adamwilt.com > the DV, DVCAM & DVCPRO Formats copyright © 1998-2008 Adam J. Wilt  
 
DV - contents and links search

updated 2008.09.26 - general updating
What's new:
2008.09.26 - Link to HDFilmtools; some anachronisms revised.

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DV - contents & links
  Detailed listing of this site's DV contents, and links to other sites.

DV Technical Details
  The DV Formats Tabulated; standards documents & where to get them.

DV FAQ - technical
  DV formats, sampling, compression, audio, & 1394/FireWire/i.LINK.

DV FAQ - editing
  linear & nonlinear; hard & soft codecs; transcoding; dual-stream NLE.

DV FAQ - etc.
  16:9; film-style; frame mode; slow shutters; image stabilization, etc.

DV Pix
  DV sampling, artifacts, tape dropout, generation loss, codecs.

Video Tidbits
  Tips & tricks, mostly DV-related; getting good CG.


Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to your DV-related questions should be here... but if they aren't, send me the questions so I can answer 'em! And if you see a wrong answer, let me know: send me the right answer so the next reader can get the straight dope instead of a bum steer... Also see the Comparisons/Reviews listings, and check out the Links (way below).

Where a link for [pix] exists, a separate window will be launched, so that you can continue to read the text in this page while the images are loading. The pix pages' menu banners have links to the other available (on-site) pix pages, so that you can browse pix completely separately from the main text pages. (Of course, if you're using an ancient browser that doesn't understand "target=", the separate browsing  won't occur... and if you're on a slow link, and/or using lynx or NetHopper, skip the graphics; you don't really need them anyway!)

This work is my own, but has been generated from many sources. I especially wish to thank Jan Crittenden at Panasonic, Stuart English (who was with Panasonic, now at RED), Earl Jamgochian at Sony, and Jim Miller (formerly with JVC) for their help in answering a variety of tricky questions and in correcting assorted technical details. Guy Bonneau's intelligent discussions of codec internals has also been very helpful; and thanks to the late Ralph Fairweather (Apple, 2-pop), and the late Charles McConathy (founder of ProMax), both pillars of the Mac NLE community (but I'm not Mac-centric; I use both Mac and PC and like them both. Sorry, no platform wars here!).


Choose a category:

Didn't find what you wanted here? Try Comparisons/Reviews (below), and Links (further below).


Reviews

Format comparisons:

Camera comparisons & reviews:




Links

Basic questions on CCDs, NLEs, color sampling, and the like? I wrote a column for DV Magazine called Technical Difficulties in which I cover these non-DV-specific sorts of things.

Online Video Textbook:

Television Production by Ron Whittaker, Ph.D., “A Comprehensive On-line Cybertext in Studio and Field Production”.

 
General DV Info:

DVCentral was the starting point for any English-language news, views, reviews, and opinion on the DV format. Infrequently updated, but has many useful links.

In Europe, Jan van der Meer's excellent Global Digital Videographers Club is the place to start. Both English and Dutch content are available. (As far as I can tell, his was the first independent website dedicated to the DV format.)

Nigel Cooper's DVuser is "the UK’s premier free online DV magazine, which is aimed at  anyone who is involved in digital video production in some form or  another" and well worth a look.

SimplyDV is a clean, fast UK site with news, reviews, helpful articles, and even some UK video classifieds.

A French-language DV site and mailing list: http://www.dvforever.com. Vive la France!

German-language DV info: SlashCAM/VideoX. Dense, packed with info. Pity I don't read German. :-)

English-language, based in Belgium: abcdv. Lots of breaking news, reviews.

R. Zane Rutledge's DV FAQ. Zane is a master craftsman and artist; check out the rest of his site, especially his explanations on how the FX for "Hell is Texas" were done.

Another DV FAQ authored by David Dennis. Good general info, an alternative viewpoint, and a look at Digital Origin's EditDV NLE in use (long-since discontinued and much lamented in passing).

John Jackman's greatdv.com has useful tips, tricks, references, and practical advice, including some excellent bluescreen info and DV chroma-key samples.

2-pop.com, formerly “The Final Cut Pro and DV Creation Information Site” and now “The Digital Filmmaker's Resource Site”, is now part of the Creative Planet constellation. Discussion boards on many of the popular NLEs (with an emphasis on Final Cut Pro), DV, FireWire, production issues, etc., with enough traffic to make 'em worthwhile. 

DV Magazine (registration required) has some of its back issue content online, and a growing community website. The "DV" in the title refers to "Digital Video" and not "DV the format", but it's a pretty good DV-the-format resource anyway. The compositing articles by Chris & Trish Meyer are brilliant and make using After Effects much less intimidating. Warning: navigating the site is trying; attempting to locate a particular article using their search function is nearly impossible, and content disappears from the site after a few months, never to be seen again. [Disclaimer: I wrote for DV from 2000 to 2007.]

DV Format is an improving source for press releases, articles (some purloined from earlier versions of this website, grin), and reviews. It's one puzzle-piece in the Digital Media Net website empire.

www.supervideo.com has a lot of specs and pix of Japanese and European DV products, as well as the USA stuff, and plenty of rumors, commentary, and opinion. You'll need a fast connection for best results: it's a graphics-intensive site. Also, be warned that the <FONT COLOR> HTML tag is very heavily exploited... :-)

Tony Sutorius in New Zealand has a number of worthwhile, entertaining, and opinionated technical articles at http://www.unreal.co.nz/techo.htm. Tony runs the Unreal Film Co. so his opinions come from experience. His DV FUD Buster page is definitely worth a look.

