Panasonic vs Sony for green screen production
Looking for some input here on what I believe I know the answer to but want to see if there really is a big difference.
I work for a university that is producing a pandemic flu video for the city. We are going to be shooting green screen footage with talent for many of the segues. We are considering using Panasonic HVX200, HPX300 or we have access to a Sony PDW-F330. I think this is a no brainer but does either Panasonic key better than the Sony because of the intra-frame codec and 4:2:2 as opposed to non-intra-frame codec and 4:2:0? I am also curious as to what matters most, I think it is the intra-frame codec because each frame is its own keyframe, or does the 4:2:2 really come into play?
Final Cut Pro 6
4:2:0 means you have color info on every other line. 4:2:2 means color on every line. Color resolution is better in 4:2:2. And Intra-Frame will help, but the bigger influence will be color resolution.
Jan Crittenden Livingston
Product Manager, HPX500, HVX200, DVX100
Panasonic Broadcast & TV Systems
And lighting. You have to light it properly. There's about a million threads on the topic in the lighting forum.
Yeah, we know how to light for green screen, I was just wondering for the Universities sake which direction to take as far as the quality is concerned and if there is much of a difference.
For me personally, when I was in a similar position, I bought the HVX200. That was 3 years ago. Today, if I were in the same position I was in then, I'd get the AG-HPX300 because 10-bit is hard to ignore.
We have an HPX500 which is excellent for keying. We've successfully used it for that many times. I'd go for the 300. You get a ton of features for the $.
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Some of this depends on what you own, or have to buy.
100 Mbps AVC-Intra at 10 bits/4:2:2 can't hurt anything if you're compositing, without a doubt.
If you owned an HVX200 and an F330...it's probably a closer call than the specs might indicate. I've keyed any number of inter-frame compressed and 4:2:0 codecs and the lighting is the key...bottom line. An HVX200 can key without a problem, even with all that co-sited sampling, and XDcam can be keyed, even with 4:2:0 color subsampling in the recorded image.
...again, the skill involved trumps the camera in many ways when it comes to keying, though getting the best camera/recording format you can afford is a close second...
I have to agree with Tim! Don't get all hung up on the 4:2:0 v 4:2:2 in this price range! Take a look at the FRAME size those camras shoot too! What is the end product? Where will it play? The 330 shoots a 1440 x 1080 frame size... the HVX200 et al, on the Panasonic side shoot MUCH smaller frame sizes (have smaller imagers!), and UP SAMPLE to the "larger" frame size. This will affect your final image and resolution!
Lighting is everything in the world of keying! I've keyed all kinds of stuff with BOTH cameras. I have to say, the XD Cam HD format is FAR superior! The HVX200 isn't really in the same "class" of camcorder as the 330. The 500 and 300 are... however, the frame size is one half the 330, therefore, the Panny's "appear" faster... (remember, half the size of the sensor, far less pixels to illuminate, thus "better in low light!") when you double that frame size to accommodate to true 1080, you'll loose resolution. So by having a "4:2:2" camera that isn't truly full frame, or even close to full frame HD (the 330 captures 1440 x 1080, but hey, so does the F900!), you're not truly comparing apples to apples!
Just because it's 4:2:0 doesn't mean there's NO INFORMATION in the blue channel... if that were true, you couldn't capture an image! Remember, these are results of fractions!
If you really do know how to light green screen work, then really the camera won't matter! I've keyed BLUE SCREEN with DV... the same with F350 XD Cam HD and EX1! I've read that doing that, especially in the blue channel is impossible, because they are 4:2:0! Don't get caught up in the hype! Light the background even and flat (use a waveform monitor to check your work in the field, don't light the background by eye!), and you'll get the results you want!
I think you've gotten caught up in some marketing efforts; that's the intention.
Picture This Productions
Sony ICE Team
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 HD/Matrox
Thanks for your input and points taken. However I disagree with the keying in DV statement. We have done that and while keying in DV is possible we shall not take that route again. I also believe that since your on the Sony ICE Team of course your opinions are going to be skewed to lean towards the XD Cam HD format as being superior. I've done the research and comparing it to the HVX200a obviously you are correct but I don't necessarily believe that to be true when it comes to the HVX300 or higher even though the imagers are smaller.
