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Thread: Basic help with HDV (tape) capture

  1. #1

    Default Basic help with HDV (tape) capture

    Hi. Have just started thinking about HD as I need my next project to be in hidef. Not done it before, as there has not been the demand and customers have been happy with standard. I film with Sony cameras, and did a test yesterday with one set to HDV 1080i. Managed to fiolm okay, and capture okay for the editing program, also set to HD1080i. All seems fine, apart from not showing on the preview screen during capture. No big deal here, it showed fine on the editing window afterwards. My query is just that the ten minute filming showed as MPEG and was nearly 2GB. It also showed as 1080 by whatever. Seemed a bit small to me! My standard def is captured as avi and comes at about 13GB an hour, so I was expecting more size from the hi def! I love using the full format for standard definition to preserve quality, and the only compression is when I am ready to say 'make a DVD please'. So, is what happenned to me normal for HD capture via firewire from tape, or am I getting an avoidable compression at the capture stage? I dont care how big the file size of my raw footage is, and my hard drive, processor, etc can handle it. It looked fine for me, but I only saw it on the editing window. Also, I am mildly visually impaired, so I might not see subtle differences that the sighted customer would. The editing program is Adobe Premiere and yes I set it to HD. I just want to know if I got it right. Dont know much about complex stuff so try and avoid words like 'interlace' unless essential! I know what capturing the full SD is like, and expected HD to be the same but bigger files. Thanks

  2. #2


    You might find that your camera will have different "quality" settings. Check that you are shooting at the highest quality. (whatever your camera calls that). Modern formats like AVCHD are a lot more compressed than mini DV .avi files that you are use to from your SD camera. So it could also just be that. With my camera that records at a very high bit rate generally records about 1 min video length to 1Gb file size at it's highest quality setting. If that gives you an idea of HD files sizes, this is depending on your camera/resolution/ etc...

    It could be a lot less than this for your camera.

  3. #3


    Thanks for that. But I am using the same cameras. It is still tapes. I only ever use tapes. I do not know any quality settings on the camera, except DV, DVCAM and HDV1080i. Before I just filmed on DV and it was captured the way I stated, and I chose DV widescreen PAL on the capture software. This time I just chose HDV 1080i and I think that is all there was to choose. Okay there was a choice between 25 and 35 fps and I chose 25, but I do not think there are any other quality options on the camera that just takes tapes. SONY HVRa1e. Thanks

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Hi Howard,
    You don't specify which Sony camera you're using, but if it's set to 1080i and you'r ecapturing to 1080i then that's what you're getting. HDV is 1440 x 1080 rather than 1920 x 1080 - they're different shaped pixels. You're not doing anything wrong or losing and quality. You are shooting MPEG2. And this takes up a similar amount of space to standard def DV. SDDV uses intra frame compression only (that is each frame can be reconstructed using only the information contained in the one frame). MPEG2 on the other hand uses inter frame compression differences - usially something like one in every 15 frames is recorded fully (using intra frame compressions) and the rest of the frames are recorded as only the difference between that frame and the last/next "completely recorded" frame. (This is a very wooly description of what happens but it's enough to give a general idea of how much more information can be saved in the same space).
    Hence editing Mpeg2 required much more processing powers as each frame has to be decompresed not just based on other pixels in this frame, but in several frames either side.
    So. You're doing it right. HDV takes up the same space as SD (but requires a lot more work to reconstruct each frame.

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