Alternate HDV Workflows Using HDMI
Video Production Article from The Creative COW Magazine|
Lakewood California, USA
©2007 Michael Palmer and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
In this day and age where time is money, I've found a fast, affordable, all-digital alternative to native HDV workflows, featuring the somewhat clandestine and covert HDMI connection.
hile HDMI is a relatively new prosumer connection, it supports uncompressed HD signals together with multiple channels of audio. The only challenge has been getting a signal into your NLE using this HDMI connection.
Here's how to do it: the Convergent Design HD-Connect MI. I originally found information about Convergent Design
in the Cow forums over a year ago, and liked what I saw. I've always believed that digital hardware conversion offer advantages of quality and speed over software conversion, and the HD-Connect MI looked like the right fit for me.
(Although I use Apple Final Cut Studio
, the HD-Connect- MI has also been tested with Avid editing
applications, Adobe Premiere Pro
, Sony Vegas
, and Media 100
among others. It also works with the HDMI port on JVC products, not just the Sony gear I use.)
As a producer, I needed to shoot DV and deliver in DigiBeta for a national cable NASCAR program I created over 5 years ago. When the show started production, the highest-quality and most cost-effective way to convert on capture was with the Sony 1500a deck. I added an optional Sony SDI hardware decoder card to convert the DV to 8 bit uncompressed SD.
Now that our production has gone HD, I use the Sony HVR-V1U HDV camera to shoot. When I'm ready to edit, I send the HDMI signal from my Sony M25U deck into the HD-Connect MI. While the MI offers many conversion options, I use it to send HD-SDI into my Kona LHe capture card and on to Final Cut Studio 2.
The MI isn't just for capture. Both timecode and deck control come through RS-422, keeping all the timecode of my HD-SDI sources intact as it moves through FCS. The MI's cross-conversion does everything you'd want, so getting 1080 HD out of 720, or realt time downconverts are painless.
I found the MI's SD downconversion worked really well a few weeks ago on a local cable commercial I produced. We wanted to have HD for future use but needed to deliver in SD. The MI made this extremely easy from the start by simply capturing in uncompressed 8 bit SD: 1 step, all digital.
Another hardware conversion I regularly use is conversion to Apple ProRes inside my Intel Mac/FCS 2 system. I can capture my HDV footage to ProRes on the fly, to take advantage of the higher-colorspace rendering in ProRes, as well as the improved performance of I-frame video on my computer.
At the time I'm writing this, the MI's $595 MSRP makes it the cheapest ProRes capture hardware.
I believe I've also found the best way to use the Sony V1U camera with the HD-Connect MI for live capture to ProRes that bypasses HDV compression altogether. It's a bit of a “Ball and Chain” method, as you need to drag around a Mac Pro behind the camera, but here's how it works.
Let's say you have the Sony V1U connected via HDMI to the Convergent Design HD-Connect MI. Then you run a 100' HD-SDI cable into the Kona LHe card in a Mac Pro. The HDMI video and audio out of the live shot has never been processed at all, so the image is crystal clear.
You can use either FCP 6 or the AJA VTR Exchange software to capture to ProRes. You'll need proper storage, someone to operate the Mac Pro, and a constant AC power supply, but this is a small price to pay for live capture of the highest-quality images to ProRes.
The same workflow will work for capture directly to uncompressed HD. You won't need as new a computer or as powerful a processor - there's very little processing going on for uncompressed - but you'll need bigger and faster drives. Either way, live or recorded, you win with these products.
Michael's system specs:
- Apple Mac Pro 3Ghz,
- 5 Gigs Ram,
- 6-internal drives, 1-system drive and 5-500 gig Western Digital drives (2.5TB) set as RAID0 with specifically designed internal mounting hardware from www.maxupgrades.com
- AJA Kona LHe,
- Convergent Design HD-Connect MI,
- Apple 23” Cinema Display
- Apple Final Cut Studio 2
- Sony M25U deck and HVR-V1U and Z1U cameras
Los Angeles, California
Michael Palmer has been a film production professional since 1981, working mainly as a Gaffer lighting for features, episodic TV and commercials shot on film. A member of the IA, Local 728 LA & 52 NYC, he started producing 5 years ago when he created a national cable NASCAR show for Fox Sports SPEED Channel.
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Denver Colorado, USA
©2009 Mike Schell and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
Convergent Design's Mike Schell on HDMI
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is projected to become the interconnect for TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players, consumer camcorders, and digital cameras, with an estimated 60 million HDMI-enabled devices shipping this year.
HDMI transmits uncompressed SD or HD video (up to 1080p) and up to 8 channels of high quality (192KHz) 24-bit audio over a single digital connection.
Think of it as DVI + audio + optional HDCP (High Definition Content Protection), with some significant improvements to potential video resolution and quality. For example, HDMI offers embedded audio (up to 8 channels of PCM or Dolby 5.1/7.1 compressed audio), and 10-Bit YCbCr 4:2:2 or 4:4:4, as compared to only 8-bit RGB 4:4:4 on DVI).
HDMI is also an evolving standard. The most recent spec now has about 3X the required bandwidth for 1080p60 video and audio, plenty of room to grow for future formats.
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