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Barry_Green
11-12-2009, 05:51 PM
Click here to read the full article (http://www.dvxuser.com/articles/article.php/25)

Alex.Mitchell
11-13-2009, 04:24 AM
I always wondered which would come out on top in the AVC-HD (21 Mbps) vs. XDCAM EX grudge match. Now I know!

Maybe this is a pipe dream, but I wonder if you could do a similar stress test with the HPX-170. I bet that DVCPro HD would clean up, but I'm still a little curious about how a 1280x1080 4:2:2 codec compares with a 1920x1080 4:2:0 codec in a variety of situations.

PerroneFord
11-13-2009, 05:23 AM
What's MSRP?

Is it more or less than the Firestore FS-5? More or less than the Nanoflash. To me, the Nanoflash is such a bargain since for it's price you do do everything from 50Mbps to 280Mbps (which is DARN close to uncompressed quality).

dcloud
11-13-2009, 07:40 AM
barry, i read in the hmr10 specs that it only captures 1080-60i/72060p on hd-sdi? so 24p would need to have pulldown removed?

how about other codecs as well :P dvcprohd?

Jaime Valles
11-13-2009, 08:40 AM
Excellent article, Barry! Thanks for the codec stress-test. Very, very informative.

PDR
11-13-2009, 10:15 AM
Thanks for tests and sharing another article



One of the major differences between how AVC works, versus MPEG-2, is in the block sizes that they use. MPEG-2 uses 8x8-pixel blocks, breaking the entire picture up into 8x8-pixel areas. When things are going smooth, you'll never know they're there, but when things get really hairy in the compression, you'll see that blocky texture appear; you may have noticed this effect on HDTV programming or youtube/vimeo when net congestion hits; the image can start turning blocky. Where MPEG-2 uses a fixed 8x8 block size, AVC can vary its block size, using as small as 2x2 pixel blocks. Because of this, AVC can have a lot smoother degradation of the image; it won't turn to discrete digital blocks, and the result is usually a more organic/natural looking image, rather than a blocky digital-looking image. This is a key factor in what I was looking for: if I could get the EX1 to go blocky, what would happen to the AVCCAM?


The difference in macroblocking is more due to inloop deblocking than block size partition. It is difficult to "simulate" on a hardware recorder, but with software you can disable the inloop deblock with encodings (or use negative alpha & beta deblock values to lower the "strength") and you will see a macrblocked image much like those with MPEG2.

A "side-effect" of inloop deblocking is oversmoothed images. Great examples of this are seen with the GH1 and "mud". Poor AVC implementation have low efficiency, relative overcompression (proportional to scene complexity) which results in oversmoothing and "mud." Better AVC implementations have more features that help with compression efficiency. For example b-frames and CABAC are found in AVCCAM, but not in the GH1's h.264 implementation. Even on low complexity (non challenging, low motion) content, if you were able to disable deblocking, the image would be sharper with more detail.

EDITED

Chamber005
11-13-2009, 12:33 PM
How is a codec "stressed" exactly? Are you doing whip-pans or something? Extreme close-ups?

Also, this may be unrelated, but how does this pertain to rendering videos (or does it not pertain to it at all?). There's at least 50 different formats it seems to render a video. Should what codec you start with (AVCHD, XD-CAM, H.264, etc) dictate into what you should render it into?

There's a lot of technical stuff I'm just beginning to learn now that I'm using CS4 to edit and CC my stuff (before I used 100 buck editing/rendering programs like Corel and Vegas Movie Studio). The word compression comes up a lot when people talk about rendering.

Again, not sure if these questions pertain to this article but it seemed like a good a place as any to start!

Barry_Green
11-13-2009, 12:56 PM
How is a codec "stressed" exactly? Are you doing whip-pans or something? Extreme close-ups?
I gave examples in there. Basically, a long-GoP codec gets stressed when the amount of changes between frames exceeds the amount of change it can comfortably handle. This can happen in many ways. A simple pan is not enough to do it; motion codecs such as MPEG and AVC are designed to handle pans, they have motion prediction built into them. But there are things a codec cannot predict and cannot comfortably handle. Such things include a whip-pan, a snap-zoom, or flashes going off. When a flash happens, every single pixel in the frame changes simultaneously, and that's a massive stress on a codec that is designed to only account for the changes between frames.

Long-GoP codecs are designed around the concept that with frames coming so quickly (think about it, 24 to 60 times per second), not all that much will change from frame to frame. So the long-GoP codec bases each new frame off the prior one. It uses up a large percentage of its bit budget to encode one key frame (the first frame in the Group of Pictures), and then it allocates the remaining amount of bandwidth for all the changed frames. So, while I don't remember the numbers exactly, something like 40% of the available bandwidth goes to the keyframe in each group, and the remaining 14 frames in the group have to share the remaining 60% of the bandwidth. So each frame gets about 4% of the bandwidth, except for the keyframe. 4% isn't much, but it's usually enough to handle the small changes that will occur (especially when motion prediction helps everything along by predicting and minimizing the actual amount of change).

