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EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!

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Dane maxwell
EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 27, 2010 at 6:40:45 am

OKay, the b/g i've been very happy with my EX1 so far, lovely cam, HOWEVER when the odd occasion arises when you want to downconvert to DV for a client....this is where things go BAD!
I've read every forum on this site to try rectify the problem, but every time i downconvert either 720p25 or the SP [HDV] or 1080p to standard DV [interlaced or progressive] the results in my mind are less than acceptable.
I've been using Compresor with frame contronls on, i've tried in FCP doing a batch export,......the best results i got were placing them on a sequence and exporting to QT movie, and placing that on a DV Seq. and exporting but takes too much time.
I need to be able to finish filming an event, slap the cards through my MBP, downconvert, and hand the client a drive before i go home.
I did this on the last event, and client called me a few days later saying images were soft.....but overall picture, not focuss.

Has anyone done a downconvert with P2 footage??? We used do do it alot for webcasts, use FCP, fo to media manager and recompress to DV. The downconverted footage looked absolutely SUPERB, in fact you'd need to check from time to time you weren't working with the wrong footage. IMHO not the same with EX1 downconverted!
PLEASE if anyone has this problem....lets get our heads together and find out WHY!!!!!



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Craig Seeman
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:59:43 pm

While compressed JPEGs are not ideal seeing a screenshot of before vs after might help.
It's hard to compare P2 to EX since the camera front end can have a bigger impact than the codec used. Certainly the EX starts with a lot more resolution than an HVX200 for example.

BTW I'm not quite sure why you have to downconvert to DV. It's a horrible codec. There are much better codecs you can use for Standard Def. Apple ProRes can now be played back on Windows as well as Apple distributes the decoder codec for free. 8 bit uncompressed 4:2:2 would be good as well. They have to have a pretty atrocious or ancient NLE if they best they can handle is DV. Heck, why not just give them the BPAV and ClipBrowser and they can do their own conversion. BTW if you're locked into delivering DV then you might be the perfect candidate for an EX1r which can shoot DV.



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Don Greening
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 27, 2010 at 10:34:57 pm

By default FCP will flag any standard def. sequence as interlaced and anything you drop into a standard def. sequence as interlaced as well. Make sure your downconverted progressive stuff is actually flagged as progressive and your sequence is also flagged progressive before you drop anything into the sequence.

As mentioned, don't downconvert to DV NTSC which is not the best. Use either DVCPRO 50 or ProRes DV NTSC. The results will look much better than straight DV. Since I sometimes do multicam shoots with a mixture of XDCAM EX and standard def cameras my workflow is to downconvert the EX stuff to ProRes and transcode the SD stuff to ProRes using Compressor exclusively before I drop everything into the FCP sequence for multicam editing. The final result for DVD looks good. I also make sure frame controls are turned on in Compressor when downconverting the EX stuff, the same as you.

- Don





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olof ekbergh
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:53:21 pm

I just use my AJA KONA or Matrox MX02, to down convert on the fly.

They both do a fantastic job. I use both M100 and FCP, though M100 is much better at playing without the need to render.

I always monitor both HD and SD when I edit.

If I have to make a SD DVD I export by reference and use Bitvice to compress it does a superb job, much better than compressor.

I would never use the DV codec, use one of the ProRes codecs if you have to actually render out a file.

I also always convert XD files to Prores before editing. It speeds up everything and there is no loss in quality when compositing. If I work natively in XD codec (I almost never do this) then I set timeline to render Prores in FCP.

Olof Ekbergh


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Michael Slowe
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 28, 2010 at 11:35:41 am

Olof, can I ask you what codec you go to if you are in Media 100 and you have an HD timeline and you want an SD tape master? I agree that BitVice is by far the best for SD DVD's but I often have to go to SD tape as well.

Michael Slowe


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olof ekbergh
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 28, 2010 at 2:47:34 pm

Michael, I usually use either ProRes422HQ or ProRes422.

These days I use the NanoFlash (at 100mb/s 422 EX codec) most of the time and I transcode that to ProRes422HQ. There is a big difference if you grade your work with the NF footage.

This may seem like overkill but I often do grading both in M100 and in Apple Color. And I use XML export import to Color and back with good luck with those codecs.

I think the better the source media the better the final compression will be, even for SD and WEB delivery.

I see the XD codecs as acquisition codecs, and treat them as if they are raw tape. Then switch to intraframe codec for all editing.

Olof Ekbergh


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Michael Slowe
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 28, 2010 at 4:41:15 pm

Thanks Olof, I also treat XDCAM EX footage as purely acquisition footage and edit in the Media 100 HD codec thus preserving the quality. As this thread is concerned with down scaling to SD I was interested to see that you too are editing in Media 100. My concern is with mastering to tape (SD) and I need to get to DVCAM after I have my DVD (downscaled in BitVice). What is your final output, only DVD or BD?

Michael Slowe


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olof ekbergh
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 28, 2010 at 5:11:33 pm

I do a lot of Standard def DVD deliveries. I also deliver to BetaSP, using component out PMW1800. Also sometimes to DVcam also either component or SDI to a DSR1800. Sometimes these days we FTP to TV stations as well.

I also make BluRay here and I have a Primera robot that burns them and prints the disc. I found clients are happy to have me make them 100 or so at a time instead of paying for replication. We also do short run SDEF DVD's on the Primera.