What I find so very interesting here at the COW is how much info there is and how helpful the forum is. What I do find to be a bit confusing and sometimes daunting is the talk of "SPECS" and how some people rely on this information alone when purchasing a camera and how some people don't take the "SPECS" as serious as others.
What else do we have to reference the differences in the quality of cameras out there other than the "SPECS?" I realize ones ability to operate the camera will outweigh the "SPECS" any day, but when the end of the day comes aren't our final products an extension of what we choose to use?
I appreciate your input and points as well. I'd like to clear up a few things. I would NEVER suggest that one key in DV or DV Cam. I've "had" to do it to satisfy clients. If I have my choice it's always on a higher end format!
I became a member of the "Sony ICE Team" as a direct result of my experience in the field with other camera manufacturers products. I'm a guy who has ALWAYS tried to be on the leading edge of technology. With that comes a price, I know... some times models advance more quickly than anticipated, some times the development isn't solid or ready for the field, and there's always a monetary price for jumping in early. However, the knowledge gained, and the experience of being one of the first have always paid off... So I guess it's a catch 22...
I originally went with "another" manufacturer for tape-less work flow acquisition. I had two VERY large clients (one Network TV level and the other a large sports entity) that requested I purchase a particular format. I did. The first SEVERAL efforts were horrible. Things did NOT go well. A "card" was dropped, and irreplaceable material lost (due to "damage"). In fact that first month was so dismal using that system, I nearly lost both clients. That is when I decided to "get rid" of that system and subsequent camera and find something else. Something that worked for both clients. I definitely paid the price in being an early adopter in this case. I do understand some of the issues we had have been worked out now.
That is when I found the XD Cam HD format. We presented that to our clients, and they liked it. They liked having tangible media at the end of the day, and NOT having to figure out how to store it, and make multiple copies to store it. Once those first two clients were on board, we began to enlist all of our clients. Sony heard of my efforts and asked me to participate. I am NOT an employee of Sony in any way. I do however get asked to share my experiences, and help train others interested in the format, or those who have purchased the format.
I should also share that I own MANY cameras, manufactured by MANY companies! I have clients too! Often the decision on camera and format is mandated by my client. This is why we have HD cam, XD Cam HD, Beta, DigiBeta, DVC Pro, DVC Pro HD, HDV, Flash Media based camcorders, Red One, DV, and DV Cam. Sony doesn't support all of those formats. Therefore, I'm NOT just a Sony user...
I agree there is a vast amount of information in these forums. I think the information comes from very high end professionals to folks who have tried something and found it works. All of the information is valuable.
It's awesome to think that those with experience and knowledge are willing to share!
Picture This Productions
Sony ICE Team
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 HD/Matrox
I think you touched on something that I would like to elaborate upon: technical specifications of cameras.
Specs of cameras are the "hidden keys" to many facets of production. You are correct in your realizations of specs too! So with out ANY biased, as you think I have some, I will ask you to ask your self some questions in trying to determine a format, and camera to use in YOUR productions.
* What is the native resolution of the camera? That is what is the imager size? NOT the "final output" size of the picture, but what is the size of the picture when it's captured? Typically one thinks of 1920 x 1080, 1440 x 1080, 720 x 1280, 960 x 1080, 960 x 540, 320 x 240, etc.
* What is the size of the imager of that camera? 2/3", 1/2", 1/3", 1/4"
* What is the codec and data rate of the camera (along with the native imager size)? (bonus question: how efficient is that codec?) HDCam SR-440 Mbps/880Mbps (1920 x 1080), HD Cam-144Mbps (1440 x 1080), DVC Pro HD-100Mbps (960 x 720), AVCI-100Mbps or 50Mbps (1920 x 1080, 960 x 540), XD Cam HD (422) - 50Mbps (1920 X 1080), XD Cam HD (420) 35/25/18Mbps (1440 x 1080), HDV-25Mbps (960 x 1080), AVCHD-18Mbps, etc.
* Type of media and it's associated cost: HD Cam Sr (tape), HD Cam (Tape), DVC Pro HD (tape and / or P2 card), XD Cam HD (optical disc), XD Cam EX (flash memory), HDV (tape/compact flash), etc. Then figure out how much it will cost to ARCHIVE that media.
