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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 September 15th, 2008, 09:31 PM   #1
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Using ex footage in an SD show

Hi folks, I'm looking for real world editing/workflow help here. I am primary camera for a 30 minute news magazine style program. Because we cover issues from around the world we find ourselves relying on outside sources for our program content. This means mini-dv,hdv and anything else you can imagine. Right now our editors want to capture my ex footage and transcode it all immediately to standard def. for use in their Avid timelines.

I noticed today that the footage downrezzed by Avid looked disappointing to say the least. Now, I must admit that what I saw was displayed on a Sony flat panel and not a CRT. Can anyone tell me how we might maximize the original EX footage in this kind of scenario? This camera is such an over-acheiver that it has won the hearts of even the most die-hard HDCam supporters in our facility. Thank you for your help and suggestions, this site is an amazing resource.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 10:20 PM   #2
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Apparently the free clipbrowser software does an excellent job according to reports here. My test results using Vegas have been very promising. I'm really not sure what else to tell you.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #3
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Dave, this is my problem as well. HD-SD downconversion is still not being properly addressed. It is also a subjective matter - what is good for me might not be good for someone else. I've tested the free clipbrowser and the quality is far from satisfactory. The best result so far achieved was by downconverting using matrox media converter (from HD to SD) - the quality at this stage is bad (very bad, just like the clipbrowser quality) - then a sharpening effect (of Premiere Pro CS3) is applied to the SD timeline - the resultant SD footage then becomes very good. The problem is that a quad core pc takes about 6 hours to render 1 hour of footage with the sharpening effect!!

I've found out that this issue of whether the downconversion looks good or not is best judged on a wide shot having a human face in this shot. Look for the eyes and if you see them going all out of focus then the downconversion is bad. The HD-SD downconversion is mimicking the effect of a bad back focus issue. Once zoomed in the picture in the downconverted footage is all good and clear, once zoomed out it goes all mushy and out of focus. If the HD footage is examined, one will find that this does not happen- hence eliminating the possibility of the camera having a back focus issue.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 02:44 AM   #4
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Version 2 Sony Clip Browser for EX results are excellent and free.

Paul
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Old September 16th, 2008, 09:03 AM   #5
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More experience with clip browser is called for but I can't help but wonder about those who are reporting success with hardware solutions for their down conversion.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 09:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Paul Newman View Post
Version 2 Sony Clip Browser for EX results are excellent and free.

Paul
Let's not get carried away. The Clip Broswer 2 on the Mac does "will not export for free". Unless I missed something, the export components need to be purchased and they are ridiculously expensive for what they do.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dave Nystul View Post
More experience with clip browser is called for but I can't help but wonder about those who are reporting success with hardware solutions for their down conversion.
Dave,

I have a Matrox Axio LE + PPRO CS3. The Axio is part software and part hardware (having a breakout box). When I play out the HD timeline and configure the breakout box to output SD component out (i.e real time downconversion) the resultant picture either as seen on a monitor (whether LCD or CRT) or when recorded on a DVCAM deck via component in, is simply unacceptable.

The same result was achieved with the free downconversion (from HD to SD) utility found in the clip browser (not to mention the time lost in waiting for the downconversion).

I'm still searching high and low for a small magical box that gives the right downconverted picture - or maybe hope that the new CS4 due to be launched in the next few days will have a built in magic wand that will cure this nightmarish situation (...but I think that the latter is more of a wishful thinking...).
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Old September 16th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #8
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To me still the Clipbrowser does the best job. And it's free. I cannot speak for mac users, but PC HD -> DV is free.

But viewing SD footage on a HD-LCD TV-Set is no fun :)
No matter if downconverted or shot in SD.

CRT looks perfect. But I think we have to work with LCDs, as sooner or later everyone will have one of those.

Peter
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Old September 16th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #9
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But viewing SD footage on a HD-LCD TV-Set is no fun :)
No matter if downconverted or shot in SD.