So -- you've got a normal circumstance where 40% is used up on the first frame, and 4% to the next frame, and 4% to the next, etc. That's normally enough, because very little changes between frames. But what happens when a flash goes off? Now EVERY PIXEL has just changed! Can the codec handle it? Maybe not, probably not within that 4%! So now the flash frame has to encode all the changes, and (depending on the efficiency of the codec) it's possible that it'll have to encode all the changes back from the flash, too. So those two frames (the one with the flash, and the first one after the flash) may need a LOT of bandwidth. Maybe they need 40% of the total bandwidth by themselves (speculation for illustrative purposes). So now we've got 80% of the bandwidth being used up on the key frame, the flash frame, and the after-flash frame. That leaves the other 12 frames (in a 15-frame group) to divide up the remaining 20%, giving about 1.6% of the bandwidth per frame.

So what happens to all those frames? They have such low bandwidth, they can't be compressed very well. So they go blocky. Try saving a photoshop document as a JPEG at maximum quality, and at minimal quality, and see what the difference is -- that's what happens to long-GoP codecs. And because they compress an entire 15-frame block as a group, together, all the frames within that group are affected. So it's not a case of one frame going "glitchy", but an entire group of 15 frames will go "glitchy" simultaneously. Your video might look fine, and then when the flash goes off everything goes blocky for a half a second (assuming 30 frames per second), and then it all goes sharp again. (and, for the record, most codecs can handle a single flash without getting too bad, I'm just using the flash as an example). Keep in mind that I said that I had to push these codecs HARD to get them to break up. HDV was much easier to break, XDCAM-EX is quite robust, and AVCCAM is very robust.

What kind of scenarios can bring this about? Anything which causes a lot of change per frame, in an unpredictable way. A snap zoom (where you go from minimum to maximum in about 1/10 of a second) would cause a huge amount of change on each and every frame. Rotating and spinning the camera will cause a huge amount of change in an unpredictable way -- MPEG can predict pans and tilts, but it doesn't know how to deal with rotation. Smoke and fog can cause a lot of complications for the codec, because it's translucent and it moves in unpredictable ways. Confetti is a good one, because it's gobs and gobs of tiny detail that changes in every frame and moves in unpredictable patterns. Splashing water, for the same reason -- lots of fine detail, especially backlit water, moving in lots of directions. Strobe lights, or colored strobes -- with a colored strobe, not only does the brightness of every pixel change, but the color does too -- that's really tough on a codec to handle. Fire -- long-GoP codecs can really be troubled by fire, because it flickers, changes intensity, it can be translucent, and it moves unpredictably. Changing brightness through rapidly opening or closing the iris would probably cause no end of complications for a codec -- if you executed a quick fade-to-black by spinning the iris ring, you'd probably find that fade-out going blocky.

Intraframe codecs will never have any of those complications. Every frame is encoded discretely, uniquely, and what happens in one frame will not have any influence on what happens in any other frame.

So is long-GoP evil? No, not in and of itself. Long-GoP is a technique, nothing more. If used to increase quality, it's a valid and good technique. If used to try to make a tiny bitrate perform above and beyond its means, I think it can backfire and cause shooters problems. So the net determinant for me, as to whether it's a good thing or not, is how robust the images are. If you're using a way-too-low bitrate, and trying to use long-GoP to increase the efficiency to bring that low bitrate up to an acceptable quality level, then I think that's asking for trouble (and why I was absolutely not a fan of HDV). But, what if you had a 100mbps intraframe codec, which is enough to deliver DVCPRO-HD quality, and you added long-GoP to that? Well, in a case like that, it would be an enhancement to an already adequate system, and therefore it would increase overall quality, and would be viewed as a good thing (excepting the additional demands on the CPU in editing).


Also, this may be unrelated, but how does this pertain to rendering videos (or does it not pertain to it at all?). There's at least 50 different formats it seems to render a video. Should what codec you start with (AVCHD, XD-CAM, H.264, etc) dictate into what you should render it into?
Totally unrelated, and in general it would seem to not matter much, except that certain codecs withstand multiple generations of recompressing better than others do. But you raise an interesting point -- would MPEG-2, re-compressed as AVC, look better than MPEG-2 recompressed as MPEG-2? And the reason I think there might be a case for staying in MPEG-2 is because the nature of compression artifacts from the first generation might be easier-recompressed by the same style of codec... but probably not. I don't know. Interesting question.

Jan_Crittenden
11-14-2009, 05:58 AM
Nice job Barry. Well done.

