Hyperdeck Shuttle with The Sony NEX-FS100 Discussion Starter
I've been thinking of purchasing an external video recorder for my Sony NEX-FS100. I prefer the Black Magic Design Hyperdeck Shuttle. I've seen several reviews and tests of external recorders used with the FS100 and they all come to the same conclusion. The reviewer can't see the difference between the un-compressed (or less-compressed) footage and the AVCHD from the camera's card. Or they actually like the AVCHD better because it munges high frequency detail and hides the sensors noise a bit, or because they haven't properly removed the pulldown, or haven't interpreted the 24p inside of 60i footage properly in their NLE. The camera's AVCHD is very good, but I broke it's compression the first day I shot with it. All I had to do was a fast aperture pull from f16 to f1.4, and viola! COMPRESSION artifacts everywhere! I decided to do some tests for myself using my MXO2 to record un-compressed, ProRes 422 HQ, DNxHD 220 10bit, 8bit and DNxHD 145 at 1080i (camera recording simultaneously to 1080p 24 FX). I then brought everything into AE and synced the less-compressed files above the native AVCHD in a comp. I could then switch on and off the top layer to see the difference for any given frame. I also switched the composite mode to difference and screened over a grey solid so I could see only the difference between the two. My conclusions are much different from the reviews and tests I've seen. Just looking from a distance, the AVCHD looks great. But compare it frame for frame with any of the other formats I recorded and it falls apart when stressed. I did however do my best to torture the codecs. AVCHD dose great with static (motion and luminance) images, but who cares we shoot movies! Film a static frame of a talking guy without lighting changes, or a landscape and AVCHD looks amazing. In my stress test, some of the AVCHD frames (probably the I-frames) are almost identical but most suffer from smudged detail and other artifacts. I do see huge value in a less compressed recording device that would actually simplify the workflow. I'd actually prefer Sony to give us an in camera all I-frame version of AVCHD as I think it could hold up as good as ProRes and DNxHD. I don't know why camera manufacturers try to stick with using a delivery format for a capture format. 24mbit AVCHD (horrible for editing) is Blu-Ray spec. You could burn the files right to a BD-R and play it on a Blu-Ray player without any further post processing or compression. Who cares! This not a bonus. Why would I want that from the FS100? I doubt there is a single person on the planet that will do that, with this camera. It's marketed as a movie making machine, not a home video camera.
So on to the Hyperdeck. Now I'm not afraid of doing a little work in post, but I am not willing to slave away for days trying to remove non-flagged pulldown. After all, these recorders are supposed to simplify your workflow, not severely compound it's complexity. With 24p AVCHD you can set up a batch transcode, walk away from your computer, and come back ready to edit proxies. If you record 24p in a 60i file that has pulldown flags, most NLEs can detect the pulldown cadence and remove it for editing or transcoding. Cinema tools can quickly strip the interlaced frames without transcoding the file, leaving you with pristine 24p in it's untouched original codec. From what I can tell, the Hyperdeck and the products from ATOMOS cannot see or record the FS100's timecode or pulldown flags from the HDMI. This means I would have to manually identify the interlaced frames and remove them from every shot to get my 24p out. The cadence will start in a different place in every shot because the recorder and the deck aren't synced in any way. No batch processing! I don't care how wonderful a recorded file's compression (or lack of compression) is, if I have to manually asses and assign the pulldown pattern in order to remove it from every shot, it's not worth my time. It's a shame. I would love the Hyperdeck, but until Sony update the firmware to send 24p over HDMI (and Hyperdeck records it), or the Hyperdeck records the timecode with pulldown flags, or better yet, removes pulldown before recording, the Hyperdeck is useless with the FS100 at 24p! Unless you just plan on doing just an occasional chroma key shot with it. Trying to get 24p out of all the shots, even for just a short film, would be a huge nightmare. I guess it's a law of the universe. If it's affordable, it has to be crippled.
Here is a link to some tiffs
[Shiloh Heyman] " I don't know why camera manufacturers try to stick with using a delivery format for a capture format. 24mbit AVCHD (horrible for editing) is Blu-Ray spec. You could burn the files right to a BD-R and play it on a Blu-Ray player without any further post processing or compression. Who cares!"
I'd like to know it too! I think that they are afraid of giving us products that will last too many years. E.g. The Panasonic GH2 is able to record video up to 170Mbps, why do they limit it to 24Mbps? :-)
"Post Fata Resurgo"