I find ProRes works great in M100 and Color has no problem with the files.

All my legacy SD projects are M100 lossless, I love that codec and I think that the ProRes codecs are essentially the same thing. I have no problem putting ProRes and M100 lossless SD on the same timeline.

Olof Ekbergh


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Dane maxwell
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 28, 2010 at 8:36:04 pm

Thanks for all the feedback and i'd have to agree the EX1r is probably the best bet right now.....why cant Sony be kind to their loyal customers and give us a Firmware update that upgrades current EX1's to EX1r!
Im still convinced that their is a software solution to the downconverting issues. I just cant believe how i can get such DV version from such an awesome HD picture!
The only other thing that grates my skin with the EX1 is the zoom rocker, i tend to avoid zooming, but everynow and then you have to [i reckon i can get a better creep in on my HC1!] Anyone found a way round this without spending more on a lens controller?

So the real question.....is there a software solution to batch compress EX1 XDcam to crisp looking DV?


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Craig Seeman
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Feb 28, 2010 at 9:12:37 pm

[Dane maxwell] "why cant Sony be kind to their loyal customers and give us a Firmware update that upgrades current EX1's to EX1r!
"

Because the change is in hardware encoder support.

[Dane maxwell] "The only other thing that grates my skin with the EX1 is the zoom rocker, "
Please do explain. I'm not a fan of the zoom rocker. Between that an the fact that some have issues at low zoom speeds, it's hard to do a creep zoom. I can set the zoom speed to 2 and use the top handle zoom switch though.

[Dane maxwell] "So the real question.....is there a software solution to batch compress EX1 XDcam to crisp looking DV?"
Good looking Standard Def is easier than good looking DV. I simply can't see a reason to go to DV. As others have stated it's far easier to give someone a higher quality standard def codec that a professional NLE would have no problem handling and need need for tape ingest.

If all you need is standard def, edit in a standard def timeline. That's what what Doug Jensen does for his excellent EX training DVDs. He shoots EX, edits in Standard Def timeline and exports and burns to DVD. He isn't working in a DV timeline though.




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Alister Chapman
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Mar 6, 2010 at 9:23:24 pm

There are many reasons why it's difficult to get good SD from good HD. One primary reason is that you are starting off with too much resolution, I wrote an article about this here with some examples:
http://www.xdcam-user.com/?p=443
The other issue is that the detail correction is tailored for HD with very narrow, thin edges which when converted down to SD become so narrow that they can cause twitter and do nothing to boost the apparent image sharpness. The work-around is to set the detail frequency to -60 or more to thicken up the edges, but then this looks ugly in HD. Most HD/SD switchable cameras (EX1R included) have two sets of detail settings for this very reason.

Alister Chapman
http://www.xdcam-user.com


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Rafael Amador
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Mar 8, 2010 at 3:29:46 am

Hi Alister,
Since you mentioned (in a thread about "twitter" few weeks ago) I've been using the FC's de-flicker in some problematic shoots and I have to say that works great.
The filter eliminate all these "vibrant" areas without softening the picture.
Rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Alister Chapman
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Mar 13, 2010 at 4:32:27 pm

Glad you found it works. As it is combining pairs of lines it is dropping the resolution of the HD by around 50% which is about what you want prior to downconverting to SD. Enough to eliminate the twitter but not so much as to make the pictures soft.

Alister Chapman
http://www.xdcam-user.com


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Jim McNally
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Mar 10, 2010 at 6:34:43 am

[olof ekbergh] "I just use my AJA KONA or Matrox MX02, to down convert on the fly. "

Olof when you say you are downconverting on the fly what setup are you actually using? I have an MX02 LE and I've seen the phrase several times but not sure how it applies when ingesting a file from the EX3. Or do you output the camera through the MX02 instead of the files off the card?





Jim McNally
The Commercial Factory
http://www.commercialfactory.com


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Rafael Amador
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Mar 11, 2010 at 4:02:52 am

Hi Jim,
I guess Olof means playing the files in camera and capturing the SDI out.
That is the best conversion you can achieve. The video card apply some chroma filtering when going 8b 420 to 10b 422/444.
You can get similar Chroma filtering on FC (Nattress Chroma Smooth/Sharp) but the rendering takes time.
With the video card you get it in RT.
Rafael.

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Jim McNally
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Mar 11, 2010 at 3:57:59 pm

Oh, okay I understand. I'll have to try that.

Thanks!

Jim McNally
The Commercial Factory
http://www.commercialfactory.com


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David Burch
Re: EX1 downconversion looks Soft!!!
on Apr 17, 2010 at 2:26:13 am

I have found I get the best results using our company's Kona LHe to do the downconversion, but typically this isn't practical. I used to use Compressor, and before FCS 3.0 came out it did a fantastic job. Since then, however, I have been getting very poor results with it, and have stopped using it for anything that needs downconversion.

Our company just started to produce Blu Ray discs as well as DVD, so lately I've been authoring in Adobe Encore and using Adobe's media convertor to handle my downconversion. It seems a tad softer than the results I used to get with compressor, but overall the image quality is good enough for DVD. One thing you might try is MPEG Streamclip, which can be found free online. I have had very good results with this program across the board, with everything from ripping DVDs to capturing still frames, downconverting to de-interlacing.

Overall, it can be very difficult getting downconverted footage to look like true, broadcast-grade SD, and if that is what you need then I'd say a hardware downconverter will be your best bet.


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