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Best value waveform / vectorscope monitors?


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#1 Jack Kelly

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 03:52 PM

I'd like to buy a waveform monitor and I'd love some advice. Here's what I'd like to use it for (in order of importance, most important first):

1) Monitoring whilst shooting DVCAM, DigiBeta, HDV, HDCAM etc

2) Monitoring whilst doing colour correction on my Color Finesse setup

3) Hooking up to my TV and keeping an eye on the waveform / vectorscope whilst watching broadcast TV and DVDs (don't laugh! I think it'd be a cool way to gain a little extra experience whilst relaxing!)

Needless to say, I don't have a huge amount of money to throw around so value for money is of utmost importance to me. Are there any great deals to be had on eBay? Are hand-held monitors extortionately priced? Are there any decent software scopes that will run on a Windows XP laptop (I read about one that analyses a DV signal from firewire.... but I've forgotten the name!)? Are there any clever break-out boxes that will allow a laptop to take the following inputs: composite SD, composite HD, SDI & HD-SDI?

Thanks loads for your help,
Jack Kelly
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London
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#2 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 01:57 PM

I'd like to buy a waveform monitor and I'd love some advice. Here's what I'd like to use it for (in order of importance, most important first):

1) Monitoring whilst shooting DVCAM, DigiBeta, HDV, HDCAM etc

2) Monitoring whilst doing colour correction on my Color Finesse setup

3) Hooking up to my TV and keeping an eye on the waveform / vectorscope whilst watching broadcast TV and DVDs (don't laugh! I think it'd be a cool way to gain a little extra experience whilst relaxing!)

Needless to say, I don't have a huge amount of money to throw around so value for money is of utmost importance to me. Are there any great deals to be had on eBay? Are hand-held monitors extortionately priced? Are there any decent software scopes that will run on a Windows XP laptop (I read about one that analyses a DV signal from firewire.... but I've forgotten the name!)? Are there any clever break-out boxes that will allow a laptop to take the following inputs: composite SD, composite HD, SDI & HD-SDI?

Thanks loads for your help,
Jack Kelly
Dir/Prod/Camera
London


You might want to check out DV rack at www.seriousmagic.com/dvrack.cfm

I haven't used this system but it looks pretty cool and it's designed for a laptop.
You could also probably play DVDs through it and see what you get for readings for fun.
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#3 Thomas Fant

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 09:43 PM

I'd like to buy a waveform monitor and I'd love some advice. Here's what I'd like to use it for (in order of importance, most important first):

1) Monitoring whilst shooting DVCAM, DigiBeta, HDV, HDCAM etc

2) Monitoring whilst doing colour correction on my Color Finesse setup

3) Hooking up to my TV and keeping an eye on the waveform / vectorscope whilst watching broadcast TV and DVDs (don't laugh! I think it'd be a cool way to gain a little extra experience whilst relaxing!)

Needless to say, I don't have a huge amount of money to throw around so value for money is of utmost importance to me. Are there any great deals to be had on eBay? Are hand-held monitors extortionately priced? Are there any decent software scopes that will run on a Windows XP laptop (I read about one that analyses a DV signal from firewire.... but I've forgotten the name!)? Are there any clever break-out boxes that will allow a laptop to take the following inputs: composite SD, composite HD, SDI & HD-SDI?

Thanks loads for your help,
Jack Kelly
Dir/Prod/Camera
London





I second the dv rack reccomendation, I use it all the time, and it works great, however

It is a tool for mini-dv pretty much. It works only with firewire, and only with one camera at a time, but there is HD support now, and they supposedly are considering upgrades to support inputs other than firewire

You will need a pretty decent laptop, pc only, no mac

But it has a lot of great tools besides the scopes. Check out the website
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#4 Jack Kelly

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 04:19 AM

Great, thanks loads for your replies. I will check out DV Rack!

