Added new section “Blu-ray on standard red/ruby DVD”

A new section has been added to the HD Survival Handbook to cover developments in Blu-ray distribution on burnt (short run) standard DVDs for programs up to

Blu-ray on standard red/ruby DVD
At the July 23rd, 2008 LA Final Cut Pro user group meeting, DVD Association (DVDA) President Bruce Nazarian demonstrated a Mac-based end-to-end workflow that allows for the creation of simple Blu-ray titles for BD-R and short Blu-ray movie titles to be distributed on burned red-laser DVD media. The workflow was also discussed on the Digital Production BuZZ. The LAFCPUG presentation alone can be purchased by following the klickTab link from the LAFCPUG.org past meeting page or on DVD from Intelligent Assistance.
The workflow is available as a pdf from the DVDA.org website. Initial work into this format was conducted by DVDA Directors Chip Eberhart (in Chicago), and Miguel Clarke in Germany. The Macintosh workflow was researched and created by Bruce Nazarian.
Basic steps to author short run, burnable discs on OS X Macintosh
This method creates a BDMV – a Blu-ray Disc MoVie – with similar interactive capabilities to standard DVDs. It does not use any of the Blu-ray Java features discussed earlier. Replication is not yet possible with this method.
IMPORTANT: While a Blu-ray disc with media encoded at 25 Mbits/sec can carry 133 minutes on a 25 GB single layer disc or 266 minutes on a dual layer 50 GB disc, at 15 Mbits/sec on standard DVDs a single layer 4.7 GB disc can carry about 30 minutes and an 8.5 GB dual-layer disc can carry about 60 minutes. For longer recordings, use AVC instead of MPEG-2 for the encoded video content.
The basic workflow is to:
Edit in Final Cut Pro or your preferred NLE and output an HD QuickTime movie at either 1080 or 720 sizes.
Encode in Compressor using the new options for Blu-ray MPEG-2 and AVC MPEG-4 encoding. These assets will work for BD authoring in Adobe Encore CS3 (or you can do the encoding in Encore CS3).
Author the disc in Adobe Encore CS3, which can build a valid BDMV project folder and burn directly if you have a Blu-ray burner. (Encore does not support replicated Blu-ray discs.)
Roxio Toast 9.0.2 (with the BD plug-in) will burn a BDMV folder to DVD media creating a “BD5” or “BD9” disc on standard DVD media. It can also create an autoplay title from a QuickTime .mov.
These discs are playable in many recent BD players. The DVDA has verified that it works on SONY BDP-S300, BDP-S350 and Samsung BD-P 1500 players.

There were other changes in the Blu-ray are to incorporate this development. Purchases after August 18 include this update. The book is now 217 pages long.

August 17th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 3 Comments

Updated Caption Resizer Page 147/151 (revised)

Digital Anarchy’s Resizer product was sold to Red Giant Software in early August 2008. The example showing how Resizer uprezes images better than Adobe After Effects, shown on Page 147 of the original publication and page 147 of the August 18 version reflects that change and the inclusion of Resizer in Red Giant’s Instant HD Pro.

Update included in August 18 release.

August 17th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

Added Panasonic AG-HMC150

New addition reads:

