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November 26, 2008

Compressor Repair does the hard work for you

Compressor Repair, a new application from Digital Rebellion, automates the steps for giving Compressor a boot to the head. Someday I'll get ambitious and post the shell scripts I use for doing this all from the command line on the Media Mill cluster.

Compressor Repair.jpg

Saw it on FreshDV.

Posted by at 10:06 AM

November 24, 2008

EBU review of production codecs

The EBU has a nerdy test of production codecs (XDcamHD 422, AVC-Intra, etc). Head to this page and scroll down to "HDTV Production codec tests" or just head right for the PDF.

This thread on DVInfo is where I saw it, if you want to discuss it further.

Posted by at 5:05 PM

More bad luck with the Zi6

I got my replacement Kodak Zi6 today, and this one has an even more severe offset in the audio (about 12db) than the last one. That's pretty disappointing. On the plus side, it's running a newer firmware build which allows you to disable the annoying chimes.

For now though, I guess the message is to avoid the Zi6. I know there are good ones out there, without this issue, but obviously it's not that uncommon an issue.

Posted by at 1:26 PM

November 20, 2008

ProApps Update - Shake?!

Wow, ProApps update 2008-4 just came out, with, among other things, an update for Shake. The last release was June 2006. Apparently they still have a copy of the source code around though ...

Posted by at 9:54 PM

Err, maybe I need to put out a press release


HDCameraGuide.com, a site that I mentioned a couple weeks back, put out a press release today in which they brag about having a good google ranking.

Wow. Here's hoping in the future they spend more time updating their camera guides, and less time on press releases (like, adding the Sony HDW-650).

It'd bad enough that my RSS feeds get filled with "such and such company has hired a new editor," but c'mon guys...


Posted by at 11:04 AM

November 19, 2008

Cheap Camera Audio Braindump

The other day, I set up three cheap cameras (and one expensive camera) in the studio, stood a distance away, and rambled. Every camera was using all the default settings, and fully zoomed out. The goal was to see how the onboard mics compared, without any post processing or anything fancy.

The contenders are the Sanyo HD1000, Kodak Zi6, Pure Digital Flip Ultra and the Sony XDCam EX1. The last one was just for fun.

To start with, you can watch the video, where I cut between the various cams. I won't speak to the video quality right now, as I want to do some more extensive tests once I get my replacement Zi6, and the results weren't particularly shocking - the XDcam wins soundly, particularly when looking at dynamic range, and the rest are various levels of crappy.

If you listen to the audio though, you'll hear a pretty wide range of results. The Sanyo is by far the loudest, the Zi6 is in the middle, with the Flip and the XDCam being the quietest. The XDcam is also far less noisy than the others - accurately reproducing the hiss in the room, without introducing its own noise - as you'd expect. The Flip also does a nice job, particularly with a bit of normalization.

The Zi6 picks up the audio well enough, but introduces horrible compression artifacts. I'll withhold final judgement until the replacement comes, just in case it's just another issue with my example, but i doubt it.

If you had to pick a camera from this bunch for audio that wouldn't get the benefit of any post-processing, it'd have to be the Sanyo. If you were going to do a normalization pass, it'd be the Flip.

But, my ears suck, so lets look at the charts.

Amplitutde, no normalization

Frequency response

It's a bit tough to see in the unnormalized charts, but the Sanyo doesn't pass any audio above 18khz, the Zi6 above 15khz. The Flip and the XDcam pass all the way up to Nyquist.

Posted by at 1:46 PM

November 17, 2008

In search of the holy grail

Andy Ihnatko has a review comparing the Kodak Zi6 and Flip Mino HD. It's very thorough, though I'm not sure I agree with the conclusions.

In truth, comparing image quality on these is almost pointless, as they're all kind of crummy. They both have terrible rolling shutter effects, way too much sharpening and strange tonal reproduction. I think it's more about ease of use, feature sets, etc.

The things I like about the Zi6 are the ability to switch to SD mode, the ability to take stills, and the support for memory cards. The macro switch is rad as well. Things I don't like? The lack of a "recording time left" indicator, the strange battery life and the horrid audio on my example.

Follow the jump for my chart of how things stack up. Ugh! I'm including the Sanyo, because it records in QT-Native files, unlike the other cameras in its price range, which record AVCHD. Otherwise, I'd throw the Canon Vixia series in as well, as a very strong contender.

CameraPriceRecording MediumSD ModeHD ModeMac-NativeFlip out USBMic InputAudio QualityOptical ZoomBattery Life
Flip Ultra$129InternalXXdecent2 hours (AA)
Flip Mino$159InternalXXdecent4 hours (rechargeable)
Flip Mino HD$229InternalXXXdecent2 hours (rechargeable)
Kodak Zi6$199Internal and SDXXXXpoor to decent1 hour? (AA)
Sanyo Xacti HD1010$599SDXXXXdecentX2 hours (rechargeable)

Posted by at 10:07 AM

November 14, 2008

Kodak Zi6 Secret Menu

While trying to troubleshoot my "freakin ears" problem, I discovered how to enter the service menu on the Zi6. Simple really - hold both buttons ("stop" and "play") and then power the camera on.

From there you can access a bunch of menus that don't seem to do much without special SD cards, but conveniently, you can format the SD card.

Photo 3

Posted by at 11:24 PM

Kodak Zi6 - Ow, My Freakin' Ears!

Our Zi6 arrived yesterday. I've got a larger review, comparing it against the Flip Ultra, Sanyo HD1000, and others, on the way. But, while the video is quite nice, given enough light, I couldn't help but notice that the audio was making my ears bleed.