To add to the discussion, one of the key differences in the AVCCAM/AVCHD implementation is that the "I " frame of the Long GOP is addressed in the same way that AVC-Intra is. First there is the predictive pass where the Content Adaptive Codec looks at the complexity of the picture and does a "first pass" Then that is subtracted from the original and the rest of the engine is assigned to the details. The block sizes can vary within the frame and this is one of the very reasons that the Macroblocking is more noticeable on the the always 8X8 blocks in MPEG-2 vs MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. The Block sizes can vary from 16 X 16 and down to 4 X 4. The codec assigns the power where necessary. The Entropy Encoding is also significatly different in that the Variable Length Coding , available in MPEG-2 is strictly a 2D encoder, and does not have the tap dance ability of the Content Adaptive Variable Length Coding which when paired with the Content Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding produces the best P and B "frames."

Keep in mind that a good number of the folks that have brought you MPEG-4, were part of the MPEG-2 development and as a result, knew what needed to change to bring about a better result.

That is not to say that all implementations of AVCHD are equal, as we can see in the product that is out there currently; I would imagine over the course of time we will see it gravitate to something more uniform. That said, the AVCCAM implementation is the same across the board.


Best,

Jan

PerroneFord
11-14-2009, 06:42 AM
So again, is this unit available? And what is the MSRP? I am shooting XDCamEX today, and spoke with my boss about purchasing the Nano in June. If this is a contender, I'd like to know.

dcloud
11-14-2009, 06:53 AM
gotta ask again... thesite says hd-sdi input only records 1080 60i.. this means no auto pulldown on 24p?

i think the nano shoots mpeg2 100mbps intraframes 4:2:2
that seems to be better.. i dont know about the price though

harddrive
11-14-2009, 06:58 AM
Basically, a long-GoP codec gets stressed when the amount of changes between frames exceeds the amount of change it can comfortably handle.
Whilst agreeing with Barrys post as far as it goes, it has to be said that a codec can get stressed either in the way Barry says (lots of changes between frames) or due to a lot of fine detail in a static frame. Hence I'd be interested to see the same tests on static subjects with a lot of fine detail, but no movement. (Something like pages of fine newsprint.)

The ratio of bitrate assigned to I-frames to bitrate assigned to difference frames is not fixed in any long-GOP codec. Hence, you could assign 100% of the bitrate to the I-frames, 0% to the difference frames (effectively getting an I-frame only codec), or 5% to the I-frames, 95% to the difference frames. The latter would give excellent motion performance - but very poor still picture performance. Most long-GOP codecs are obviously likely to be somewhere between these figures.

It's also worth mentioning that specifying a codec does not uniquely specify it's performance at any given bitrate - the performance is a feature of the individual coder as well as the bitrate. That's been very obvious with broadcast digital TV in the UK over the last ten years - bitrates have dropped dramatically in that period, but overall quality is arguably better (though still far from perfect ;) ) than at the start. That's the effect of coder improvements.

In practical terms, my experience of AVC-HD has been limited to the coder of the HMC151, and in that case I've noticed obvious first generation STATIC artifacting around edges in 1080 mode, whilst the motion performance seems to have been pretty good. What I don't know is whether that is a function of that particular camera, or current high bitrate AVC-HD encoders in general. (In the case of the 151, it doesn't really matter, since there's a lot to be said for using it in 720p mode anyway.)

As far as the HMR10 v nanoFlash goes, for high quality work the nanoFlash is likely to be used in better than 35Mbs mode - 50Mbs at least, ideally 100Mbs long-GOP, which yields true 4:2:2 as well. So here the nanoFlash is likely to remain the better choice. But the lower bitrate modes of the HMR10 shouldn't be overlooked, and may be exactly what's needed for long, unattended runtimes - security or wildlife applications, for two examples.

What a shame you can't get the high bitrate/high quality modes of the nanoFlash in the same package as the low bitrate/long runtimes of the HMR10.

PerroneFord
11-14-2009, 07:15 AM
My work alternates between several types of video.

1. Interviews and PSAs. These are mostly static, with the occasional slow walk and talk. Some will now be greenscreen

2. Conference recording. Camera on a tripod for 3 8 hour days.

3. Building tours, where we follow a group on tour of our historic building

4. Training videos. Mostly podium based with powerpoint shows.

I don't NEED a Nano for my work, but often the fine detail of some of the books, sculpture and other things when we are on historical tours is lost in XDCamEX. I'd love to improve that. For $3k the Nano seems a reasonable solution. We had purchased a Firestore years ago for our DVX to handle the long-form conference recordings, but honestly, with two 32GB SDHC cards, I can now get 4 hours of recording at a time without it. More than enough.

If this unit is available for $1500 then it may be a viable choice for our needs. If it's over $2k then it becomes hard to justify for me over the $3k nanoflash which gives me everything from 35 Mbps Long GOP to 200+Mbps I-Frame.

Barry_Green
11-14-2009, 07:49 AM
So again, is this unit available?
Yes. In stock at B&H.

And what is the MSRP?
MSRP $2600. B&H sells it for $2280.


I am shooting XDCamEX today, and spoke with my boss about purchasing the Nano in June. If this is a contender, I'd like to know.
The Nano does things this doesn't, such as being able to record pN mode. This unit records "over 60". If you're recording 60i/60p, or 30p, I'd consider it a possible alternative, primarily for same/better quality at smaller file sizes, but if you're looking for maximum quality regardless of file sizes, I'd expect the nano can provide that. Nano can do pN modes (right?) and it has the capability to go 4:2:2.

