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Old March 17th, 2006, 08:32 AM   #1
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DV on the big screeen

This is not going to devolve into a HDV vs. SD thread. This is a question for SD producers only.

I was reviewing some videos we have done on the new 50" TV. I was rather disappointed with how they look. They look great on my 32" CRT TV but the big LCD TV really seems to degrade the picture quite a bit. Enough so that I worry now about a client playing it on thier 50" screen.

Now I fully understand why this happens. Streching a SD picture across 50 inches on a HDTV is pushing it. My questions are two:

1. Are there any tricks to overcoming this limitiation that I am not employing? I shoot DVCAM and encode with ProCoder at Mastering Quality. I am not sure how much better my DVD encoding can get. I currently use 2 pass encoding and have heard rumor that 1 pass can be better. Any truth to this?

2. Does anyone warn clients about playing DV on big screens? DV being such a highly compressed format right at recording we are simply not going to look as good as, say, DigiBeta. Does anyone address this at all?

Thanks!
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Old March 17th, 2006, 08:53 AM   #2
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Part of the problem is that the source (most likely) is interlaced video. LCDs are native progressive displays. Good deinterlacing in post (easier said than done) can help, rather than depending on the player to do the deinterlacing. Also, the playback device makes a big differance (how it upsizes the image). Most DVD players do not upsize images well at all (another one of those lovely industry agreements). If you play the same DVD through a computer, using something like PowerDVD, it will look much better (I think they are using bicubic resizing).
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Old March 17th, 2006, 08:58 AM   #3
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What camera did you use? If you shot with a PD-170/VX-2100, GL2 or XL1s then they are not going to look very good on a widescreen TV because these cameras don't shoot native widescreen. I'm assuming that you're talking about 16:9 video here. Those cameras create 16:9 by cropping the image and then stretching it to make it anamorphic. This results in a 25% loss of vertical resolution.

Also, check the settings on the HDTV. Reducing the sharpness may give more pleasing results.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 09:41 AM   #4
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I'll agree with Robert with the interlacing issues. I've played interlaced footage from a GL2 on my mother-in-law's 53" HDTV and it looks ok. Footage from my DVX100A looks much better though, as it is natively progressive. Boyd is also right in terms of native 16:9 CCD's. If you displayed something shot with an XL-2 (for example) you would get a much better image because it is shot in 16:9 AND it is progressive. SD, due to its resolution (which for a long time has been superb) can only be stretched so far before its limitations show. That's not a plug for HD (I'm still SD), it's just a fact.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 09:49 AM   #5
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Well I've projected 16:9 footage that I shot with the little Sony PDX-10 on a 44 foot wide screen with a 10,000 lumen DLP projector for one of our operas, and it looked surprisingly good; the reviewer even praised the video quality. The PDX-10 shoots interlaced video, but has native SD 16:9, and is a big improvement over the PD-170 in widescreen mode.

If you're concerned about how your video will look on a widescreen LCD or plasma screen then it makes sense to use one when you edit also. I've been doing this for several years and it helps a lot I think.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 10:39 AM   #6
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I've done this three times with different setups.

The first time we used a firewire transcoder device that gave us component video output which was captured (from FCP on my laptop) by a pair of Doremi hard disk video recorders (one was a backup). The projectors were fed via component output from the Doremi's, and they were controlled by a serial interface with some old software running on a Powerbook 170 which advanced the deck to the next cue.

The second time, for a production in South America, we used a variety of old and rather unreliable devices for multiple screens, including an ancient DVCAM deck and some sort of HP PC running Pinnacle software. This was all far from ideal, but we had to use what they had and the situation there included lots of cheap labor but no budget for new equipment.

