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class="style5" DVCPRO-50 Opinions

>Published : 28th April 2005

>I've known about DVCPRO-50 but had never explored it other than "Oh gee another format". DVCPRO-50 monetarily, looks and sounds perfect for my use. I want to break the bonds of BetaSP, and the dropouts and be able to telecine and master to a robust digital format. DigiBeta is out of my price range and D-9 which seems good is less mainstream so that leaves me back at DVCPRO-50.

>Is DVCPRO-50 regarded with the same acceptance in technical terms as DigiBeta? Has DVCPRO-50 made it into the Post House/ TV station/ Distribution circles? I figure I will need the SDI option on the SD-93 so I could dub SDI to DigiBeta if a DigiBeta master were required.

>Opinions? Observations? You guys and gals seem to see it all. I know I will get truthful answers. Most importantly however do any film labs transfer film to DVCPRO-50 in North America?

>Tom McDonnell
Dir/DP
New Orleans, La


>Tom McDonnell asks :

class="Paragraph">>Is DVCPRO-50 regarded with the same acceptance in technical terms >as DigiBeta? Has DVCPRO-50 made it into the Post House/ TV station/ >Distribution circles?

>As a recent convert to DVCPRO50, may I add my opinion??

>For years I came from the school that Panasonic made a damn good clock radio and really good home video products but couldn't cut the muster for broadcast.

>My first DVX100 was awful and I sold it within 6 months but still seeing something there, I gambled and bought the 100a after reading about the positive aspects of the up-graded machine on this site.

>While the little guy has it's problems (one being it's resistance to working in moisture) the overall experience with the 100a has been positive and it allowed my entree' into the 24p world.

>That being said, I attended an "invite only" demo of the SDX900 and while I found the camera...interesting...I was still prejudiced and passed off the camera as not worthy of too much of my attention

>Fast forward to 6 months later!

>I was asked to do some work for WGBH on a new NOVA like show and they're using the SDX900 in 16:9. So I rented one a couple of times and did the assignments.

>Man, was I BLOWN away.

>You can never get the full effect of a new camera system at a demo. You gotta have it out in the field.

>After shooting with it for a week, it was apparent to me that Panasonic hit pay dirt with this guy.

>The camera is cleverly designed to emulate the user functions of Sony's Beta SP, Digi-Beta and HD cameras but it's better.

>Little things like two headphones out, stereo audio monitoring, on camera, addressable user file controls, tally lights that the operator and your sound person can actually see and the list goes on.

>As for the format...if you just shoot DVCPRO25 at the 24p mode, you're already moving ahead of Beta SP, but if you shoot DVCPRO50, your rocketing past Digi Beta.

>A little research showed that DVCPRO25 is one of the most common TV station formats and almost every post house I've seen can handle it; and any decent post house will also be able to handle DVCPRO50 because most post house grade machines are multi-format.

>In my case, I not only do my own production (television shows) but I also freelance for ABC magazines and for me it was a no brainer.

>I, like you wanted to move out of the Beta arena and as I am a closed system, I can choose my own format. But I also want a format that other will use as well.

>As you mentioned going to Digi Beta was not an option for me, I think it's life support anyways and I needed to have the best quality available, particularly as it relates to 24p.

>Once you add 24p into the equation, your options are quite limited and mostly involved HD.

>So I bought one and couldn't be happier. And I secured Robert Goodman's Guide to the SDX900 which is not only a wealth of info on how to best utilize the features of the camera, but offers a primer of basic video engineering jargon that we cameraman (at least me) not only don't know but were kind of afraid of!

>As a side bar, I've ordered a player/recorder for obvious reasons but mostly so my producers can log tapes via Media log. Can't recall the model number, but for about the same price as a top shelve DV player/recorder, I'm getting a machine that will not only play DVCPRO50/25, but DV and DVCam.

>Another no brainer!

>Another side bar...I just finished doing a job for ABC's Prime Time and used Beta SP, the DVX100a and the SDX900.

>The latter formats were for "B" roll only and were 24p. I gave ABC the SDX gratis, just to see how they liked it...and since they don't support DVCPRO50 only 25, that's what I shoot in.

>The reports I got back from New York were that everyone in magazine land were stoked! It seems I've made some people rethink format acquisition and I'm hopeful they will invest a few more pennies and get some DVCPRO50 players so we can start to move away from Beta SP.

>My advice to you is to rent or borrow or whatever, an SDX and test drive it.

>You will be hooked!!

>Hope this helps!!

>Allen S. Facemire-DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc. Atlanta/Norcross, GA
www.saltrunproductions.com


class="Paragraph">>As for the format...if you just shoot DVCPRO25 at the 24p mode, you're >already moving ahead of Beta SP, but if you shoot DVCPRO50, your >rocketing past Digi Beta.

>I really like the SDX900, but DVCPro50 better than DigiBeta ? Really ?