Barry_Green
11-14-2009, 07:51 AM
gotta ask again... thesite says hd-sdi input only records 1080 60i.. this means no auto pulldown on 24p?
That is correct.


i think the nano shoots mpeg2 100mbps intraframes 4:2:2
that seems to be better.. i dont know about the price though
Yes, I believe for ultimate quality regardless of storage space, the Nano can do better. This unit isn't necessarily offered or marketed as a recorder for ultimate quality, it's a very space-efficient high-quality recorder. It can deliver the same or better than XDCAM-EX at substantially smaller file sizes, onto commodity media, at a price point lower than the Nano. But the Nano has high-end quality (100, 160, even 220mbps IIRC) at 4:2:2, which this unit can't do.

Barry_Green
11-14-2009, 07:55 AM
Harddrive brings up a point I forgot, which is that the variable bitrate of the AVCCAM codecs lets you go down to as low as 6mbps. While I am a fan of pedal-to-the-metal with long-GoP codecs (pushing them to the highest bitrate they can stand to prevent codec stress) there would certainly be times when folks may want or need mega-long recording times, and the lower bitrates can get you there. Especially if you're talking about a static camera like a security camera; in cases like that, the HMR10 could record for 12 hours on a single 32GB card.

PerroneFord
11-14-2009, 09:24 AM
Thanks Barry, While this may be a viable solution for others, it seems it won't get it done for my needs. If it was quite a bit cheaper maybe. But the price point brings it too close to the Nanoflash in my case.

[Edit]

Just had a look on B&H,

This thing has some features I wish the Nano-Flash did. Like a WFM and Vectorscope! That's fabulous! The fact that it shows the image on a screen is comforting also, though I would bet it eats some power. Seems like a nice unit for the right person.

trez
11-15-2009, 01:12 AM
Very very interesting. Thanks a lot for this test, Barry! Finally real-world test comparing these codecs. Turns out that the differences are quite significant. Sony has been trying to convince people that is only visible at very low bitrate, which is clearly untrue:
http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/micro/xdcam/solutions/MPEG-2_Long_GoP_vs_AVC_Comp-Strategies.pdf

Sumfun
11-15-2009, 02:57 AM
Thanks for doing the comparison, Barry. I am surprised that the AVCHD did so well at a low bit rate.

But I think most people who use an external recorder do so to get better quality video, not lower bit rate. So it would have been nice if this unit recorded to AVC Intra. I know Panasonic has the HPG20, but that's twice the price and records to expensive P2 cards.

Elton
11-15-2009, 03:35 PM
Good article, very informative. I appreciate the work that went into this article.

As an avid nanoFlash user I have to say that the pricepoint of the AVCCAM device is a bit mystifying, IMO. It just seems hugely overpriced for what it delivers...and we do talk about pricepoint being so key around here.

If you reaaallly need uber-long recording times with that subtle level of image improvement at extremely low bit rates, I'm sure this unit would fit the bill.

I guess I just don't get it. Here it is, nearly 2010, with very low priced/high capacity/high speed Solid State media available to us, and we're talking about $2300 external recorders that still overcompress the image and still only do 4:2:0. And what is this about no 1080i recording unless purchasing an add-on option? Wow.

Unless super-long recording time capability is paramount, I have to admit my bias and say the nanoFlash is a much bigger bang-for-the-buck.

--Drag and drop editing with native QT/MXF (no need to log and transfer)
--Huge bitrate selectability
--4:2:2 colorspace
--High bit rate I-frame modes
--TC input
--3:2 Pulldown removal over 1080i for true 24p recording via SDI, (HDMI coming too)
--Timelapse recording
--HDMI I/O (recording HDMI, not just for viewing)
--Overcrank capability coming

If the AG-HMR10 were, say, sub-$1K I could see the obvious value, but definitely not at it's current pricepoint. It has some nice professional features, but the codec is still iffy.

mgalvan
11-15-2009, 07:49 PM
I really have to second what Elton has said.

The Nanoflash seems like much more of a worthwhile purchase than this.

It'd be one thing if the pricing was in the $1k range, but at this point, it is encroaching on NanoFlash territory. And the Nanoflash is capable of providing far greater image quality.

Arc-en-ciel
11-15-2009, 09:38 PM
There's an other difference,
the AG-HMR10 is not only a recorder, it's a part of a POV cam in pair with the AG-HCK10G
for this raison, the price is higher.

Barry, will you make some test with this camera?

Barry_Green
11-15-2009, 09:59 PM
No, I didn't have the camera, I just got to play with an HMR10 for a day.

strangways
11-16-2009, 10:02 AM
But I think most people who use an external recorder do so to get better quality video, not lower bit rate. So it would have been nice if this unit recorded to AVC Intra. I know Panasonic has the HPG20, but that's twice the price and records to expensive P2 cards.