Panasonic AG-HMC150
Status: Announced at NAB 2008 and shipping from October 2, 2008
Format: AVCCAM (same format as AVCHD).
Form Factor: Handheld
Media: SD Memory card in 32GB, 16GB, 8GB, 4GB, 2GB and 1GB sizes.
Supported Sizes and Frame Rates:
1080: 59.94i, 29.97P, 23.98P native
720: 59.94P, 23.98P native. The lack of support for 50i/50P or 24P suggests a different version for 50Hz (a.k.a. PAL) countries.
23.98 frame rates are recorded to the SD memory card in native.
Data rate and quality:
There are four recording modes:
PH mode with the highest quality at an average 21 Mb/sec and a maximum of 24 Mbps records full raster 1920 x 1080 or full raster 1280 x 720. 180 minutes of this highest quality version of the codec can be recorded onto one Class 4 32 GB SD memory card (cost about US$300).
HA mode records full raster 1920 x 1080 at an average of 17 Mb/sec.
HG mode also records full raster 1920 x 1080 at an average of 13 Mb/sec.
HE mode captures using 1440 x 1280 anamorphic pixels (not full raster) at about 6 Mb/sec and would be suitable only for very low action content (such as talking heads).
The recorded AVCHD files can also maintain metadata for individual recorded clips.
Camera Imagers: Three ⅓” 16:9 CCDs.
Lens: Fixed Leica Dicomar lens: 13× zoom from 3.9 to 51mm (equivalent to 28 — 364mm on a regular 35mm camera). Auto/manual focus, with focus assist (even during recording), and focus down to very close. Camera-driven manual zoom and optical image stabilization. (This lens has the same specifications as the lens on the HPX-170)
Minimum Illumination: Information unavailable.
Audio: Two locking XLR inputs with switches for mic/line, +48V Phantom Power, Auto/Manual level, and internal/external assignment
Viewfinder: Flip out 3.5” LCD screen and color viewfinder. 3.5-inch color LCD monitor that displays content in thumbnail images for quick viewing
MSRP/Street Price: MSRP US$3,995. Street price in July 2008 at B&H Photo is US$5995. Prices under $5500 are unlikely to be genuine.
Power Consumption: Unknown, but probably around 14 watts or less.
Dimensions: Not available but comparable to the DVX100.
Weight: 3.7 lbs
Special features:
Three Year limited warranty (upon registration).
SMPTE time code generator/reader.
Transfer recordings via USB 2.0 or by SD/SDHC card reader in PC or Macintosh.
Built in Waveform Monitor and Vectorscope (in viewfinder).
14-bit DSP for A/D conversion and 19-bit internal processing (same as HPX170)
Time/date stamp for legal depositions or surveillance.
Histogram display.
Time code/user bits.
Recording functions include pre-record, interval and shot marker, as well as new modes including last-clip delete and Rec check, which allows immediate review of the most-recently recorded clip.
HDMI (uncompressed) output.

2× Focus Assist that magnifies the center of the image in the viewfinder and swing-out LCD display to make focusing the HD image much easier.
CineGamma™ mode
Composite out, component out via mini-D and audio out.
Thumbnail display for easy searching and file information.
Free downloadable AVCHD Transcoder for conversion to DVCPRO HD available at www.panasonic.com/avccam (PC only)
The HMC150 offers a host of selectable gamma tools including Cine-like gamma to produce warm film-like images, as well as helpful shooting functions such as a waveform monitor and a vectorscope display, focus assist and Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS).

Assessment:
AVCHD is compressed further than HDV, but the improved efficiency of the AVC codec over MPEG-2 suggests that the recording will be comparable, or better than, similar data rates for HDV. Most modern NLE systems, including Final Cut Pro, can work with AVCHD/AVCCAM footage by converting it to an all I-frame format on import. Like HDV it is a 4:2:0 format.
The HMC150 appears to use the same chips and lens as the HPX-170 so it shares the wide lens but records only two channels of audio.
SD memory cards are much cheaper and more widely available than P2 cards and will work with card adapters available for all computers.
Reviews:
There are no reviews available at the time of writing in August 2008.

