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EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)

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Aaron Cadieux
EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:52:10 pm

Hello Everyone,

This has been beat to death, I know, but I am at a crossroads.

I shot some HDV footage using the PMW-EX1. I edit with Premiere Pro 2.0. We needed the footage to be downconverted to SD, so I tried a bunch of different things. Here they are in order of "best results" to "worst results" (1 being the best).

1. Capture HDV footage over Firewire into an HDV project. Then open an SD project, import the HDV footage, and resize it, by adjusting its scale, to fit perfectly in a 'letterboxed' style. This method proved effective, however, it sometimes seemed as if the resolution of the scaled-down HDV footage was too much for the monitor I was using. Areas of the picture with close lines (i.e. a neck tie fabric pattern) flickered and struggled to hold up. The flickering was similar to what happens after importing a super-high resolution still image and shrinking it down in an SD composition.

1a. Same method as "number 1", however I resized the HDV footage to be '4x3' in the SD project. Because the HDV footage was not scaled down as much as in "number 1", the flickering was non-existent. Obviously, the only disadvantage to this method is losing the "sides" of your image.

2. Capture HDV footage over Firewire into an HDV project. Then simply export the HDV footage as a 720 x 480 Microsoft DV AVI. Then import the AVI file into an SD project. This method seemed to cause more artifacting and an unstable look, especially when the subject in the video is moving around.

3. Capture HDV footage in a downconverted 'letterbox' stream from the Sony EX1's 'Composit Output' into an SD project. For some reason, the color of the image suffered using this method.

MAIN QUESTION - If I were to buy an SDI/HD video card for my PC, would I get better results capturing a downconverted HD signal from the EX1 using the 'SDI output' instead of the 'composit output'??? And if so, would this card (in the following link) provide me "broadcast quality" results as advertised? And by "broadcast quality", I mean the downconverted HD look of shows like "Dirty Jobs" and "Deadliest Catch".

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/432601-REG/Blackmagic_Design_BDLKHDEX...

Thank you all for your patience with this very long post. I look forward to generating a good conversation. Best regards.

-Aaron Cadieux


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:41:03 pm

If you're talking about "best to worst" the best might be to start with 1080p in XDCAM rather than HDV at all.

Also an "ideal" best would be 1080p HD-SDI out at 10 bit Uncompressed 4:2:2 straight from the head (not SxS recorded).

Also it's not clear what your target is, Broadcast?
Are going to tape, DVD, web, film? They all might involve different work flows.

My own hunch, regardless of the above, is that anybody looking for "best" is not using the EX1 in HDV compatible mode. That mode serves a purpose for sure but "best" isn't one of them.



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Aaron Cadieux
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:57:14 pm

Craig,

Yeah, I am aware that the HDV function is not ideal. It was our first day using the camera in a last-minute gig, and I hadn't had a chance to shoot with it prior. So I went with what I know, and didn't want to take any chances.

We don't have the luxury to capture stuff 'straight from the head', but I would like to try using the XDCAM codec at 1080p recorded to the SxS card and downconverting using the SDI output in SD. Any suggestions on a card or method to best capture the SDI SD output from the EX1 onto our PC system? Thanks a lot. You sound very knowledgable.

-Aaron



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Craig Seeman
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 23, 2008 at 7:44:14 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "We don't have the luxury to capture stuff 'straight from the head',"

Short of shooting in studio or some fairly expensive outboard gear this isn't practical for field work. That's why I only mention it as an "ideal."

Right now Final Cut Pro (Mac) and Vegas (Windows) seem to handle direct input from the cards the best. On Windows the Sony Clip Browser wraps MXF and on Mac Sony Transfer Tool wraps MOV.

At this point with Premiere Pro you'd probably need to use a software conversion tool such as Cineform or MainConcept. Some have used ffmpeg.

You'll also need to consider how much graphic/compositing you're going to be doing. If it's significant you might want to go to a 4:2:2 codec.

Then you need to think about delivery as broadcast for Interlace Standard Def TV, vs DVD which might be abel to handle progressive vs web which is best left progressive, are factors. Then, for SD, you'll want to consider letter box or center cut.

BTW you may even want to consider editing the HD material in an SD timeline if you're only delivering SD. That'll give you lots of flexibility to do "fake" dolly or tracking shots as well as shot reposition.

If you're going back to a tape deck with SDI ins, they you should consider an SDI out card which may also help with monitoring too while you edit. It might actually be more affordable to simply save your edit master in a file format and take to a post/dub house that can play that back out to a deck. It may be cheaper than buying or renting deck and buying a card.

I just want to present the dizzying array of options available.

For me, the only broadcast work I do is local TV spots. I don't use tape at all. I take final master file and encode to MPEG2 Program Stream and distribute that. I understand some broadcaster might be (or soon be) accepting Program or Transport stream in certain syndication situations. BTW if you're doing VNR (Video News Releases) you can also do that without ever going to tape (again MPEG2 Program or Transport Stream).

One of the things I like about the EX1 (for me) is that between local cable spots and possibly VNRs I may be completely tape free.

I present all this because it can really impact your decision how and when to convert the file to SD and what you're going to do with that SD file.

Right now I'd suggest the following without knowing more details about your situation:
Import from card. Convert to something Premiere can work with in software using Cineform or MainConcept, ffmpeg (or maybe someone can make another suggestion). Edit in SD if you're absolutely sure you're only delivering in SD for broadcast to give you shot movement flexibility. Output to a deck with SDI in using a good SDI card (which one I'm not sure yet maybe Matrox?) or look at the possibility of MPEG2 Program/Transport Stream delivery and you don't have to worry about the deck.



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Tony Robinson
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:53:40 pm

If your final destination is a tape based format, record your finished HDV sequence BACK to the EX1. Then hook your EX1 up to your deck via a component connection and let the camera do the down-converting. If your final destination is DVD, you'd want to figure out a better way in software.

Tony Robinson


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Chris Babbitt
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 25, 2008 at 1:12:47 am

How do you record HDV back to the EX1, Tony? We have a long thread on this issue over at the HDV forum, and the consensus seems to be that it can't be done.



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Tony Robinson
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 25, 2008 at 3:19:48 am

Set the EX1 to SP 1080 60i. Make sure the "iLink" in and out is enabled and turn the camera to media mode. Press STOP to put the camera in stop mode (blue screen). Start your HDV print to tape from your computer and then hit the record button on the EX1 handle. Works great! Hope this helps!

Tony Robinson


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Tony Robinson
Re: EX1 and Downconverting (let's beat this to death)
on Feb 25, 2008 at 3:26:27 am

To add to my last post. I went over and read some of the discussion in the HDV forum. You can't get a realtime preview of HDV editing over the firewire to the EX1 (to view scrubbing and edits). That's simply not possible with any HDV camera. You CAN print your final edited sequence to tape through the firewire input and record to the SxS card in the EX1.

Tony Robinson


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