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We grouse about digital audio... What say about digital VIDEO?

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  • We grouse about digital audio... What say about digital VIDEO?

    We sometimes grouse here on SSS about digital audio and its idiosyncrasies...

    But what say you about digital video, compared to the previous "analogue" methods of film recording and movie playback?

    Is digital an unmitigated blessing? Or does it have potentially disagreeable idiosyncrasies as well?


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  • #2
    All imaging has been essentially digital since the advent of the camera. Moving images are merely a sequence of fixed images (frames), and those images are composed of tiny dots of varying values. 'Analog' videotape captured it that way, film captured it that way, 'digital' video does likewise. All digital video does is codify the hue and contrast info of each dot.

    Perhaps that's why you hear no grousing about digital video.
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    • #3
      Mmm.... no.

      Chemical photography is not digital. (And -- of course, if you want to get fussy, when we talk about digital we are actually talking about digital analogs [look up analog].)

      Digital analogs are produced by taking highly systematic mearsurements of various aspects of a real world phenom, recording those measurements as numbers and then attempting to construct an analog that in some fashion resembles the object or process being measured.

      Chemical photography produce its analogs in an entirely different fashion.

      While there is a sort of singularity at work here -- there are a finite number of grains in a photograph (high resolution film has more than low)... those singularities are not units of measure and there is not digitization (ennumeration) of measure in the process. Each grain responds, perhaps in what may seem a somewhat imprecise or chaotic fashion, to the light it is exposed to. But when all the elements are assembled together and looked at as a whole, they begin to approximate some form of two dimensional analog of the light hitting the lens. It's very much a chaotic process -- but when considered as a totality, the eye may interpret it as a somewhat orderly analog.



      Now... because we typically measure digital audio recordings accuracy from converter to converter -- in essence measuring its ability to measure and reconstruct a relatively simple wave form -- we can actually create digital versions of our signal which (when bandlimited by dynamics and fequency) can be said to have the potential for near-exact representations of that signal.

      But, clearly, the acoustic waves captured by a microphone represents a far, far simpler information set than the wide range of light particles coming from what seems like a near-infinite number of points before a lens. Even when we band limit the frequency range of the light to reduce it to a band more narrowly encompassing the human perceptual range, we are still dealing with an enormous amount of information.

      While we might analogize verbally to say that a mic picks up sound from only one point -- a photo lens, on the other hand, is confronted with a hugely more complex barrage of information...

      In time we should have systems that are capable of capturing and processing much more of the information reaching the lens but digital imagery is still, presumably, in its infancy...


      Tha said, I love my digicam. I love my old Minolta chemical 35 in a different way, of course... but unlike my last remaining reel to reel recorder -- the chemical film camera is capable of capturing a HUGE amount more information (than its little digital shirt-tail cousin)... in its chaotic and approximate fashion. And there can be no question that it is capable of amazing shots.
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      • #4
        I don't like the stair-step brightness levels I get on digital satelite TV - whether due to video compression or digital quantization, it's distracting.

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        • #5
          this is a HUGE can of worms... and in short, the computing power just isnt there. sadly, film falls VERY short of what the human eye can see. the resolution of the human eye is about 13K by 13K and will detect 1 billion levels of light. Cineon files [film to digital transfer] are 10bit per channel at 2k resolution. there is 4k resolution as well, but most transfers are done at 2k.

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          • #6
            I don't like the stair-step brightness levels I get on digital satelite TV - whether due to video compression or digital quantization, it's distracting.


            its compression, which quantization is a by product of. its amazing to run full rez avi's through various compression encoders and see the results. i dont know what your satellite uses, but i know exaclty what you are talking about.

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            • #7
              its compression, which quantization is a by product of. its amazing to run full rez avi's through various compression encoders and see the results. i dont know what your satellite uses, but i know exaclty what you are talking about.


              Yeah... the compression algorithm that my cable box DVR initially used (when I first got it a few years ago) would leave some pretty nasty artifacts in the recorded versions. They've since apparently improved the codec (the box updates itself) or cranked up the quality level so now things usually look a little better. (Or, you know, my eyesight has deteriorated to the point where I just can't tell. Either is a possible-to-likely scenario, I suppose.)

              But it still doesn't do well with the feeds from the partially Pat Boone-owned "Christian family" station I watch my Perry Mason reruns on. (I'm not sure why they think A-Team and Wild, Wild West reruns advance their cause but that sort of thing is the bulk of hwat they show.)

              I suspect that the station is storing their own content digitally -- and just cheaping out on the process. Certainly black and white movies from the early thirties playing on Turner Classic Movies can look absolutely stunning (when they have access to good/restored prints, anyhow).
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              • #8
                I'm not involved in the video world by any stretch, but I've heard a lot of people grousing about how digital doesn't look good compared to film, etc. etc. At any rate, making a film digitally is here to stay, and the look of it seems to vary quite a bit, all the way from looking amazing to looking really cheesy.
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                • #9
                  not entirely true. digital can do things that film will NEVER be able to do, and almost all movies enter the digital realm.

                  one example is Corpse Bride from Tim Burton. read interview about the making of that "film", using a 5MP still camera. very interesting.

                  another, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow... originially entirely conceived inside a computer. the subsequent release after movie stars got on board were done entirely on green screen.