August 17th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

Updates to HPX170 section

Updated pricing to reflect B&H Photo’s list of $5195, added Barry Green’s “second look” review to list of reviews. Added AVC-Intra information. Section now reads:

Panasonic AG-HPX170
Status: Announced at NAB 2008 for release in “fall” (expected in September 2008)
Format: DVCPRO HD (also DVCPRO 25 and DVCPRO 50) native; hard drive recording available from third parties like Focus Enhancement’s FireStore FS100. No tape drive.
Form Factor: Handheld
Media: P2 Media (DVCPRO 50 and HD) with 2 card slots.
Supported Sizes and Frame Rates:
1080: 59.94i, 29.97P, 23.98P, 23.98PA (16:9 aspect ratio)
720: 59.94P, 48P, 36P, 32P, 30P, 26P, 23.98P, 23.98PN, 22P, 20P, 18P, 12P (16:9 aspect ratio)5. There are more frame rates available for 720P because it’s easier to move the data off the chip at manageable data rates for 720P. The lack of support for 50i/50P or 24P suggests a different version for 50Hz (a.k.a. PAL) countries.
23.98 frame rates can be recorded to the P2 card in native format or output with advanced pulldown.
480: 60i, 50i, 30P, 24P, in either DVCPRO 25 (i.e. regular DV) or DVCPRO 50 (4:3 aspect ratio).
There are in fact more than 80 combinations of frame size, frame rate, and whether or not the signal is progressive or interlaced.
Camera Imagers: Three ⅓” 16:9 CCDs with improved progressive 3-CCD imagers, a DSP that increases sensitivity while lowering noise and smear.
Lens: Fixed Leica Dicomar lens: 13× zoom from 3.9 to 51mm (equivalent to 28 — 364mm on a regular 35mm camera). Auto/manual focus, with focus assist (even during recording), and focus down to very close. Camera-driven manual zoom.
Minimum Illumination: 3 lux.
Audio: Four-channels of 48 kHz 16-bit PCM audio uncompressed recorded for DVCPRO HD. Two channels come from the top-mounted stereo microphone and two channels from the auxiliary XLR inputs at microphone levels at -50dB to -60dB, which should suit most professional microphones. The camera supports 48v Phantom power.
Viewfinder: Flip out 3.5” LCD screen and viewfinder. Details on the viewfinder and LCD screen have not yet been released as of June 2008.
MSRP/Street Price: Price in August 2008 at B&H Photo is US$5195. Prices under $5000 are unlikely to be genuine.
Power Consumption: Unknown, but probably around 14 watts or less.
Dimensions: The HVX200 is 6.7 × 7.1 × 15.2 Inches and the HPX170 is slightly smaller.
Weight: 4.2 lbs
Special features:
Five Year warranty.
HD-SDI output with embedded Timecode and Audio.
Mini-D connector for component analog output (SD and HD).
Delete last clip function.
Built in Waveform Monitor and Vectorscope (in viewfinder).
14-bit DSP for A/D conversion and 19-bit internal processing
CineSwitch™ technology for variable frame rates in 720P mode with 20 steps instead of the 11 of the HVX200. (Additional frame rates can probably be unlocked with the same “hack” that unlocks them for the HVX200).
24PN records true 23.976 fps to the P2 card, no pulldown or repeated frames required.
2× Focus Assist that magnifies the center of the image in the viewfinder and swing-out LCD display to make focusing the HD image much easier now with histogram and Focus Assist bar. All three focus assist options can be used together.
Security cable hole to lock down the camera and prevent it being stolen.
Thumbnail display for easy searching and file information.
Standard definition down-converts from HD recordings.
Transfer data over FireWire 400 or USB 2.0 from cards in the camera.
Advanced gamma functions and eight gamma settings including two CineGamma™ modes and NewsGamma™ mode
Advanced image adjustments: color matrix, detail, chroma phase, color temp, knee points
Customizable scene files with control over gamma and image adjustments.
Assessment:
DVCPRO HD is a sometimes less compressed than HDV, and gives a full 4:2:2 signal, so it records more color information, making it easier to use for effects work, such as chroma keying.
The camera provides the widest-angle standard lens (3.19mm) and limited four-channel 16-bit PCM audio.
The P2 form factor is now heading for obsolescence as the older PC-Card (PCMCAI) slot is replaced with ExpressCard slots in newer laptops, requiring an adapter to connect to modern computers.
Although one P2 card is usually included — two during special deal periods — the cost of additional cards and ancillary equipment needed to offload cards inflates the necessary investment The P2 media also requires investment in backup strategies and data wrangling in production mode.
The HPX170 is a good choice for a field production camera where data wrangling can be handled nearby.
Reviews:
Barry Green takes a “first look” at the HPX170 based on the NAB 2008 announced features.
Barry Green takes a “second look” at the HPX170 based on a preview model.

