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class="style5" Digibeta v Beta

>Published : 1st Sept. 2005

>I am trying to convince a company to shoot DigiBeta over beta and I think they are worried about the costs of the shoot - it is for a few weeks - equipment and tape stock - can anyone site any examples where shooting beta instead of DigiBeta affected their production - or just some plain old arguments for and against - I have my own thoughts - but its always nice to have the weight of cml behind you

>Cheers

>Matthew Woolf
NYC DP


class="Paragraph">>I am trying to convince a company to shoot DigiBeta over beta...they are >worried about...costs...

>Matt, I'm on jobs on a daily basis where DigiBeta and beta SP tapes of the same cameras are recorded side by side, intercut, played back, edited, etc., etc. and there is little discernable difference in the video--certainly not in camera original recordings, or 1st generation dubs.

>And we're viewing this stuff on 20" Hi Res monitors, with scopes, test signals and Q.C., etc. in a high end broadcast TV environment. (With all the "Toys", in other words.)

>Unless you're going down many generations, (special effects, etc.) it shouldn't be much of an issue.

>Lew Comenetz
Video Engineer, USA.


>My understanding has always been that DigiBeta had more resolving capabilities, better information capture and better latitude, especially if shooting in high contrast areas. Also should you need to pull information out of the blacks there is a lot more leeway than Beta SP.

I've heard mini Dv compared to Beta SP alot but never to DigiBeta.

>Mathew Woolf
NYC DP


>I've been working with both formats for years. For me the only real problem with BetaSP has been the issue of dropouts. In the early to mid 90's you didn't notice them that much because Beta was such an improvement over 3/4" etc. But just like vinyl record scratches became intolerable since the audio CD came on the scene so has BetaSP dropouts (unless you shoot ENG for a TV station).

>One option may be to shoot BetaSP but make sure you play the tape back in a multi-format Digital Betacam VTR (Sony DVW-A500) when doing your final conform. This deck plays back DigiBeta AND BetaSP tapes. It's amazing the difference. The DigiBeta deck conceals/corrects about 98% (non-scientific/my experience) of the BetaSP dropouts. Plus it just looks so much cleaner/sharper. Anytime I would receive bluescreen footage on BetaSP I would always get better keys when playing it back in a DigiBeta deck.

>Also the audio on DigiBeta will be higher quality of course. But I've never had a client complain about BetaSP's audio performance...only the audio operator.

>One last thought....if you shoot DigiBeta it's not as convenient to find a DigiBeta deck down the road to look at your tapes if needed. BetaSP decks are so much more prolific.

>John Fulton
Avid|DS Operator
Dallas


>I've been working with both formats for years. For me the only real problem with BetaSP has been the issue of dropouts. In the early to mid 90's you didn't notice them that much because Beta was such an improvement over 3/4" etc. But just like vinyl record scratches became intolerable since the audio CD came on the scene so has BetaSP dropouts (unless you shoot ENG for a TV station).

>One option may be to shoot BetaSP but make sure you play the tape back in a multi-format Digital Betacam VTR (Sony DVW-A500) when doing your final conform. This deck plays back DigBeta AND BetaSP tapes. It's amazing the difference. The DigiBeta deck conceals/corrects about 98% (non-scientific/my experience) of the BetaSP dropouts. Plus it just looks so much cleaner/sharper. Anytime I would receive bluescreen footage on BetaSP I would always get better keys when playing it back in a DigiBeta deck.

>Also the audio on DigiBeta will be higher quality of course. But I've never had a client complain about BetaSP's audio performance...only the audio operator.

>One last thought....if you shoot DigiBeta it's not as convenient to find a DigiBeta deck down the road to look at your tapes if needed. BetaSP decks are so much more prolific.

>John Fulton
Avid|DS Operator
Dallas


>There is no difference in DigiBeta and analog beta as an acquisition format.

>They make exactly the same picture, and have exactly the same parameters in terms of contrast capability extra. Its just two different ways of sending water down a pipe. It can be more expensive to use DigiBeta as cameras can cost more, tape stock costs more and renting a DigiBeta deck for editing if you do not have one can be costly.

>I think the illusion Is that if its digital it must be better, or I will have more options in terms of picture. Neither is true in acquisition in this case. We have always been able to adjust all parameters of a picture, matrix, peds, gamma, it¹s just that digital allowed those controls to be in the viewfinder and allowed folks who weren¹t qualified to, to make adjustments. And analog cameras have always been able to do such things as high definition, we just couldn¹t get enough of a signal out of a camera in the analog pipe whereas with digital we can.

>Betacam cameras have 30mhz of signal on the front end, enough frequencies to make a hell of a sharp picture, but hit the encoder in the camera and all you get is about 5+Mhz of what you started out with. Digital allowed more info to leave the camera and digital formats are an advantage because of that in some cases.

class="Paragraph">>I've heard mini Dv compared to beta sp alot but never to DigiBeta.

>And there is another misnomer. The DV people (referring to the sub $6k crowd) always wanted to feel like they were pro too so you¹ll see all sorts of articles that say DV and Beta make the same picture and talk about bandwidth, lines of h-rez, etc, as reasons. Nice on paper but in the real world of broadcast try to deal with DV and you¹ll see how different they are. Some of the tricks of DV acquisition is the levels of luminance are pumped up to be brighter so pictures look sharper, chroma is pumped so colors look as good. But take DV and beta to post production and the problems begin. I just produced 8 interstitials for a cable network with mixed beta and DV footage.

>I always fret when I know I have DV footage to deal with as I have to do a hell of a lot of color correction and level checking to make sure DV acquired in these prosumer cameras is within broadcast specs. First off DV is flatter looking than beta just by sight.