                  MANY movies dont these days have large portions done on green screen, and even more have their scenes "enhanced" through digital compositing.

                  want velveeta cheesy analog? look at the original star wars... then compare the picture quality against the new star wars. BIG difference.

                  should i even mention all the new animated films from pixar and so forth?

                  video, or film digitally has its biggest problem right now in computing power... to work in the right resolutions it is simply VERY taxing on machines that server farms have to be rented to output stuff... large arrays of computers. it certianly isnt like doing audio.

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                  • #10
                    oh, but to do simple NLE editing, digital video is pretty ****************ing cool considering what the alternative USED to be and the cost involved to do it.

                    that is one thing about digital technology... the proletariat art threat.

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                    • #11
                      Video professionals aren't into nostalgia and voodoo the way audio people are. (Film people are another story)

                      Nobody misses analog video. When the DV formats came out there were some who argued that it wasn't quite as good as Betacam. But the practical advantages of digital out weighed the slight (and debatable) quality difference. Betacam is still in use, largely because it still works and the owners are trying to squeeze out all the benefits of their large initial investment. Most of the other analogue formats are already quite dead.

                      As soon as the last Betacam cameras and VCRS die off, analog video will be completely dead and no one will miss it. Since compositing multiple images is commonplace in video production the advantages of digital video are huge.

                      The change from tube cameras to CCD was more controversial in the early days. It took a few years before the CCD cameras got as good as the best tube cameras. Now there are very few tube cameras still in use.

                      In the broader motion picture production world there is a remaining controversy over the virtues of film versus video. The arguments are very analogous to the analog vs. digital debates in audio. The quality of the highest end video systems is now technically as good as, or better, than film. (depending on which parameters you measure) Now the pro-film argument is mostly that subjectively film looks nicer, similar to the argument that analog audio tape just sounds nicer even if it captures reality less accurately.

                      Theatrical release movies are still mostly shot on film, but often they convert to very high quality digital video during the post-production process and then back to film for presentation. Primetime drama shows on the networks were traditionally shot on film, but during the last few years many of them have switched over to video. I don't think anyone can tell by watching which ones are still shot on film.
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                      • #12
                        ...the proletariat art threat.


                        Nice.


                        .

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                        • #13
                          This is mostly true, but CONSUMER digital playback formats still leave something to be desired. When I rent a movie and it skips constantly, the transitions turn all blocky, and when there are wierd digital artifacts, I sometimes wish I could just rent a trusty old VHS tape. DVD falls short in how lossy it is.

                          My wife totally hates DVDs and would prefer to watch VHS due to these problems, but I do think that overall, the picture quality and sound quality gives them a slight edge, though I think there are certain aspects that are better about VHS.

                          Video professionals aren't into nostalgia and voodoo the way audio people are. (Film people are another story)

                          Nobody misses analog video. When the DV formats came out there were some who argued that it wasn't quite as good as Betacam. But the practical advantages of digital out weighed the slight (and debatable) quality difference. Betacam is still in use, largely because it still works and the owners are trying to squeeze out all the benefits of their large initial investment. Most of the other analogue formats are already quite dead.

                          As soon as the last Betacam cameras and VCRS die off, analog video will be completely dead and no one will miss it. Since compositing multiple images is commonplace in video production the advantages of digital video are huge.

                          The change from tube cameras to CCD was more controversial in the early days. It took a few years before the CCD cameras got as good as the best tube cameras. Now there are very few tube cameras still in use.

                          In the broader motion picture production world there is a remaining controversy over the virtues of film versus video. The arguments are very analogous to the analog vs. digital debates in audio. The quality of the highest end video systems is now technically as good as, or better, than film. (depending on which parameters you measure) Now the pro-film argument is mostly that subjectively film looks nicer, similar to the argument that analog audio tape just sounds nicer even if it captures reality less accurately.

                          Theatrical release movies are still mostly shot on film, but often they convert to very high quality digital video during the post-production process and then back to film for presentation. Primetime drama shows on the networks were traditionally shot on film, but during the last few years many of them have switched over to video. I don't think anyone can tell by watching which ones are still shot on film.

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                          • #14
                            Certainly black and white movies from the early thirties playing on Turner Classic Movies can look absolutely stunning (when they have access to good/restored prints, anyhow).


                            Gee, and how! I am just hooked on TCM, and can't believe how beautiful most movies look on that station. I will even sit through the tritest of 30's detective pictures or the soppiest of 1950's Technicolor "sword and sandals" flicks, just marveling at the images.

                            P.s. I fear I am probably part of the inchoate "proletariat digital art threat".
                            Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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                            • #15
                              This is mostly true, but CONSUMER digital playback formats still leave something to be desired. When I rent a movie and it skips constantly, the transitions turn all blocky, and when there are wierd digital artifacts, I sometimes wish I could just rent a trusty old VHS tape. DVD falls short in how lossy it is.

                              My wife totally hates DVDs and would prefer to watch VHS due to these problems, but I do think that overall, the picture quality and sound quality gives them a slight edge, though I think there are certain aspects that are better about VHS.

                              Check your player!

                              On my old Apex or on my current combo Panasonic recorder/player rentals and movies I record work great. (Er... actually the old Apex did have sound-video sync issues with some discs, come to think of it. But I must have bought it nearly 10 years ago, 1998, I think.)

                              (The old Apex would get confused if you did too much FF or RW though. But the Pansonic is pretty much aces. It's just been a really wonderful machine. I've burned personal copies [off the air -- not DVD copies] of nearly a 1000 old movies [someday TCM might end up like AMC did -- heaven forfend -- but you never know] and it shows no apparent sign of wear. Touch wood.)
                              .

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