Archive for January, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Just Say No to 8-bits!

That’s a tall order these days. If you’re shooting HDCAM, XDCAM, HDV, AVCHD or, heaven forbid, standard definition DV, you are capturing the world in a mere 8-bits. In all its sophistication and wisdom your camera’s processor outputting 8-bits to the recording medium can only assign one of 256 possible values to each sample; which can severely limit the color fidelity and smoothness of gradients in your images.

Ten-bit recording formats like the pricey HDCAM SR and Panasonic’s more economical AVC-Intra ought to be where we are heading. Manufacturers have leaped full bore on the high resolution sensor bandwagon, but for our bread and butter assignments upon which we depend every day, the 10-bit capture formats offer far better performance with fewer headaches at the end of the post-production rainbow. Our NLEs employing Apple ProRes or Avid DNx are already supporting 10-bit workflows so it simply makes good sense to utilize this greater bit depth and precision from the outset.

Beware of 8-bit cameras like the Sony F100, Panasonic AF100 and even the new Canon C300 that offer high resolution but at a mere 8-bit capture and meager 8-bit output via HD-SDI. This workflow is compromised from the outset, and can very well impair precise color correction and compositing downstream.