August 17th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

DVCPRO HD section updated

The section has been updated with more information on AVC-Intra as an alternative to DVCPRO HD.
The section now reads:

DVCPRO HD/ AVC-Intra
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Media: Tape and P2 solid-state media for DVCPRO HD; solid state media only for AVC-Intra
Formats: 1080i60, 1080i59.94, 1080i50, 1080p30, 1080p25, 1080p24 and 1080p23.98 and 720p60. Not every DVCPRO HD camera supports all modes.
Color Sampling: 4:2:2
Audio: Four 48 kHz 16-bit channels of uncompressed audio
Record Time: On Tape: DVCPRO tapes are the same for DVCPRO 25, 50 or 100 but the durations run half (DVCPRO 50) and ¼ (DVCPRO HD/100) the nominal “standard” speed. A “60-minute” DVCPRO tape will run 16.5 minutes with DVCPRO HD at 100 Mbits/sec. There are two shell sizes — M and L. The longest record duration for the M size is 16.5 minutes, for the L size 63 minutes.
On P2 Media the record time depends on the format being recorded and the size of the P2 card: a 16 GB card will provide between 40 minutes of 720p24 (23.98) recording and 16 minutes of 720p60 or 1080i60. Cards are now available in 32 GB with double those record times. A 64 GB P2 media card has been announced for late 2008 delivery, which will provide 4× the record times of a 16 GB card.
AVC-Intra record times are either the same as DVCPRO HD record times, using the higher quality AVC-Intra codec that features higher quality and full raster recording of HD signals, or the record time is double if using the AVC-Intra alternative that gives equivalent quality to DVCPRO HD. AVC-Intra at the lower data rate uses a 1440 x 1080 resolution for “1080” HD.
Compression: DVCPRO HD uses all intra-frame compression to reduce the data rate to 100 Mbits/sec for 1080i60 and 720p60. 24P recorded to the P2 media card works at a lower data rate because it does not include redundant frames (approximately 80 Mbits/sec. Because it is an all I-frame codec every frame has to be completely compressed within each frame. DVCPRO HD pre-filters the 720P image to a recorded size of 960 × 720, and 1080i is pre-filtered to 1280 × 1080 for 59.94i and 1440 × 1080 for 50i. The final compression ratio is about 7:1.
With AVC-Intra, the 50 Mbits/sec data rate is sub-sampled to 1440 × 1280 for “1080” while the 100 Mbits/sec version is full raster 1920 × 1080.
DVPRO HD has become a very popular acquisition format, particularly with the release of the sub US$10,000 HVX-200 in late 2006. A lot of Television is shot on DVCPRO HD and mastered on DVCPRO HD. The HVX-200 has been a favorite of Indie film producers for budget film production.
Newer DVCPRO HD camcorders have the option of using Panasonic’s more modern AVC-Intra codec. This is an all I-Frame version of the MPEG-4 Advanced Video Codec (a.k.a. H.264). Panasonic provide two bit rates for AVC-Intra: a 50 Mbit version that provides image quality comparable to DVCPRO HD at 100 Mbit or a 100 Mbit version that provides higher quality through lower compression. The just-release HPX-170 is the only sub US$10,000 camcorder that supports AVC-Intra.
The Panasonic DVCPRO HD family support non-standard frame rates for under- or over-cranking for speed effects. The Varicam model can work between 4 and 60 frames/second. DVCPRO HD is codified as SMPTE 370M; the DVCPRO HD tape format is SMPTE 371M, and the MXF Op-Atom format used for DVCPRO HD on P2 cards is SMPTE 390M.
DVCPRO HD P2-based workflows require some forethought as to how to handle data wrangling during production and how to provide for long-term storage and security for this data-centric workflow. DVCPRO HD from solid-state media can be played back to DVCPRO HD on tape in real time.
Panasonic makes several DVCPRO HD cameras from the sub US$5,000 HVX-200 up to the $66,000+ AJ-HDC27H Varicam. In between the HPX-500 at about $14,000 plus lens features ⅔” sensors for higher sensitivity under low light and greater dynamic range and is the logical step up from the HVX-200.

