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Thread: Quality....reality or perception - discuss ;)

  1. #1
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    Default Quality....reality or perception - discuss ;)

    You can't turn the proverbial corner in the Video Editing world without having the virtues of High Definition Video (HDV) rammed down your throat. God forbid a software vendor creates or updates a video editing suite without including HDV support, for they shall sure incurr the wrath of the media during reviews of their product.

    So, is this HDV all that it's cracked up to be? I wonder. Let's cast our minds back a few years <cue spacey, cheesy, slightly Dr Who time travel music>. Remember vinyl LP's? We all loved and spent oodles of dosh on LP's and never once complained about the quaility of the audio at the time. It was only when CD's came along and we heard how much "better" the audio could be that we suddenly thought how inadequate vinyl was. The same can be said of VHS versus DVD. Think back to films you saw as children and now think back to a film (perhaps the same film remastered) you have seen on DVD. Can you actually recall the difference? Does your mind actually remember the VHS quality when it recalls film? No, it doesn't. Isn't it just slightly odd that even though Betamax was infinitely better quality than VHS, VHS still won out? If it was all about quality that wouldn't have been the case.

    Let's take another analogy. You go to an art gallery and view an oil painting. You know it's an oil painting, you know that it doesn't have the same definition as the same scene viewed in real life does, but your mind fills those bits in and makes it seem as though it is a real life view. You picture yourself there and also you remember it in exactly the same way as you would if you had seen the image as a footage shot from a DVD video. The point I am making here is that a lot of what we deem to be quality is actually perceived by the human mind. A poor picture is often remembered in as much clarity and a high resolution one, because the mind knows what it was meant to be and "fills in" the gaps as it were.

    So, where's all this leading to? Well, are we all being forced through overhyped reviews and marketing ploys to believe that we need HDV? Let's face it, who's actually unhappy with DVD quality? Who presently feels that it is inadequate? No one yet, but I bet once you have seen and experienced HDV you will never want to go back as you will now have a new baseline.

    However, we all live in the real world and you can't halt technological breakthroughs and progress (and who'd want to?). I can't help thinking though if it's the media and marketing guys who are the ones deciding when we should all be adopting a new, emerging standard (irrespective of whether we have the end-to-end solution to support it or not presently).

    If you've read this far....bloody hell, you've got too much time on your hands (or you are waiting for a HDV timeline to render )





    I would like to credit an article I read somewhere in a magazine recently which provoked this train of thought
    Lloyd

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Quality....reality or perception - discuss ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by LJR
    I can't help thinking though if it's the media and marketing guys who are the ones deciding when we should all be adopting a new, emerging standard (irrespective of whether we have the end-to-end solution to support it or not presently).
    ...and the technology companies who would go out of business if we didn't keep having to buy new stuff to keep on top of the technology.

    It was less than 2 years ago that I thought "I'll never, ever use the entire 40GB on my hard disc, surely!"

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    That's a interesting point well made

    However, we live in a society driven by technological progress. Without progress, we'd still be marvelling at that oil painting. Instead, we're looking towards ever decreasing product life-cycles in constant search of perfection.

    Maybe it's the economist in me talking, but I'd say it's the consumers desire and the need for technological progress that's the driving force here. However, this isn't always the case. In many ways betemax was the supperior product to VHS, but the market (or is that the marketing man) dictated that VHS won.

    It would therefore seem that technological progress is hindered and not advocated by the PR man. The lack of a standard is often a fundamental stumbling block to advancement of products. This was the case back in the early days of VCRs and is apparent again in HDTV. Unlike DVD, there still isn't an agreed, solid format. The building blocks are there, but the "standards" are way too vague at the moment. The same happened with rewritable DVD media. Why? Because one company wants to dominte. How? Often by spending the most on marketing. He who sells most dominates and becomes the de facto standard.

    So there it is. As you agree, you should never stop progress. But let's not rush technological process. Let's not have a new standard rammed down our throats before it;s ready. More importantly, the consumer should never be the guineau pig.

    But that's exactly what we, the consumers, have become. Our desire for bigger and better fed by marketing departments have meant ever more products are being released at what once would have been the beta stage. Let's have more agreed standards, more research and technology that works out the box!

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    What makes me laugh about digital terestrial TV (on digital and such) was that the marketing guys sold us all on better quality. Er, since when has compressed video been better? Ok, we get more channels, but we got more channels of complete drivel. And the more channels they try and fit on the same bandwidth, the worse the quality becomes. Have you ever watched Premiere League football in interactive? Quality is awful - pixelated and grainy.

    Now picture that on a HDTV. It's gonna look worse than a third generation VHS tape owned by a 14 year old kid with a penchant for fast fowarding to the "juicy bits".

    Better quality my arse.