>I don't know, there's still something lost even in 50 mode - maybe the 3.3:1 compression makes the difference ? I don't know.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


>Mark Doering-Powell questions :

class="Paragraph">>I really like the SDX900, but DVCPro50 better than DigiBeta ? Really ?

>I hope I haven't shot myself in the foot, but I am sure I read spec comparisons indicating DVCPRO50 recorded at 4:2:2 sampling rate, while DVCPRO25 records 4:1:1 sampling rate.

>What I can't find is the sampling rate of Digi-Beta but again it seems to me DVCPRO50 beat Digi-Beta.

>I'm sure there's some CMLer’s dying to set these numbers straight!

>Allen S. Facemire-DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc. Atlanta/Norcross, GA


>Allen S. Facemire wrote :

class="Paragraph">>I'm getting a machine that will not only play DVCPRO50/25, but DV and >DVCam.

>DigiBeta is still the top dog and will probably be until Sony decides to grace us with the next "must have" format. DVC50 is a bit more compressed than DigiBeta but at the price of the deck you can buy 5 SD-93's vs. one DigiBeta. Have you ever priced a Digi head stack? Yow!

>Is it the AJ-SD93? That little bugger has DVCPro-50 feeding via firewire into FCP. That will make for a very clean editing pathway. Hopefully Avid ExpressPro will support DVCPro-50. My only real issue is if I can find a lab that is transferring film to DVC-50. I presently use BetaSP as my transfer format. Even fresh SP tapes have dropouts. I was using DigiBeta for a while but became fed up with having to bring my DigiBeta tapes to a local post house for transfer to SP.

>Tom McDonnell
Dir/DP
New Orleans, La


class="Paragraph">>What I can't find is the sampling rate of Digi-Beta but again it seems to >me DVCPRO50 beat Digi-Beta.

>Well not quite. DigiBeta is around 85Mbs and sampling at 10bit 4:2:2. DVCPro50 is 50Mbs and sampling at 8bit 4:2:2. If you really need to push the envelope in Color Correction DigiBeta is going to hold up better while DVCPro-50 will start to show its seems sooner. Sony does not offer its DigiBeta Codec to any outsider. I think it is available on it's Xpri NLE or is that the HDCAM codec?. DVCPro-50 however made it's codec available to FCP so that’s makes editing a bit cleaner.

>Simply DigiBeta is entrenched in the post community. Nothing wrong with that. If I edit on DVCPro-50 and need a DigiBeta master then I will bring my machine down to a local post house and dub SDI to DigiBeta. No one will ever know the difference as long as your audio and video levels are legal. Hell, I've done that with BetaSP masters using a BVW-75D.

>Tom McDonnell
Dir/DP
New Orleans, La


>Tom McDonnell wrote:

class="Paragraph">>DigiBeta is still the top dog and will probably be until Sony decides to >grace us with the next "must have" format.

>They already have. XDCam and IMX.

>I seriously doubt that you're going to see any new SD tape based formats from Sony, or anyone else for that matter. You'll continue to see tape (there's simply too much bang for the buck to give it up), but my guess is that all new formats are going to be HD or some variant thereof, like HDV, at least at the professional level.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>Mark Doering-Powell wrote :

class="Paragraph">>I don't know, there's still something lost even in 50 mode - maybe the >3.3:1 compression makes the difference ? I don't know.

>I was under the impression that it was a 4:2:2 compression?

>Opinions - answers...

>Cheers

>Matthew Woolf
NYC DP


>Tom McDonnell ponders :

class="Paragraph">>My only real issue is if I can find a lab that is transferring film to DVC-50.

>My bad!

>I thought you were looking for acquisition options to Digi-Beta. I didn't get the part where you were looking for an option for film transfers!

>Allen S. Facemire-DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc. Atlanta/Norcross, GA


class="style7">>DigiBeta is still the top dog and will probably be until Sony decides to >grace us with the next "must have" format.

class="style7">>They already have. XDCam and IMX.

>According to Sony, Mpeg-IMX is 50mbps, while the data rate for Digital Beta is 90mbps.

>They rate XDCAM, and the Mpeg-IMX format somewhere in between BetaCam and DigiBeta in their hierarchy.

>Tal Lazar,
Israel


>Matthew Woolf wrote :

class="style7">>I was under the impression that it was a 4:2:2 compression?

>4:2:2 is a sampling rate, not a data compression ratio. They are two completely different things.

>Tal Lazar wrote :

class="style7">> According to Sony, Mpeg-IMX is 50mbps, while the data rate for Digital >Beta is 90mbps.
>They rate XDCAM, and the Mpeg-IMX format somewhere in between

>Data rate is not the sole arbiter of picture quality or fidelity. In digital imaging, there is almost always a compression scheme involved, as well as different sampling rates. In more recent years, the compression schemes have become more and more effective and robust, allowing "better" quality with a lower overall data rate. IMX is a good example of this: a much more efficient compression scheme than that used in Digital Betacam, which, as I recall, is almost 10 years old now.

>There are other examples: DVCPro HD and Avid DnxHD come to mind.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles