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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 January 21st, 2009, 03:50 PM   #16
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It's pretty hard to break 35mbps VBR (but not impossible). There are certainly news/ENG crews who can shoot sports with that codec.
I'm finding that 35mbps 4:2:0 when shooting progressive holds up well. 4:2:0 certainly shows weakness with interlace though.
Certainly there are reasons to improve on both though.
Sony already has 50mbps 4:2:2 which solves that aspect of green screen and compositing.

For broadcast narrative you might be in the F900, F950, F23, F35 range on the Sony side of things. You're talking HDCAM and HDCAM SR and up in that bunch, not XDCAM. I certainly think Sony's working on a replacement for HDCAM as per my previous post. The resultant codec is not something you're likely to find in EX series.

Right now I think 50mbps 4:2:2 long GOP might work its way into models below the 700 though. As Ned points out, even that's a new encoder chip.

Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post

Primarily 2 things:

1. It would alleviate some of the problems with the current codec breaking up on high motion subjects, or with more rapid camera movement. This is of significant concern to those taking footage to broadcast, or producing narrative work with steadicam, dolly, or jib/crane work. For locked off shots on a tripod, it's not too much of a concern.

2. For those wishing to do VFX of greenscreen work, the increased color fidelity allows much cleaner work. Edges are smoother, color is better.

The penalty of course, is larger file sizes, and it's more demanding on the editing machine.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 04:30 PM   #17
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I have followed this discussion with interest. A lot of worthwhile views are presented, but the one thing missing, especially in these times, is the question of will it bring extra revenues or profit? Sure, we all agree that going from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2 is great, decreasing compression is great, but the bottom line is will it generate extra revenues?

Currently the price per minute recording time at HQ with SxS is around $ 16, with SDHC it is around $ 1. If you choose to go for triple the data rate you triple the cost per minute recording time.

This is all acceptable for short shots, like commercials, but for event people there is no benefit, so I think it very much depends on what kind of market you are in, whether you can justify the extra investment in media to get a better margin on your projects. I don't think there is a clear answer to that, it just depends on the type of business you are in.

For me, and I have to admit I like to be at the technology frontier, I don't put a high priority on it at the moment. I better get some more assignments first and with people postponing decisions, well...
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Old January 21st, 2009, 09:27 PM   #18
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It depends on your target.

In my local market, the local stations have generally been DVCam/DVCPro with the occasional BetaSP. As they migrate to HD, the question comes as to what they outfit everyone with. The DVCPro folks have generally gone the DVCProHD/P2 route. I am seeing those in Shoulder mount and HVX. The Sony folks have been something of a mixed bag.

Imagine if they could have a Sony 4:2:2 full raster cam at $10k to replace the $25k cameras they have now. How many do you think they'd buy?

Or look at the independent production house trying to do work for HD broadcast. Instead of dealing with the limitations of being saddled with 4:2:0, they could shoot full raster 4:2:2 and rightly submit footage for the upper echelon of HD broadcast without worry.

To me, it's a game of follow the leader. Panasonic has already put intraframe in the Sub 10k market with the HVX/HPX though it's not full raster. Sony has brought full raster and 1/2" imaging, but with long GOP. Sony could be the first to offer both. The HARD part is done. They already have the cameras built. They also have a suitable recording medium in SxS. A modication to their currently shipping lineup could trump this market for very little investment. No more saying, "Yes, but 4:2:0 is good enough at full raster." or "We qualify at silver level, but not gold." They could put the issue to bed.

Two sub-$10k handycams with full raster intra and a line of Sub $30k Shoulder Mounts that hold 5 SxS cards could be just the ticket.

Yes, event shooters would likely have issues, but none that we haven't seen with tape based formats for years, or that the P2 guys haven't had to deal with. Offboard recording with the likes of the Convergent bring real value to event shooters. That's why I went with the Focus Store early. The Nanoflash will cost just a bit more than my Firestore HD did, and have features WELL beyond. Charge each client an extra $100 and you'll pay it off in a year.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 05:59 AM   #19
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News/ENG market is an odd bird in its decision making process.
The P2 purchase decisions were probably made before the EX series cameras began to establish itself. At the time keeping DVCPro compatibility was probably critical to workflow also. I can't see P2/DVCProHD lasting at all. Current news economics are decidedly against it. I think that's why Panasonic is moving to AVCIntra. P2 is expensive and 100mbps(HD) makes for very short records on those P2 cards. Field recording is further hampered by PCMCIA vs Express card on newer laptops (although that's not an issue for local news).

4:2:0 vs 4:2:2 may not be a big issue either in News/ENG. Compositing and color correction are not a big part of the news workflow (but can be in the Documentary workflow).

I really don't think Long GOP vs Intra is critical for news either these days. I think this battle will be between 50mbps 4:2:2 Long GOP (PDW-700 for example) vs 50mbps AVCIntra. That's only for circumstances where that level is needed. Certainly 35mbps 4:2:0, especially with the offload speed of SxS as it replaces XDCAM Disc, is going to be a BIG plus. EX1 and EX3 show to be good news cameras and that's also why I think Sony will have a shoulder mount EX5 at NAB. With JVC on board too (for those who agonize CMOS vs CCD) the EX codec will have a full range of support for ENG work. SDHC, while slower transfer, offers archival source media in an incredibly space efficient size. This has to put Panasonic in a difficult place for future sales with P2 and DVCProHD. They have to offer SDHC with AVCIntra at 50mbps (or less?).

