Media 100 HD (High Definition) NLE Systems
We have a new member in our family.
First, if you're not up on all the latest HD buzzwords, refer to our Glossary so we can talk in acronyms.
This page is intended to provide our past and new customers with information that will help you decide how to move into the HD arena. We believe that the Media 100 HD is a new but solid product; a complete, full quality NLE. As a Systems Integrator, Timeline Designs has exclusively provided turnkey Media 100 systems to hundreds of customers. Our turnkey systems can include the whole editing suite mounted in a rack, or can include only the Mac, installed software, storage towers and Media 100 allowing the customer to use his own monitors, VTR, etc.
In short, We'd like to use our experience to provide an expandable and transitional editing solution to customers whose goal is to make a profit in this business while moving forward to HD.
Where do I start? If you are like a lot of our customers, your primary business is still in good old SD 4:3 television with your output on Betacam or DVD. How then do you accommodate a client that wants to shoot a project in HD? (In the end, hell probably have to release it in SD anyway). Do you bite the bullet and spring for a complete HD NLE workstation knowing youll have to do it sometime in the near future? Perhaps TimeLine Designs can help. We build turnkey, ready to edit Media 100 HD and SD systems. We are small enough to listen to your needs and plans so we can create a cost effective approach for you to move into HD. In fact, many of our customers with Media 100i systems already have components that can be used with the Media 100 HD.
The answer is NO, you dont have to buy a dedicated HD system and you don't have to buy it all at once. NAB 2005 showed that many manufacturers were addressing the same problem: Production facilities need products that will span the gap between SD and HD during the next few years. The technology of converting video between SD and HD has become very affordable due to the availability of faster CPUs. This allows existing SD footage to be converted to a 16:9 format and used within a HD program. Based on the premise that today's NLEs should be able to provide as seamless integration of SD and HD sources, Media 100 created the Media 100. In the works now for several years, is an unqualified success in allowing you to work in both SD and HD, even on the same timeline! It uses technology from the HD only Media 100 844x and the SD only Media 100i in an implementation that you can only respond to with "Ah Ha!".
How much? The Media 100 website () will show you the features and flexibility such a system can offer, but what are the requirements for the rest of your facility? True, you can buy the Media 100 HD for as little as $7000 as an existing Media 100 user, but your total outlay for an HD system could run you upwards of $26,000 not including monitors, digital mixer or HD VTRs. So, best to start planning for it now. Meanwhile, you can get started (in order to offer that first customer HD support) for FREE! Sounds like late night TV...."And if you order NOW, we'll include....."
Free HD? Assuming that you already have at least a fast G4 or G5 running OSX, you can download the software portion of the Media 100 HD for free from Media 100. () While it is only a beta version that expires in 90 days, it is full featured and will even run on your laptop. Paired up with your existing Media 100i, you will be able to open up your current projects in Media 100 HD as a HD project, apply multiple video layers and Boris Graffiti titles. Then output the project in SD as a QuickTime file or as HD media that you can take to someone who already has a Media 100 HD system to be dumped onto HD tape.
Granted, to get the real time direct digitizing input and outputs you will need the hardware to go with the software, but one thing at a time. Sure, you'll have to spend some money to get this thing off the ground, but we'd like to suggest a few places to spend your money (on your way to buying the Media 100 HD) that can maximize the quality of your SD video as you move into HD. Even if you will be doing only SD projects for some time yet, take a minute to look at what determines the quality of your video that you hand to your client.
Quality video starts with a good camera, and as we know, even a low end DV camera can look good with good production values when you only use the DV stream for capturing source material. If you are looking at competitors that are getting sharper pictures and think that it is time to invest in a new camera, consider one of the new HD cameras. When down converted to SD, its output will look better than a SD camera in the same price range. First, it has more pixels in the imager. Then you have the realizable contrast ratio on fine detail. When the HD camera's output is filtered to fit SD bandwidth, you'll still get better results with the HD camera, even if you release on VHS tape! It's true. Consider a rented VHS tape of a first run movie. It is hard to produce in house video that looks that good when copied to VHS. That's because the Blockbuster video was transferred from 35mm film, preserving contrast ratios in the fine detail, which is perceived as sharpness, even on VHS tape with its woeful resolution. So an investment in a HD camera is a great idea. Take a look at the Sony HVR-Z1U as an example of a hybrid HD - SD camera. And if you use it with your present Media 100i, your SD video will look better. Remember, since 1996, Media 100i is still tops in video quality for a SD NLE, with video bandwidth exceeding that of Betacam.
