Highly informative EX review

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SimonMW
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Complete with some features I didn't know were on it! (eg the reflective/transmissive hybrid LCD and CA reduction circuits).

http://digitalcontentproducer.com/cameras/revfeat/first_look_xdcam_ex/index.html

Alan Roberts
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Every lcd I've ever seen has been both reflective and transmissive, that's how they work. Nothing new in that.

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SimonMW
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Ah, but didn't Sony develop new technology that allows them to be viewed in direct sunlight?

From the Sony site;
"What's more, the Hybrid LCD screen - which comprises transmissive and reflective panels - offers clear viewing even in bright sunlight.."

There's more to this. If it were just a standard LCD they wouldn't be making anything of it. Sony have recently developed technology that allows displays to be reflective rather than transmissive, on flexible displays, so that they can be read rather like newspapers.

mooblie
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I notice the Expanded Focus function is available during recording - hurrah!

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Alan Roberts
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That's exactly how lcds work, no need to invent a new way. It's an advertising puff, nothing new there, read up the science of lcds.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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The LCD panel of the FX1 and Z1 can be viewed in direct sunlight with the backlight turned on or off - it makes no difference to the picture. That's probably why a dedicated switch is included on the top panel.

I'll hoo-rah with mooblie over the expanded focus options - invaluable for interviews and couples at the alter.

tom.

tom hardwick
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And oh dear - another review that talks for ages about how clever the lens is but doesn't tell us if it's a ramping f/1.9 or not. anyone know?

Gavin Gration
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I once met a transmissive hybrid. He worked as a handyman at the local bus depot and claimed to have appeared as supporting act to Dustin Gee & Les Dennis in Blackpool.

.....more pills please nurse :) :) :)

SimonMW
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Quote:
doesn't tell us if it's a ramping f/1.9 or not. anyone know?

I'll take a look today.

mooblie
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Could someone confirm for me please: the SxS cards used in the EX will fit directly into a laptop with an ExpressCard/34 slot?

Edit: OK - confirmed: taken from Sony's website EX information:

QUOTE
--Media slot--
Type: ExpressCard/34 (x 2)
Interface: ExpressCard compatible
UNQUOTE

I'll take that as a "yes", then.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

SimonMW
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Tried the EX out. On full zoom looks to be, ooh, around 2/3 stop ramp. Haven't done any scientific measurement.

tom hardwick
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That's not bad for a 14x zoom. The 12x zoom on the Z1 ramps over 1.5 stops.

SimonMW
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The lens on the EX is a cut above other cameras of its type. Fuji really seem to have gone to town on it.

mooblie
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Simon, or anyone who's seen/handled it, or knows:
(a) any idea if the Expanded Focus function works while recording?
(b) is it true there is NO cache recording (recording of the last few seconds prior to pressing the button)?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

SimonMW
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Yes, I believe that expanded focus does work while recording.
There is no cache record on the release model, but there *WILL* be one in a firmware upgrade.

mooblie
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Great news - many thanks, Simon. Perfect for those moments that catch us wedding vids unawares.

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Mark M
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Just wanted to bring in info from another thread about LANC controllers as an earlier poster had expressed dismay at the lack of a LANC Controller on the EX1...

Pete at Manfrotto/Lowepro wrote:
The new Sony EX1 requires a pro lens controller eg Manfrotto 521CF1 or 524CF1. However as the camera lens remote connector is of a special type an adapter lead is required.
Peter Novell

and he gives links to details of the controllers here:

http://forums.dvdoctor.net/showpost.php?p=296376&postcount=7

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mooblie
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Alan R - any chance of you getting your hands on an EX1 for your comments/analysis?

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Alan Roberts
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As far as I'm aware, the BBC isn't interested in EX (yet) so I've no real prospect of doing my usual tests on one. I'll poke my contacts and see what happens.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

mooblie
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Great, Alan.

In view of the (current) high cost of solid state media, does anyone know the situation regarding using the EX1 with an add-on hard disc?

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tom hardwick
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Ess by Ess cards are half the cost of P2 at the moment, aren't they? That makes 4 gb cost in the region of £250. Makes a 13 gb Mini DV tape look good value at a pound.

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
Ess by Ess cards are half the cost of P2 at the moment, aren't they?

I think they're somewhat more than that - nearer P2 prices. But that's only half the story - at the moment SxS=Sony=XDCAM HD codec=35Mbs whilst P2=Panasonic=DVCProHd=100Mbs.

Hence you get approx 4x as many recorded minutes/£ at the moment with SxS cf P2. At the expense of the editability complexities of long-GOP.

I hear what you say about tape costs, Tom, but solid state can give workflow efficiencies.

Ikeuser
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The report seemed to go into all the gimmicks and specs of the camera with no mention of the picture quality.
Call me old fashioned, but, picture quality would be my first prioroty when choosing a camera.
.

mooblie
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mooblie wrote:
In view of the (current) high cost of solid state media, does anyone know the situation regarding using the EX1 with an add-on hard disc?

Well, nearly.... found this: Convergent Design tell me the Flash XDR drive will work with the EX1 via HD-SDI. So that's cheaper Compact Flash cards.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

infocus
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mooblie wrote:
Well, nearly.... found this: Convergent Design tell me the Flash XDR drive will work with the EX1 via HD-SDI. So that's cheaper Compact Flash cards.

Yes - and that device gives an interesting option of EITHER using cheap cards with the native EX 35Mbs codec at a fraction of SxS costs per GB OR getting much better results from the EX - up to 160Mbs I frame 4:2:2 MPEG!

Or maybe use the 50Mbs mode for better than standard XDCAM-HD compression, but at still many more minutes per £ than SxS.

mooblie
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Here's an interesting image found by someone on DVinfo...

Looks like a dual SxS deck - they speculate whether it contains hard disk in it - that would save lugging a laptop round for offloading cards during a shoot, although it probably costs more than a laptop. Anyone know anything about this?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Alan Roberts
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It looks like I'll be doing a test on an EX sometime in December. It was to have been bundled with tests on Infinity, but somebody's timescale has slipped a bit.

I'll announce on each as and when...

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

mooblie
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Magic. :D

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Alan Roberts
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And Sony have told me to expect the 2"/3 version for test probably in March. Watch this space.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
And Sony have told me to expect the 2"/3 version for test probably in March. Watch this space.

I assume you mean the 2/3" disc camera, rather than a 2/3" SxS version?

Alan Roberts
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I believe it'll be the SxS, but not certain. Sony now seem to be happily moving on from discs.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

paultv
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I'm confused, a 2/3 inch version of the EX?

Alan Roberts
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Sony told me there's one in the pipeline. I'm happy to wait and see, I don't do crystal-ball gazing :)

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I believe it'll be the SxS, but not certain. Sony now seem to be happily moving on from discs.

The only 2/3" I'd heard of was disc only, though dual layer and capable of 50Mbs.

But Sony never ruled out solid state for the future - just felt it was too soon when P2 and XDCAM disc first appeared. (And I think that was probably sensible.)

A 2/3 SxS must be a case of when rather than if now though. I also wonder if disc ONLY cameras have a future. I can see some users going for SxS only (low power, small size weight etc), but otherwise a SxS/disc hybrid may have more appeal than a disc only camera.

