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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 March 3rd, 2008, 12:22 AM   #1
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How are your EX1 > SD-DVDs looking?

I know that some answers may be NLE specific, but in this "neutral" territory, I'd like to hear any tips towards maximising quality on SD - DVD.

It's going to be a while till all our clients are clamoring for Blu-Ray output, and so far I've not been knocked out with the finished quality, after shooting 1080P that looks stunning prior to being rendered into widescreen SD MPEG2.

The worst problem I've had is the old flickering around thin horizontals, and in Vegas the "Reduce Interlace Flicker" helps, as does rendering at Best quality to help with the down-rezzing, but I'd love to hear what others are doing in this direction.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 12:58 AM   #2
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Same with me - the SD DVD's produced via software are not acceptable to my standards.

The best solution that I have found out till now is this:

Shoot 1080 50i (I'm in PAL land) - transfer to pc - edit HD footage using Premiere CS3 + Axio LE - export and burn to Blu Ray via Encore if requested - for SD DVD - connect component out of Axio break out box to component in of my Sony 1800 DVCAM deck - play out the edited footage of the edited HD timeline whilst recording onto a DVCAM tape - real time instant hardware very good downconversion - then capture DV footage back and encode the SD DVD.

This might sound a bit complicated and so I'm going to try out the following workflow. I already have a Matrox RT 100 xtreme so:

Shoot 1080 50i - transfer to pc - edit HD footage using Premiere CS3 + Axio LE - connect SDI output from breakout box to SDI input on a Kramer FC20 (this converts SDI to Firewire) - connect Kramer to RT 100 via firewire - play out HD timeline whilst capturing real time straight to RT 100 as m2v file - real time instant conversion to m2v ready to be authored by Encore.

I haven't yet tried out this last workflow but I'm sure it will work out like the previous one. I'm going to use the Kramer since my Rt 100 has only firewire in (apart from the useless composite and y/c) - if it had component in I would have avoided the Kramer conversion.

Unfortunately when one sees the 1080 footage then any SD DVD will look abysmal. I actually had a good look at the SD DVD's that I used to produce by my DSR-300 and found out that resolution was in fact reduced but I never really notoced. With the advent of HD, this lack of resolution is now glaring in our faces.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 01:10 AM   #3
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Thanks Brian - interesting to hear about your hardware based approach.

Prior to this I was shooting HDV with a Z1 and the resulting DVDs looked fantastic - I was hoping that EX1 shot material would be even better, and I still am ..... surely I don't have to start shooting HDV on the EX1 to achieve this - but maybe I do!
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 03:29 AM   #4
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Peter that is strange! I have no experience of HDV - so you are saying that HDV to SD is OK. So what is happening in the transfer of 1080 to SD? So do you think if we shoot in HDV mode on the EX1, we will get better looking SD DVD's? Any comments on this from other users?
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 03:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Cassar View Post
Peter that is strange! I have no experience of HDV - so you are saying that HDV to SD is OK. So what is happening in the transfer of 1080 to SD? So do you think if we shoot in HDV mode on the EX1, we will get better looking SD DVD's? Any comments on this from other users?
Good question Brian
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 03:49 AM   #6
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I don't know any technical reason why HDV converted to SD-DVD should look better than Full HD to SD-DVD - just observing that so far it has, at least here.

The Reduce Interlace Flicker setting I referred to does make a considerable improvement, but it may be at the expense of a certain amount of resolution - at SD that doesn't seem to matter.

Part of the problem may be that I've become used to seeing all the detail and definition of 1920x1080 on a 24" screen, and watching SD, particularly on a CRT screen, will always be a let down.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 04:45 AM   #7
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There's two problems:

1) Line twitter. With interlace video the vertical resolution cannot exceed around 80% of the theoretical maximum or horizontal edges will winkle. This is dealt with in interlaced cameras by line pair averaging. On the upside you gain an improvement in noise or sensitivity. You can see this in those cameras that do both I and P, I gives you more sensitivity.

2) Aliasing. Nyquist places a limit on the maximum frequency that can be presented to a sampling system. For DV the clock is 13.5MHz and one way the frequency (aka resolution) is controlled is by the use of an optical low pass filter (LPF) in front of the imager. The design of that seems pretty tricky, ideally you'd want a square edge at the cutoff frequency but thats hard to achieve. Let too much detail through and the camera will produce images with aliasing, make the cutoff too low and the image will be soft.

During down conversion from HD both these issues might need to be wrangled. Most HDV cameras don't have enough resolution to pose a challenge, moreso if you're shooting interlaced. The V1P sure could produce these issues and there was much discussion about it here.