* What is the final product? Where will it be shown? (broadcast television, DVD, film, Blu-Ray?) Lower quality cameras will show artifacts and other imperfections when show on larger surfaces.
* Noise floor. What is the signal to noise ratio.
* Cost. What is your budget? This is why so many camera manufacturers have many models to choose from. They mix the elements listed above to allow the user to make choices. Price can also dictate compromise in the "mating" of the other criteria to produce the final image.
Typically there is a price tag associated with each element of these criteria. A camera with a larger native resolution size (1920 x 1080) with a larger imager/chip size (2/3"), and a high data rate will cost more than a camera with out those features.
Often, these days you'll find a mix match of the three elements. There are cameras being made that have 2/3" imagers/chips/sensors, with a native resolution that is not "full frame" HD, with decent data rates. The question is now, "will the image be the same?" No. To become "full frame" HD, which is now established as 1920 x 1080 for broadcasting, there has to be a post acquisition (after captured) of signal process (on the cameras with smaller imagers), called "up sampling" to make that image "seem" full frame.
These are marketing efforts by camera manufacturers "keying in" on buzz words in the broadcast and production communities, using them to sell product. They know decision makers out there, KNOW certain terms, and therefore USE those terms to sell cameras. If one doesn't look at specifications of cameras, or worse, doesn't understand them, they could indeed purchase something that will NOT fulfill their needs. This is great for the camera manufacturers as they sell twice as many units! It has been suggested to me, by many of the TOP engineers in the HD world that one acquire and READ the "white papers" of many of these cameras... Manufacturers aren't allowed, by law, to use creative prose here to mask the actual specifications of the camera. Often brochures, ads and the like will use words to confuse the buyer.
"Color Space" may surprise you! For example, one would agree that the WORK HORSES of the HD industry in the tape field are and have been, the F900 and the Varicam! Their respective color spaces are 3:1:1 and 2.65:1:1! Most people don't know that! What makes these high end cameras work so well in the world of chroma key work is their imager sizes, and CoDec. They are 1920 x 1080 HD Cam and 720 x 960 DVC Pro HD (however BOTH cameras capture a different frame size and utilizing their respective CoDecs (compression and decompression) capture images at 1440 x 1080 and 720 x 960, and playback at the "known" frame sizes of 1920 x 1080 and 720 x 1280.
This is why I said in an earlier last post to not get hung up on "color space." It is one of those buzz words often misunderstood, and often over used to sell equipment. Remember that the camera's color space will only be as good as it's native resolution. More over, if you are shooting green screen the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR is luminance ! Therefore the "4" is the most important and relative number of the color space (4:2:0, 4:2:2) (Green, Red, Blue). The red and blue channels, if you will, don't come into play! The luminance is the "green" channel! You are "illuminating" the background to be replaced! If it's a FLAT luminance level on a wave form monitor then it will key out! This is why I've always had great luck in keying many different formats.
So now, all things equal, all cameras have a "4" in the luminance, one looks at native resolution, CoDec (and efficiency of that), imager/chip/sensor size, and most importantly, NOISE FLOOR!
One of the camera manufacturers that you are considering in using, utilizes standard def imagers in their lower priced HD cameras, so there is already interpolation to get the signal from SD to HD! There's even more interpolation when you want that signal to be "full frame" HD. Another little known fact.
I suggest that you sit down and make a chart, it will only take a few minutes, of the models you are looking at. Include each model, their native resolution size, the size of the imager, the signal to noise ratio, and the data rate of the recorded material. You might be surprised at the results! (I would search "white papers" for each model... brochures and websites may be misleading!)
One of the things we do on the ICE Team is to educate people in the world of HD. It's no longer simple. There are several factors that should influence one's decision to use a particular format, I've outlined those already. Often cost is the first. If an individual understands nothing on the technical side, gets caught up in the buzz terminology, cost will win in the end. That may work for some individuals and that is great! We hope that by bringing difficult terminologies to light, one can understand those terms and make an informed decision. If that ends up being a Sony camera, great! Perhaps Sony DOES NOT have a model in your price range with the specifications you need. That's alright too! That's why we live in a world with options.
I'm glad you realized that the technical side is as important as the artistic side in the world of HD production. With that knowledge, you will go far!
Picture This Productions
Sony ICE Team
Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 HD/Matrox