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The slow, painful move to HD camcorders

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I notice that JVC has announced a new series of consumer HD camcorders, including the GZ-HD40 and GZ-HD30. These camcorders both record in 1920x1080 and support MPEG-2 as well as AVCHD recording (see the press release, detailed info and photos).

I've been quite frustrated by the move from DV to HD in the consumer market.

When DV (or more specifically MiniDV) arrived on the consumer market it was a Godsend. Finally, a standard digital format that provided consistent high quality video and was easy to work with from acquisition to mastering and distribution. Then came HD... sort of. "True" HD was initially beyond the capabilities of most consumer camcorders so some compromises were required. HDV records at 1440x1080 with rectangular pixels similar to widescreen DV, and uses temporal compression for greater efficiency (although it's not as good for editing).

Unfortunately the move from DV to true HD has been accompanied by uncertainty, competing formats and other complications. Even the first wave of HD TVs haven't been "true" HD.

The new JVC range continues the move toward the AVCHD codec for hard-drive based camcorders, which is good for efficiency and standardization but hard work when editing (that could be a blog post in itself). I'm happy about the inclusion of 1920x1080 recording, although it's still plagued by interlacing.

So anyway, here's what I'm hoping and waiting for:
(1) 1920x1080 recording in progressive mode. Kill interlacing once and for all. Kill it dead.
(2) Some sort of codec standardization. If cheap camcorders all record in AVCHD, that's fine by me as long as better codecs are available for the higher-end prosumer market.

1920x1080 at a progressive frame rate of 60fps would be all we really need for most video work. When we get there, we should demand that manufacturers stick with these specs for the foreseeable future (in the consumer market). I really can't see a need for anything "better" than 1920x1080p60.

Could there really be an end to tinkering with video standards for the consumer market, at least in terms of resolution and frame rate? Could the manufacturers resist the urge to play one-upmanship? I sure hope so.

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