Low Cost HD & The Bleeding Edge

When the HDV format was first introduced and JVC’s single CCD GY-HD10U HDV camcorder became available, I had a conversation with one of my peer magazine editors. I made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that HDV would find its way into broadcast...especially at the station level.

I was rebuffed, told that broadcasters would never go with HDV. But having come from a television broadcast background, I knew something that my magazine editing peers didn’t—broadcasters are cheap.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s weighing cost versus quality. HDV has quality. Now to be fair, it’s no full-size DVCPRO HD, Editcam HD, HDCAM, Infinity or XDCAM HD, but it is HD (even though some of you reading this don’t really think of HDV as true HD, but more like HD-Lite).

First we heard about some cable networks pooh-poohing HDV. That didn’t last long (those folks initially pooh-poohed DV too). And we heard about folks using HDV anyway and sneaking it past the QA folks.

Then came the headlines. HDV was being used in network programming. Initially it was just a cut-in or two, then B-roll, stock footage, backstage footage, and now...

And now Sony has introduced the 3-CMOS HVR-V1U. Nice pictures. Probably better than a $4,800 HD camcorder deserves to have, especially with 1/4-inch imagers (there’s some Sony magic in the imagers). But it’s still a $4,800 HD camcorder and you all know that you get what you pay for.

If you were an HDV early adopter, you know how you suffered when it came to editing that wonderfully cheap HDV footage. That was the bleeding edge, and it was painful.

New formats are always painful...initially. Read our cover story on KLCS’s experience with tapeless HDV and you’ll see what I mean.

It takes a while for new formats to gain a support structure (or what some manufacturers like to call a “system.”) HDV is just about there.

Today, HDV is used for just about everything that traditional HD is used for. Does it look as good as its more expensive cousins? No. Does it look good enough? That’s really your call. I can tell the difference; can your viewers? Do you care?

HDV is being used for news, long format, reality...everything you would expect.

With that in mind, we’re going to give you some HDV insight. First, our cover story. Consider it food for thought before jumping into HDV.

Then next month our cover story will be on HDV for broadcast. We’ll look at how HDV from Canon, JVC and Sony is being used in broadcast. We’ll even take a look at how Panasonic’s low cost AG-HVX200 is being used.

Does that mean that there’s no future for full-size DVCPRO HD, Editcam HD, HDCAM, Infinity or XDCAM HD? Of course not. You’d have to be an idiot (or an analyst who knows nothing about what they’re talking about) to think so. Every format has its place.

Remember: The right tool for the right job...and all that jazz.

Michael Silbergleid is the editor and associate publisher of Television Broadcast. He can be reached at msilbergleid@silverknight.com.