This update is included in copies sold after the August 18th update.

August 17th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

Update to AVCHD section.

The AVCHD section has been updated to include reference to AVCCAM, which is the same thing rebranded by Panasonic to produce a “prosumer” competitor to HDV. The section has been slightly expanded with a cross reference to AVC-Intra. (See later post.)

The AVCHD section now reads:

AVCHD a.k.a. AVCCAM (Panasonic)
Standing for Advanced Video Codec High Definition, AVCHD is based on the same H.264 codec used in MPEG-4 distribution and on Blu-ray disk. H.264/AVC (MPEG-4) is also Apple’s preferred codec for its Trailers, TV and Movie distribution. It is widely used for distribution, with support for H.264/AVC in Flash 9 release 3 or later. H.264, MPEG-4’s Part 10 Advanced Video Codec, is a great distribution codec.
It is not, however, a great choice for a production codec and is not recommended for any form of professional use, although Panasonic are pushing it for “Prosumer” use under the AVCCAM brand. However it is a reasonable quality HD format that has many inexpensive (sub $1000) models that could be used as a “Crash Cam” (a camera that is exposed in a high-risk situation and is likely to be destroyed). That said, Panasonic do have models of AVCHD camcorders they consider “professional”. In theory the greater efficiency of the H.264 AVC codec over MPEG-2 would provide higher image quality but that has not proved to be the case so far.
Panasonic never signed on to the HDV consortium and it appears they are positioning their more professional AVCHD models as AVCCAM in direct competition with HDV2 Camcorders, with the AG-HMC150.
Manufacturers: Sony, Canon and Panasonic
Media: MiniDV size tape, hard drive, DVD or compact Flash memory card.
Formats: 1080i59.94, 1080i50 and 1080p24 (on limited cameras).
Color Sampling: 4:2:0
Audio: Two channels of uncompressed 7.1 linear PCM or compressed AC-3 5.1
Record time: Varies as to whether you’re recording to tape, hard drive, DVD or flash memory card.
Compression: AVC codec (AVCCAM), which is a Long GOP H.264 codec, at approximately 24 Mbits/sec for “normal” quality to compact flash, hard drive or tape or about 18 Mbits/sec recording to DVD or Blu-ray. These equate to about 3 MB/sec for recording (2.25 MB/sec for DVD). A mini DVD (80mm/3.6” approx) holds about 20 minutes according to Sony. MiniDV tapes hold about 60 minutes, as they do for DV and HDV.
AVCHD camcorders using hard disks or flash memory such as SD or Memory Stick overcome this constraint and typically offer USB connections to access their content.

The compressed audio, subtitle streams and video data are encapsulated in an MPEG-2 Transport stream called BDAV. This stream format and most of the structure of AVCHD are derived from the Blu-ray Disc BDMV format. Combine this with the ability to do still slide shows from the HD footage from cameras, support for menus and subtitles, and it is probably a better choice for home use than HDV. The fact that most AVCHD recordings can be played — without modification other than appropriate media — in most set-top Blu-ray Disc players, such as the Sony BDP-S1, Panasonic DMP-BD10, and the PlayStation 3 is another bonus in the consumer space.
AVCHD is not generally recommended as a professional format although the results from the AG-HMC150 are comparable to HDV2. Despite the difficulty of working with Long GOP H.264/AVC there is no doubt it will be used in some professional production. Keep in mind that DV was not intended as a professional format either!
AVCHD or AVCCAM can be imported to Final Cut Pro 6.0.3 or later via the Log and Transfer window, which will convert the AVC-based material to ProRes 422.
Note: AVC-Intra is also based on the same AVC/H.264 codec but with an all-I-frame structure where every frame is complete, reducing the load on the host processor during playback and editing.