The cause? DC Offset on both the left and right channels. Easy enough to fix after the fact, but not acceptable. I've gotten some source files from a few other Zi6s and haven't seen similar issues, so I'm hoping I've just got a bad one. Which will lead to a fun conversation with some poor outsourced tech support rep on Monday.

I wanted to get a post up, in case anyone else is having similar issues. The issue manifests itself as an out-of-phase sound, like the audio isn't placed quite right in the stereo field. Or just open it in a waveform viewer and look for the offset.

Bad Audio

Fix it with magic software

Waveform now centered at zero, hoorah!

Posted by at 10:53 PM

Using the iPhone as a control surface

The Unofficial Apple Webblog has a nice piece about the range of iPhone apps out there to turn the iPhone/iPodTouch into a control surface for AV software like Logic, Max/MSP, etc.

I did a post a while back showing the possibilities to control Motion with some basic MIDI software, but the available applications have come a long way since then.

Posted by at 9:31 AM

November 13, 2008

RED announces loads of stuff

Check out the massive jpeg announcement, or just head to red.com for the full deal.

While I'm sure I'll return to my usual cynical self soon, I must say I like the modular camera idea they're really promoting with this new batch of announcements. Buy the block, then add on all the accessories necessary, and later swap the block.

Oh, and it wouldn't be a RED announcement without a bit of "WTF?" insanity, so here you go - 28k camera that shoots 260 megapixel stills, coming in 2010. Word.

Posted by at 8:12 AM

November 12, 2008

Panasonic announces nifty P2 deck

The AG-HPG20 is a portable deck which takes HD-SDI input and lays it down to P2 cards in either DVCProHD or AVCIntra formats. Unless you're Convergent Design, this is in the category of Hella Cool. They don't explicitly say whether it'll run on batteries, but hopefully if they call it "portable," it will.

AVCIntra is my Compressed HD Format Of Choice, if all else was equal (vendor support, etc). My dream would be a device like this that went to SXS instead of P2, but we can't have everything all at once. 4:2:2, full raster i-frame only compression at 100mbit? Hotness.

Posted by at 2:06 PM

Apple taking a step back from the enterprise?

Apparently Apple's SVP of Enterprise Sales is leaving, and there are no plans to replace him. Wonder what that means for all the enteprisey stuff ... I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Posted by at 1:32 PM

Flip goes High Def

The Wall Street Journal has the first review of the new Flip MinoHD, a 720p upgrade to the popular Flip Mino camera. This is the first serious competition to the Kodak Zi6 (damnit Amazon, ship mine already!) with the advantage of onboard storage and built in rechargeable batteries. The MinoHD also apparently sports much improved onboard software for working with your video, though "much improved" from the old stuff doesn't say too much ...

Unfortunately the review doesn't have any native video from the camera, so it's hard to really judge the camera quality. One of the biggest downsides they mention is the lack of a way to share the HD video ... yes ... if only someone had a solution...

Edit: One downside I noticed in digging a bit - it's 720p or nothing, no option to shoot natively to a lower resolution. That's one of the things I like about the Kodak - you can do 640x480 when you don't need the quality and just want long record times.

Posted by at 10:01 AM

November 11, 2008

HD POV Camera

Sony has announced a cut little HD lipstick camera plus recorder combo, the HXR-MC1. It's AVCHD, with 400 minutes of record time on a charge. A nice little product for reality TV, etc.

 Images Articles 10206 1226438530


Posted by at 3:45 PM

BoinxTV officially released

BoinxTV, the all in one tv studio app, is officially released. I'm really excited - I haven't had time to try any of the prerelease seeds, but it promises to be a pretty slick alternative to Wirecast.

Posted by at 11:26 AM

November 7, 2008

Panasonic Buys Sanyo

Well, I was right that Sanyo was ripe for acquisition, but I didn't expect that Panasonic would be the ones to do it. It seems like Panasonic is more interested in the "heavy industries" parts of Sanyo - making batteries, solar panels, etc.

Here's hoping the Xacit line doesn't get buried - the Panasonic SD9 is right at the top of my list of least favorite consumer HD cameras.

Posted by at 10:01 AM

November 6, 2008

More pocket projectors

David Pogue has a pogueish (fun) review of Optima's pocket projector. Probably a bit nicer, though much more expensive than the Aiptek unit I mentioned a few days back.

Posted by at 1:30 PM

Windows 7 to do smart things with video

EngadgetHD has a nice post on the codec support expected in Windows 7. Expect DiVX support, H264, MKV (!!!) and video conversion.


Posted by at 9:13 AM

November 4, 2008

Dear Sony: Please join us in the 21st century

Seriously - go to Sony's HDV product page and try to figure out some distinguishing features between the Z5U, Z1U and V1U. Is the Z5U better than the Z1U? It's cheaper, so it shouldn't be right? At least they could fill in the 'compare' info...

Sony | Product Comparison Chart

Sure, if one puts in the effort, you can sort it out, but ugh. What a mess. Luckily for Sony, everyone else is just as bad.

Learn About Panasonic S P2 Hd Solid-State Camcorders

Posted by at 3:15 PM

November 3, 2008

Website for high end camera info

HDCameraGuide (warning, site talks to you) is a new site focused on covering the high end of the camera market - a place to unify information about HD studio cameras and digital cinema cameras.

We'll see how it develops - it's a space that could certainly use some more third party input, besides just competing press releases. While there are loads of sites about prosumer and indie gear, there aren't too many focused on really covering this space.

DigitalContentProducer has the press release.

Posted by at 1:45 PM

November 1, 2008

BD+ publicly broken

Slashdot has the roundup, some folks from Doom9 have broken the BD+ encryption from BluRay discs. While SlySoft, a commercial company, had previously broken it, it's not out in the open. And the war goes on...

Posted by at 2:55 PM