With Vegas my fix for both HD stills and video has been the gaussian blur or median FX. You should apply these before downconversion and usually you only need them in the vertical direction. As for the design of the OLPF in a camera, getting just the right amount can involve a bit of trial and error.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 04:48 AM   #8
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Thanks Bob,
I will try it tonight
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 04:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant View Post
Most HDV cameras don't have enough resolution to pose a challenge, moreso if you're shooting interlaced. The V1P sure could produce these issues and there was much discussion about it here.
Not that I'm stealing this thread, but in the light of Bob's explanation (and indeed the line twitter has been a real problem with PAL area versions of the V1), two things come to my mind:

- as this involves only the vertical resolution, it shouldn't make a difference whether one is down-rezzing from HQ or SP

- why there's no line twitter in the EX1, even though it's reported to have an even higher vertical resolution than the V1E/P.

Bob?
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 06:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Not that I'm stealing this thread, but in the light of Bob's explanation (and indeed the line twitter has been a real problem with PAL area versions of the V1), two things come to my mind:

- as this involves only the vertical resolution, it shouldn't make a difference whether one is down-rezzing from HQ or SP

- why there's no line twitter in the EX1, even though it's reported to have an even higher vertical resolution than the V1E/P.

Bob?
1) Not really, the horizontal resolution could cause aliasing. Also who knows what differences exist in how the encoder works at HQ and SP without checking both with a res chart.

2) Who said there's no line twitter in the EX1?

Suggestion. Take the ISO 12233 res chart (Google for it, it could be copyright so I'll not attach a copy here) then animate it with Vegas (or any NLE), see what happens.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 07:54 AM   #11
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1) Not really, the horizontal resolution could cause aliasing. Also who knows what differences exist in how the encoder works at HQ and SP without checking both with a res chart.
This I cannot comment at the moment; I think though it's a very important aspect of the SD DVD creation workflow, deserving its own discussion (see below).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant View Post
2) Who said there's no line twitter in the EX1?
I did :)

Seriously Bob - my shed's fine horizontal lines that you have been tortured with so many times as my main "testing object" with both the V1E and now the EX1, don't twitter at all even if I engage bobbing ON in an MPEG player (nor do they with straight playback from the camera using component)!

BTW, as I am planning to record a lot of live classical music concerts with my EX1 and - while keeping HD masters - deliver them on SD DVD's for quite a while, this discussion is of a great interest to me. Should it prove to be easier to deliver high quality SD from the EX1's SP than from HQ, it'd be a very important incentive to keep my DR60 drive and record SP to that, rather than invest into more SxS cards and get more HQ stuff, but only to get more frustrated at down-rezzing! So, to me at least, sort of a strategic decision to make..

Any input will be appreciated.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 08:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Should it prove to be easier to deliver high quality SD from the EX1's SP than from HQ, it'd be a very important incentive to keep my DR60 drive and record SP to that, rather than invest into more SxS cards and get more HQ stuff, but only to get more frustrated at down-rezzing! So, to me at least, sort of a strategic decision to make..

Any input will be appreciated.
I second Piotr - I too am getting frustrated with the EX1 down-rezzing from full HD. Will SP (aka HDV) mode produce a better looking SD DVD?
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 08:09 AM   #13
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My from HQ to SD resized DVDs look fine.
As sharp as commercial DVDs with less artifacts - they look nice on Flat LCD TVs and even on old-fashioned CRT-TVs.


I shoot in 1920x1080 25p HQ with Detail=Off, which is very important!

regards Dennis
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 08:47 AM   #14
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Ok guys, worst case: Nature :D

I'm NOT satisfied with the results.
The sources are looking very good though.

http://rapidshare.com/files/96728426/HQ_SP.zip.html


left is HQ 25p and right is SP 50i


regards Dennis
Attached Thumbnails
How are your EX1 > SD-DVDs looking?-hq_25p.jpg   How are your EX1 > SD-DVDs looking?-sp_50i.jpg  

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Old March 3rd, 2008, 09:20 AM   #15
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Dennis, interesting that your shot shows tree branches. I shot at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens some weeks back with EX1. Lots of naked tree branches shot at 1080p30.

Every attempt at down-conversion looks HORRIBLE.
Viewing on Samsung 46" 1080p LCD HDTV
Using component out of Sony SD DVD player with "Progressive" button (no upconvert).

Line Twitter on branches and aliasing on angles very bad.
I'm on Mac so I tried "Rick Young" method (posted elsewhere) and used source in Compressor 3 to create SD DVD. I also tried the EX1 1080p30 sequence as source for Compressor 3. That actually looked a bit better but still pretty bad.
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