One of the reasons why AVC-Intra is higher quality is because it is a higher bitrate, 50-100 Mbit/s. That's more than an SDHC card can handle, which is why it records to more expensive P2 cards.
The unit costs more because the hardware to encode AVC-Intra is more expensive, and I'd bet the hardware to write to P2 cards is also a little bit more expensive.

It's like that old saying: Fast, Good, Cheap - Pick two.

PerroneFord
11-16-2009, 10:45 AM
It's like that old saying: Fast, Good, Cheap - Pick two.

The Nanoflash writes darn near uncompressed quality to CompactFlash cards for another $500 more than this unit. It's fast, it's cheap, and it's good. That's where the apparent disconnect seems to be.

But again, this unit does not seem to be targeted to that kind of buyer. Actually, I am not sure who it's targeted at. Maybe surveillance market? $2500 for an external recorder is clearly pro-territory. But the codec is not what Panasonic is pushing in their pro products, more in line with their prosumer product. Seems an odd hybrid.

Barry_Green
11-16-2009, 11:13 AM
This codec is being sold by the pro division. This unit is offered by Panasonic Broadcast.

PerroneFord
11-16-2009, 11:58 AM
Barry, which cams coming out of Panasonic's pro division use this codec? I ask that out of ignorance, since the ones I am aware of use either DVCProHD or AVC-Intra.

Arc-en-ciel
11-16-2009, 12:02 PM
Don't forget that is a part of a camera.
You have a good monitor, the setting and the remote off the camera, and the waveform and the vectorscope I think, like the HMC150.

Can you confirm that Barry?

Barry_Green
11-16-2009, 12:07 PM
Barry, which cams coming out of Panasonic's pro division use this codec? I ask that out of ignorance, since the ones I am aware of use either DVCProHD or AVC-Intra.
The HMC150 and HMC40. Any of the "AVCCAM" cameras. The HMC70 has some of it, but not all; the HMC70 only has up to 17mbps and doesn't have the "good stuff" which is the 24mbps PH mode.

Barry_Green
11-16-2009, 12:08 PM
Don't forget that is a part of a camera.
You have a good monitor, the setting and the remote off the camera, and the waveform and the vectorscope I think, like the HMC150.

Can you confirm that Barry?
This unit is like the recording deck of the HMC150, without a lens. Instead of a lens it has an HD-SDI input, but other than that it pretty much has what the HMC150 has, so yes that includes waveform and vectorscope.

Barry_Green
11-16-2009, 12:10 PM
For distinction between the "pro" and "consumer" versions of AVCHD, I think that's what they really came up with the AVCCAM brand for. AVCHD can contain apparently many levels of quality, but AVCCAM is (I believe) only for the highest-quality, pro-caliber stuff.

When they first came out with AVCCAM I was like "why?" but now that we've seen AVCHD Lite and the GH1's very-limited AVCHD codec, I think it makes a lot more sense that they'd brand their pro line with a completely different name (even though the format complies with the AVCHD specifications and the equipment bears an AVCHD badge). I think the AVCCAM name is their mark to say "this is the good stuff".

Cranky
11-16-2009, 12:24 PM
The HMC150 and HMC40. Any of the "AVCCAM" cameras. The HMC70 has some of it, but not all; the HMC70 only has up to 17mbps and doesn't have the "good stuff" which is the 24mbps PH mode.
HMC70 == AG-HSC1 + big plastic box + XLR inputs
AG-HSC1 == HDC-SD1 + gray body color.

All the above models record exactly the same flavor of AVCHD, topping at 13 Mbit/s, interlaced only.

AVCCAM does not define a technology different from AVCHD. AVCCAM is a brand. It is akin to Technics compared to National. It is like ProHD compared to poor-man's HDV. Presently, Panasonic chose to limit its consumer AVCHD models with 17 Mbit/s bitrate and it also stopped manufacturing native progressive consumer models. Panasonic uses the higher quality High-Profile@Level-4.1 AVCHD mode topping at 24 Mbit/s with native progressive recording modes for the current crop of AVCCAM camcorders only.

Canon uses High-Profile@Level-4.1 AVCHD @ 24 Mbit/s in its consumer models and still calls it AVCHD. It is worth mentioning that the XH-A1 also bear only "HDV 1080i" mark despite that it can record in native progressive mode (can I write "native progressive mode" without (tm) mark and a bow to Sony?) Canon focuses its branding on idiotic names like Vixia.

Barry_Green
11-16-2009, 01:03 PM
HMC70 == AG-HSC1 + big plastic box + XLR inputs
Plus component outputs plus a 3-year warranty plus service & support from the professional division.


AG-HSC1 == HDC-SD1 + gray body color.
Plus revamped colorimetry to get its footage to match the rest of the pro line. Plus it's discontinued.