Peter
All I can say is that when I view the footage (SD DV) from my DSR-300 DVCAM camcorder on a 40 inch Bravia HD-LCD (from 5 feet away), the picture is absolutely fantastic (OK granted not as good as a CRT but still very good) but when I view the HD-SD downconverted EX3 footage from the clip browser or the Axio it is absolute trash - everything is out of focus and blurred. There is absolutely no comparision and yet it is the same TV/monitor.

It is also true that when I showed the downconverted EX3 footage to "the man in the street" they couldn't find anything wrong! But I know that the loss in quality is phenomenal and I'm sure that there will be clients at a later stage that will complain of lack of quality.

The problem with the EX1/3 is that whether one likes it or not, one has to shoot in HD all the time. So it's useless telling my SD clients that the loss of quality that they are seeing is due to the downconversion. They would not give a toss - they are paying for SD material and expect good looking SD material. And reverting to the DSR-300 for SD paying clients is not an option - the camera now needs to be changed. Neither are the Z7 and the new Z5 as they are not as low light as the EX1/3.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 02:31 PM   #10
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Using ex footage in an SD show

Hi I use AVID Liquid Chrome with the AJA Boardset, it gives a very nice downconvert when playing HD Timelines, when I use the version of Liquid on my Laptop I simply export an uncompressed AVI from my HD Timeline and this result is even better then the live downsizing!
In Liquid you can also use an HD Clip on a SD Timeline but the resulting quality is bad same as when trying to manually resize clips even when using 6bit 6 lobed Lanczos algorythn...
The rendertimes for Downconverting via export are 1:3 on my Quad Xeon and 1:4 on my Dualcore Notebook.
In my opinion AVID Liquid is still the best kept secret in th NLE World....

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XDCAM HD HDV LETUS etc....
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Old September 18th, 2008, 07:13 PM   #11
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I must admit I've only played with the EX-1 once, and this might be a stupid response, but how about tapping the component or Y/C outputs of the camera and then convert the analog video back to DV? For Axio users you could tap the SD component output and,(here I'm guessing), convert to a nice 4:2:2 SD digital format. For guys with just a cheap DV camera, you would have to settle for Y/C.

Or would the extra D/A - A/D conversion be too much of a hit? And yeah, it's kind od sucky workflow...
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Old September 18th, 2008, 09:59 PM   #12
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EX1 HD and SD Mix

I have mixed formats in a FCP project and made NTSC DVD's which look good using the advice from Rick Young in his article at Outputting Standard Definition in FCP from the Sony XDCam EX1

Editing in the main EX1 timeline was realtime but after copying to a 100 min SD timeline with 80% EX1 (1080p30) and the rest DV with small amount of HDV (1080i) it took approx 2 hours to make the QT movie which I then took into Adobe Encore and had to transcode prior to the DVD
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Old September 18th, 2008, 10:37 PM   #13
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To my way of thinking at this time with HD, is that the down conversion from HD to SD is not as good as recording SD, then rendering out to SD MPEG-2.
But then again when I look at DVD's from the Video shop they have been down converted at some point and theses look great.

How do we get the same results?
I'm thinking about shelving recording HD for the moment and getting me an old SD 2/3 chip, 570 or something similar to produce good looking SD.

Nick
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Old September 18th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #14
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But then again when I look at DVD's from the Video shop they have been down converted at some point and theses look great.

How do we get the same results?
Well,

You start with film, scan it at 4k or 2k, edit and color grade at that level, then do the downconversion to SD DVD on a $200k system. Easy!

Or, you could record solid HD, and use multi-pass encoding to make sure that your video is as clean as possible, then encode at a bit rate that maximizes 95% of your DVD.

Should look pretty good. Works great for me.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 11:53 PM   #15
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My SD down converts from my EX1 and EX3 look great. Certainly never soft. The biggest problem used to be that they were over-sharp, but I now use the FCP flicker filter to soften things a bit.
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