Thanks,
Jack
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 05:47 AM

Hamlet make a range of waveform & vectorscope monitors

http://www.hamlet.co.uk/index.html

also a software version

http://vidscopepro.com/
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 06:56 AM

3) Hooking up to my TV and keeping an eye on the waveform / vectorscope whilst watching broadcast TV and DVDs (don't laugh! I think it'd be a cool way to gain a little extra experience whilst relaxing!)
Jack Kelly
Dir/Prod/Camera
London

Be prepared to get real depressed if you look at any MPEG compressed video off digital cable, satellite, etc. with a vectorscope and see just how little color information is really there. I hooked up a $50 Tektronix 520A I bought off eBay to my DirecTV and was quite shocked to discovered just how "posterized" MPEG color is.
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#7 Bob Hayes

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 08:44 AM

I downloaded a demo of DV rack and was disappointed. They have a great idea and got it about halfway and quit. My big complaint is that the screen displays picture, waveform, vector scope, and sound levels but you can?t change the size of the individual windows. You can only view a small waveform. It seems such an easy adjustment as almost every program out there allows this resizing function. I asked the folks at DV rack and they said they weren?t planning on changing that for some time. If they would allow me to resize the windows I would buy a 12? lap top and DV Rack HD today.

I?d love to hear I am wrong.
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#8 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 12:10 PM

Something to consider is that Firewire (1394/iLink) connections are neither mechanically secure nor electronically robust, and are relatively inconvenient.

I'm well aware that some folks are in the habit of frequently plugging and unplugging "live" Firewire connections while equipment is powered-on, and there are even some hardware and software vendors who say they "support" this, but there have been thousands of users who wish in hindsight they had instead powered-off both pieces of gear before connection/disconnection.

Firewire carries power in addition to signal. It's not particularly difficult to plug a FW connector in backwards by mistake, especially in the rush of a video production environment. Doing so almost guarantees electrically damaging either or both devices. Since the devices tend to be expensive gear, this is often a very costly mistake!

In the case of one or more of the devices being data storage systems, mishandling FW connections can result in data loss.

There have been many cases where _un_plugging "live" FW connections cause a power surge which damages gear.

Even if you do plug the connectors in "correctly" (including when powered-down), there have been many cases of static electricity causing damage to gear. Touching the outside shields of the FW connectors together first before plugging-in may help avoid this. However, even if precautions against static shocks are taken, or even if static is not a factor, plugging/unplugging a live FW connection has been known to occasionally result in equipment damage -- for whatever reason.

Most FW connectors do not include mechanical locks or fasteners to prevent accidental disconnections. In other words, a mechanically insecure FW connection is an accident waiting to happen. Adding your own velcro tie-down strips to secure these connections is an especially good idea.

In practice I've found a big drawback to using FW is its inconvenience compared to typical video and audio connections. For example, one doesn't normally need to power-down video gear to plug/unplug analog composite or other video connections. Likwise, for reasons mentioned above it can be risky to use a passive switch with FW gear. Safer "active" FW switches are relatively expensive, and not appropriate for use with all FW gear.

In the case of a waveform monitor and other scopes used in a video production environment, it's hard to beat the security, robustness, ease and convenience of analog and SDI/HD-SDI video connections.

Again, I understand folks often use Firewire in production environments, but based on my experience and from what I've read, it's a technology and method which should be handled with a good deal of caution -- and there are sometimes better alternatives available.
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 01:00 PM

Hi,

The firewire bus spec itself absolutely supports hot swapping. I have never come across a firewire device that didn't, other than the obvious issue of disconnecting a storage device while it's being accessed.

Only the larger, six-pin 1394 connectors carry power. Plugging one of those in back to front would take... creativity, and you'd have to severely damage a 4-pin before it'd go the wrong way round.

I'm not aware of there being a static problem with it, any more than there's a static problem with USB, Ethernet, or any other comparable high speed serial protocol. I do think that the 6-pin 1394 connector is probably the most robust of the lot, and I am constantly dismayed to see ENG cameras with 4-pin connectors, which are very easy to tear out and bend in the process.

All I can say is that I've spent thousands and thousands of hours working with 1394 gear and not come across the issues you describe. It is most certainly physically feeble, as is USB and Ethernet. It's a common problem with the IT explosion - very low grade, mass market connectors are becoming a crucial part of very high grade, select equipment. S.two's hard disk recorders are entirely reliant on an Ethernet connection, it's terrifying.

Phil
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 03:35 PM

JVC have issued a warning about hot swapping the 6 pin firewire on the HD 100. They recommend powering down before connecting the camera to other devices because of a instances of blown circuits in the camera.
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#11 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 05:44 PM

I was delighted to see Neutrik come out with a D-sized 6 pin firewire socket, then undelighted because there isn't a corresponding line plug.

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