By now, most of you have heard that there is a new Sony HDV Camcorder, the HVRV1U, coming in December, and it appears that this new offering might be the competition killer we need to move Sony HDV forward.
As successful as the HVRZ1U and its little brother the HVRA1U have been, the buzz, whether deserved or not, has been about the "true" Progressive Scan capabilities of the 720p JVC camera (and the oddball Panasonic P2 offering) for shooting 24 frame material. The low frame rate film look of 24p might not be truly needed by most videographers, but they think it is, so it has been an important issue that Sony's previous HDV cameras didn't address. The Cineframe 24 and 30 modes produced the "look", but at the expense of compromised image resolution. All of this changes with the introduction of the HVRV1U and its progressive scan capable CMOS imagers.
Using 3 of Sony's new generation ClearVid CMOS imagers, the V1U will shoot in the familiar 1080/60i interlaced modes and switch to true 1080p progressive scanning for 24 and 30 frame operation. Sony has a invested a lot of effort in the development of the new CMOS imaging technology and from all preliminary accounts, the V1U produces stunning images in all shooting modes, without any mode related resolution loss. So, why would anyone want to shoot 1280/720p 24 frame video, when for less money they can shoot real 1440/1080p 24 frame material?
Check out the Sony website devoted to these new products
OK, so how do these new modes fit in with the HDV equipment already in use, you might ask. The answer is, perfectly! 24 frame progressive material is recorded as 60i with what is called 3:2 pulldown, the same technology used in all commercial movie DVD production and in fact any movie you've ever seen on TV. Non-linear editing systems, like Sony Vegas, can remove this pulldown to restore the original 24 frame material perfectly. 30 frame material is recorded as 30Psf or Progressive Segmented Frame, again with no loss and complete compatibility with existing HDV equipment.
Another issue frequently leveled at the Z1U was the fact that its lens, as optically superb as it is, is not interchangeable and is limited to a 12:1 zoom range. Buyers of the Canon and JVC cameras, both of which offer interchangeable lenses, maybe don't realize that additional true HD lenses for their cameras will cost them $10,000, $15,000 or more each, and cheating with lower cost SD lenses will greatly compromise their image quality. Now, the HVRV1U still doesn't offer a removable lens, but the zoom range has been increased to 20:1, and the lens is still all Zeiss glass and coatings and truly HD in performance.
For users that need a wider angle zoom lens, a new 0.8X conversion lens will shift the wide angle end down to 29.9mm (35mm equiv.), features a quick-mount bayonet mounting system and accepts standard 86mm filters.
The tapeless Panasonic P2 camera has generated a lot of interest over the past year, but serious questions about library archiving, storage cost and transfer time has dampened the feelings of many customers. For those looking for a more efficient work flow than tape and the time it takes to ingest the material into a NLE, Sony is also bringing out the HVRDR60 HDD recorder in December. A little bigger than a UWP camera mount receiver, it provides up to 4.5 hours of DVCAM or HDV storage on disk and uses the same batteries as the HVRZ1U and V1U. Remove it from the camera, plug it into your Sony Vegas NLE PC's Firewire port and you have instant access to your footage, plus the bonus of HDV camera-original tapes to put in your library. As an added bonus, the DR60 integrates tightly with the new HVRV1U to provide viewfinder status indications and control.
It is important to understand that the HVRV1U is NOT a replacement for the HVRZ1U, it is just another model in the lineup that will serve previously missing part of the market that was looking for real 24 frame progressive scan, a wider zoom range, and a cost somewhere in between the A1U and the Z1U. The Z1U will remain the top of Sony's HDV lineup for the foreseeable future.
Another HDV enhancement has taken place with the release of Vegas 7. With Vegas 6, I could work with native HDV files in the timeline, but on my plain vanilla laptop the performance was poor. Vegas 7 changes all of that in a huge way. I can now preview HDV material at full frame rate. I don't know how they did it,… magic maybe, but the performance increase is nothing less than stunning. There are a host of other enhancements as well that just make a great program even better. If you are not familiar with the new SMS models, ACID 6 with it's full Digital Audio Workstation functionality, a new DVD Architect 4, Vegas 7 and the really amazing Cinescore music scoring program, take a few minutes to visit their website at www.SonyMediaSoftware.com
Rich Hoffman is Starin's Sony Business Manager. To access more resources like this, please login to Starin's Sony Professional Dealer Portal at www.SonyPro.us.