The topic comes up every now and then and I wanted to pose the question here: What is HD?
I often hear people (and industry professionals) bicker about this camera or that format not being “real HD.” The common arguments seem to be:
- 720p is not HD
- HDV is not HD
- anything less than 4:4:4 is not HD
At the heart of this post is an interview with John Galt, SVP of Digital Imaging at Panavision that appeared in Creative Cow in February. John made the statement that the 4k resolution of cameras like the Red One are “marketing pixels,” and that the Panavision Genesis (1080 at 4:4:4) should then be considered 6k.
If we’re going down that road, the only true HD is uncompressed 4:4:4 at 1080p. (And conversely, the only “true SD” was probably Digital Betacam, and even that was 4:2:2.) HD is not a strict definition. If anything, I think it means resolution. We have 720P, 1080i and 1080p. Any of those are HD. The rest is specifics.
Yes, some formats are more compressed than others, and some have better color sampling. That doesn’t mean it’s not HD. In the end, these are all details that factor into the decision of what camera and format to use. But to say the Red One is not 4k, or that HDV is not “real HD” is just nonsense.
ProLost has an interesting idea for an iPhone software/accessory. As you may have heard today, Apple had a press event to discuss the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software. One of the features is the ability to access devices through the dock connector. Imagination went wild:
The idea is that someone could manufacture an HDMI-to-Dock Connector accessory to monitor footage in the field. (I love the addition of lens settings & RGB waveform, by the way.)
However, while I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, I’m pretty sure this isn’t quite possible. I doubt the iPhone hardware is capable of crunching HD video. But perhaps that hardware accessory itself could crunch the video down to iPod friendly 480×360 h.264 video on the fly? With the ability for the on-screen controls to send commands to the accessory to show pixel-pixel video (with paning, of course) for a focus aide?
Actually, hot damn! That does sound like an awesome idea!
In an announcement on the Reduser forum this morning, Jim Jannard of Red Digital Cinema has stated they are no longer working overtime to push the release of Scarlet and EPIC. These cameras are still in the pipeline, they have just moved to a more typical development schedule.
I see no reason to continue to pay for rapid development and pushed schedules when the world is not ready to buy our product in the quantities that justify our urgency. […] Retail camera sales are currently off 40-50%.
While it may be a blow to those who were hoping to get their hadns on one of those cameras once they were pre-announced, I can completely understand their decision. If the volume of sales won’t be there, it doesn’t make sense to push development as hard as they probably were.
Jon Chappell of Digital Rebellion highlights why this isn’t such a big deal, which I completely agree with. There may even be an upside. This may translate to more Red One sales, which could mean more support for the Red One in post. We’re getting there with RAW support in FCP, AE, and Premiere, but it could stand to be improved… especially 4k support in FCP.
Zacuto recently held a camera shoot-out (video also embeded after the break) to compare image quality. Actually, it’s more of a format comparison. The cameras/formats compared:
- 35mm Film
- Red One
- Sony EX3
- Panasonic HVX200 (w/ Letus & Redrock Micro adapters)
- Panasonic HPX170
- Panasonic HPX300
- Canon XH-A1
- Canon 5D MkII
- Nikon D90
You can probably skip through the first six minutes or so to get to the footage comparison. Copied & pasted from my IM with Dembro, here are my impressions:
- Film: Awesome.
- Red: I know for a fact Red footage looks great, what did they do ((Not to knock Filmworkers, but some Red footage we had color graded there & down-converted to SD also looked a little off as well. But I’m sure they, like the rest of us, are still working out our Red workflows.))?
- HPX300: DOF is terrible, color is nice.
- HVX200 (Letus Ultimate): Noisy, soft.
- HVX200 (Letus Elite): Same.
- HVX200 (Redrock): Same.
- EX3: Not bad, but something seems strange with the focus.
- HPX170: Okay, but a bit dull.
- XH-A1: Blah.
- 5D MkII: What did they do? That camera is praised for its low light capabilities, but the blacks are completely crushed.
- D90: Flat.
Dembro & I both came to the same conclusions: 1.) Film looks pristine and b.) It looks like Zacuto is really trying to push their low end cameras to people who otherwise wouldn’t have even thought of renting one to begin with.
In all honesty, though, the closing statement is spot on: Any of these cameras in the hands of a skilled professional can produce great results.
If ever there was pro-gadget porn, this is it.
Basic info for the Scarlet and Epic:
2/3″, S35, or FF35 sensor
$2,500-$12,000 (body only)
S35, FF35, or 645(!) sensor
$28,000-$45,000 (body only)
Or you can get 28k for $55,000. What?
To jump right to the jucy bits, take a look at the full brochure. I can’t wait to get my hands on that footage. 28k? I want it.
Red Digital Cinema, creators of the Red One 4k camera, is profiled in Wired magazine this month. The Red One is an amazing piece of tech (though the post workflow is still continually evolving), and this piece by Michael Behar goes a long way in explaining why. Though John Gruber puts it more succinctly:
[The] Red One movie camera is, dollar-for-dollar, the best and most amazing camera in the world. It sells for $17,500 — but if you think that sounds expensive, consider that the equivalent film camera rents for $25,000 per month…