Jump to content
Jim MacGregor

Blu-ray mastering with Hitachi palmcorder video

Recommended Posts

I've been lured out of retirement by the amazing resolution of Blu-ray technology. My first camera back in the 70's was an Ikigami 3 tube camera which we worked to death producing training videos and 1,000's of TV spots, but my Hitachi palmcorder runs rings around the Iki in terms of color and resolution.

 

My question is... "am I the only one naive enough to think it can be done successfully"?

 

I am producing a travelogue on El Valle de Anton, a mountain community situated in an extinct volcano crater in Panama.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you can blow standard def up and release it on blu-ray if you like!

 

But seriously. Yes, the modern stuff is capable of absolutely astonishing performance compared to something that cost as much as a house twenty years ago. I'm not telling you anything you don't know, though, by saying that modern HD cameras that cost as much as a house still exist and are better than your palmcorder.

 

Exactly how they're better is easy to define technically. From the front end back, the lenses are sharper and open up to higher F-stops, to allow for less gain (or more properly require less sensitivity, which is the same thing), reducing noise. The chips are bigger. Bigger chips (generally) means better noise floor and/or dynamic range, depending on how you choose to define these things. The chips will also be full resolution on a high end camera, whereas yours may even be a single Bayer filtered chip or an RGB block with less than 1920x1080 pixels (often they're 1440x1080 as this matches HDV recording). The processing electronics won't be quite as good, offering less controllability and more noise. And finally, the recording format will use considerably more compression.

 

Technical analysis aside, what tends to make the big difference is lens, chips and recording format. Lens you often can't do much about beyond try to operate it near its optimum F-stop, and protect it from situations it doesn't handle well, such as light sources in frame which may cause flaring. The chips are an absolute, and have a given sensitivity, noise floor and dynamic range which you can't alter, but which you can make the most of by setting the camera up carefully and using optical rather than electronic corrections (why amplify signals when you have plenty of light to balance things with glass). Tape (or disc) format is particularly problematic, since heavy compression can exacerbate problems with noise from the sensor, and makes postproduction corrections more difficult to unobtrusively. In some, typically studio-bound situations, you can record many of these smaller cameras uncompressed to disk arrays via their HDMI outputs, which can improve things beyond all recognition, but that's more often than not impractical.

 

So really it's less flexible more than it's less good (though it is less good). You have to spend more time considering approaches that will mitigate the way in which it is less good and there are more things you simply avoid doing. But with care, and this is where skill comes in, you can do quite well with them. A lot of the problem with handycams is how much manual control you get. Lock off all the irrtatingly wandery auto features and they can generally look OK.

 

P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, you can blow standard def up and release it on blu-ray if you like!

 

But seriously. Yes, the modern stuff is capable of absolutely astonishing performance compared to something that cost as much as a house twenty years ago. I'm not telling you anything you don't know, though, by saying that modern HD cameras that cost as much as a house still exist and are better than your palmcorder.

 

Exactly how they're better is easy to define technically. From the front end back, the lenses are sharper and open up to higher F-stops, to allow for less gain (or more properly require less sensitivity, which is the same thing), reducing noise. The chips are bigger. Bigger chips (generally) means better noise floor and/or dynamic range, depending on how you choose to define these things. The chips will also be full resolution on a high end camera, whereas yours may even be a single Bayer filtered chip or an RGB block with less than 1920x1080 pixels (often they're 1440x1080 as this matches HDV recording). The processing electronics won't be quite as good, offering less controllability and more noise. And finally, the recording format will use considerably more compression.

 

Technical analysis aside, what tends to make the big difference is lens, chips and recording format. Lens you often can't do much about beyond try to operate it near its optimum F-stop, and protect it from situations it doesn't handle well, such as light sources in frame which may cause flaring. The chips are an absolute, and have a given sensitivity, noise floor and dynamic range which you can't alter, but which you can make the most of by setting the camera up carefully and using optical rather than electronic corrections (why amplify signals when you have plenty of light to balance things with glass). Tape (or disc) format is particularly problematic, since heavy compression can exacerbate problems with noise from the sensor, and makes postproduction corrections more difficult to unobtrusively. In some, typically studio-bound situations, you can record many of these smaller cameras uncompressed to disk arrays via their HDMI outputs, which can improve things beyond all recognition, but that's more often than not impractical.

 

So really it's less flexible more than it's less good (though it is less good). You have to spend more time considering approaches that will mitigate the way in which it is less good and there are more things you simply avoid doing. But with care, and this is where skill comes in, you can do quite well with them. A lot of the problem with handycams is how much manual control you get. Lock off all the irrtatingly wandery auto features and they can generally look OK.

 

P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your in-depth review. You are absolutely right about the cost differential. I paid $75,000 in 1970 dollars for the Ikigama, and $650 deflated $s for the palmcorder.

 

I can live with the lens clarity and low-level noise, as a travelogue is only a few steps up from a home movie. What I can't live with is the unstable camera moves (which I suspect are more the fault of the editing software, since the playback is silky-smooth on the camera). Still shots are sharp and clear, but the quality goes in the tank on pans and tilts.

 

My editor defaults to de-interlacing, but all I see are interlaced blurs on any camera moves. I'm going to try adding interpolation to those segments and see if it helps.

 

Thanks for your valued input,

 

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes it was a mistake to get a 1080i interlaced camcorder even if its high definition. Next time try the 720p progressive format that shoots at 60 complete frames per second.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes it was a mistake to get a 1080i interlaced camcorder even if its high definition. Next time try the 720p progressive format that shoots at 60 complete frames per second.

 

Why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Tai Audio



    Metropolis Post



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    CineLab



    Serious Gear



    Visual Products



    Just Cinema Gear



    Glidecam



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Paralinx LLC



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    FJS International



    Wooden Camera



    G-Force Grips



    Abel Cine



    Broadcast Solutions Inc



    Ritter Battery


    Cinematography Books and Gear
×
×
  • Create New...