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Old March 26th, 2006, 03:59 AM   #1
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SD Verses HD/HDV for present/future TV & DVD sales

I've just been having a long discussion with one of Europe’s biggest sellers of DVDs, and asked about SD 4:3, 16:9 and HD production/sales. The simple answer was that they still make and sell more 4:3 than wide 16:9 (although 16:9 is slowly growing), and even more interesting is that they have, as yet, no intention whatsoever of producing HD format in the near future, and cannot see it happening at all for a long time to come. They say that this year’s sales of their SD DVD sports line (golf/football/fishing etc) are at a phenomenal level in UK and across Europe.

The fact that I am in talks with the same company for future production of my own DV films in DVD format has put my mind at rest, and I can remain confident in remaining with high-end SD cams (with their efficient and easier editing workflow) for a long while yet.

The only other factor that may push me earlier towards HD/HDV format equipment (and in my case it is more likely to be the XL-H1) is the possible screening of some of my future work for TV programs such as Sky & Discovery; but, and it is a big but - even though some of my colleagues in the field already have moved to HDV format - and ALL of them are still down-converting their footage to SD anyway - it is still a fact that hundreds of Discovery channel programs originally made in both SD & HD are still being converted on to normal SD DVD discs and sold throughout the world in millions.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 08:09 AM   #2
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Tony

Yourdiscovery doesn't surprise me at all. I keep saying that HD will be universal, EVENTUALLY, but that HDV will probably be a transitional format, whose lifespan will be shorter than DV. (To be sure, every format is 'transitional' sooner or later... I just think that HDV is short lived).
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Old March 26th, 2006, 10:43 AM   #3
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On the other hand, widescreen HDTVs are clearly selling in volume in many areas, and delivering optimal quality for those calls for at least offering proper widescreen SD DVDs. I did some tests recently which confirmed what I'd already suspected from earlier experiments: converting 4x3 SD video to widescreen output doesn't work well, and using the pseudo-widescreen mode of cameras like the Canon GL1/GL2 isn't much better. Surprisingly, true widescreen SD footage (using an anamorphic lens) converted reasonably well to 4x3 SD output, much better than the opposite aspect ratio conversion.

So my conclusion is that the least any of us should be doing if you care about customers with HDTVs (and the longetivity of your work) is to start shooting widescreen SD, and preferably shoot HD even for SD delivery. If you have high-end SD cameras with widescreen sensors or anamorphic lenses you may be okay for a while longer yet; if you're shooting 4x3 SD it's time now to start thinking about migrating to something else. Shooting 4x3 SD is a poor choice as we head into the HD era.

P.S. HDV may be a 'transitional format' which is only widely used for another 5 years or so, but it's a good one for this point in time at the right price.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 01:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick
I've just been having a long discussion with one of Europe’s biggest sellers of DVDs, and asked about SD 4:3, 16:9 and HD production/sales. The simple answer was that they still make and sell more 4:3 than wide 16:9 (although 16:9 is slowly growing), and even more interesting is that they have, as yet, no intention whatsoever of producing HD format in the near future, and cannot see it happening at all for a long time to come. They say that this year’s sales of their SD DVD sports line (golf/football/fishing etc) are at a phenomenal level in UK and across Europe.

The fact that I am in talks with the same company for future production of my own DV films in DVD format has put my mind at rest, and I can remain confident in remaining with high-end SD cams (with their efficient and easier editing workflow) for a long while yet.

The only other factor that may push me earlier towards HD/HDV format equipment (and in my case it is more likely to be the XL-H1) is the possible screening of some of my future work for TV programs such as Sky & Discovery; but, and it is a big but - even though some of my colleagues in the field already have moved to HDV format - and ALL of them are still down-converting their footage to SD anyway - it is still a fact that hundreds of Discovery channel programs originally made in both SD & HD are still being converted on to normal SD DVD discs and sold throughout the world in millions.
Considering the pretty much complete lack of HD sources in the UK/EU this doesn't surprise me at all. I also know very very few people with a HD capable tele. I'm much more interested in widescreen and when my xl1 gives up, I'll be going for an xl2, unless HDV gets a lot cheaper... specially as you can't buy anything except for widescreen teles in the UK these days.