AVCCAM does not define a technology different from AVCHD. AVCCAM is a brand.
Yes, it is a brand. But under that brand you will (apparently) not find crippled implementations such as the GH1's AVCHD. There is a mile of difference between PH mode on an AVCCAM device, and the GH1's AVCHD. So this is a case where the brand means something. Plus the 3-year warranty and all that.

I got a nasty surprise with the GH1's codec; I was expecting so much more from it, and it's really the first time where I found AVCHD to be a big disappointment. So what I'm saying is that AVCCAM's distinction here is that the weak stuff won't show up under an AVCCAM banner.

When they first launched the pro line, they created the AVCCAM banner to launch it under, and I didn't really get why. I thought it unnecessarily confused things and made 'em frankly sound more like a Sony product (AVCCAM? BetaCam? DVCAM? HDCAM?) But now, if nothing else, knowing that the AVCCAM products are going to get the top-end version of AVCHD, that alone makes the brand name worth knowing about.

Cranky
11-16-2009, 01:20 PM
When they first launched the pro line, they created the AVCCAM banner to launch it under, and I didn't really get why. I thought it unnecessarily confused things and made 'em frankly sound more like a Sony product (AVCCAM? BetaCam? DVCAM? HDCAM?)
I think this was one of the goals - to sell the product to Sony lovers. Notice slanted sans serif typeface very similar to DVCAM logo. I am waiting for Sony to respond with XDCAM PRO.

mikkowilson
11-16-2009, 04:44 PM
[...] thankyouverymuch

:grin:

- Mikko

robfilms
11-17-2009, 06:19 PM
I think this was one of the goals - to sell the product to Sony lovers. Notice slanted sans serif typeface very similar to DVCAM logo. I am waiting for Sony to respond with XDCAM PRO.


Barry, is the "new" sony product launch nxcam their entry into the AVCHD market space?

http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/atepper/story/sony_launches_nxcam_tapeless_camera_family/

And like others said at the top of this thread, thanks Barry for doing so much of the leg work. We are a better community for your efforts.


Be well

Rob

Barry_Green
11-17-2009, 08:31 PM
Sony is one of the ORIGINATORS of the AVCHD format. They co-developed it, with Panasonic. I've been expecting them to do this for three years. The day AVCHD was introduced, I said "well, that's the end of HDV."

But, for the last three years they've instead been telling people the most astonishing claim: "AVCHD isn't for professionals. Use HDV instead." It's amazing to me. I even went so far as to proclaim that Sony would never introduce another HDV camera, after Sony themselves said "AVCHD is the format best suited for the era of HD camcorders" and "AVCHD is two and a half times more efficient than MPEG-2". Boy, did I get that one wrong, they've continued to promote HDV for almost three more years! (well, I guess if people will keep buying them, there's no reason not to.)

All the way I've been telling folks that Sony would go AVCHD in their pro line, and intraframe in their top-end line, and fervent Sony defenders have told me I'm crazy -- Sony would never go h.264 over MPEG-2 -- but -- I could never understand why?? H.264 is a better format, a better codec, why wouldn't professionals want it? And that's really why I chose to do this article -- I wanted to get to the bottom of it. And I proved that conclusively, unquestionably, no two bones about it, AVCHD is a more efficient codec and a better compression system than MPEG-2 in either HDV or even XDCAM-EX.

So why did Sony continue to insist that AVCHD is "only for consumers"? I never could understand it. But now, just five days after I publish this article, Sony launches "AVCHD for professionals!" :shocked:

Sigh, you gotta love 'em. Well, somebody does, I guess...

But yes, to answer the question you asked, NXCAM would be their foray into AVCHD in the professional market space. I'm wondering about the twists and turns they'll do to justify EX on higher-priced models and NXCAM on lower-price models... although, frankly, I do think they did the right thing by giving the customer the choice of recording MPEG-2 or AVCHD on the same unit; someone who needs the easier edit of MPEG-2 and doesn't mind the quality hit is free to choose it, someone who wants the ultimate quality at the minimal bitrate can choose that.

Cranky
11-18-2009, 12:04 AM
I was bugging Sony on their previous online expo, I intimidated Juan Martinez, I bugged them at NAB... all they were saying is that AVCHD is for consumers. I am glad that they are finally switching to AVCHD. It sucks that they use MemoryStick, but did anyone expect SDHC? The article mentions an additional recorder, is it the same one as on the Z5/Z7, that records to CF?

I still think that switching to MPEG-2 based XDCAM and then adding AVC to XDCAM spec would be a better strategy, which would not be limited to 24 Mbit/s of AVCHD and would use existing XDCAM wrappers. Sony should offer real XDCAM EX @ 35 Mbit/s as a second format in this camera. At the very least Sony should offer DV, who needs "DVD on MemoryStick" MPEG-2 SD @ 9 Mbit/s? Half-baked solutions and half-measures again.

blaremedia
11-19-2009, 11:50 AM
It's amazing what technology can do and the fact that most people want more out of the RED data rate not less i.e. REDcode 42 just coming out. Consumers must be hard to deal with when they want the exact opposite things so often.

cheezweezl
11-23-2009, 12:59 PM
pretty enlightening article. from the pics, it seems that avccam holds up better than xdcam ex when shooting high detail and fast action. my question is regarding post. i use xdcam ex all the time and one thing i have noticed is how far you can lift the mids before the image gets too noisy and falls apart. you can go quite far with it. how does avccam compare in this respect?

