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In this issue of the Producer's Cheat Sheet™:

The Producer's Cheat Sheet™ Tip

HD Demystified
By: David Wells

We’re in the golden age of high definition (HD) production and broadcast, and producers looking to step into the all-HD world may find themselves with a wide variety of options, and the many formats of HD available, including HDV and DVCPRO HD.  We’ve simplified it with Moving Picture’s Demystifying HD.

HD Basics:

Lines of Resolution: Refers to the number of horizontal lines associated with a frame of video, or a television set or playback monitor.

resolution chart

Standard Definition: Standard definition has a vertical frame size of 720 x 480 lines of resolution (NTSC, North America) or 720 x 576 (PAL, Europe).  Can record in both progressive or interlace.
High Definition: Defined by a vertical frame size of either 720 or 1080 lines of resolution.  These are the standard sizes of HD, and the full frame size is 1920 x 1080 (horizontal by vertical resolution) or 1280 x 720.  720 is strictly progressive-scan, while 1080 can be both progressive and interlace.  1080p is considered the highest resolution, and is sometimes called “Full HD.”  All HD cameras shoot only in widescreen, 16 x 9.
Ultra-HD: Relatively new to the block is Ultra-HD, defined by horizontal resolution, including 2K (2048 x 1152), made popular by such cameras as Vision Research's Phantom HD Camera, Silicon Imaging’s SI-2K and Arri’s D20/D-21, or 4K (4520 x 2540), from RED (RED ONE) and Dalsa (Origin, Evolution).  RED has introduced an upcoming 5K camera, Epic, (5120 x 2880, estimated resolution), and a handheld 3K camera, Scarlet (3072 x 2334, estimated resolution).

Phantom HD
Arri D-21
RED one camera
Phantom HD
Arricam D-21

Interlace: The lines in a frame of video are scanned by odd numbered lines, then even.  This technology goes back over 75 years, and was the easiest way to broadcast video over the air (remember rabbit ears?) to your television.  Since the field is effectively split into two, it becomes a “field.”  So 30 fps (29.97, to be exact) will be defined as 60i (59.94, to be exact).  There are many benefits, but one major shortcoming is loss of vertical resolution due to scanning of lines.  You’ll see 60i used to shoot TV news, reality shows, documentaries, corporate video, and more.  It’s also easy to convert 60i footage to 24p.
Progressive-Scan: When lines in a frame of video are scanned one at a time, the resulting image is “cleaner” than interlace.   You’ll see it indicated by the video’s frames per second (fps), then “p” for progressive.  For example, 24p or 30p, 24 progressive frames per second or 30 progressive frames per second.  There is a slight jitter, or flicker to the video, whereas 60i (interlace) and 60p are both smooth.

Progressive Frame Rates:
24p: Since film runs at 24 fps (frames per second), companies use technology to allow their cameras, such as the Sony PMW-EX1 or the Panasonic HVX200, to run at the same frame rate as film.  24p is used typically when shooting movies, TV shows, commercials, music videos, and more.  Some disadvantages to shooting 24p include the slight jitter, or flicker look, the difficulty in doing slow motion in post-production, and the inability to do fast camera pans or tilts due to major video frame jitter.
30p: Many television networks and stations are now shooting and broadcasting in HD, using 30p.  The image is clean and has an almost film-like quality, due to the progressive-scan, while still maintaining North American standards of 30 fps.  30p is used for TV news, sports, documentaries, and more.  A disadvantage to shooting in 30p is the difficulty in doing slow motion in post-production, and converting it to 24p.
60p: As of right now, only cameras that shoot in 720p can support 60p, which is popular for broadcasters.  It has more of an appearance of interlace video, but doesn’t lose resolution like interlace can.  If you use 60p video on a 24p or 30p/60i timeline, the result will be slow motion.  Some cameras can handle this in-camera, like the EX1.  60p is used in sports, TV news, documentaries, and more.

HD Formats:
     Now that you’re more familiar with HD, let’s talk about all the different “flavors,” or formats of HD.  Manufacturers realize that HD’s signal is large, and can take up a lot of space on a hard drive, so they use compression to “squeeze” the image down to a manageable size.  There are trade-offs in picture quality when using a lot of compression.