Alan Roberts
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I'm not at all sure what I'll be seeing, I prefer to wait and see rather than speculate. Rest assured, you'll hear all about it very soon after the event.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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Sony seem to be happy to show the EX in a variety of chip sizes. The 'shoulder mount' EX has 1"/3 chips while the interchangeable lens version and the S x S version (fixed lens) have 1"/2 chips. Then there's talk of this 2"/3 chipped version.

When will it all end? Answer: never.

Alan Roberts
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I threw my crystal ball away ages ago. I just test what turns up, and send in the invoice :D

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
Sony seem to be happy to show the EX in a variety of chip sizes. The 'shoulder mount' EX has 1"/3 chips while the .............

I don't think so, Tom. The term "EX" seems to apply SOLELY to one (at the moment) solid state camera.

The 1/3" shouldermount is HDV, and the 2/3" is (I believe) XDCAM-HD disc. A bewildering variety, I agree, but only one EX.

tom hardwick
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Quite so. I was just using the term 'EX' very loosly to describe all the new kit. Remiss of me.

Alan Roberts
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And on that basis, I won't describe what I've been promised for test until I've done so.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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Quote:
I believe it'll be the SxS, but not certain. Sony now seem to be happily moving on from discs.

The EX is the only one that doesn't use discs at the moment.

The new 2/3" camera is NOT, I repeat NOT SxS or solid state in any way shape or form. And while in the depths of the R&D labs at Sony no doubt there is a solid state, or solid state/disc hybrid being worked on, it will be 2009 at the absolute earliest (if they do it at all) before they would announce it (and if any so-called insider has told you otherwise, they are either a) lying, or b) talking rubbish).

I wouldn't mind a hybrid. But if they ditched disc altogether (or didn't come up with an equally versitile alternative) I would have to look elsewhere. There is simply no describing how good XD is to work with compared to solid state unless you actually have worked with it for any length of time.

Unfortunately both Infinity and the PDW-700 lack 24p. In fact Infinity lacks any progressive mode currently. And given how delayed the camera has been I would certainly not purchase one on the promise that they would impliment it in a firmware update. PDW-700 will lack 10-bit recording. The Panny 3000 uses that blasted P2.

I think my next camera will be a S16!! No problem with archivability, bloody amazing 'bit depth' ;) handles highlights with aplomb, and upgrading it requires just purchasing a new film stock. Run overcrank for easy 60p or even 120p! Fantastic!

Okay, a bit expensive but at least it can fulfill all requirements. As long as you don't need the production finished in a day. ;)

Okay, somebody come up with a way of recording Red footage onto Revpro and I'm sold.

Anonymous
Sony EX

Hi Simon

I thought someone told me recently that Sony would be bringing out a 2/3 inch version of the EX next year. I'm sure the EX and its big brothers whenever they do arrive will be targeted at the Beeb's commitment to tapeless acquisation . You seemed very well informed and I'm too polite to ask you where from.

On the matter of S16 someone at the Beeb recently stated that 16mm was not an acceptable acquisition format for Hi-Def programmes because of grain I believe. As someone who grew up mainly on 16mm I will be sorry to see it go.

Regards

Peter

infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
And while in the depths of the R&D labs at Sony no doubt there is a solid state, or solid state/disc hybrid being worked on, it will be 2009 at the absolute earliest (if they do it at all) before they would announce it (and if any so-called insider has told you otherwise, they are either a) lying, or b) talking rubbish).

The entertaining thing about this is that the only people who REALLY do know are the last people who are talking. I suspect Sony follows the pattern of many companies in matters such as these which are, after all, dealing with commercially sensitive information - basically a "need to know" policy. Their front line sales teams may not get to know of forthcoming major products that far in advance of the press releases - from a business point of view, why should they?

So in the meantime, all most of us can do is speculate.......... :)

If the EX was a stand alone product, the use and development of SxS makes little sense to me. Surely Compact Flash or Memory Stick would make more sense in a £4,000 camera? But assume it to be the first of a range, assume it to be first and foremost a test bed for SxS and Sony solid state technology, and the development and spec of SxS makes a lot more sense.

In which case it's then interesting to further speculate on timing. Simon's comment of 2009 at earliest seems late to me - the momentum that the EX has most definately built up will be becoming stale. Hence my money is on 2008 - conceivably even an announcement at NAB, with product at IBC.

Pete's comment about the Beeb and tapeless is interesting as well. The Beeb are of course only one organisation, and probably represent only a small fraction of total camera sales. But I'd say their endorsement is worth much, much more in terms of influencing others, and I'd be amazed if the all the sales teams weren't trying very hard to win them over, and the one thing the BBC have very publicly stated is a preference for solid state in the future.

In which case, the manufacturers haven't got that long. If an HD service on Freesat does start up next year, the programmes will need cameras to make them, and if (as expected) the HD output then ramps up quite steeply through 2009, 2010, logic dictates that a 2/3" tapeless camera needs to be announced before then for the BBC to go for it. Same logic is likely to hold for other organisations. Not even announcing something like that until 2009 runs a big risk of missing the boat.

All that said, IF such a thing is indeed being evolved in a corner of a Sony building somewhere, it's likely to remain a close secret until very soon before launch, since the news is obviously likely to affect their sales of current (disc) ranges. In the future, I can see point in an all SxS camera (low power, small size and weight) and also in a hybrid disc/SxS, but much less so in a disc only.

SimonMW
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Quote:
The entertaining thing about this is that the only people who REALLY do know are the last people who are talking. I suspect Sony follows the pattern of many companies in matters such as these which are, after all, dealing with commercially sensitive information - basically a "need to know" policy. Their front line sales teams may not get to know of forthcoming major products that far in advance of the press releases - from a business point of view, why should they?

Infocus, you have hit the nail right bang on the head. There's a lot of information being bandied about, with people saying that they have been told this or that. But the fact is, as you rightly point out, that Sony, and companies like them, operate a need to know basis system. Nobody outside the depths of Sony Japan really knows what the long term plan is, or indeed what cameras are being planned. Those that really do know will not have been telling ANYONE about it. So if someone has told someone else that there will be a 2/3" EX next year, then either that person has broken very strict NDA's, or, more likely, they don't know anything and are just talking hypothetically, or just plain rubbish.

Quote:
If the EX was a stand alone product, the use and development of SxS makes little sense to me. Surely Compact Flash or Memory Stick would make more sense in a £4,000 camera? But assume it to be the first of a range

That the EX1 is the first in a range of EX products is no secret. It even said as much in Sony press releases. However, that does not necceserily translate into a 2/3" camera. It might, but it might not. Maybe Sony want a 2/3" camera or full series of cameras to suit everyone. A whole range of tape based cameras from HDV to HDCAM, a whole range of disc based cameras from the 330 to the 700, and maybe they want a whole range of SxS cameras of all types.

Sony do appear to want to have a choice for most people (hence the reason they have introduced 3 new HDV tape based cameras. They don't believe tape is dead and they know a lot of people out there like to work with tape). But for specifics nobody knows. Or at least they aren't letting on.

Quote:
But I'd say their endorsement is worth much, much more in terms of influencing others

I don't believe the BBC has much influence at all these days. When they outsource companies use whatever they want. If the BBC themselves decide to use P2 or Infinity or SxS isn't really of much issue. If things keep going the way they are will the BBC even be able to afford to make programmes anymore?! ;)

Quote:
since the news is obviously likely to affect their sales of current (disc) ranges.