Most recently we used the Catalyst Media Server from High End Systems for video on two screens. This is a terrific solution, and the one I will plan to use in the future (just now working on a budget for a show next fall in fact). There are a variety of output and input options on this system, but we used DVI. The software runs on a PowerMac G5 and you can download it for free - more info here:

http://www.highend.com/products/digi...g/catalyst.asp

But the real beauty of this system is that it "speaks" the DMX512 protocol which allows it to be programmed through the stage lighting board as though it were a moving light fixture. This is a huge advantage in that it centralizes control of all your lighting and video in one place.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 10:45 AM   #7
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I should also add that your question raises some important points about the original issue. Aside from the playback medium (DVD, etc) the method of connecting the the big screen TV or projector is very important. I've found that s-video yields significantly worse results than component video. If you're using a DVD player then use the component outputs. Or if using your camera and it doesn't have component video then consider using an external device that will transcode from firewire. Here's a pretty inexpensive option:

http://www.adstech.com/products/API-...sp?pid=API-555
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Old March 17th, 2006, 11:43 AM   #8
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Sharpness at -1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Also, check the settings on the HDTV. Reducing the sharpness may give more pleasing results.
You can't tell customers to reduce the sharpness on their TV. They will look at you like you've got an arm growing out of your head.

ProCoder has a pretty darn good reputation - you should be ok in that respect. I also view my videos on a 53" screen. After viewing the very first video I ever did on the 53" I went through a mryid of testing camera settings and encoders because I also was not satified with the results. Looked great on a 32" CRT but not so hot on my 53" rear projection. Just like you said Mike.

Ever since my "myrid of testing" both of my Sony cameras (PD-170 & VX-2000) are on special custom presets which I use all the time. Color in the middle and sharpness set to one notch below the center setting. IMHO most DV cameras sharpness is just a hair too aggresive and the result when viewed on a large screen is obvious... lot's of jaggedness, flicker, and pixelation.

TEST: If you video a brick building and pan slowly it's obvious - with sharpness at middle you will see rapid flickering between the bricks as the camera struggles to redraw fine detail it can only do efficiently in a still shot. Now try the same shot with your sharpness set one notch lower. View the results of both and the difference is like night & day. You loose some fine detail and it is a trade off to have the sharpness reduced but IMO the end result throughout an entire DV production is a more accpetable picture when viewed on a large screen. You won't offend anyone with a slightly softer picture and that may be more akin to the look of film anyway.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 11:57 AM   #9
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Hmm all interesting. I am shooting on PD-150's but the widescreen is not the issue. I am not trying to strech the image across the whole screen, I let the TV put the black bars on the side just like SD TV does (if you let it).

The issue is more the aliasing and, I am guessing, the interlacing. My DVD player is hooked up the component so that should be OK. The sharpness setting is an interesting thought, I will have to test that.

Another question regarding incoding. I have not looked but I wonder if ProCoder can incode in progressive. That might help but then we are talking about having to make two different disks for clients, an interlaced for CRT and Prog. for LCD/Plamsa.

Dang, I wish they would just settle the HD format and start selling true HD cams for 3k. Is that too much to ask??

Mike
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Old March 17th, 2006, 12:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cook
Hmm all interesting. I am shooting on PD-150's but the widescreen is not the issue. I am not trying to strech the image across the whole screen, I let the TV put the black bars on the side just like SD TV does (if you let it).

The issue is more the aliasing and, I am guessing, the interlacing. My DVD player is hooked up the component so that should be OK. The sharpness setting is an interesting thought, I will have to test that.

Another question regarding incoding. I have not looked but I wonder if ProCoder can incode in progressive. That might help but then we are talking about having to make two different disks for clients, an interlaced for CRT and Prog. for LCD/Plamsa.

Dang, I wish they would just settle the HD format and start selling true HD cams for 3k. Is that too much to ask??

Mike
I consider myself a very discrimating and I may be all alone on an island with this opinion but I think deinterlaced video looks like crap. Like a big steaming pile of doggy-doo. I've seen it done with a bunch of different programs (including my own) and to my eyes it always looks choppy, fake, and it's annoying to watch for any length of time. If it was shot in progressive - that's different.

Try the sharpness test Mike and you will see a lot of that crappy "DV look" improve.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 01:07 PM   #11
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This is an interesting topic. I am going to test some stuff and post what I find.

Meanwhile, do any of you "warn" a client about this sort of thing? I had a CRT 55" before and things looked normal, this is my first progressive TV so it is a eye opener for me. I am concerned about a client popping in thier DVD and being agahst. I must be getting old, I just used the word agahst.....