Maybe in two or threes years, I'll look again but for now, SD wide screen rules :D
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Old March 26th, 2006, 03:08 PM   #5
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Absolutely.

On a high end 16:9 SD camera, played through a high bitrate DVD, in progressive scan, on a progressive scan 16:9 television the quality can be amazing. Very often high def will not gain much. Really it won't. Not from most normal viewing distances and screen sizes at any rate.

Of course, high def on a larger screen size at an optimum distance can be amazing. But I cannot foresee high def being a dominant delivery format for a number of years yet. I have one project which I want to shoot in high def purely because the footage will be rare and it might be the last time the interviewees can give interviews. But for most projects 16:9 SD is a very good format to use, and has a certain amount of future proofness depending on how critical things are for the future.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 04:22 PM   #6
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The penetration of HD/HDV is very regional. Here in Florida the sales of HDTV's are dominating the sales of 4:3 SD sets. Most of my neighbors have HDTV's. The hardware always has to lead the software, so your finding in the UK are not that surprising. Most students I had are only looking at HDV cameras. This reminds me of the change from analog to digital. There will always be those that cling to the past.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 04:27 PM   #7
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The situation in the UK is very different because 16:9 digital broadcasting has been around for a while. Even on 4:3 analogue broadcasts all programmes are now shown in 14:9 as a compromise, while being simulcast in full 16:9 for digital. That combined with the higher res of PAL compared to NTSC means that there isn't so much of fuss over HD here even though pretty much all our electonics stores have really good HD demos running.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #8
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Just as there are those that hang on to the past, there are those who ignorantly proclaim the premature death of current technology. Since 2000 the pundits have claimed SD was dead and that it would be the year of HD. I think tape has been dead for about 3 years as well.

Remember, quality does not drive sales or force technology. Price and convenience will drive sales in the mass market. DVDs usurped VHS not because of quality, but because of convenience to all... the end user, the manufacturer, distibutor, etc. Also remember that DVD did not take off en masse until it was the same price as VHS making it a no brainer for average Joe consumer. The quality difference was a nice upgrade, enjoyed by all.

In the area of audio, quality lost out to convenience. Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio are both far superior to CD but failed miserably in the mass market while MP3 and other compressed formats that are WORSE than CD quality are flourishing based solely on convenience and quality deemed "good enough."

HD will eventually happen but when and ONLY when it is the exact same price as SD is now. Does it look better than analog super-compressed SD? Yes but the average HDTV (over $1100) is still 3 to 4 times the cost of the average SDTV. Right now it is like saying that the Ford Focus is dead because the new Hummer is so much nicer.

Lastly, HDTV sales are picking up but a recent study by an HD pundit revealed that half of people who own an HDTV have never seen a single frame of HD on it... they are still watching 4:3 SD stretched. Shockingly, 2/3rds of those people actually THOUGHT they WERE watching HDTV.

Before anyone accuses me of hanging on to the past... I currently own 4 HDTVs and frequently shootin on Varicam, XLH and HVX. Before switching to USC film school I was a marketing and business major...




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Old March 26th, 2006, 08:53 PM   #9
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"While 90% of all Americans have heard of high definition television (HDTV), only 47% say they know anything substantial about it, and just 15% say they are somewhat or very likely to get HDTV—all reflecting basically unchanged levels over the past year, according to the latest research from Ipsos Insight, the global market research firm."
http://www.rtoonline.com/content/Art...ness012006.asp
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Old March 27th, 2006, 03:58 AM   #10
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This seems to be a case of why choose the XL2 over XL H1. The only real reason I can think of is cost - the XL2 is significantly cheaper.

However if you get the XL H1 you can shoot in HD, downconvert in camera and edit in SD for output as an SD DVD. You then have the HD tapes sat there for future use - and if you're working professionally I think that is an option worth paying for.

If the XL H1 lasts you 3 years then the premium you're paying over the XL2 works out at about £1000 per year.

I've got stacks of Hi8 (wildlife) tapes which are basically useless now because it is an obsolete, inferior format. If someone came up with software which would magically upgrade them to XL H1 quality, then I would pay more than £1000 a year for that.