Hmmm, not sure if it would really. If an SxS 2/3" camera was released, it would be unlikely to use a much different head to the forthcoming 700. So in effect there would be solid state for those that want it, or disc for those who don't. If it is a hybrid then no doubt it would cost more, perhaps being the more expensive brother to the 700 (with VFR and a Cinealta badge?)

Quote:
Simon's comment of 2009 at earliest seems late to me

I won't say never. However Sony won't want to overshadow the launch of the 700 at NAB by announcing an immediate successor. A sister camera perhaps, as a technology demo, but not as a slam dunk 700 trouncer. My money would be on an equal camera or a slightly more expensive hybrid for those that really want that. And I'm still sticking with my 2009 at the earliest (for an actual camera) :)

But I've been wrong before.

infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
That the EX1 is the first in a range of EX products is no secret. It even said as much in Sony press releases. However, that does not necceserily translate into a 2/3" camera. It might, but it might not.

It seems highly likely to me. The SxS spec seems a bit overkill for a £4,000 camera as it is, so even more so for a cheaper camera, and SD/AVC-HD seems more likely there. Hence, I'd expect the EX to be at the bottom of a future range, so if Sony are confirming other SxS cameras in future, 2/3" versions seem highly probable.

SimonMW wrote:
I don't believe the BBC has much influence at all these days. When they outsource companies use whatever they want. If the BBC themselves decide to use P2 or Infinity or SxS isn't really of much issue.

At the individual programme level, then I probably agree. In terms of wider influence, I think the BBCs thoughts carry quite a lot of weight, and the attention that their oft quoted comments about solid state v disc got is an indication of that. (http://tvbeurope.com/pdfs/TVBE_download/2006/08/TVBE_P40-45_August_BusinessCase.pdf for anyone for hasn't seen the article.)

That article is dated August 2006, and I find it quite interesting that no further word has come from the BBC on the subject since, except one department using DVCProHD TAPE for programmes which must be shot Hi-Def now.

SimonMW wrote:
However Sony won't want to overshadow the launch of the 700 at NAB by announcing an immediate successor. A sister camera perhaps, as a technology demo, but not as a slam dunk 700 trouncer. My money would be on an equal camera or a slightly more expensive hybrid for those that really want that.

Fair points, and my money would be on an announcement of a SxS sister to the 700 to coincide with the 700s launch. But the stories I've heard are that Sony neatly trumped Panasonics NAB launch of their HD P2 2/3" range with the SxS/EX announcement, and the latter was kept quiet until very soon before.

Just think if the 700 launched at NAB as a fully fledged hybrid.............

Alan Roberts
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I'm deliberately keeping out of this :D

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

PaulD
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infocus wrote:
I think the BBCs thoughts carry quite a lot of weight, and the attention that their oft quoted comments about solid state v disc got is an indication of that. (http://tvbeurope.com/pdfs/TVBE_download/2006/08/TVBE_P40-45_August_BusinessCase.pdf for anyone for hasn't seen the article.)

Hi
What I hadn't seen is the article about Telestream at the the end of the pdf. They're making a commercial killing by providing cross-format solutions to allow differing manufacturer's non-standardised digital systems to work together.

Whatever else the BBC isn't, one thing it has been and continues to be is a 'standards assessment' organisation, seeking to achieve cost-effective integration throughout its operation.

So when the BBC says "One of the key concerns... XDCAM as a format. We... felt it was not open enough for plug-and-play further downstream, and that it would be difficult to build into your infrastructure" that maybe can be seen as an assessment that carries a certain weight.

The BBC is no doubt looking to cut Telestream, and all the high cost post houses that thrive on daily cross-format conversion jobs, out of the loop.

How long must it be before 'the advertising industry', or 'the digital cinema industry', or the more amorphous 'web movie-delivery industry' start thinking that adhering to a 'standard' (that everyone agrees to, like DV, or Betacam SP before it) might allow a real - hugely quantifiable - saving on their bottom line costs?

So whilst the BBC may indeed have become a mere shadow of its former glorious self, I suspect it still retains the ability 'to boldly go' into future technological strategic thinking-mode in a way that other, bigger, market sectors may align themselves with further down the line.

Sorry, this is OT in this largely 'boys toys' thread ;)

Alan Roberts
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Thank you Paul, that's well put. The mess we're in, and struggling to get out of, is caused by the disintegration of standards. Containment of costs has always demanded standardisation, and the current trend to fragmentation is costing us all.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DAVE M
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but the video industry loves standards.........that's why we have so many of them!!

MAGLINK
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But hasnt the beeb much like thames TV in the 90's always gone for panasonic products and bespoke equipment rather than what is widely used in the mainstream. Standards are not always about perceived quality but more about standard of production and workflow.

Ok panasonic may have been better from a technical point of view but from an operational point of view M2, D3 and D5 were a pain in the backside. The digital machines had so many sub menu's that it just boggled the mind and as a dubbing mixer having to optimise a tape before every layback was a real bind. Ok Ch4 and YTV also used D3 and D5 but it was digital betacam that won out in the end. Sony may have lost the domestic betamax war but I think they won the pro one. And yes D1 and D2 were just as bad as sony products but it was the accesable format of digital betacam that became the standard.

Of course in these days of production standards are still important but in a new age of media production it will be the speed and ease of use for the mainstream again that will dictate what format for shooting is adopted and sadly this will be more down to £££ than in the past.

I remember when betacam first came out and everyone was horified that it wasnt up to the spec of 1-inch and that the audio had dolby C noise reduction. It soon became accepted as the operational aspects far out-weighed the technical specs.

Having looked at the BBC film on apple's final cut web site It is plain to see the way the beeb is going and to a certain extent I think they are right, spend money on the talent and structure for making programmes and lets not get too bogged down in how one format is possibily better technically better than another. I think it is great that bbc3 and 4 now show a lot of documentaries that are shot on Z1 cameras, would they have been made at all in the old days and it shows that it is the idea that is important. This then ripples through to the post prod side and it is now far easier to edit, dub and produce these ideas into programmes than ever before. Of course there are certain standards that need to be kept but surely there are lots of talented people out there at the beeb and other places who can produce material to a higher standard now than we ever could before.

infocus
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PaulD wrote:
So whilst the BBC may indeed have become a mere shadow of its former glorious self, I suspect it still retains the ability 'to boldly go' into future technological strategic thinking-mode in a way that other, bigger, market sectors may align themselves with further down the line.

Yes, well put.

Regarding your clipped comment about XDCAM, it's worth further quoting from the article:

Quote:
XDCAM HD product manager Daryl Blair was asked for his response.
“The format’s independent of the media. (Paul) is tying it in with the fact that it’s optical disc when XDCAM is really a file system. We’re using Pro Disk as acquisition format, but the file system could exist on anything else in the future,” he said. “The media you are storing on will always evolve in some way.”

Six months later, SxS was announced, so those remarks can be revisited now with a whole new meaning.

Also relevant is another quote from that article - this time from the BBC:

Quote:
Starwinder might involve Sony further down the line, but not now with optical disc.

Which gives me the impression that the objection to XDCAM wasn't so much down to codec, file format etc issues as that at that time it was tied to optical disc, at least in public.