Mike
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Old March 17th, 2006, 02:25 PM   #12
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Your average person has no understanding of video formats. It would be like talking to a wall. What if your customer has both. The couple has CRT and their parents have LCD? What if they currently has a rear projection and then buy an LCD TV in a year?

I have two home theater setups. Downstairs a 53" rear projection and upstairs is a 42" LCD. The 42" LCD's is hooked up to just an X-BOX and the interlaced DVD video I play on it looks fine.

I think Mike just wasn't aware of the true limitations of the heavily compressed DV25 format and it became stunningly obvious when it was blown up on a 50" screen. DV25 is weak and no matter what you do. If you are not using some big budget Hollywood DigiBeta conversion like in the movie "Open Water" which was shot in DV25 it's not going to look as good as a DVD you rent.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 02:52 PM   #13
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Well, actually I am well aware of the super lossy DV25 limitations, I am just trying to figure out how people handle it, if at all. My assumption is that there is not a way to make DV look good at 50" on the LCD (without hollywood budgets) and just wanted to verify that I am not missing something.

More importantly I am trying to find out how people handle it with customers. Again, without delving into HDV or progressive shooting, what do people tell the client if anything?

We are intentionally holding off on HDV since I think it is a transitory format and will quickly be replaced by affordable HD. I don't really want to get into that arguement so hold off on that one. Since we are a little way off of HD distribution (for the average household) I didn't see a pressing need to switch gear just yet.

Now for HDV. We are talking about an even more compressed format. Granted, a higher resoulution, but way compressed. How does HDV (once put onto DVD) hold up? Is the DVD encoded 720p? What exactly is the diff on HDV once you get it to DVD (standard, not the new stuff coming out)?

Thanks guys, I really find all this interesting. Your insights are worth alot.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 03:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cook
More importantly I am trying to find out how people handle it with customers. Again, without delving into HDV or progressive shooting, what do people tell the client if anything?
I've never had a complaint and I know many of my customers have bigscreens - I ask. Your average customer cares about content not pixels. I don't tell them anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cook
We are intentionally holding off on HDV since I think it is a transitory format and will quickly be replaced by affordable HD. I don't really want to get into that arguement so hold off on that one. Since we are a little way off of HD distribution (for the average household) I didn't see a pressing need to switch gear just yet.
HDV edited in an HDV timeline and exported with lossless SD codec will look better than DV. (unless you're using Premier Pro which has big issues with HD scaling right now)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cook
Now for HDV. We are talking about an even more compressed format. Granted, a higher resoulution, but way compressed.
More compressed but the codec is much better & more efficient. The difference between HDV and HDVPRO50 may not be as apparent as the differences between the DV formats. I've heard several experts (people I consider experts) comment that DV is "just barely good enough" -which I agree with - and the same people say the "HDV looks suprisingly good."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cook
How does HDV (once put onto DVD) hold up? Is the DVD encoded 720p? What exactly is the diff on HDV once you get it to DVD (standard, not the new stuff coming out)?
Here's some speculation on my part: with the new HD media and players would it really be neccesary to crunch the HDV files down to 5-7 kbps? If the players can handle a higher bit rate ...say 18 kbps for instance then in the end would the compression need to be as aggressive as it is now? I think HDV will have a better reputation than DV has had in the world of SD. Just a hunch.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #15
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Interesting point on the crunching of HDV. As I understand it the only reason it is crunched so heavily is to keep it inside of the 25 limit. It would seem that as HD players become common, it would be a simple software change (perhaps hardware if we are talking about a physical chip doing the compression which I suspect is the case) to get a HDV camera to create a far less compressed format.

But, aren't we really talking about a whole new format? A HDV cam that creates a 12 or 17 BPS stream would be something new, would it not? It would now be something between HDV (25) and true HD. Quasi HD if you will.

Again, a new avenue that may open up makes me question running out to buy 3 HDV cams and associated hardware/software to shoot and edit it. It seems we are very, very close to busting away from the 25 limit and associated limits with current DVD technology.

Now is a good time to work for someone else (who gets to buy all the gear) and wait 'till things settle down.
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