Barry_Green
11-23-2009, 02:06 PM
Didn't try. I don't have any answer for you on that...

Cranky
01-26-2010, 08:24 PM
From another forum: this is how the Sony FX1000 may look like (but the Canon's codec is known to be better than Sony's): Fieworks and FX1000 macroblocking (HDV) (http://videomax.ru/forum/uploads/14920/%D0%BA%D1%83%D0%B1%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B8-5-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BA.jpg)

Duke M.
01-29-2010, 01:04 PM
For $600 more wouldn't you want 4.2.2 color and even less compression artifacts in the nanoflash?

Jan_Crittenden
01-29-2010, 01:16 PM
I actually see this as a comparison of using cameras that are full res AVCHD rather than take output of the EX1 and record it to AVCHD. Yes if I had an EX1, I might be interested in doing a 4:2:2 record on AVC-Intra which is 10Bit.

Robert M Wright
01-29-2010, 03:23 PM
...Yes if I had an EX1, I might be interested in doing a 4:2:2 record on AVC-Intra which is 10Bit.

That might be a bit difficult to do.

Is Panasonic going to offer up something like the AG-HMR10 for recording AVC-I?

Barry_Green
01-29-2010, 03:57 PM
That might be a bit difficult to do.

Is Panasonic going to offer up something like the AG-HMR10 for recording AVC-I?
They already do, it's the HPG20.

Robert M Wright
01-29-2010, 04:15 PM
Dang, that's pricey.

Robert M Wright
01-29-2010, 04:20 PM
...and only records to P2 cards - double pricey!

Sure makes the nanoflash look downright cheap - never thought I'd find myself saying that!

Barry_Green
01-29-2010, 09:06 PM
Dang, that's pricey.
Sometimes I wonder about people's perspective. Five grand for an HD-SDI recorder that records 10-bit AVC-Intra... that's the visual equivalent of a $250,000 HD D5 deck...

mikkowilson
01-29-2010, 10:53 PM
Sometimes I wonder about people's perspective. Five grand for an HD-SDI recorder that records 10-bit AVC-Intra... that's the visual equivalent of a $250,000 HD D5 deck...

I think often it's the perspective of consumers looking at (real) professional gear.

- Mikko

Robert M Wright
01-30-2010, 07:23 AM
Spend just a couple grand more and get the whole dang camera (HPX300).

I just can't see spending that kind of money for what amounts to a very limited computer.

Barry_Green
01-30-2010, 12:13 PM
Spend just a couple grand more and get the whole dang camera (HPX300).

I just can't see spending that kind of money for what amounts to a very limited computer.
Then you should just understand that you are not the target market.

It is an HD-SDI 10-bit AVC-Intra recorder. The HPX300 doesn't do what it does, the HPX300 doesn't have HD-SDI input.

You can put an HPG20 on the back of a tape-based VariCam and get a hugely improved image; upgrade your old $70,000 VariCam with a $5,000 recorder and yeah... lots of people love that.

You can plug an HPG20 into a post house and get the equivalent of a $250,000 deck for $5200.

If you don't understand this, then it's clear the product is not being marketed to you. But come on, you can't go saying it's a bad product (or that it's overpriced!) when you aren't the target market and you seem to not understand what it is and who it's for.

Robert M Wright
01-30-2010, 03:08 PM
I can see the benefit of putting it on the back of the tape-based (DVCPRO HD I assume) VariCam. Of course you can get essentially the same benefit from a nanoflash (for a lot less money, especially considering media costs), unless you have to please somebody who will accept AVC-I but not XDCAM footage.

For putting it on a desktop, you really might as well build a screaming fast computer with a DeckLink HD Extreme (or something similar), that can encode AVC-I and just about anything else you like. (I'm not sure where you get an AVC codec for a PC that can do 4:2:2 color though.)

studio1972
02-01-2010, 06:03 AM
Hey Barry, did you get any problems with the chroma using CS4 with these 4:2:0 codecs, or did you use a different NLE to get round that problem?

Jan_Crittenden
02-01-2010, 07:03 AM
I can see the benefit of putting it on the back of the tape-based (DVCPRO HD I assume) VariCam. Of course you can get essentially the same benefit from a nanoflash (for a lot less money, especially considering media costs), unless you have to please somebody who will accept AVC-I but not XDCAM footage.

But the NANO is still an 8 Bit device not 10 and its ability to deal with the more sophisticated needs within Metadata, far outweigh the mere recording ability of the NANO. I think Barry said it best, if you do not understand the complexities and benefits of all of the feature set the HPG20 has to offer, you are not likely its target customer.