In the future, that XDCAM can be either disc or solid state could give it an edge over P2 being solid state only, in a way that being disc only simply couldn't.

tom hardwick
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I watch some of those Beeb docs shot on Z1s and often slap my forehead at the sloppy camerawork and even sloppier editing. Still, it makes my films look good to my brides.

infocus
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JGNattrass wrote:
But hasnt the beeb much like Thames TV in the 90's always gone for panasonic products and bespoke equipment rather than what is widely used in the mainstream.

Trouble with the BBC is that it it tends to consist of so many different departments, that it's difficult to generalise.

But AFAIK they seem to have associated more with Sony than Panasonic, at least as far as camcorder formats go. The only big Panasonic involvement I ever heard of them having was going D3 to replace 1" C format, and all the anecdotal stories I've ever heard was that it was a huge relief when component and widescreen working meant a move to Digibeta.

Similarly for news, AFAIK only ITN ever went for Panasonic with DVCPro, and widescreen has now meant them moving to DVCAM (DSR450s). BBC went from BetaSP to DVCAM (DSR500s) from Beta SP and Sky went to BetaSX. (I think the BBC also use SX abroad, mainly for Beta SP compatability, and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

PaulD
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infocus wrote:
Which gives me the impression that the objection to XDCAM wasn't so much down to codec, file format etc issues as that at that time it was tied to optical disc, at least in public.
In the future, that XDCAM can be either disc or solid state could give it an edge over P2 being solid state only, in a way that being disc only simply couldn't.

Hi
Since the BBC has always had the management of a huge centralised media-server storage strategy at the core of its thinking I would guess that its more than just the Blu-ray discs that are a problem for them, that aren't 'plug-and-play further downstream'.

MAGLINK
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tom hardwick wrote:
I watch some of those Beeb docs shot on Z1s and often slap my forehead at the sloppy camerawork and even sloppier editing. Still, it makes my films look good to my brides.

I agree but Ive worked on mainstream itv drama the bill that did this deliberately because it was a more earthy style???:rolleyes:

tom hardwick
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'a more earthy style' is just a cop-out (The Bill - geddit?). The Bourne trilogy uses 'a more earthy style', but it's done with frame-accurate care and devotion. There's skill and there's junk.

infocus
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PaulD wrote:
Hi
Since the BBC has always had the management of a huge centralised media-server storage strategy at the core of its thinking I would guess that its more than just the Blu-ray discs that are a problem for them, that aren't 'plug-and-play further downstream'.

May well be, I'm only quoting directly from the article, and optical disc was the only factor actually specified there: - "Starwinder might involve Sony further down the line, but not now with optical disc."

MAGLINK
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DAVE M wrote:
but the video industry loves standards.........that's why we have so many of them!!

But at the end of the day we can never have enough standards, it keeps us on our toes and fuels discussion forums!

Regarding the topic in point it will be interesting to see if the EX format is a robust as tape or disc, theres a certain comfort that you can see the spools going round.

Alan Roberts
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As far as I'm aware, the root of the BBC's objection to XDCAM has been that the codec is proprietary, much more than the medium being optical. They are desperate to avoid being tied in to one supplier. BBC's cost concerns are more to do with the workflow than the shooting quality, they tend to leave that to me these days :)

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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That article is interesting, although many of the points put across show that they haven't actually understood the system. For some reason the BBC had cloth ears when XD was demoed to them.

I always like to forget the big organisations a lot of the time, because the majority of us here are not working for the BBC or ITV etc. If you are a small video production operation disc makes things so much easier to deal with. So any replacement, in my eyes, MUST be a hybrid. This is why Infinity looks so tempting. If Sony replaced the disc cameras with solid state, I would have to look very carefully at Infinity. I haven't upgraded to a high def camera for myself yet precisely because of all of this development that is going on.

Quote:
Containment of costs has always demanded standardisation, and the current trend to fragmentation is costing us all.

I don't think it is any worse than it was with tape now, although it might seem worse because tapeless formats are co-existing with tape systems. When it boils down to it we have XDCAM, P2, and Infinity. And all of those write to an MXF wrapper of some sort (though Sony for some reason, as they always do, decided to make theirs different!)

With tape we have MiniDV, DVCAM, HDV, DVCpro, IMX, Digibeta, HDCAM, HDCAM SR as being the most widely used formats.

The real issue with tapeless is finding a solution that works for everyone. My sister just found out for herself the drawbacks of taking digital photos and not making backups. I find the full workflow of working with digital photos a pain. How do I store them? Do I store the original RAW files, or a finalised JPEG? RAW takes up so much space and isn't practical for me to upload to an online backup store. CDR's aren't always reliable. Hard drives require constant backing up too. Are amateurs expected to purchase DLT style tape archive systems and have banks of hard drives that need constant duplication for years of family memories to remain safe?

I see the same sorts of issues with SS video, especially for the smaller production companies that make industrial and low level corporate, and weddings etc that make up the bulk of all video production in the UK, and indeed for amateurs who walk into Dixons to buy a camera. The average home user would really prefer to record their family moments to a medium that they can stick on a shelf afterwards. Many do not edit their footage. They just record and then play it back. Solid state, unless as cheap as tape cannot fulfill that function in any shape or form.

My info from one dealer is that sales of HPX-500's are practically none existant despite promotion, while sales of the XDCAM HD's is constant. I think that says something for the independents views on solid state only options. The landscape will no doubt change now that infinity is out though.

SimonMW
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Quote:
the root of the BBC's objection to XDCAM has been that the codec is proprietary, much more than the medium being optical.

LOL! So the BBC wants to increase the usage of FCP within its organisation and it has a problem with the codec, despite FCP, and indeed any decent NLE system handling all XDCAM formats perfectly fine.

DVCAM was proprietry. DVCpro is proprietry. Digibeta is proprietry, HDCAM is proprietry. All formats are proprietry!

In a world where the actual codec used these days is not an issue because most decent systems handle all of them, that is rather a cop out.

PaulD
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SimonMW wrote:
All formats are proprietry!
In a world where the actual codec used these days is not an issue because most decent systems handle all of them, that is rather a cop out.

Hi
But there is a difference when the codec is the responsibility of a standards body. and freely licensable, like MPEG or Infinity's JPEG2000, or when its the closely guarded property of likes of Sony, where their codecs are locked out against anyone else - as in their now-defunct XPRI NLE system.

The issue for the BBC is whether the codec will be freely configuarable for their multi-resolution media server strategy.
That issue is directly comparable for any industry that relies on collaborative production or distribution workflows.

That issue is fundamental to even the small wedding videographer, in that a home-user distribution standard to eventually replace DVD is crucial to their future business survival.
Only the production company that can work in a hermetically sealed bubble - as maybe some in-house corporate units - can afford to avoid the issue

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
DVCAM was proprietry. DVCpro is proprietry. Digibeta is proprietry, HDCAM is proprietry. All formats are proprietry!

All of which are physical tape formats. The only way to get them into the edit suite is by playing them on a deck and capturing the result. This is what the BBC want to get away from. XDCam is the same to an extent, it has to be imported and handled the XDCam way.

On the other hand, P2 uses DVCProHD, a codec which is open and by that I mean I can go and download a free implementation of it to include in home-brew software (such as BBC R&D's Ingex -- see http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp-pdf-files/WHP155.pdf for details).

