View Full Version : Is canon xl-h1 image good enough for discovery etc

03-18-2006, 04:32 AM
I'm planning on getting xl-h1.Do ye guys reckon its quality is good enough to be broadcast on Discovery channels. In other words is it of high broadcast quality?

03-18-2006, 04:35 AM
Short answer: Zapruder!

Medium short answer: Content and importance wins over pixel count.

03-18-2006, 06:03 AM
Don't Discovery only allow a certain %age shot on HDV or SD?

If you ask them, I am sure they will tell you.

If the content is there, anything will do - Zapruder is a great example. Another is Armstong stepping onto the moon. People didn't swith that off saying "I'm not watching this B&W grainy crap." I guess your content won't be quite this kind of thing though, so make sure they will accept it before spending all your money! If all else fails, dub to HDCAM and don't mention it.

03-18-2006, 10:19 AM
But that argument only holds if you're shooting Zapruder-class material. If you're doing a general-purpose documentary, and your broadcaster restricts the type of content you can broadcast, then you'd darn sure better comply with their restrictions. DiscoveryHD does have strict requirements and allowable percentages of footage. It'd be best to ask them directly.

03-18-2006, 10:50 AM
But that argument only holds if you're shooting Zapruder-class material.

Well, yeah, but Pixel count will NOT be the deciding factor. I guess that's what we're saying here.
Or better put: the type of cam that was/is used is only #367 (or whatever) of any broadcaster's criteria.

Celticman: each broadcaster will have a VERY specific guideline for submission by producers. You should contact Discovery Communication Inc. directly for this. They have online guides and info for producers.
If you are interested in finding out what sorts of things they will be looking for, you can also check out PBS's REDBOOK; it will give you an idea of the complexity of what might be required, but of course, that REDBOOK is for PBS only; other broadcasters will have other requirements. I beleive the REDBOOK can be downloaded (or requested) from pbs.org
It's quite a read! :)

03-18-2006, 11:29 AM
Discovery has said time and again it will only accept up to a maximum of 25% of non 1080i content in their docs. If you are going to get serious about pitching and/or selling a doc to them, or any other HD broadcaster, you must respect what they are saying because if you go to the trouble of producing the doc (at great expense), post it and deliver an HD master, but it's only got 25MBit HDV, you'll find they won't be paying you for your product because they guys at Discovery QC scope everything and they have the final say on acceptance of the technical master...unless as Barry says you've got Zapruder-type content.

03-18-2006, 12:45 PM
Thanks guys for the advice. Much appreciated. I live in Ireland and we have'nt gone hd yet.I was going to buy the xl2 but said, hey what the heck.I'll go hdv.Be prepared. For the time being, I'm intending on producing local history documentaries and selling them at local shops. The problem is, nobody has hdtv's yet etc.If I shoot the docs in hdv at combined 60i and 24f for reinactments, will there be a massive quality drop if I compress them to fit in standard dvd's for selling to the shops?ps if I do upgrade my computer, are ther hd dvd recorders available yet?

03-18-2006, 02:50 PM
Was in L.A. at the HD expo and a spokeperson for canon said that the Discovery channel has excepted the canon xl-h1. I don't think his statement has been made public YET. This is NOT a rumor.

03-22-2006, 09:26 PM
I'm doing a docu series for Discovery Channel right now and as of December 2005, they have approved (and rejected) a list of HDV cameras that are ok for use on Discovery Channel (but NOT on Discovery HD). The Canon XL-H1 is on the approved list, and so is the Sony HVR-Z1U (however, the Sony HVR-ZA1U and the JVC GY-HD100 are not). Hope this helps!:)

03-23-2006, 12:39 PM
I can confirm the XLH is approved for use on Discovery and Discovery HD. You cannot master to HDV, you will have to deliver on HDCAM or D5.

ash =o)

Illya Friedman
03-24-2006, 01:23 AM
Someone I know at Monster Garage told me that Discovery will not accept more than 15% of the show on HDV origination, doesn't matter the camera or resolution settings.. 15% max.


03-25-2006, 08:30 PM
Not entirely true... they do want interviews and studio stuff to be shot on stuff like F900s but field work you can get away with and entire show on HDV... you will need to rebuild your show uncompressed and master to HDCAM.

ash =o)

03-26-2006, 07:18 PM
We also have been speaking to Discovery (Canada) for a big-budget doc we're shooting this summer.

They said no to HDV, and told us to shoot on HDCAM or DVCPROHD.

But that's what they told US. They may tell YOU something else. Better to ask them what their technical requirements are.

03-27-2006, 04:18 PM
You cannot deliver in HDV, you can shoot on the JVC/HVX or XLH, all are approved. The 15% comes in with any other HDV camera. You must master to HDCAM, they may take a DVCproHD Master now, I will check.

ash =o)

03-28-2006, 03:48 AM
Thanks guys for all the great advice

03-28-2006, 01:39 PM
I'm just at stage of researching documentary film making on digital format so forgive my ignorance. I was wondering if you are looking to get your digital documentary broadcastable are you able to first edit without using the expensive decks that convert footage to usable video. Are there any other cheap work flow options. Is it possible to take a digital master fully edited digitally and convert the master to uncompressed video for broadcast.