Moving into a HD camera is an excellent first step towards convincing yourself that a Media 100 HD is in your future. Here are some other factors that may help you as you plan your HD facility:
1. The Media 100 HD is all digital, almost. You will need to have a HD SDI source to digitize HD sources directly, and a VTR with a HD SDI to output your HD projects. You may wish to use a converter box like the Miranda HD-Bridge DEC to convert the firewire stream to HD SDI for audio and video inputs. However, Media 100 made it easy to use your existing Betacam deck for digitizing or mastering by providing analog SD component in and out spigots. Any SD video can be uprezed in real time, as can be your imported Media 100i SD projects. You can edit and display the output in HD. True, utilizing all the digital power of the Media 100 HD will require 1 to 3 TB of HD capable raid storage, a HD VTR and a digital audio mixer or conversion from analog audio. There is some real expense here, so best examine your business plan and look at alternatives initially.
2. Unless you are starting with a high end HD camera, you will probably be working with a camera that records in compressed form. (You really have to recalibrate your eyes to believe what a HDV format camera like the HVR-Z1U can look like on a 6 foot screen.) Look for a compatible deck to feed the Media 100 HD with HD SDI, or you can import the HDV source directly using a QuickTime driver that comes with Apple's $1200 FCP Studio. The resulting QuickTime files import into Media 100 HD, even in the FREE version for use in HD on the timeline. Imagine, editing a project in HD on your laptop. Who would have thought....
3. Getting back to SD, you probably have a lot of archived footage you will want to intercut with your HD projects. Even though Media 100 HD doesn't have a DV option yet, you can use those optional QuickTime drivers to import DVC Pro or regular DV. You can also use your existing Media 100i along side the Media 100 HD to do some of these functions.
4. Pair your Media 100i with its DV Option and better yet, the XR with SDI option as a real time interface for analog signals between your existing facility and the Media 100 HD. You can try this out using the free version of Media 100 HD.
5. Storage for your Media100 HD can come in several varieties. For SD work, or displaying and outputting uprezed SD programs, you can use internal drives in the G5 for up to 400 or so GB. However, for HD work you will need 1 TB or more in an external raid configuration. 3 TB or more Raid systems capable of playing multiple streams of uncompressed HD can run around $10,000. 1 TB of uncompressed SD storage can run around $2100. Many of the TLD storage towers can be used for SD storage on your new HD system.
Questions? Give us a call or email, we'll try to help you with your move to HD.
Glossary of SD and HD Buzzwords
HD - High Definition. Generally refers to production equipment that creates and processes content for use with High Definition Televison system standards.
SD - Standard Definiton. Refers to standard 4:3 525 lines/60 fields interlaced display television. Virgin uncompressed, or baseband signals can be analog or digital.
HD Standards - Two standards exist for broadcast, recording and display of HD source material, 1080i and 720p.<br> These numbers refer to the number of horizontal scan lines in the picture and thus the number of vertical pixels. The basic difference lies in the interlaced approach (1080i) where one frame consists of 2 interlace fields of 540 lines each similar to the existing NTSC standard. With 720P, each frame consists of 720 progressive lines. 720p is more compatible with picture resizing effects, whereas modifying a 1080i picture requires temporal interpolation to properly define a picture that is both full resolution (frame) and represents a single point in time (field). There are 30 frames/sec in NTSC countries and 25/sec in PAL countries. 30 frame progressive displays can show some flicker on movement. 60 field interlaced displays show smooth movement. Virgin uncompressed, or baseband signals for the three data streams are usually conveyed over coax as a multiplexed single serial digital stream, using a single BNC connector.
Uprez, Downrez - SD can be converted to HD by interpolating visual data and creating more lines vertically. Picture looks smoother, but has no more sharpness. HD can be converted to SD by removing lines and filtering out the horizontal sharpness.