These corrections will be included in the next release of the “HD Survival Handbook” published Monday 18th August. There will be additional improvements for that release that will be published here as well.

August 17th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

Corrections and updates

Corrected “Forward” to “Foreword” in the Foreword.

Corrected “1270″ in bottom row of 720P storage table on page 97.

Page 99, this paragraph was corrected to fix a typographical error and to correct my assertion that Avid did not claim “broadcast quality” for AVR 75 and AVR 77. Apparently at least some material and spokespeople did claim broadcast quality for those settings. The paragraph now reads:

“Most of the time you do not need to work in uncompressed. You would need to work in uncompressed instead of ProRes 422 or DNxHD (or even natively in DVCPRO HD) if there was a contractual requirement for uncompressed that was carefully audited. There is no way a network Quality Assurance person would be able to detect the use of ProRes 422 or DNxHD in the post-production process once laid back to D5, HDCAM or other mastering format. These modern codecs are much higher quality than even excellent earlier codecs like Media 100’s, and a lot of Media 100 compressed footage went to air. Heck, over the years even Avid’s old AVR 77 was broadcast and while Avid may have claimed “Broadcast Quality” (whatever that actually might be) it was never acceptable for critical networks.!”

Thanks to Loren Miller for these corrections.

On page 173 the paragraph under the “Working with Native 24P” the paragraph has been updated to acknowledge that the EX-1 (and presumably EX-3) do record only native frames to the SxS card in 35 Mbit/sec HQ mode. The paragraph now reads

“Only formats recording to solid-state media can capture native 24P. Why Sony chose not to take that route for the EX-1 at 25 Mbits/sec is unclear, possibly to maintain full compatibility with their disc-based XDCAM HD files or HDV 2 (although changing the container format didn’t seem to phase them!) In HQ or 35Mbit/sec mode, the camera records true 23.98 to the SxS cards.”

Thanks to Adrian Vallis who found something definitive in the pdf published off the Sony Australia website.

These corrections will be included in the next release of the “HD Survival Handbook” published Monday 18th August. There will be additional improvements for that release that will be published here as well.

August 12th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

JVC HDV Camcorders do not downconvert

Page 51 has been updated to read

NOTE: All HDV camcorders also do DV/DVCAM/DVCPRO (collectively called DV25 as they all use the same codec) as well as HDV in either NTSC or PAL (depending on model). I have not specifically noted this capability in the camera reviews, but it’s there. Many Sony and Canon models can also all output DV from an HDV recording.

Although I have been unable to get a definitive answer from JVC, I can find no confirmation that JVC camcorders can downconvert HDV to DV on playback, and some confirmation that it cannot.

Purchases after July 3 include this update

July 2nd, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

HPX 170 Price and delivery announced

An update to page 62, where I estimated the price of the HPX 170 to be “under $10,000 for sure, possibly as low as US$6,000″. Well it’s now listed at B&H Photo, but not yet open for pre-orders at US$5,995. This is street price and not MSRP, but a good indication of the pricing.

Purchases after July 3, 2008 include this update.

June 28th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

EX-3: Availability and Pricing

On page 68 of The HD Survival Handbook we repeated the information that Sony disseminated at NAB 08: The EX-3 would be available in the “Fall” and for “$13,000″. The information is now out that B&H are taking orders for July delivery for US$8320. This is dramatically below the predicted price and ahead of schedule. It also puts the EX-3 legitimately in our consideration of “under $10K” cameras. 

Purchases after July 3, 2008 include this update.

June 25th, 2008 - Posted in The HD Survival Handbook | | 0 Comments

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