The advantages of this are obvious. Take a show in the vain of 'Strictly Come Dancing'. I can use the BBC Ingex servers to record the live material in the studio to the media server in DVCproHD at virtually no cost (we are talking DSR11 costs here for HD recording) and shoot on Panasonic P2 cameras behind the scenes. The result of both these things is simple DVCproHD MXF files on the server, which can be accessed by the editors workstation.

The second advantage is in terms of legacy archive. The BBC don't want to be left in the situation they are now with their D3 archive. As I understand it, they worked out that even if they bought every single D3 spare part in the world, they still would not have enough parts to playback all the D3 tapes in the archive. The result is that they are having to pick and choose what is and isn't transferred (not necessarily a problem since there is lots of duplicated material in there). The result of the transfer will be uncompressed 8-bit MXF files and the hope is that this is the final format, the files, not the storage medium.

With a proprietary codec or tape format, then you are at the mercy of the vendor -- if they go bust you could be left with unplayable media or files when the computer systems can no longer run the software (c.f., the BBC Domesday system restoration).

The BBC's stance makes a lot of sense. And it wouldn't surprise me if it is partly responsible for Sony changing the format of the files recorded on XDCAM for the EX. Suddenly, it is using more open-standards...

Steven

PaulD
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infocus wrote:
That article is dated August 2006, and I find it quite interesting that no further word has come from the BBC on the subject since, except one department using DVCProHD TAPE for programmes which must be shot Hi-Def now..

Hi
The September 2007 BBC R&D link that Steven has quoted carries matters on quite nicely, in terms of backroom developments ;)

Interestingly it refers to 'XFS file system' cheap SATA RAID 5 disk arrays. As a Mac user that ties in with rumors that Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was being developed to support XFS...

infocus
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PaulD wrote:
But there is a difference when the codec is the responsibility of a standards body. and freely licensable, like MPEG or Infinity's JPEG2000, or when its the closely guarded property of likes of Sony, where their codecs are locked out against anyone else..........

I'm now confused - surely XDCAM uses MPEG, and also MXF like P2, so what bit of it is controlled by Sony?

PaulD
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Hi
Obviously the Blu-ray bit is highly proprietary, and the use of their own IMX variant for the MPEG video file format, but aside from that, there's Sony's implementation of the MXF metadata and proxy MPEG-4 files. Which as Steven points out, had been altered with the EX's use of MPEG-4 file wrapping.

StevenBagley
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PaulD wrote:
Interestingly it refers to 'XFS file system' cheap SATA RAID 5 disk arrays. As a Mac user that ties in with rumors that Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was being developed to support XFS...

That was ZFS, a different but far more interesting file system. ZFS came out of Sun, XFS is out of SGI but is good at handling large media files.

Steven

StevenBagley
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infocus wrote:
I'm now confused - surely XDCAM uses MPEG, and also MXF like P2, so what bit of it is controlled by Sony?

I think part of the problem is that MXF files can be many things to different people. So the MXF files off the P2 are not directly compatible with all Avids (and vice versa). I imagine part of the problem is that the way Sony have wrapped the long-GOP MPEG2 into MXF files isn't that well documented so that while Avid and FCP can read them in -- they don't play nice in the BBC's view of things.

You see, the edit suite is only one part of the equation. In addition, there are lots of bespoke computer programs providing browse quality clips to the production staff's mobile phones, PDAs and iPods rather than using DVD and VHS. All of which need to be able to understand the stored files.

I suspect the main reason the BBC decided against XDCAM was because it was at the time SD only and from what I here didn't play well with their edit suites (they effectively ended up treating it as a tape format I understand). Then when XDCamHD launched it was long-GOP and only 1/2" (compared to the 2/3" I-Frame options from Panasonic and GV). Of course, now when there's the EX and 2/3" cameras coming along I wouldn't be surprised if they take another look. And looking through the Ingex source code (all the BBC's software is freely available) it seems that the programmers have considered it at least :)

Steven

StevenBagley
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Found this video which outlines some of the BBC's tech being used on BAMZOOKi.

Steven

Alan Roberts
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Thanks guys, you've neatly filled in the details. The BBC is determined not to get boxed into deals with single suppliers of hardware and/or software. Open-ness is the way forward for us all. That's why DV has been so successful.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
The BBC is determined not to get boxed into deals with single suppliers of hardware and/or software. Open-ness is the way forward for us all. That's why DV has been so successful.

The optical disc side of XDCAM is pretty easy to see the proprietriness of, I hadn't realised quite what a can of worms the file element of it all was. But hopefully easier to overcome than the hardware?

On that note, SxS cards seem more of an open standard than P2, though neither of them can come close to Compact Flash. That Cardbus is now effectively obsolescent must count against P2.

Conceivably, the BBC may not go for any single shooting standard at all - differing departments going differing ways, as long as they meet a given set of criteria.

Alan Roberts
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That's always been my advice, go for the format that gives the best compromise between shooting quality and ease of workflow. That balance will always be different in the various parts of this industry. Of course, I'd always personally like to pick the format with the best images, but budgets don't always allow that.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

MAGLINK
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Alan Roberts wrote:
That's always been my advice, go for the format that gives the best compromise between shooting quality and ease of workflow. That balance will always be different in the various parts of this industry. Of course, I'd always personally like to pick the format with the best images, but budgets don't always allow that.

Wise words indeed but in an ever changing media world there is always some numpty producer who wants to try and re-invent the wheel. Normally after spending lots of £££ the wheel then falls off and the people with the knowledge have to pick up the pieces.

StevenBagley
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infocus wrote:
On that note, SxS cards seem more of an open standard than P2, though neither of them can come close to Compact Flash. That Cardbus is now effectively obsolescent must count against P2.

I'm not sure there is really any difference -- both P2 and SxS use standard IT form factors that are widely adopted and implemented so reading the files off the card shouldn't be a problem.

However, I don't think that it is an issue since P2 and SxS by their very nature are transitory media. The files are likely to be copied off the media to something else within a few days at maximum. It then becomes a matter of archiving the data rather than the media.

Of course, the problem with formats like XDCam is that because it is a cheap, proprietary medium there is a tendency to archive the media rather than the data which leads you back into all the problems that entails when you try and access the archive material in the future. Yes it may be very convenient to drop your project file etc back onto the XDCam as your archive copy. At least for now, but what happens when you need to access that project in five or ten years time? Will you still have a working XDCam drive? Will they still be available?

With the file-based approach, you just migrate the files to new media -- if necessary, for example the BBC's preferred LTO3 tape format for archiving at the moment is guaranteed to be readable by LTO4 and LTO5 drives giving confidence that the tape will be readable in the future. And of course, when the time does come to transfer it (almost certainly to online storage rather than as tape) it will be a job that can be automatically done rather than the semi-manual processes involved now since there will be no need to watch the video since they are just data.

Steven

infocus
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StevenBagley wrote:
I'm not sure there is really any difference -- both P2 and SxS use standard IT form factors that are widely adopted and implemented so reading the files off the card shouldn't be a problem.

