The problem with state of the art hardware

…is that there is no software for it. Take Canon’s much-advertised HV20 24p feature for example. I wrote a few days ago that I am looking for a video editor to extract 24p video out of Canon’s 24f inside a 60i stream, and not only there is no such built-in feature, but most consumer editors don’t even support 24p timelines at all. The only application that does all conversions out of the box is After Effects ($1000), while even for Final Cut Pro 2 ($1300) you have to do hoops to external (bundled) utilities to extract the right content.

My research on the matter reveals that consumer NLE companies are currently working on it, and 24p-related features will be available in their next versions — in about a year from now. And it will take at least one more year until these features are mature enough in these apps. Moral of the story: if you play with state of the art hardware, expect a wait time of 2 years until you can really use it on its full potential.

Until that time comes, I think I will just be using the normal 1080/60i setting on the camcorder with nothing more advanced than iMovie ‘05. And I will couple the experience by reading this highly acclaimed DV book (which just arrived while I was writing this blog post).


Phil wrote on June 12th, 2007 at 11:19 AM PST:

Funnily enough recently I was reading about a AVCHD camcorder and have seen comments regarding problems dealing with that format too.

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Eugenia wrote on June 12th, 2007 at 11:37 AM PST:

Yes, AVCHD is a new standard that uses h.264 compression instead of plain MPEG-2. The first consumer cameras with AVCHD support were announced last year, and so very few NLE applications support it as of yet. iMovie ‘06 doesn’t support it either. Even the latest FinalCutStudio version doesn’t… I expect better support for it next year…

More over, while AVCHD has more artifacts than HDV, it is a more convenient format (can write to internal drives or solid flash) instead of ancient DV tapes, and it uses USB which is more common than Firewire. Give or take 2-3 years from now, we might see the demise of firewire on consumer PCs/Macs just because AVCHD might catch on (DV & HDV camcorders is the the main reason why computers still sometimes come with firewire port).

We were discussing with JBQ the other day about the overall strength of the big, expensive NLE apps and we concluded that none has reached maturity the same way Photoshop has. There are (some times basic) things that one NLE can do and others can’t, and the other way around. We expect mature, truly powerful NLEs (for the right price of course), in 3-5 years from now. It took Photoshop 15 years to reach maturity, and so it will take as much for an equivalent video app to get there too (be it FCP, Avid or After Effects).

Jeff wrote on June 13th, 2007 at 1:49 AM PST:

Isn’t that something that should have been researched *before* purchasing a $1000 camera? Hence the term “Bleeding Edge”.

The software will catch up, once there is more of a market for it.

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Eugenia wrote on June 13th, 2007 at 1:52 AM PST:

Not in my case, because when I bought the camera I didn’t CARE for 24p. I just cared for HD video in general, and that’s already supported by most NLEs. But after seeing the camera’s capabilities first hand, only then I got more serious about it and wanted to do more with it and use its advanced features.

Of course and software will catch up, nobody said the opposite. But if you go right now to HV20’s 3 main forums on the net, the No1 question is: “how the hell do I extract the 24p out of 24f with my current NLE”. You see, tools to do that out of your workflow cost from $150 to $500, and there’s a chance that you will get a quality hit.

Richard wrote on June 13th, 2007 at 3:19 AM PST:

I see, so it’s a 3:2 pulldown?

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Eugenia wrote on June 13th, 2007 at 7:23 AM PST:

Yes. Something as pretty simple as this, is not supported by any consumer NLE. Only Premiere does have such an import option, but because Canon didn’t include attributes to indicate so in the recorded video, Premiere grays out the option…

Richard wrote on June 13th, 2007 at 8:49 AM PST:

Maybe I missed something, but what exactly is the difference between 24p and 24f?

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Eugenia wrote on June 13th, 2007 at 10:42 AM PST:

A 24p video has 24 fields and frames per second. A 24f video has 30 frames and 60 fields per second (with every 3rd frame being duplicated), as it is stored inside the 1080/60i stream on a DV tape instead of its own 1080/24p stream. Canon this so existing NLEs can work with that format instead of going berserk as the HDV standard does not define 24fps, but at the same time, people who want real 24p have to go through hoops to extract the real 24p stream. The 24f stream is not as clean as 24p is, there is lots of blur if there is lots of motion, that’s why extraction is important for the advanced users. The 24p capture gives a real movie-like look to your video.

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