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    My point is really how important is the improved quality? On the face of it, it seems like a no brainer type question, but I think our mind adapts depending on what it sees. Think of it as the world's best encoder, not only does it encode with no loss to quality but it actually improves those parts which are of poor quality (for future recollection). Now, the benefit is obvious if the original quality is very poor indeed, but how much work does the mind need to do when it receives DVD quality image as opposed to a HDV image? Probably makes no difference whatsoever.

    What's the point of improved quality if you remember everything in the same way anyway?

    I'm playing the Devil's advocate more than anything else here.
    Lloyd

    That's my opinion. If you don't like it I have others

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    Marc, I hear yer on the DTV point!
    Lloyd

    That's my opinion. If you don't like it I have others

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    For us home users to benefit from HDTV, we will need to invest in the following:

    A brandnew camcorder to record in the new format
    Updated software to edit natively in the new format
    Brand new TV to watch said format
    And probably new hardware to burn to a new disc format (Blue ray and the like), oh and the writable media will probably be astronomically expensive (and be released just as we've all got dual-layer burning sorted).

    Or, we could all follow cannon's lead. Their new next gen cam is DV not HDTV. Although canon isn't really known for adoption of bleeing egde technology, does this not suggest a slap in the face for the new technology? Right now I think I'd invest my money in a mature technology and let everyone else be beta testers I'm happy with the quality offered by my DV cam, and will convert this to a HDTV format if the need arises.

    Right, I'm off to buy one of those new Sony HDTV.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Peters
    For us home users to benefit from HDTV, we will need to invest in the following:

    A brandnew camcorder to record in the new format
    Updated software to edit natively in the new format
    Brand new TV to watch said format
    And probably new hardware to burn to a new disc format (Blue ray and the like), oh and the writable media will probably be astronomically expensive (and be released just as we've all got dual-layer burning sorted).
    Exactly! Why do the media beat up software which doesn't support the HD format yet, when there are so many other missing pieces to the puzzle? By the time HDV becomes a viable option nearly all versions of current Video Editing software will have gone through at least one, but probably more, new releases.

    Yay for Canon!!!!! *cradles his XM2 like a baby*
    Lloyd

    That's my opinion. If you don't like it I have others

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Peters
    Right now I think I'd invest my money in a mature technology and let everyone else be beta testers
    That's the way I've always done it too

    Especially with PC hardware.. seen which systems/motherboards work well, then buy them!

  10. #10
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    HDTV.. the motion picture industry's answer to the threat of home video.

    When video taping of movies off the television became legal, and funded by a hidden tax on the blank tapes, the industry went looking for a viable stopper. The agreed upon method was to foist digital TV standards onto the broadcasters and a DRM bit in the data stream.

    The carrot was that higher quality video signals would mean happier viewers, ones more receptive to blindly watch the very high quality commercials and tolerate the 99% of programming material that was barely up to video tape quality.

    The stick was that the USA broadcast rules mandated all stations must be digital-only by 2005. (This has since been pushed into the future and likely will be again.)

    This was presented as a win-win for the advertisers, but the broadcasters soon found out what the real price tag was going to be. Nearly total equipment changeout, new sets, a loss of 10% in their transmitter coverage... and the public was not throwing out their perfectly good, long-lived analog sets and thronging to buy the new and much more expensive digital receivers.

    Many smaller stations in low population density regions have decided to close their doors instead of going bankrupt meeting an imposed unwanted change, denying their viewers regional news and more importantly local business' commercials.

    Slowly, more details about HDTV's actual impacts on the viewer's experience have been surfacing. One is that if the screen size and viewing distance is the same as with current analog sets, the viewers will not be able to see the improved quality.

    Another is the cost of the receiver is more than double the cost of analog and won't be coming down fast. It's still a hobby-videophile market and likely will remain so, since the government mandated change-over is meeting stiff resistance from both the public and the broadcasters.

    One more is the cost of delivery is higher. Cable distribution companies are trying to charge a premium for digital service and in affluent areas, they are having some success. But the much larger population of the less than affluent, whom the advertisers depend upon, isn't interested. Currently broadcasters are required to transmit both analog and digital signals. This has at least doubled their electrical power costs and hasn't added significantly more viewers, so advertising costs are rising.

    Advertisers, at least the ones that pay more attention to their costs, are beginning to rethink the whole HDTV thing. Hedging their investment, the well funded ones are still requiring their video to be HDTV compliant, but those on a budget are satisfied with DVD quality.

    In closing, I think what we are seeing is the effects of marketing weenies' penchant for the newest, best and most expensive budget inflating technology crashing into the conservative, pocket book concerned consumer's willingness to pay for it.

    I have a friend who has a small business for local video production. He used to fear he wouldn't have customers if he didn't gear up for HDTV. He couldn't afford the new equipment costs so had to stay with 720x480. He lost some local accounts and had to tighten his belt. But lately, they're coming back.
    Fav quote - "Experience is whatcha don't get 'till ya don't need it no more."

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