But ExpressCard readers are built in to modern laptops, Cardbus now aren't. Sure, you can get readers etc, but are then less likely to make use of the full potential performance of SxS or P2, to say nothing of the convienience. P2 via a reader may lose much of it's inherent speed advantage v CF - so why then not just use CF and have cheaper cards? Whilst Cardbus may be a fairly open standard, then P2 certainly isn't. I understand a third party was intending to make their own version, but have had to put the project on hold, so for the foreseeable future you have to buy your P2 cards from Panasonic.

But I did say "count against P2" - not "rule it out".

I hear what you say about XDCAM disc, and for a large organisation it makes 100% sense. For a one man operation I'm not sure it's quite as cut and dried, and if "XDCAM" will in future mean both disc and SxS it does at least give the user the choice, in a way that P2 doesn't. In the past, that's what has appealed to me in concept about Infinity. It's now Panasonic who are the odd man out. If the BBC don't want to use disc, fine, don't, at least the option is there.

SimonMW
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Quote:
At least for now, but what happens when you need to access that project in five or ten years time? Will you still have a working XDCam drive? Will they still be available?

I think this applies to all formats, even tape (hence the reason some US networks still keep ancient Umatics just in case!)

From a low level production point of view (as in small corporates and industrials) it isn't much of an effort to hand over an XDCAM disc to the client after editing is completed. That way if they want to come back and have a re-edit the responsibility of looking after the master footage is theirs, and it isn't taking up the video companies shelf space. A broadcasters requirements are different because they own the programmes that they produce and have to have solid archives, and the data volumes are colossal.

At the end of the day I believe that technology should reduce the complications, not increase them. Whatever the format, we can never have a true replacement for tape until the recording media is as disposable as tape. And solid state can never be really useful to Joe Bloggs until archive that is as reliable as LTO is available cheap enough and easy to use for the masses. That's what bugs me a lot about these solid state cameras for consumers. How do you safeguard your families memories?

CF does seem like a good route to go down if Solid State is used. It is comparatively cheap (£150 for 16gb), and easy to use with any cheap reader, though we have yet to see it prove itself for video.

But recording media is one thing. Recording formats are another, and the damn camera capabilities are another. One thing I am getting sick of is a consistently reduced feature set that doesn't live up to the early promises. There are too many compromises going on, and seemingly it is all artificial.

I'm holding off on upgrading to high def. I just do not believe we are anywhere near close enough to maturity in this area. Sony have released monitors now that are ready for 1080 50/60p. I am certain that within a couple of years someone will come out with an affordable camera that can record it (okay yes, Red can already), even if there is no way to distribute it.

Shooting high def for future use now is one thing, but when the future standard is 1080p at 50 or 60fps, 25 will look rather tatty. I think that high def as it stands now is a half way standard. I know that developments go on all the time and that if we all just wait we would never purchase anything. But I feel that high def developments are moving so fast even every half year, that it won't take long.

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
I think this applies to all formats, even tape (hence the reason some US networks still keep ancient Umatics just in case!)

It applies to all media -- yes. It doesn't apply to files and that is the crucial difference. I've documents on my current machine that started out as VIEW files on the BBC Micro, and have since then migrated to an Atari ST, a windows box and final to my Mac. On the other hand, if I'd just kept the 5.25" disks about it'd be virtually impossible to access them but because I moved the files from system to system the data is readily accessible to me and these days it is trivial to do that automatically. And if we use open rather than proprietary codecs (or better still no codec at all) for our video then the chances of it becoming unplayable tends toward zero.

An XDCam Professional Disk, Digibeta, HDCam, DVCProHD tape etc are tomorrow's 5.25" disk. However, keep the files alive (whether they be on your system or your clients) and the video is accessible forever. The BBC are jumping into this headlong as early adopters but I don't think it'll be long before it is the way everyone does it. And in this brave new future, Professional disk doesn't make sense -- something I suspect Sony have recognized for a while -- I remember reading an interview several years back which hinted that they saw XDCam continuing beyond Professional Disk. Indeed, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Professional Disk disappears far quicker than they imagined.

In your own use, if you keep your video on PD, then you may well find in five to ten years that you can't access it, yet if you keep the files on a hard disk and just migrate that data as you upgrade then I'm certain that you'll have absolutely no problem accessing it 25 years since there's far too many free implementations of the DV (and IMX for that matter) codecs around in source form. As an analogy, I have no problems printing and reading documents written on computer systems in the 1970s because I am able to compile and use the same Document Preparation Systems they used on my Mac as they were running on PDP-11s.

Steven

infocus
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Interesting points from Steven and Simon, and I can't disagree with really anything either says - even if the viewpoints are somewhat opposed!

Fact is they are looking at an issue from different perspectives, and what may be the bees knees for one organisation at one point in time may be hopeless for another.

Steven is, I feel, looking more into the future, but Simon makes very valid "here and now" points. Translated to practical terms, the Infinity concept has suited both sides from the outset, making XDCAM either/or means Sony are getting there, but P2 is left with a big workflow gap for some, and will for some considerable time.

No wonder the "here and now" solution for most who need to shoot Hi-Def now still seems resolutely tape. It will change, but.........

SimonMW
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I think Steve has some very good points, but misses one vital one along the way. All current tapeless formats are file based. When a format becomes obsolete then I can still move those files from the XD disc somewhere else, just like he mvoed his files off 5.25" disc.

The greater problem here is how every day people deal with this stuff. New consumer cameras are becoming solid state. And as we know most people never back up their computer systems. When they record family events many do not even edit, so the footage never touches a NLE quite often.

Coming up with a solution to give these people long term idiot proof archive in a tapeless future is something that companies are really going to have to get to grips with.

Non linear archive for professionals is something that needs to be sorted out too. The likes of LTO might be fine, and huge banks of servers for the BBC that they can constantly make duplicate backups of etc is fine. But most video operations don't have the money for huge servers, and while LTO is utterly reliable, it is still a bit arse about tit to have a linear tape based archive in a non linear world.

Now where's my Holodrive?

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
I think Steve has some very good points, but misses one vital one along the way. All current tapeless formats are file based. When a format becomes obsolete then I can still move those files from the XD disc somewhere else, just like he mvoed his files off 5.25" disc.

It seems I didn't make my point that clear -- I moved the files off the 5.25" floppies in 1990 when BBC micros were still common to 3.5" floppies on the Atari and in 1998 moved it from the ATari to the PC and then later to the Mac. If I'd missed any of these steps, then it'd be much harder to get those files off the 5.25" floppies. I could do it with relative ease because I was moving files around at a time when there was overlap between the systems -- something we all do when we buy new computers, we copy our files across from one to the other. The same is true with XDCam -- providing we make the transfers in time, but it is going to be far far more hassle to move 2TB of data off 100 XDCam disks than it is to copy it across a Gigabit ethernet.

The danger though (not just with video, but all computer data) is that we move things onto removable media (be it CD, DVD, floppy, or USB flash drives) and delete it from our computers hard drives. The problem is of course, that we put the media to one side and ignore it until it is too late. As an example, a friend of mine recently had call to revisit a project from the late-90s, which had been done on an Akai DD1000 digital audio workstation and archived onto the machine's Magneto-optical drive. He'd archived two copies of the project on MO disks and still had the machine he'd used to create it thinking that he'd be able to reload the project should the need arise. When the need did arise, he found that the Magneto-optical drive in the DD1000 refused to work, spares are no longer made and getting hold of second-user parts is a pain.

