. (EX1, AJA ioHD, some camera accessories like follow focus, matte box etc.) This is a good deal, and I think I may bite.

I am leaving my options open though. I'd like to get both an HPX500 and an EX1, but I have to test them out. I know Discovery will accept DVCPRO HD- but I am unclear on their rules for XDCAM.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 07:52 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
We'll just have to wait for the "shootout" between the HVX200 and the EX1

Long GOP XDCAM vs DVCProHD for keying.

720p60 video of fast action slowed to 23.98 to see how the codecs fair when stressed.

Then there's the battle of CMOS 1920x1080 vs CCD 960x540.

How the cameras compare in "low light."

How fast the SxS card xfers vs P2.
Oh, I don't think it will be much of a competition. I think rather poorly of the HVX200 as a camera. I thought it was standout for post when everything in its price range was HDV- specifically because of DVCPRO HD.

Looking at a camera like the XL-H1 its a toss up vs the HVX200 for my work. I think the XL-H1 is a better camera but the recorder throws that all away. If you tether both of them to a solution like the AJA ioHD the XL-H1 comes out on top. In every other situation the HVX200 is a better camera system. (Especially since the HVX lacks HD/SDI or HDMI output!)

XDCAM, even at 4:2:0, really blurs things. If the XL-H1 used the same recording as the EX1 it would be a very hard call.

Given that I think the EX1 is gonna smoke the HVX200 and the XL-H1 as a camera the benefits of DVCPRO vs XDCAM are less important.

That doesn't make XDCAM better... it means that for my uses the EX1 is likely to be a better solution than the HVX200. Compared to the HPX500 I think the EX1 is a lesser camera- and the HPX recorder is better overall- but i think the price of the EX1 makes it worth dealing with any disadvantages.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:03 PM   #38
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Alexander, I think you hit a key point here.

We're not buying codecs, we're buying entire camera systems and those camera systems in turn fit into a work flow.

The story never ends though (actually a good thing) because a year from now Panasonic will come out with something to compete with the EX1.

I think some people felt the HVX200 with DVCProHD P2 workflow wasn't the leap over HDV in every aspect they were hoping for.

Personally I think the EX1 will be closer to meeting fairly high expectations.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:09 PM   #39
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A favor requested from anyone attending Sony EX demos

Despite waiting patiently, there is one question that would enable an informed workflow plan, for me and others, that hasn't been asked, despite frequent opportunities. Please, no supposition or hypotheticals.

We need to know definitively if the camera outputs 4:2:2 SDI when playing back from SxS card memory, or only during live shooting, or if at all.

Does the SDI output, by definition, confirm the signal is 4:2:2, or does the 4:2:0 file system system fit the SDI spec. Does the camera convert the 4:2:0 files to 4:2:2 on the fly through the SDI output?

I don't care to debate the relative merits of either system. If my AJA Kona 2 card, which is SDI in only, can be used to capture the signal from the camera, playing back from memory cards, then I should be able to convert to an intermediate codec for compositing purposes, my ultimate need and the driver of this question. TIA.

Since no-one seems to know for sure about this important issue yet, if anyone has the opportunity to ask Sony about it, we'd all greatly appreciate an answer.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:17 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Paul Izbicki View Post
We need to know definitively if the camera outputs 4:2:2 SDI when playing back from SxS card memory, or only during live shooting, or if at all.
I don't know how you would you get 4:2:2 playback from a 4:2:0 recording? Once you have thrown those pixels away their gone, right?

Unless I am totally missing something.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:28 PM   #41
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Oct 10th, 11th is HD World in NYC (Javits Center). Sony will have a booth there and I suspect the EX1 will be there. I'm also interested in the HD-SDI port.

I do believe it's 4:2:2 out.

I do suspect it'll send out of the SDI port at the same time it records to cards.

I do suspect one can send info recorded on the cards out of the SDI port since that port can also downconvert to Standard Def. Keep in mind that 4:2:0 bumped to 4:2:2 is just "upconverting" the color sampling in that case though.

I am interested in using the EX1 SDI out Standard Def with something like Flip4Mac Pipeline to convert it to DVCPro50 or IMX50 for Standard Def work.

I hope to get close enough to the Sony booth to ask these questions. Inevitably the'll be 50 people in front of me asking if they can use their PD-170 batteries with it or whether it records standard def XDCAM (all stuff they should know before walking into the booth).

Chris, the SDI out will be 4:2:2. I'm pretty sure that's in the Sony marketing material/brochure and it's part of the spec. Heck you can convert HDV 4:2:0 Long GOP to DVCPROHD 4:2:2 I frame. It's a conversion. That's all. Upconverted off the card won't have the data that live out the SDI port would have though.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:31 PM   #42
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If it captured 4:2:2 to memory card, it would of been sold as a 4:2:2 camera, not just advertised as an XDCAM 4:2:0.

On the other hand, I'm sure capturing SDI 4:2:2 off of those 1920x1080 sensors is going to be awesome. Especially tied to the upcoming FLASH XDR drive.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 09:24 PM   #43
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PLEASE! I understand that the camera's file structure is 4:2:0! It is NOT a 4:2:2 capture to the cards, I think everyone accepts that. We accept that the SDI signal out is 4:2:2 during live shooting. The quesion is, does playout from the memory cards create an INTERPOLATED 4:2:2 signal??

I can't be any clearer than that. Please, no more guesswork. If you know the SDI spec is 4:2:2 by definiton, then feel free to say so. If not, don't add to the confusion. I am more than willing to wait to hear the facts from the horses mouth so long as it is fact, not supposition. Don't muddy the waters. Unless you ARE Muddy Waters, Then feel free. Love dem Blues. (I'm taking Blues Guitar classes)
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 09:28 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Paul Izbicki View Post
We need to know definitively if the camera outputs 4:2:2 SDI when playing back from SxS card memory, or only during live shooting, or if at all.

Since no-one seems to know for sure about this important issue yet, if anyone has the opportunity to ask Sony about it, we'd all greatly appreciate an answer.
It works pretty much the same as the other cameras offering HDSDI output.

Live from camera head to HDSDI = Uncompressed 4:2:2

Record to internal media = 4:2:0 with MPEG compression applied

Internal media played back through HDSDI = Up conversion to 4:2:2 uncompressed as necessitated by the HDSDI spec.

Why do you think no one knows for sure about this issue? The camera has already been in the hands of reviewers and selected shooters.

But the scenario I described pretty much applies to several cameras, including the current XDCAM HD cameras.

-gb-
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 09:39 PM   #45
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It works pretty much the same as the other cameras offering HDSDI output.
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My point exactly..
LOL
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