Sony's whole series of moves is to make EX codec something ubiquitous among both News and Freelancers who shoot news (and SDHC allows the media hand off now). This is the bridge Sony is building with Sandisk and JVC. This is also why you WILL NOT see Sony blocking SDHC. It's KEY for the freelance shooter market.

In my opinion Intra vs GOP I don't think is critical in this market.

Intra and 4:2:2 can be critical in the HDCAM market though. I don't think we've seen Sony's move in this area vs Panasonic's AVCIntra 50 and 100mbps. I think that'll also happen at NAB as Sony finally counters the Varicam. I think something is going to happen for Sony in the F900/950 range. I don't see the "puzzle piece" yet, just the logic. This is where Perrone's hypothetical 50mbps 4:2:2 Intra might happen. This may be SxS market (although SDHC is not out of the question for sure).

Event shooters? I don't see a complaint here at all. Not only is there EX 35mbps there's now JVC with EX 35mbps with CCD if they don't like the CMOS flash issue. Pack a camera with two 32GB cards and nearly 4 hours of record time. That's an event shooter's dream.

Codecs aren't an either/or so I don't get your point for event shooters and "issues." Sony/JVC will offer 19mbps CBR, 25mbps CBR codecs as well as 35mbps VBR. It's not like Sony's going to drop the lower data rates for 50mbps. It's not like event shooters have a critical need for 4:2:2 over 4:2:0.

I think Sony is looking to cover the entire range and allied with Sandisk and JVC to ensure media and camera diversity supporting a codec to cover all the markets. Let's see what replaces HDCAM.

Panasonic has AVCIntra and the Varicam (etc) as the HDCAM competitor. So this is Sony's next immediate move least they cede that market.

Again Sony's alliances with Sandisk and JVC are pivotal and why it all spells a codec war. It's why JVC was a key puzzle piece in revealing this (codec must be supported by multiple camera manufacturers). It also explains MP4 as a "root" to go to either MXF, MOV or can be used as MP4. It also explains why Sony opened the door to SDHC (codec war can't be won with expensive proprietary media).
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 06:17 AM   #20
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Good stuff Craig. I wasn't trying to point the 100mbps codec at ENG. More at Docu guys or those prodicing for DiscoHD/BBC/etc. Taking an EX3 instead of an F900 into some places might be most welcome. I am thinking of Taxi to the Darkside and the decision to take the HVX instead of the Varicam in some places.

NAB should be VERY interesting. Especially seeing if Canon jumps into this fray. I can't see them jumping into P2, So will it be SxS, SDHC, CF? And surely they don't want to go the codec route on their own, so where do they go...
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Old January 24th, 2009, 05:33 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
If Sony released a new firmware this summer that upgraded the EX1/EX3 to optionally record 100mbps 4:2:2 intra-frame, *BUT* it disabled the use of SDHC type solutions, would you do the upgrade?
For me, Mr Corporate, no. SDHC + 1/2" chip is just perfect price/performance. My clients would not see the difference of 4:2:2, and my chromakeying with 4:2:0 + DVmatte Pro (which enhances the edge matte with luma info) is 'good enough'.

The only thing I'd switch for would be rolling record, but that's a hardware RAM thing rather than recording technology. (sigh)
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Old January 24th, 2009, 02:14 PM   #22
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Let's see. Is spending thousands of dollars in blood money payments to Sony for their SxS cards presumably made of precious metals worth giving up 100 Mbps 4:2:2 intra-frame recording?

Let me sleep on it in my $16,000 Alberto Frias bed and I'll get back to you:

Snug As A Bug In The Most Expensive Bed Ever. - The Modern Materialist

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Old January 25th, 2009, 12:33 AM   #23
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I would love to see a 4:2:2 50mbps update, but the Ex1 gives me still great results as long as I'm not doing any misstakes.

Hmm, do most of us really need 4:2:2 50mbps or 100mbps ? Doubtless I don't reall need it in 99% of our shots.

However, it will give ma a better feeling. I have seen this when I shot a sequence in the snow with many trees in the background. During a pan, I realized that for just this sequence 35Mbs was not enough. It didn't really look bad, but it was not a perfect result when I was sitting 10 centimeter in front of the TV, complaining about compression.

So I think this is more a psychologic problem. I thought if I had a 4:2:2 with 100mbs, or an other highest available system on the market (like RED), maybe this sequence would look better. But I just fool myself with this, because I was so stupid to do a (useless) pan with those many details in the background?

The same argument is allways to work future proof. I would feel better to do stock footage with 5k@120fps 4:4:4 cam, because maybe in 20 years this will be the new IPod standart. Stuff like that is the reaon why I allways will shot on the highest available standart I can afford.

However, I know that I'm like that and for me it sounds better to spent my money for a 4:2:2 100mbps update than to pay a psychiatrist to fix my real problems. lol. Or the bed John wrote about.... so as long as this bed hasn't the size 4:2:2 (yd) I don't see this as sign to buy it.
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