I'm coming to the conclusion that it is more important to keep the data online and consider removable media only relevant to restore the online storage in case of hardware failure, so today it might be on DVD/BD/LTO/XDCam and tomorrow it is on data crystal but the primary storage is the online data. And I do wonder if it might be more important to the small video-shop than the likes of the BBC. The BBC can afford to run big projects to migrate its archive, and not affect its day to day operations, but can a two or three person video shop afford to spend the time migrating it's archive when it could be earning money?

Unfortunately, while the technology to provide online storage this cheaply and space-efficently exists, it is not yet in a user-friendly form. Using various free software packages available today, I could set up a cheap active storage setup using commodity drives and hardware that probably worked out as cheap and as space efficient to archive to as any other medium. But then I'm a computer scientist by trade and so am not phased by terms such as iSCSI, Logical Volume Management, RAID, JBOD, Linux, LUNs etc. Until it is user-friendly, we are caught in the cross-roads between production workflows...

Steven

HallmarkProductions
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StevenBagley wrote:
The same is true with XDCam -- providing we make the transfers in time, but it is going to be far far more hassle to move 2TB of data off 100 XDCam disks than it is to copy it across a Gigabit ethernet.

Whilst that is true, don't forget that USB XDCAM reader drives will be available for a long time yet, and will probably be supplemented by ones with network capability built in. FWIW we transfer our XDCAM HD footag costing around 17p per gig of storage.We have kept original discs too, but that will change as time moves on, and we want to re-use them. OK, we are not on the scale of the BBC and other broadcasters, but, I am sure that will work for most small companies. In due course, as technology changes, it will probably be easy enough to migrate from these drives onto whatever takes their place.

Chris
Time for a new signature now...

infocus
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StevenBagley wrote:
Unfortunately, while the technology to provide online storage this cheaply and space-efficently exists, it is not yet in a user-friendly form................Until it is user-friendly, we are caught in the cross-roads between production workflows...

Which I think is really the hub of the argument. Planning for the future is a great thing, but you mustn't forget the present.

And that, I feel, is where Panasonic have somewhat fallen down. So intent on the future that they've rather forgotten present realities. To the extent that HDX900 sales seem to be booming, even to BBC productions! Ironically, old fashioned tape has had to come to the commercial rescue. Conversely, Sony may have had a shock at how quickly the future has come to meet them, but to give them credit, they are now seeming to get to grips with it.

As far as longevity goes, I believe modern Beta variant decks will still play original Beta tapes from 25 (?) years ago. OK, not file based, not copyable without manual intervention, but still quite impressive backwards legacy. Maybe we can hope for similar from XDCAM?

In the meantime, what's the betting now on when we'll see a 2/3" big brother to the EX? :)

Alan Roberts
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I'm with Steven, 100%.

What's important in this game is the content, not the medium. I also have stuff originally written in 1981 on a BBC micro*, migrated to Psion 3, then to Psion 3a, then to Windows 3.1, then to Windows NT (at work) and Windows 98 (at home), now on Windows XP. Been through 7 different computers in that time and still accessible. That's because it's the files that are moved, not the medium. All this talk of the longevity of the media is wasted breath, it's not important, it's all about content, nothing else matters.

* part of that elderly archive is a program I started writing in 1981, a tv channel simulator. It fitted on a single 100K floppy, including all the measurement files I was generating when measuring broadcast monitors, and it ran in 32k of RAM including the screen. That same program has migrated through all those machines, continually being extended and revised, and is now 45k lines of code, occupying over 12 Megs of hard drive, but parts of it are clearly identifiable as belonging to that 1981 original.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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HallmarkProductions wrote:
Whilst that is true, don't forget that USB XDCAM reader drives will be available for a long time yet, and will probably be supplemented by ones with network capability built in.

Will they? I'm not so sure. I can quite easily see Sony starting to phase XDCam Professional disk out by 2010 -- especially if the uptake of SxS models starts to overtake (and even more quickly if Bluray is killed off! -- as I understand it there are a lot of similarities between the two). If that happens, then the possibility of being able to get hold of an XDCam USB drive is very remote. The trouble is five years is a long time in the computer world, but not really in the video world. The documentaries that I work on are now at the point where we are using material shot five years ago still because sadly the people interviewed are no longer with us and this is the only record. Fortunately, DVCam is still a supported production format and so the tapes are still easily playable. I'm not sure that we would be in the same position if we were archiving XDCam disks now for use in 2012...

infocus wrote:
And that, I feel, is where Panasonic have somewhat fallen down. So intent on the future that they've rather forgotten present realities. To the extent that HDX900 sales seem to be booming, even to BBC productions! Ironically, old fashioned tape has had to come to the commercial rescue.

But isn't that more to do with there not being a tapeless equivalent available. Panasonic's P2 strategy always seemed bizarre to me in that respect. Start with SD cameras when people are moving to HD, then when you do start with HD gear it's squarely aimed at the consumer... And then when you bring out pro-HD gear it's not as good picture-wise as the tape-based machines...

Quote:
Conversely, Sony may have had a shock at how quickly the future has come to meet them, but to give them credit, they are now seeming to get to grips with it.

Yep, although I suspect that XDCam EX has always been on the cards internally... Indeed, I wonder if Professional Disk was done to get usable tapeless machines out before flash memory caught up. After all, PD is just a BLuray variant -- even down to the casing.

Steven

HallmarkProductions
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StevenBagley wrote:
Will they? I'm not so sure. I can quite easily see Sony starting to phase XDCam Professional disk out by 2010 -- especially if the uptake of SxS models starts to overtake (and even more quickly if Bluray is killed off! -- as I understand it there are a lot of similarities between the two). If that happens, then the possibility of being able to get hold of an XDCam USB drive is very remote. The trouble is five years is a long time in the computer world, but not really in the video world. The documentaries that I work on are now at the point where we are using material shot five years ago still because sadly the people interviewed are no longer with us and this is the only record. Fortunately, DVCam is still a supported production format and so the tapes are still easily playable. I'm not sure that we would be in the same position if we were archiving XDCam disks now for use in 2012...

Steven

But Stephen, like has been said before, production companies still keep defunct equipment for many years after it has stopped being produced, so they can access the content easily. Even if your "speculation" about discs is right, and it is only speculation, the machines do not stop working overnight. There is a growing market for XDCAm worldwide, and the disc drives have not even been released yet! Besides, as I have already said, it is easy to backup/transfer the data to other media anyway

Chris
Time for a new signature now...

SimonMW
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Also don't forget that while I, for example, keep my footage on XDCAM disc, many others who use XD reuse their discs and keep a traditional archive system going for the footage that they have edited.

What I'd like to see is digital 'film' where the picture is kept physically on a roll! Sort of like those screens that Sony have developed that keep the picture or text that was fed to them even when no power is going into them. Why can I never find links to articles when I need them!?

Analogue organic storage... hmmmmm. I'll go and take my pills now...

Alan Roberts
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Simon, while I accept that that's the way you like to do it, for many others, the capture medium is only a transition method, the way of getting action from the scene into the editor. Life's changing, and doing so very rapidly. The medium itself is largely irrelevant so long as you can still read it, so the archiving process of the future will be totally independent of the medium, only files. Far more important is the compression method and file structure.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
........ the archiving process of the future will be totally independent of the medium, only files. Far more important is the compression method and file structure.

