Archive for November 7th, 2007

But does it do 24p?

Among the emails I got lately, I got a number of people interested in sports and 24p. Well, let me say this for one more time: you don’t want to shoot sports in 24 frames per second. 24 frames are not enough for fast-moving sports (it’s ok for chess and poker, and that’s about it). Shelling $1000 to get the HV20 just because “it does 24p” when you want to shoot sports is unwise. Use the right tool for the job and shoot at the default 1080/60i or 50i, usually in high shutter speeds. Use 24p only for indie short movies and artistic music video clips, not for normal lifestyle stuff.

PS3 firmware 2.0

Supposedly it comes out tomorrow. I wish they could add just these three features:

1. Resize the TV picture, system-wide. Currently, all the visuals are out of the safe zone on our CRT HDTV. JBQ says that it might be difficult to do that after so many games having being released as resizing on the fly has a performance impact. The PSOne, PS2 and Nintendo Wii do not have that problem on our TV though.

2. Support the .mov container. Many people are exporting their videos on h.264, in the right format that the PS3 supports, but inside the .mov container instead of the .mp4 one. Both containers are equally popular with h.264 and so it’s kinda silly to support one but not the other.

3. Support NTFS. It is silly to want to connect a 500 GB external hard drive on the PS3 to store my (legal) HD videos, and have to deal with the 2 GB per-file limit of FAT32 (plus its non-journaling problems).

Other than these points, I am happy with the PS3. It doesn’t sweat at all on 1080/30p h.264 (where my PC plays back just 0.5 frames per second on the same video file).

The added cost of HDV/AVCHD

I received quite some email the last few days, following my popular videography article at OSNews. Many of the readers who emailed me want to buy an HD camcorder — and many of them are actually interested in 24p support. I don’t want to sound as an elitist, or even downright weird, but I must say: Stop. Buying an HD camera is not just a matter of buying just the camera because in order to fully appreciate it, it requires a lot of related hardware.

The average person still runs a 2-3 year old PC or laptop with 512 MBs of RAM. Why? Because simply put, it still works fine for basic computer tasks. Now, in order to edit HDV, and especially the more hungry AVCHD, you need a top of the line less-than-2-year-old CPU, 2+ GBs of RAM and large hard drives. Let’s just say that you can find such a PC for $1000.

Then, you need the HD camera itself, which costs anything between $850 and $1200. Then, you need software that supports HD. Premiere and Vegas are the best options for those serious about video editing, so that’s another $100. So overall, let’s just say that you need another $1000 for both.

Then, you need an HDTV. While in USA 36% of the population already has an HDTV, in Europe it is more like 5-10%. For a basic 32″ 1080i LCD HDTV you need another $500.

And then, you need to be able to watch your videos in HD without having to deal with tapes. And the best way to do that is not to buy Blu-Ray/HD-DVD burners+players+software which is just too expensive, but to use the PS3 or the XboX360 as h.264/m2t/WMV playback devices (they can store the video files on their hard drives, or by burning the HD files on plain DVD media). And that would be another $500 (sorry, the cheaper AppleTV v1.0 does not support full HD).

So basically, what I am saying here is that for the average Joe, moving from his DV camera to an HD one and truly appreciate it, he will need anywhere from $2000 to $3000. The product prices will come down, but not that much. He will still need to pay a lot of money to get the full Monty. Eventually, he will have to cave in and buy these upgrades, but my point is, he might want to start with an HDTV rather than an HD camera.

So my advice to you is: if you have that kind of money to spend just so you can properly enjoy HD, go ahead and do so. If not, keep that plain DV camera. At least for now.

Color Grading

I mentioned earlier that I always color grade my footage these days (guide here). I usually use ‘Brightness and Contrast’ controls, the Color Corrector 3-way wheel, Magic Bullet Movie Looks and occasionally the freeware Aav6cc plugin for Sony Vegas. I don’t use “Curves” that much. Here’s how some dull and unremarkable footage looks before and how it’s transformed afterwards. Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn flowers

I went out of the house today. Yaaay! Yup, just took my camera and walked around the block and shot some video. I might do the same tomorrow, dunno, walking around aimlessly is new territory for me. Anyways, here’s the result of today’s walk below, HD version here. It’s a 1′ 40″ min 720p video that took 3 hours to render on a 3 Ghz P4 because the version of “Magic Bullet Movie Looks” plugin I use is unaccelerated. I intend to buy the new (accelerated) version that was released a few days ago for several NLEs when it comes out for Vegas too (supposedly it will be released for Vegas sometime next year). I find myself using it on every single clip in the timeline the last few weeks or so. I always color grade now. Not a single clip goes unretouched in one way or another.

My online friend Ivan also posted a beautiful video today, it’s my favorite of his works so far. Ivan got some good SD footage out of his Canon ZR800/MD101 camera.

“Lost” is kinda lost

Ok, so “Lost” might not be in a better shape than the rest of the TV series with this WGA strike. Nevertheless, the first mobisode was released yesterday, involving Jack and his father. To be honest, I would have preferred that the mobisodes are about the rest 35 survivors, where we get to meet them, one by one, with the main characters just popping up for a few seconds only, per mobisode. That’s how Nicki and Paulo should have introduced too.