HDV: Found in both professional and consumer cameras, HDV was the first HD format that could give producers and shooters a chance to work with hi def without the high costs.  Using minidv tapes, HDV compresses video using MPEG2-TS (transport system), which makes it manageable to edit.  Sony, JVC, and Canon have produced many popular cameras, including the popular Sony HVR-Z1u.

Sony HVR Z1u
Sony HVR-Z1U: HDV.

XDCAM: Sony’s XDCAM technology is the next generation of their HD format, using compression similar to HDV, but with less compression.  It records to Blu-ray discs (Professional Disc media, single-layer, 23 GB capacity); the XDCAM EX (EX1 and EX3) technology records to solid-state SxS (S by S) cards. The newest format is called XDCAM HD422, which features less compression and records to dual-layer Professional Discs, capable of 50 GB of space.

Sony PMW-EX3

AVC-Intra: Similar to the AVCHD format, this professional HD format from Panasonic records to P2 cards.  The format is considered more robust than even DVCPRO HD, and uses less space on the P2 cards.  Cameras include the HPX3000 and HPX2000, which also support DVCPRO HD.

Panasonic HPX 3000
Panasonic HPX-3000: AVC-Intra.

DVCPRO HD: Panasonic’s very popular HD format, which is found in their professional line of cameras, including the popular HVX200, HDX900, Varicam, and more.  The format can record to tape, which can become costly, or to P2 solid-state cards, a more affordable and reusable solid-state card format.

Panasonic HVX200
Panasonic HDX900
Panasonic HVX-200:DVCPRO HD (P2).
Panasonic HDX-900: DVCPRO HD.

HDCAM: Sony’s HD format was found in the F900, which George Lucas and others used to replace 35mm film stock for their movies.  It is considered to be the most standard of formats.  It can record to tape (including the less compressed HDCAM SR), or to special drives that allow for complete uncompressed recording.  Newer cameras include the F900r, F950, F23 and F35.  The Arri D-21 can output to HDCAM SR.

Sony F900
Sony F900: HDCAM.

Viper FilmStream: Thomson Grass Valley’s completely tapeless, uncompressed HD format used primarily for production on major movies, TV shows, commercials and more.  David Fincher (Zodiac) and Michael Mann (Collateral, Miami Vice) regularly use this camera.

Viper Filmstream
Viper Filmstream.
Moving Picture, Jennifer Aniston and Woody Harrelson Donate Time and resources to The U.S. Campaign For Burma

us campaign for burma logo

The U.S. Campaign For Burma: "It Can't Wait"
Producer: Blake Ashman, Dir.: Jennifer Aniston, DP: Andres Sanchez.

During the filming of her most recent movie in south Florida, Jennifer Aniston donated some time from her busy schedule to direct and star in a PSA for the U.S. Campaign For Burma, a not-for-profit organization raising awareness and support for the people of Burma. The month-long campaign highlighted the Burmese struggle for liberty, democracy and human rights. Go to to see bonus footage, view more videos, and join the effort. With help from co-star Woody Harrelson, and Mandy Ingber, Aniston joined several other actors and musicians to create web video content for the campaign to be distributed via countless outlets such as,, etc...

 If video does not load click here.
"It Can't Wait" Featuring Jennifer Aniston, Woody Harrelson, and Mandy Ingber.

All gear and labor for the production was donated from everyone involved. Shot on the RED camera, Moving Picture provided a grip and lighting package, as well as sound recording for the production.

The Crew: (Left to Right), (Back Row) Ben Stinson (Grip/Utility), Blake Ashman (Producer), David Wells (Sound Mixer), Chris McMillan (Hair), Andres Sanchez (DP), Jennifer Aniston (Director/Star - "Producer"), Woody Harrelson (Star - "Divo"), Kristen Hahn (Producer), Kevin Chinoy (Producer), Francesca Silvestri (Producer), Dean Gaveau (Boom), (Middle Row) Anne Laoparadonchai (Wardrobe), Angela Levin (Makeup), Mandy Ingber (Star - "PA"), (Front Row) Camillo Jarquin (1st AC).
New Moving Picture Rental Inventory

Sony PMW-EX3 XDCAM SxS Camcorder

sony pmw-ex3 camera

In stock now and ready to rent!
Rents with video lens OR adapts to film lenses!