Yes, yes, yes. But that is "the future" and no doubt Steven and Hallmark Productions will go that way in due course. But for very good reasons "the future" needs to come quicker to some users than others, and a system ideal for the future is of little use today. Hence the irony of P2 - already obsolescent architecture, but looking too much into the future to be of use to many today!

Sony's approach seems far more sensible - worry about the present now, but keep an eye open to the way things are heading. (Though I still feel they may have moved a little late.) And yes indeed to open formats, conceivably the BBC may have helped save them from themselves.

Regarding who the BBC may go with for next gen cameras, then if I was a bookie 15 months ago (the time of the TVB article) I would have rated Panasonic favourite, Infinity next, and Sony trailing up the rear. If I did the same exercise today, I think I'd reverse the odds, and much of that is down to SxS.

Alan Roberts
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Indeed, I have a much longer view into the future, it's what I do. The real problem is that the future's habit of creeping up on us is accelerating rather forbiddingly, so we have to keep a
on eye on what's going to be happening and not stay with heads buried in the sand, hoping it will all go away.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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Quote:
Simon, while I accept that that's the way you like to do it, for many others, the capture medium is only a transition method, the way of getting action from the scene into the editor.

Yes I know, which is why my entire sentence said that other people don't work my way! :)

Quote:
Far more important is the compression method and file structure.

Which needs to be open source. While I like XD, I still get fed up of different closed standards.

Quote:
so we have to keep a
on eye on what's going to be happening and not stay with heads buried in the sand, hoping it will all go away.

No, we need to let the manufacturers know in no uncertain terms which way we want to go. Otherwise, if left to their own devices no amount of keeping our eye on things will save us from the equipment purchasing dillemas that we currently have.

As Infocus points out, some need to work now rather than tomorrow. I hate tape. I really, really, really loathe it each time I am forced to work with it or edit with it now. And I'm glad I took the plunge into a first gen system for once in my life. It really has made my life so much easier.

Saying that archiving is separate is one thing. But actually coming up with a viable solution that makes it a painless process for everyone from mums and dads videoing their kids growing up, all the way through to high end pros, is quite another.

Somebody needs to come up with a non linear archive system that can last without the need for constant re-archiving for safety, and they need to come up with it pronto.

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
What I'd like to see is digital 'film' where the picture is kept physically on a roll!

The BBC actually tried this in the mid-1990s and it was even demonstrated on Tomorrow's world. They realised that as an archive medium, monochrome film was one of the cheapest and most stable about and so developed film recording technology to the point where they could record a colour image onto monochrome film for archive (as Y, Pr and Pb channels across the width of the film).

Talking to people involved with the telecine transfer and film recording, it was an absolute nightmare to get it to work due to film weave and various other problems.

Quote:
Sort of like those screens that Sony have developed that keep the picture or text that was fed to them even when no power is going into them. Why can I never find links to articles when I need them!?

I know the ones you mean, and it is not just sony, Motorola, and HP among others all have e-Paper solutions -- there is a motorola mobile about that uses one as its many display. However, I'm not sure there is anyway to read the data back off the device other than a camera.

Steven

Z Cheema
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Joined: Nov 17 2003

Many moons ago in my teens I had the idea of using 35mm slide film to record music on a small CRT to write the image, process the film, then place back in the same machine and the this time the CRT would be the scanner and a small LDR would pick up the signal give you music.
The CRT would scan the Film at a slow speed and modulate the beam to burn the film in an analogue way so the intensity varied depending on the loudness of the signal and playback being the reverse.
never made it could never afford the equipment and sinclair had not come out with those cool small TV sets at the time, that I need as my writer/reader.

Do a search on e-paper on Google and lots of things pop up including some nice images
Motophone looks like the first mobil phone with e-paper
http://www.epaper.org.uk/
http://www.eink.com/
http://www.lesechos.fr/epaper/inscription.htm

SimonMW
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Quote:
Talking to people involved with the telecine transfer and film recording, it was an absolute nightmare to get it to work due to film weave and various other problems.

As technology moves on, there may be a way to solve this combined with an e-paper style solution. Only real trouble is that it might be a rather expensive way of doing things!

I know some might think it a bit archaic to have a physical strip of pictures. But as long as a picture is physically visible there will always be a way to get it back into a system, even 100 years from now.

Mind you it still isn't useful for the low end. Which is why some sort of 3D organic storage is probably the answer.

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
I know some might think it a bit archaic to have a physical strip of pictures. But as long as a picture is physically visible there will always be a way to get it back into a system, even 100 years from now.

To be fair, so are uncompressed digital files as long as they are kept on a live system.

Steven

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003

To the question, "what media is most suitable if for very long term storage?", I once heard the answer "granite and a chisel".

Even suitable for still images, if not for video.......

StevenBagley
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infocus wrote:
To the question, "what media is most suitable if for very long term storage?", I once heard the answer "granite and a chisel".

Even suitable for still images, if not for video.......

Watch out for Jane Asher if you are going to try and use stone as a medium... :)

Steven

paultv
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Just noticed this thread, which is about the EX, and has reached something like 95 posts albeit a bit off topic, compared to 10 replies for the Infinity thread, does this tell us something I wonder?

Paul

Alan Roberts
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I'm testing an Infinity on Monday, to get BBC settings for it.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

mooblie
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Alan Roberts wrote:
It looks like I'll be doing a test on an EX sometime in December. It was to have been bundled with tests on Infinity, but somebody's timescale has slipped a bit.

I'll announce on each as and when...

Alan - is this still on the cards?

There is an interesting/worrying (and rather long) thread on DVinfo about what appears to be some serious vignetting on the EX. If you're investigating, perhaps you could bear this particular point in mind? It almost looks like a design flaw - sensor too big for the lens cone of illumination...

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

More like sensor too small or it's centrelines off axis with the lense's CL.

mooblie
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tom hardwick wrote:
...sensor too small....

? ...big?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Alan Roberts
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I've been alerted to camera tests on the newest Sonys, don't know which model yet. Waiting for info. It's not likely to be in the next 2 weeks though, I'm in Bristol all next week, and at Ravensbourne next Saturday, so will be wanting a rest for a bit.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Z Cheema
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Joined: Nov 17 2003

I believe this camera is now on the shelves

infocus
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mooblie wrote:
? ...big?

No - I suspect Tom meant too small for the coverage of the lens.

The real clever part of this camera is getting 1/2" chips (and lens etc to match) within a package of a size and weight that normally could only take 1/3" - and making it smaller and lighter too! Hardly surprising if manufacturing tolerances may be very tight.

mooblie
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infocus wrote:
No - I suspect Tom meant too small for the coverage of the lens.

Sorry - I don't get it: surely the sensor is too big for the coverage of the lens?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

infocus
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mooblie wrote:
Sorry - I don't get it: surely the sensor is too big for the coverage of the lens?

Doh.... you're quite right. A question of thinking one thing and typing the other...... doh.

Z Cheema
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Joined: Nov 17 2003

Just thought I would share these EX clips posted on the Sony Forum site

there are two small clips to play with

http://www.dendv.nl/ex-review1.php

fuddam
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Joined: Nov 19 2005

yep indeedy - ty for that :)