For putting it on a desktop, you really might as well build a screaming fast computer with a DeckLink HD Extreme (or something similar), that can encode AVC-I and just about anything else you like. (I'm not sure where you get an AVC codec for a PC that can do 4:2:2 color though.)

I don't believe this is possible just yet, but being able to output and record from what is possible today, like 10 Bit HD-SDI into the HPG20 and recording the AVC-Intra is. But this is not its primary app, because P2 is not a delivery format, it is more of an acquisition one, so Hauling your computer out to record? Don't think so and the NAN doesn't do the same job.

Best,

Jan

Barry_Green
02-01-2010, 10:42 AM
Hey Barry, did you get any problems with the chroma using CS4 with these 4:2:0 codecs, or did you use a different NLE to get round that problem?
I think I did those comparisons in Vegas...

8string
02-01-2010, 01:53 PM
Wondering if this thing can be plugged into an HMC-150? It seems not, and the Nano seems like I could do so through the HDMI port? Or is it impossible to do simultaneous recording on the 150? (I've not played around with that yet). Or maybe it's a cheaper version of a B camera, so that setup for the inevitable long running stage shot could be done while using the 150 for the closeups and cutaways? Or is it really just worth getting a second camera for that price? Sorry to be dumb about this, never thought of using something like this until this review. Thanks for doing this Barry, really interesting stuff.

Barry_Green
02-01-2010, 02:25 PM
Can't really be used on the 150 directly, because it doesn't have HDMI input. You could get an HDMI->HD-SDI box and then use it on the 150, I guess. The Nano would have direct connectivity through its HDMI.

fstopsfitzgerald
01-31-2011, 03:54 AM
I am very close to buying an AF 100 camera, and wondering if the HPG 20 recorder would be a good match when a higher quality project is needed.

Also, when shooting on location (not run & gun), would this combination be portable?

Barry_Green
01-31-2011, 10:25 AM
The HPG20 will work with it, and will definitely record higher quality. However, portability is a bit of a question, I mean, it depends on your definition of portable. The HPG20 is a self-contained unit with its own screen and battery powered, so in that aspect it certainly qualifies as portable. However, in terms of sheer bulk and size, it's longer, bigger, and heavier than the camera is. So by that measure, it's not anything like the NanoFlash. The Nano is a device that is basically a little accessory for the AF100, whereas the HPG20 is more of a field workflow station. It isn't something you'd mount to the camera on the flash shoe! I've used it, the quality is exquisite, but if you're a one-man-band run & gun situation, I wouldn't think it would be practical. In context with your question, you asked about on location and not run & gun, and in that sense yes it would be pretty much ideal.

fstopsfitzgerald
01-31-2011, 11:22 AM
Thanks Barry. I appreciate your input.
I'll probably buy the camera alone and live with it for a while before deciding if I need a higher quality recorder. From reading it seems the HPG 20 has the best quality by a long shot, therefore worth the inconvenience. I'm a former BVW-35 owner (stand alone Betacam SP deck). I had to run & gun with it and that wasn't much fun. Compared to that Beta deck, the HPG 20 would be a walk in the park.
Considering this is 20 years later, I'd probably leave it at home on run & gun days.
-Robert

jenny433
04-25-2011, 04:27 AM
Nice job Barry. Well done.

To add to the discussion, one of the key differences in the AVCCAM/AVCHD implementation is that the "I " frame of the Long GOP is addressed in the same way that AVC-Intra is. First there is the predictive pass where the Content Adaptive Codec looks at the complexity of the picture and does a "first pass" Then that is subtracted from the original and the rest of the engine is assigned to the details. The block sizes can vary within the frame and this is one of the very reasons that the Macroblocking is more noticeable on the the always 8X8 blocks in MPEG-2 vs MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. The Block sizes can vary from 16 X 16 and down to 4 X 4. The codec assigns the power where necessary. The Entropy Encoding is also significatly different in that the Variable Length Coding , available in MPEG-2 is strictly a 2D encoder, and does not have the tap dance ability of the Content Adaptive Variable Length Coding which when paired with the Content Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding produces the best P and B "frames."

Keep in mind that a good number of the folks that have brought you MPEG-4, were part of the MPEG-2 development and as a result, knew what needed to change to bring about a better result.

That is not to say that all implementations of AVCHD are equal, as we can see in the product that is out there currently; I would imagine over the course of time we will see it gravitate to something more uniform. That said, the AVCCAM implementation is the same across the board.


Best,

Jan
So again, is this unit available? And what is the MSRP? I am shooting XDCamEX today, and spoke with my boss about purchasing the Nano in June. If this is a contender, I'd like to know.


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Harry Pallenberg
11-22-2011, 10:12 PM
Barry,

Did you ever do a XDCAM 50 vs. AVCCAM test? I wonder how the extra info 50 vs 35 and 4:2:2 vs: 4:2:0 would factor in? So much reading & peeping... I should just chuck the internet connection and shoot!