03-29-2006, 01:51 AM
Hi James.I'm on the same boat you are with regard to digital production.To be honest I dont know.I'm just out of college and I want to get into documentary production.I have no prior experience.I'd try the forum on the xl-h1 for extra advice.I'm going all out to purchase this camera and I am worried about the wear and tear of the heads.I cant afford a deck as I believe it will cost around $15k.For the time being I plan to edit using my computer.Check out my advice please topic on xl-h1 forum posted yesterday.Elton and Starway give me great advice with regards to this.

04-04-2006, 08:54 AM
Is the Sony HVR-Z1U an acceptable camera? In an earlier post it was mentioned, but a later post left it out.

Thanks for any information!

John Flowers

Zak Forsman
04-05-2006, 10:31 AM
i have a Discovery HD spec sheet. This is what it says:

Material not acquired in one of the acceptable formats must be approved by the Production Manager prior to the commencement of production. No more than 25% of an HD production’s final content may be material upconverted from standard definition, and no more than 15% of the final content may be originated in the HDV 1080 format. When both HDV and upconverted materials are used in a program, the combined total of HDV and upconverted footage cannot exceed 30% of the final program material.

Video program material shall be produced using industry standard and accepted norms good practice and workmanship. Discovery HD requires that its production partners use only selected codecs and media types when working in non-linear editing systems. Systems that use uncompressed HDSDI are acceptable, as are systems use the native codecs for the DVCPRO HD and HDCAM formats. Systems that exclusively use HDV codecs or are incapable of using HD-resolution media are not acceptable for online output. If there are questions about the qualifications of a particular editing system or type of media, please contact the DISCOVERY HD Technical Standards and Operations group.

you can download it here...


04-05-2006, 01:47 PM
Here is the response I got from DCI when I asked about the Sony Z1U. Unfornutely they don't like compression even though it's digital and technically you don't lose any thing once it is compressed.

Elizabeth was kind enough to forward your original email to me for response. I am responsible for compiling the technical specifications for Discovery Channel Canada, Discovery HD Canada as well as the CTV Television Network and it's affiliates. As a broadcaster, specialty television operator and program producer, we have to be aware of all the delivery specifications for the producers that supply us material as well as those we supply programming to.

The goal for Discovery HD Canada was to make it a 100% HD channel. No up conversion of SD material takes place and currently only promotions and commercials are airing from SD sources. Since we are trying to establish a top quality service (like Discovery HD Theatre) and since we are a member of the Discovery family, it made sense to adopt the DCI standards for HD delivery. Please note that we have a different break structure though. Many people I have spoken with use the Discovery Channel International spec as the bench mark, it requires a very high but achievable delivery standard.

DCI published a new Global Tech Spec in June, 2005. We adopted those specs with the re-launch of our HD service. I will attach a copy for your reference. They are quite explicit about the handling of HDV and which formats are acceptable for acquisition or delivery. While the new Panasonic camera is not specifically mentioned, the DVC Pro HD 100 is an accepted format. Since the camera records that format, it is deemed acceptable (this assumes that the entire post process will maintain that bandwidth though). This is not to disparage the optical performance of any of the other HDV cameras out there, it is simply a bandwidth issue and how it stands up to a professional post production path.

We own both CineAlta and Sony HDV equipment and are properly equipped to handle either. Even with that, we still observe the 15% rule for our own productions.

Hopefully this answers your question.

Paul Patenaude
Director, Post Production
CTV Television Inc.

04-08-2006, 02:56 PM
Interesting... I guess I should not name names just in case but I know of several productions that were shot almost entirely on HDV that have showed on Discovery. The edited uncompressed and delivered on HDCAM.

ash =o)

04-26-2006, 09:09 AM
I'm not sure about discovery, however from my experience, the Scripps networks (HGTV, food, fine living, ETC) were not allowing full HDV programming. If you had an HD show, you were allowed to have a small percentage of it be HDV, like a b-camera situation. This was about a yeah ago, so things might have changed.

04-26-2006, 03:48 PM
In other words is it of high broadcast quality?

No. 1/3" ccds... very cold colors, hdv compression... fake hd...

06-22-2006, 12:25 PM
look up xlcinema.com. If anyone has their doubts on the canon xlh1, check this site out

06-22-2006, 01:09 PM
look up xlcinema.com. If anyone has their doubts on the canon xlh1, check this site out

hdv compression is not good for hd broadcasting (25mbits reconverted in mpg2 or even low bitrate h264 looks horrible). the xlh1 looks great (really great) if footage is shot via sdi. Remember that the stuff you see on discovery hd & similar channels is shot on 16mm, 35mm & hdcam (or dvcpro100).

btw: I'm gonna buy an xlh1 and a shuttle pc.

07-01-2006, 04:15 AM
Last year, the History Channel produced a series on the conquest of the Americas. A series with lots of production value, travel, special effects, horses, armies of costumed extras, you name it. Multi million dollar production. They chose the 100a to shoot the series over the Canon, but, to me, for most things they are equal in results. I agree that you should think in terms of the quality of what you are shooting. Content over flash. This is what I hate about Digital, stills or video, the moment you buy the camera it's almost already obsolete because next year there will be the next best thing. By the way, A director friend of mine called me the other day to tell me that his latest low budget production was shot with a Sony HD camera and he regretted it. The image looked too real and the main (and older) actress almost cried when she saw her face HD in close up. So, go ahead, do the best job possible with your present camera and forget about what people will be using 20 years from now. If it's good, specially if it's for TV, 99.9% of the people won't know if it's Mini Dv, HD or 35mm and won't care.