Standards Conversion - Converting between 25 and 30 frame/sec standards. Requires temporal interpolation to get it right. A feature usually not found in NLE systems.
SDI - Serial Digital Interface (CCIR 601 standard) for SD signals with a data rate of 21MB/s.
HD SDI - Serial Digital Interface for HD signals with a data rate of 156MB/s.
Numbers - Each pixel is represented by a digital word in the data stream. The value of the word is the brightness or color of the pixel. Either 8 bit (256 levels) or 10 bit (1024 levels) words are used, depending on the color accuracy desired in the displayed picture. SDI uses 8 bits, HD SDI uses 10 bits. For counting purposes, 1 Byte equals 8 bits. A MegaByte is represented as MB, a megabit is represented as Mb. Keep them straight! A change in case makes a big difference.
NTSC - Never Twice the Same Color. American SD television standard. Distortion of composite signal can give color shifts in composite signals.
PAL - Perfection At Last. European composite encoding method compensates for possible color errors.
SECAM - System Essentially Contrary to American Methods. Used by French and Russians.
Component YUV - With either SD or HD, the baseband signal is converted into luminance (Y) and color (u and v) signals from the basic three primary colors, R, G, and B. The conversion allows luminance signals which carry contrast (sharpness information) to be processed separately from the lower bandwidth color information, conserving the total bandwidth required for the signal. Media 100 HD can process and store real time HD or SD source, eliminating compression-recompression loss that can occur in FCP (Final Cut Pro) or Media 100i (to a lesser extent).
4:2:2 - The standard ratio of bandwidth between luminance and the two color channels for broadcast television in SD or HD. Half bandwidth for color information is considered acceptable for display of high quality pictures. 4:1:1 systems as in Sony DVCam preserve sharpness while giving up some color resolution to save on bandwidth. 4:4:4 systems are used in high quality post production environments where it is desired to preserve high quality color information for effects such as chroma keying.
Compression - In order to store video and audio on existing small format tapes or transmit it over existing fixed bandwidth channels, the digital data must be highly compressed. It requires a lot of computing power to create an accurate representation of the original signal when played back after decompression. If a signal is compressed and uncompressed a number of times the quality can degrade, just as multiple generation analog signal recordings degrade. In post production, the source signal must be decoded into its baseband components to perform effects as simple as mixing. The signal must then be compressed (usually) for storage and transmission. Thus it is desireable to due as much processing on the signal (multiple layers) while it is in its uncompressed form.
Uncompressed Video - Higher computing power is now making it possible to store and process in real time the original signal without degradation due to transmission, copying or processing. If a source signal, say from a camera, can be preserved as uncompressed, as much quality as possible can be maintained from the original source material.
Compression Standards - In order for a post production system to process a signal, it must know how to uncompress or recompress it. Between manufacturers, there are a multitude of standards, all requiring special software to process the signal. The situation is helped considerably through the use of Quicktime plugins that can be used by an editing system to allow efficient conversion of a compression routine into a signal that can be represented on the editing timeline and played in real time. Some of the current compression standards are:
DV - A 25Mb stream sent over firewire and used in many SD camcorders, recorded on miniDV and DVCam tape. Transferred to to the Mac for storage in the same compressed format for FCP. Or, in SD M100i systems, fed in to the M100 card itself and transcoded to 2:1 low loss motion jpeg or lossless files. Originated by Sony as iLink and used by others. An MPEG like compression except each frame is a primary "i" frame containing all picture information. Can be edited on any frame.
DVCPro - Panasonic firewire 50Mb standard.
HDV - Sony 25Mb stream over firewire for HD. Allows very good quality even at the same rate as SD DV due to temporal MPEG compression. A primary "i" frame every 15 frames contains all picture information; each intermediate frame only carries difference information. Cannot be edited on a selected frame, must be decoded to baseband first.
HD DVCam - A Sony high quality compression at 144Mb.
Motion JPEG - The Media 100 standard used since 1996 in all versions of SD Media 100 NLEs. Very high quality compression at 300Kb/frame or abut a 2:1 ratio from uncompressed SD.
TB - One TB (Terrabyte) of storage = 1000 GB (Gigabyte). When planning for storage, HD uncompressed will require 1GB for each 6.4 sec or 1 TB for 100 min.