24p: the format of the elite

As usual, I am part of a heated discussion over at DVinfo about video stuff (and you can ignore that note from the admin, who didn’t understand that I was talking about the HV20 format and not their semi-pro cameras when I talked about 3:2 pulldown). The opposing guy this time is the Grammy-winner Douglas Spotted Eagle, who I blogged about before. Douglas believes that 24p (inside a 60i stream, or a real progressive one) is not a consumer format and it should never be one. In fact, he claims that Canon made a big mistake by adding 24p on their consumer HDV camcorders.

Personally, I beg to differ and so do some others. I agree with Douglas that most consumer NLEs don’t have support for 24p yet (heck, not even Final Cut Express does), and it’s a format that looks bad if you try to shoot fast moving action, like sports. However, Douglas forgets a part of the consumers who are actually prosumers. Much like myself. These are users who would like some exotic features, who know what is what, but they are not willing to pay $3000 to get these features. Instead, the “sweet” spot seems to be at around $1500. Oh, wait a second. Isn’t that the price of most HDV cameras? And if Canon made a mistake to include 24p in their HV20, why is the HV20 the best selling HDV camcorder ever, with sales pushed exactly because of its 24p/cinemode support?

His reaction felt elitistic and pessimistic, rather than genuine concern for the consumer. As with any new feature that gets ‘downgraded’ and becomes a consumer feature, there will have to be a time of adjustment. And in fact, we are going faster towards the 24p adjustment in terms of consumer NLE software support rather than AVCHD support. Besides, both the new consumer versions of Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Premiere LE support 24p now (even if unofficially) and more will follow.

I don’t believe that every point-and-shooter should have access to 24p, because it indeed might confuse them, but prosumers should.

Here’s a chart on how I catalog video customers:
1. Cheapos: Digicams and cheap digi-recorders up to $200.
2. Point and shoot consumers: miniDV up to $800.
3. Prosumers: $800 to $2000.
4. Semi-Pro: $2000 to $10000.
5. Pro: $10,000 to $200,000.


Kevin wrote on September 28th, 2007 at 8:29 PM PST:

I don’t see any real reason not to include 24P for consumers. No one is forcing people to shoot 24P, if they don’t like it then they can shoot in one of the ‘regular’ formats.

Ivan wrote on September 29th, 2007 at 12:18 AM PST:

I took the time to read the whole original thread. Wow, you put up a good fight against professional videographers. I guess you ended up with some cuts and bruses. (how do I spell this word?)

Anyhow, you must have learned a couple of things, and so did I.
24p is not crucial in achieving a cinematic look. What does make a difference is: adjusting brightness and contrast, color grading, some glow, and widescreen (very important, I don’t care what the pros say). And this is where Vegas is really good at.

Seems to me 24p is much more a marketing thing for the camcorder manufacturers than anything else. Also, I remember a discussion thread where the conclusion was that if you live in a place where PAL (25 fps) is the standard, the whole issue of 24p becomes irrelevant. A final note: There was a guy on YouTube who made a ‘filmlook’ tutorial. His major trick was a touch of slow-motion. Yes, he admitted, the pitch of sound goes down a bit, but who cares! (Actually, in Vegas, the pitch remains the same.)… When consumers start writing tutorials, it’s time to take cover!

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 29th, 2007 at 12:25 AM PST:

Ivan, actually, if you want a true cinematic look, 24p is important. Not only because of the 24 frames look, but also because usually cameras that shoot at that mode try to stay true to 1/48th shutter speed, which makes footage look different than when shooting in 1/60 (at least for NTSC).

Ivan wrote on September 29th, 2007 at 12:28 AM PST:

Here is the link to that tutorial:

Ivan wrote on September 29th, 2007 at 12:46 AM PST:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in PAL, the lowest (manual) exposure setting on my MD101 is 1/50, which would be very close to the 1/48 filmlook setting.
I have done some experiments with it in the past. My conclusion is that then lighting becomes an issue, especially indoors. Here are my experiments:

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 29th, 2007 at 1:07 AM PST:

Yes, for PAL you are pretty much ok. But I shoot NTSC.

JrezIN wrote on September 30th, 2007 at 9:38 AM PST:

“Ivan, actually, if you want a true cinematic look, 24p is important.”

That’s correct… along with 1/48 exposure… besides that, if you plan to shoot you work in festivals (no matter indie ones or not), it important to have you work in 24p as you may have to “print” you work to actual film… It’s very easy to convert 24p material to to PAL and NTSC without problems, but it’s not so easy to do the reverse…

Still, costumer cameras still too “weak” for good cinema-look, its like the difference from a point and shot digital camera and a SLR one. But it’s not excuse to not include 24p modes and so on on these… These days (YouTube generation), hobby/indie/enthusiast work plays a big role in the market and in how many pro-cameras you’ll sell in the future… =P

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