Every time I see those Hi8 tapes I think of the time and travel costs involved and think that it's a good idea to shoot on the best quality equipment which your budget will allow.

If you're only shooting for the here and now your philosophy might be different, but wildlife material isn't subject to the vagaries of fashion and retains its interest.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 04:30 AM   #11
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Alternatively, if you do video for a living, keep the camera that you have until HD actually becomes financially viable, and then upgrade. If you have a project that needs future proofing in HD, hire. Much cheaper, and makes more business sense.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 08:29 AM   #12
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Simon, I suspect the difference in our takes on this reflects the fact that you are normally using more expensive cameras, whereas I've always been in the XL1, FX1, XL-H1 field.

What you suggest is fine if:-
1. There are only a limited number of hires (obviously if you're hiring frequently it's cheaper to buy).
2. You can accurately predict what will be required in HD in the future.

I shoot wildlife and it's impossible to predict when the great filming opportunities will occur. Some seemingly mundane days have suddenly produced an unrepeatable event.

Potentially all the stuff I shoot could be used in a HD product at some stage in the future (and surely that must apply to quite a few people). Predicting which are the key HD shots is impossible (if I was that good at seeing the future I would go play the stock market!).

If the market is happy with your SD product at the moment, then theres a good chance they will want a copy of that in HD at some stage in the future.

I'm not wishing the demise of SD, but when that HD moment does arrive then I want to have some sort of library, rather than be looking to uprez SD material.

If I had a good 16:9 SD camera I might well stick with it, but if I was getting a new machine I would look for the better future proofing of a HD one. Certainly if you're shooting in SD 4:3 then you need to think about changing.

That's how it looks to me, but I'd certainly be interested in your comments, we all have blind spots and maybe there are some serious flaws in my logic.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 09:11 AM   #13
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Potentially all the stuff I shoot could be used in a HD product at some stage in the future (and surely that must apply to quite a few people). Predicting which are the key HD shots is impossible (if I was that good at seeing the future I would go play the stock market!).
Thats what I mean by waiting until it is financially viable.

Financially viable doesn't just mean the expense of the equipment, but also the value of the footage that you are capturing. For wildlife shooting on at least HD video these days is a must IMHO because events can be rare. So purchasing such a camera is a sensible thing to do.

One of my own projects will involve shooting some rare footage with people who very rarely appear on camera, and who might not be around for very many years longer. So for that project I will be ensuring that I shoot it in high def. However it is doubtful that I will purchase a camera for it unless the rental means that I might as well have bought the equipment anyway.

For example if I only needed an XDCAM HD for 2-3 days and it was going to be a one off project that needs to be in HD then I would sensibly rent it.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 05:15 PM   #14
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Also, remember CONTENT, not resolution is the ONLY way to "future-proof" anything. I know you didnt mean anything by it but I cant stand that terminology. It is marketing jargon that is meaningless. The XL2 uprezzes very well, quality content shot on the XL2 will be every bit as viable as quality content shot in HD going forward.



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Old March 27th, 2006, 05:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
"While 90% of all Americans have heard of high definition television (HDTV), only 47% say they know anything substantial about it, and just 15% say they are somewhat or very likely to get HDTV—all reflecting basically unchanged levels over the past year, according to the latest research from Ipsos Insight, the global market research firm."
Another recent survey predicted HDTV sales in the U.S. this year of approximately 20 million units, with a surprisingly large percentage of households having HDTVs by the end of this year. (I don't remember the number, but it was big.) Also remember that nationwide statistics can be misleading given that people who can afford to hire a videographer are also likely to be the same folks who are buying HDTVs. It's rare now that I have a customer who doesn't own at least one HDTV, and these are just average video customers for my area.

By the way, I checked the Costco web site today and noticed that they've basically stopped selling traditional SD TVs. The WalMart web site lists over 40 HDTV models starting at $298 and going up to $7688. WalMart!

--------

As far as content is concerned, it's a given that that's a critical aspect of any decent video project. And while true widescreen SD footage from an XL2 will be viable longer than 4x3 SD footage, it's obviously not 'every bit as viable' as content shot in HD. If that were true, there would be no practical reason for anyone to have invented HD cameras.
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