The PMW-EX3 offers all the great features of the PMW-EX1 in a new semi-shoulder design. In addition, the camcorder also features an interchangeable lens system, genlock, timecode and remote control capability for real added flexibility, offering a low-cost HD studio solution.
The PMW-EX3 combines a state-of-the-art, non-linear XDCAM workflow with simply the best HD quality yet seen in a semi-shoulder camcorder. It is also the first semi-shoulder camcorder to carry the legendary CineAlta 24P brand with multiple frame rate recording capability such as 59.94i, 50i, and native 23.98P, as well being 1080i/720P switchable.

Click here to find out more about the MPES inventory of HD camcorders including the Panasonic HDX900, Panasonic HVX200, Sony PMW-EX1 and Sony HVR-Z1U.


Sony HDWD1800Sony HDWD1800Sony HDWD1800

Panasonic HD-1400 Multi-format HD/SD system records in 1080/59.94p, 1080/50i, 720/60p, 720/59.94p and 720/50p. Built-in up/down/cross converter for playing back DVCPRO 50/DVCPRO/DV/DVCAM tapes and for outputting a converted HD signal.

AVID Rentals
AVID Media Composer Adrenaline, can be custom configured and set up by MPES ACSRs at your location for full res HD editing of your next feature, commercial, music video, etc...
Avid Rentals
Specialty Lighting
Sony HVR Z1u

Litepanels Mini Plus are the lightweight, battery powered, dimmable solution for small lighting situations. They can be mounted on cameras, car dashboards, and hand-held to provide soft, even light. Available in "Spot" and "Flood" models, they also come with a compliment of custom gels to achieve a variety of color temperatures.

Litepanels 1x1, the most versatile production light ever built. Combining Litepanels' hallmark LED technology in a sophisticated, slim housing, this revolutionary modular lighting system provides 1'x1' of pure, luminous, soft, directional output.
Light Panels 1x1
Motorola Walkie Talkies and accessories
Including FBI Style ear mic systems for that “undercover look”, Noise Canceling headsets, Handmics, and Spare Batteries (FREE!)
Motorola Walkie CP-200

See the rest of our inventory at

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Every time we send out a Producer's Cheat Sheet™, we give away a free gift, and all you have to do to enter, is fill out a quick survey about how helpful this newsletter is to you. To enter just click here and answer a couple of simple questions. The winner will be announced in our next Producer's Cheat Sheet™ News.

One (1) person, randomly drawn from the first 2000 eligible participants who submit a correctly completed entry form, will receive one (1) Apple iPod 3G. The winner will be notified by email. Conduct of the contest and selection of the winner is in Moving Picture's sole discretion, and Moving Picture's decisions are final and binding. Moving Picture will be the sole arbiter in any dispute. Prizes are non transferable. All Federal, Provincial, State, and/or local taxes related to the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. No alternative prize, cash equivalent, or other substitution is permitted.

About MPES

Since 1987, Moving Picture Electronic Services has been a leader in the rental and support of video equipment, Avid editing systems, lighting, location audio, video assist and video camera crews.
We live and breathe Avid, location audio, and video equipment rental everyday. We provide "on-site" certified support for Avid rental or video equipment rental in Florida - or anywhere else in the United States and Caribbean. If you need to rent an Avid Adrenaline, Avid Media Composer, Avid Unity, Video Cameras, Video Recorders, Lighting, or Walkie Talkies, we can ship today!

Contact us
Moving Picture Electronic Services
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
(954) 522-1361

David Wells, President,

The preceding material is provided for information purposes only. You have received this information because you have expressed interest in MPES through any of several different venues. MPES does not assume responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of any products mentioned. All understandings, agreements, and/or warranties, if any, take place between the manufacturers and the prospective users. MPES is not responsible for typographical errors, and all offers are subject to change without notice. Copyright © 2008-2009 Moving Picture Electronic Services. All rights reserved.
All company and product names mentioned may be trademarks of their respective owners.

September 2008

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