>Colors seem purer but artificially. While DV records less color information it often produces that color information often well beyond broadcast spec on a monitor which makes it appear at first glance as good but truth is many adjustments have to be made to broadcast legal. And since much of DV’s luminance allows it to go beyond 105 so it appears sharp at first glance, once again many adjustments in post need to be made to have it pass QC. In the end, once you bring it into spec, you¹ll pick the BetaCam picture which needed no adjustments ten out of ten times over DV which started out flatter and then needed to have the color and luminance reduced in order for it to pass broadcast QC making it look even worse than when you started. Its one thing to shoot something and say it looks good on a monitor and another to have to put it through the process and make a final product with it. I could use the DigiBeta and beta as an example too.

>Both look the same in acquisition, but if I am dubbing multiple generations, the DigiBeta will end up maintaining what you started with over beta which is good for two to three generations at most. So digital has its advantages in some instances but just because the term digital is used does not mean better in my book.

>Disclaimer: My opinions, thoughts, and beliefs are my own and may not reflect yours. The use of the pronouns "you, "some", and "many" to name a few are generalizations and without a proper name attached to them are not references to anyone reading my posts.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.
www.bluesky-web.com
Offices in NYC and Amherst Mass.


>Walter Graff wrote :

class="Paragraph">>There is no difference in DigiBeta and analog beta as an acquisition >format.

>Analog formats have dropouts. Digital formats effectively do not.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">>Analog formats have dropouts. Digital formats effectively do not.

>Except that when digital formats DO get dropouts, you're in BIG trouble and they happen with NO warning

>Clive Woodward
Perth, Western Australia.


class="Paragraph">>Analog formats have dropouts. Digital formats effectively do not.

>Since 1991 shooting who knows how many thousands of beta tapes, never has a hit ever effected any production. The 4 frame widow of error correction in BetaCam makes up for any hits that might occur.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


>I meant the four line window not four frame

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


>I would only add that picture quality depends on which camera is feeding the Beta SP recorder. I see a big difference in picture between the industrial and broadcast cameras.

>I have always appreciated that if the Digibeta camcorder experiences an uncorrectable dropout when recording it shuts the camera down till its fixed. Beta SP often produced those surprises after the shoot.

>Best
John Chater
San Francisco


>Walter Graff writes :

>>Since 1991 shooting who knows how many thousands of beta tapes, >never has a hit ever effected any production.

>I agree with Walter on this one. Dropouts have not been an issue in my world since the days of 2" quad tape (early 1980's??).

>Lew Comenetz
Video Engineer


>John Chater wrote :

class="Paragraph">>I would only add that picture quality depends on which camera is >feeding the Beta SP recorder.

>And I would add that I would never change my Ikegami HL45W with the BVV-5 for any of the DigiBeta from Sony. For one simple reason: The camera part of the DigiBeta - in my opinion - is junk, compared to the Ike. (The Thomson DigiBeta is another story)

>György (George) Beck
DP. Budapest


class="Paragraph">>And I would add that I would never change my Ikegami HL45W with the >BVV-5 for any of the DigiBeta from Sony.

>In my opinion Sony always made a lousy looking camera regardless of the format. That's why for years Sony couldn't give them away. Sony's cameras have a very pastel looking picture and not true to life. Some like it, but I find it horrible to look at. Ikegami who invented much of the technology in today's cameras has a real-life look that is color accurate and hence why in the states Ikegai was always the choice of the better cameramen before Sony created their own financing division so anyone could by a Sony camera package cheaper and easier and when it came time to make DigiBeta, Sony put Ikegami out of the race as they told them they would not give them a DigiBeta back for their new digital cameras.

>Our loss!

>Panasonic took up Ikegami's cause as their cameras have a very Ikegami feel to them and rightfully so in some cases as some former Ikegami engineers had something to do with it.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


>I would say it depends on a lot on the post path, and the choice of camera heads.

>If the choice is between two Sony camera heads, and we wanted the best quality, I'd say yes go with Digibeta, but if the savings of Beta allowed me to get a higher quality lens and or to use an Ikegami or Philips, then I'd go for the higher quality lens head combo.

>I can always tell the difference looking at a monitor between live camera and beta sp playback. It is much more difficult to tell the difference between tape and live with Digibeta.

>If I'm shooting blue/greenscreen foregrounds, I absolutely want the quietest cleanest highest res format. So Digibeta. But if it's just pretty pictures of people in living rooms, then Beta will be perfectly fine.

>Also, if it's Beta SP, it might end up being edited, or captured from and mastered to on the cheap UVW series decks, then it's not going to look as good. Or sound as good. But if you shoot Digibeta, then you know it will edited on the best quality decks.

>Steven Bradford
Film HD Program Chair
Collins College
Phoenix Arizona


>So what camera would people recommend for Beta shooting that is widely available at the moment - ie anywhere from 1-5 cameras from the same rental house that is not Sony?

Cheers

Matthew Woolf
NYC DP


class="Paragraph">>Unless you are going down many generations, (special effects, etc.) it >should not be much of an issue.

>The only other issue I can think of would be rental of DBeta decks. Dbeta has fewer discounts as it is the default SD mastering format.

class="Paragraph">>There is no difference in DigiBeta and analog beta as an acquisition >format. They make exactly the same picture, and have exactly the >same parameters in terms of contrast capability extra

>Mmmm...Yes and no. I feel DBeta has a more "rock solid" feel to it. SP when played back on an analog "BVW" VTR can appear a bit softer with analog noise helping to dither out the crisp electric look. That is not always a bad side effect however for the ever "looks like film" crowd.

>I can tell you this; you will get the best picture SP offers if you transfer on a DBeta deck.

>Tom McDonnell
DP/Operator
New Orleans, La
Local 600 IATSE