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Digital Master and image quality


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#1 Lucita Jones

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 05:01 PM

Hi

I am about to shoot a shortfilm using the Z1u. The film is intended to reach film festivals and cable TV. We are not 100% sure that we will Blow up to film, but image quality, detail, color reproduction nad film look are very important for us. We will be shooting under normal conditions, i.e., no extreme humidity, heat or cold.

In choosing between the more expensive Digital MAster tapes and the regular MiniDV tapes, I have read that the digital MAster offers more protection against dropouts. But other than that, does this tape offer better color depth, image quality?

Protection against droputs isnĀ“t my greatest concern since the miniDV tapes worked great for me on a documentary I shot under really harsh conditions (by the ocean, under the rain and camping). So if I didn`t get droputs there, I hardly expect to get any here in the city.

Can someone please tell me more about the Digital Master and image quality?

Thanks
LJ
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#2 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 07:16 PM

Gday,
There is no difference between the image quality on the two tapes, if you were using analogue it would be a different story, however the images are still recorded in the exact same way. I have got 45 minidv tapes on my bookshelf that are a mixture of stock footage, camera tapes that are on rotation and master tapes. These are a mixture of Panasonic and TDK tapes. I have not had a problem yet with one of these tapes. I know other people have however had dramas with tapes, but I don't use master tapes for the reason of not yet having a problem.

Cheers,
Parnell.
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#3 Lucita Jones

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 08:05 PM

But I would imagine that the price difference would account for a better color reproduction?!
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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 05:03 AM

no, it offers no better image quality, since the difference is in the tapes robustness, but does not affect the compression, so color and image quality will be identicle between tapes. the ONLY advantage may be in drop out protection.

I just finnished a feature on the zu1. we shot 30 tapes and not one drop out. all standard mini-dv tapes.

I figure drop out protection is more aimed at long term storage, not recording and playback for cutting.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 05:14 AM

Hi,

This is one of the difficulties the manufacturers have had trying to upsell stuff based on digital recording.

In a digital camera the image is, by definition, represented by a stream of 1s and 0s. These 1s and 0s are either recorded or they are not recorded - there's no "better" recording from using better tape.

The issue is if for whatever reason your data stream is, in fact, "not recorded" for however many 1s and 0s, so you get a hole in your recording. This is caused by a fluctuation in the consistency of the tape's magnetic coating (which is applied to the plastic base using an advanced industrial process) and is known as a dropout; dropouts on VHS are what cause those flickering white horizontal lines, on miniDV they can cause flickering square blocks or corrupted frames.

On HDV they can cause somewhat smaller square blocks or corrupted frames. However, you've probably shot miles and miles of HDV without ever having noticed an issue. I say "noticd an issue" because most of the cameras and decks on these formats are quite smart and, detecting a dropout, will copy data from the last frame to cover it. Depending on what the action in the frame is this tends to work more or less well, but it's a fact that the vast, vast majority of DV/DVCAM dropouts are practically invisible.

I have only ever seen one HDV dropout (on an HDV frame someone posted here with a question about interlacing). Really it now comes down to whether you really believe that the more expensive tape has somehow got a more consistent coating on it.

Phil
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#6 Lucita Jones

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 02:46 PM

In other words,

Image quality being the same....Plus>

I will be shooting several takes of each shot....
Conditions will be quite normal....
Storage is not an issue because I will back everything on a HardDisk...
There is no insurance company involved....

This means I will shoot my low budget shortfilm on Mini Dv Tapes and not the more expensive Digital MAsters.

If any one suggests otherwise, please let me know.
Thanks all for your input
LJ
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#7 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 05:02 AM

if i write a novel and save it on a cheap hard drive will it introduce spelling mistakes? and wouldn't my words become more powerrful on a better drive? i hear maxtor's are great. ;-)

/matt
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#8 Tim J Durham

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:29 AM

I have only ever seen one HDV dropout (on an HDV frame someone posted here with a question about interlacing). Really it now comes down to whether you really believe that the more expensive tape has somehow got a more consistent coating on it.

Phil


There IS supposedly an advantage to using the SAME tape stock for the life of the camera. Some are lubricated with an oil-based lubricant and some are lubricated with a powder-based lubricant. I use the powder-based but that's only because I don't have to pay for them (more expensive). Pick one or the other and stay with it. If you mix, you can get a build up of gunk which ends up on the heads, or so I've been told.
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#9 Stephen Williams

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:50 AM

There IS supposedly an advantage to using the SAME tape stock for the life of the camera. Some are lubricated with an oil-based lubricant and some are lubricated with a powder-based lubricant. I use the powder-based but that's only because I don't have to pay for them (more expensive). Pick one or the other and stay with it. If you mix, you can get a build up of gunk which ends up on the heads, or so I've been told.


Hi,

Mixing tapes can be a real problem. I bought a cheap Mini DV camera to use to capture into my Laptop material recorded on Panasonic tape. The following week I took the camera skiing, recording on the supplied Sony tape. Within 3 minutes I had clogged heads and could not record any more.

Stephen
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#10 George T. Griswold Jr.

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 02:28 PM

The mixing tape issue has been around for a long time-- my advice is never do it. Order a box of 50 tapes and stick with it. I have never had a problem with Sony tapes. The Digital Master tape is what I use for HDV shoots, DVCAM (small shell) for DVCAM and Sony Excellence for DV shoots. You have so much riding on that day why fool around over a few bucks for tape stock? There are lots of folks who use all kinds and have never had a problem. It is your call.

As far as mixing manufacturers it seems pretty sure that it is a bad idea.

George
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#11 Lucita Jones

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 05:44 PM

The mixing tape issue has been around for a long time-- my advice is never do it. Order a box of 50 tapes and stick with it. I have never had a problem with Sony tapes. The Digital Master tape is what I use for HDV shoots, DVCAM (small shell) for DVCAM and Sony Excellence for DV shoots. You have so much riding on that day why fool around over a few bucks for tape stock? There are lots of folks who use all kinds and have never had a problem. It is your call.

As far as mixing manufacturers it seems pretty sure that it is a bad idea.

George



Great advice everyone. This is something everyone should know, and yet it was totally new for me. I will spread the word though.

Thanks and happy filmmaking.
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