The ZDNet video experiment

The ZDNet video experiment

Summary: Okay. So, we've taped all sorts of video coverage here on ZDNet.

TOPICS: Hardware

Okay. So, we've taped all sorts of video coverage here on ZDNet. My colleague Dan Farber has his CIO Vision series going and we're doing new whiteboard sessions all the time. Here's one I did I did on C.R.A.P. (a.k.a. DRM). But if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll see dozens of other whiteboard videos that we've produced. But that's clearly not enough. Now, my fine friends in CNET's BroadBrand group (ZDNet is a CNET Networks property) have sent me Panasonic's incredibly awesome AG-HVX200 (DVCPRO-HD, DVCPRO-50, DVCPRO-cable) camera (pictured right) to try out some new video concepts. A lot of pros apparently like this camera for its HD capability but we won't be using it for that. What we'll be taking big advantage of are it's great optics and its built in PCMCIA-storage slots. Instead of recording to tape, you can record directly to a special PCMCIA storage card instead. Today, Panasonic offers the cards in two capacities: 4 and 8 GB. At the lower non-HD resolutions, the card holds about 4 minutes of video per gig. Not much, but that's good because it will force me into keeping things tight. I've already done one prototype video (comparing the portability of CDs and cassettes to digital music) and pumped it across the country where the folks in our West coast offices have done a bit of editing. Check it out and let me know what you think. I'll be using the camera here in the home office and on-location at events. 

Finally, this camera does more things that I can possibly imagine but the user manual stinks.  It basically tells you what all the buttons do, but not why you'd want to do those things (kind of useless if you ask me). So, if you know anything about this camera or have any cool tips or tricks (like how to edit the MXF files it puts out without saving the output to a different format), or have an idea for what the best accessories, please let me know. Thanks!

Topic: Hardware

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  • Can't vire Whitboard Video

    Are you using some MS video junk?? I can hear the sound but no picture. OS SuSE 10.1 Mozilla all the codacs I'm legally able to use.

    Love to be able to actully view this stuff.

    BTW I seem to be able to see any of the CNet feeds.
    • works here

      amd x264 win xp pro browser is firefox. no issues
    • For whiteboards, the player is flash-based and...

      I believe the video core is Quicktime. Maybe one of our broadband people can reply here.

    • flash upgrade not available on linux

      The videos are Flash based, and require at least version 8 of the Flash Player to work properly (current version is 9).
      Unfortunately, Linux is only supported up to version 7. According to this:
      Adobe will be going from v.7 to v.9, w/ a release in early 2007.
  • image quality

    I'd suggest to invest some more time in the image quality of the video, especially if there is an external team responsible for postproduction, the VX200 is a great camera and capable of producing 'film-like' productions, but the quality now more looks like a cheap $300 dv cam. Keep em coming and i'm sure the quality of the productions will improve :)
    • Interesting observation

      I'm almost certain the image quality issue has to do with the compression that's done in post production and putting it into Quicktime. In fact, to speed upload times up, I was thinking of experimenting by falling back from DVCPRO50 to plain DVCPRO/DV since it looks like some quality is being lost anyway, and then seeing if there's an appreciable difference in the final product.

      What do you know about frame rates and such?

      • some thoughts..

        I think something went wrong with the color conversion, could it be that the postproduction was done on a Macintosh? Because the colors just look washed out, not very much contrast. Also i see some interlacing in the FLV files, that shouldn't be there. What was the encoding bitrate for the video?
  • Sweet

    I say 'keep it up'!
    • We'll try [EOM]

  • Flash 8/9 not available on Linux

    Our videos use Flash (in order to avoid the QuickTime vs. WMP vs. Real platform issues) but then we went and started using Flash 8, because the video-compression in that version results in far superior image quality. And Flash 8 is not available (yet) for Linux. So we stumbled into a platform incompatibility just as we thought we'd bypassed them all. Sigh.

    Kudos to Adobe's Emmy Huang, the product manager who is fearlessly blogging on the progress of the Flash player for Linux:

    Stephen Howard-Sarin
    Stephen Howard-Sarin
  • Video quality...

    Amusing video. It almost seems like you could use a little more lighting. That might reduce the grainyness. Seemed like the db gain in the video wasn't set right.