Desktop Video at About.com has both on-site and linked content covering all manner of desktop video, not just DV stuff. 

Tape vendor High-Tech Productions has some nice DV tape information here and here.

Cameras:

I have detailed info and links about the Panasonic AG-DVX100 24p DV camcorder.

Amazingly comprehensive; the starting point for Canon XL-1 data: Chris Hurd's DVinfoNet site with sections for the Canon XL1, XL1s, GL1 and Sony DCR-VX2000, DSR-PD150, and DSR-250, among others.

Another Canon GL-1 site. Also see John Beale's GL-1 pages.

Eclectic and useful Sony DCR-VX1000 information: the VX1000 Resource Group (appears to be offline).

John Beale's stunningly excellent Sony DCR-TRV900 site: Using the Sony DCR-TRV900 Camcorder, which covers other cameras as well.

The JVC DV500 FAQ.

dvspot.com: specs and reviews of DV cameras "that cost less than $2500 or so."  Run by Jeff Keller of the Digital [Still] Camera Resource Page.

Camcorderinfo.com is a commercial site with a variety of resources including camera-specific discussion lists. However, I've never seen so many popup and pop-under ads in my life. I recommend turning JavaScript off, or using a popup-savvy browser like OmniWeb or Safari, to make the site usable.

Some information on enabling DV input on nEUtered cameras:

See VARs & Vendors below for camera accessories like XLR adaptors and remote zoom/focus controls


Audio:

Danny Grizzle recommends ProRec as "the best professional audio website on the net, with tons of  reviews and practical knowledge from serious recording engineers with a  background in film/video." I have to concur; it rocks.

The other best professional audio website is Jay Rose's Digital Playroom. His tutorials should be required reading (nudge, nudge) for anyone serious about audio.

Equipment Emporium has useful, practical articles online, oriented to field recording for film & tape. Lots of cool gear, too (see VARs and Vendors).
 

Nonlinear Editing:

Want to get a solid historical, technical, and aesthetic understanding of nonlinear editing in general? Nonlinear 4 is both a book and a website; the book is quite possibly the definitive reference on the subject; the website has all the NLE links you could hope for.

Creative Cow hosts discussion lists for just about any aspect of hardware, software, craft, aesthetics, and business that you can possibly imagine. As well as a whole bunch you probably never imagined you could ever imagine!

The FireWire Page at www.videoguys.com has a lot of useful pointers. These folks discuss hard vs soft codecs in some detail and list the currently-available stuff. They should know what's available; they sell it!

Final Cut Pro: the fora on Creative Cow and 2-pop.com are good places to start.  There's a nice walkthrough on Apple's Final Cut website, as well. Also check out the user group sites from Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Canopus hosts forums for their products.

AppleScript for Video Editors
has scripts to move between FCP lists and Avid Log Exchange files; fix Avid OMFi icons, and more.

Useful utility for PC NLEs: VCSwap lets you manage the codecs installed on your system.

Getting DV into and out of a Mac or a PC used to be pretty difficult and several folks spent lots of time tracking the hardware and software available:


DV Filmmaking:

Note: most of the sites listed below have a more comprehensive links listing than I do.

Try The DV Filmmaker's Report.

Unhollywood discusses independent filmmaking with an emphasis on using DV, and gives Brian Boyl's production methodology cost comparisons as posted on DV-L in March 1999.

Cyber Film School has some info on digital production.

HDFilmtools is run by Larry Jordan (the Larry Jordan who founded 2-Pop, not the Larry Jordan who does FCP training).

Some labs that handle tape to film and all of which are known as leaders in the process (and there are more every day):

But really, the sites dedicated to DV filmmaking will have better links for labs.

VideoLikeFilm has a variety of useful articles on working with film & video and in shooting for "film look" and/or transferring to film.

 

CD-R, CD-RW, DVD:

Need to make and distribute DVDs and/or VHSes from your productions but don't want to do it yourself? CustomFlix will do everything from making the DVD from your master tape through replication and order fulfillment. They can even host a streaming video trailer on their eCommerce site. They accept a variety of formats as masters; they provide ample guidelines on material preparation; they can even make VHS copies as well as DVDs (it's so 20th Century!). CustomFlix is a very cool idea and their prices seem reasonable.

Check out Jim Taylor's excellent DVD FAQ for answers to all your DVD questions.

Andy McFadden's CD-Recordable FAQ, including info on Video CDs and Super Video CDs.

DVDRhelp.com & VCDhelp.com - the name says it all. DVD-R, VideoCD, SVCD, X(S)VCD, FAQ, How-tos, etc.

CDR-Info has news, firmware and software updates, hardware tests, another FAQ, and more. 

 
Metalinks (links to link pages):

ePanorama with pointers to all manner of useful and arcane data.

RUSH links, a comprehensive links page down under, with many unique and useful pointers. Other good info on Rush's site as well.

nonlinear3's Links to sources of Nonlinear industry info including online glossaries, pointers to organizations, trade shows, usenet groups, and more.

Nonlinear 4 has all the NLE links you could hope for.

eCoustics has links to reviews, articles, discussions, and yet more links (!) across the web, categorized by type of equipment (Camcorders, VCRs, home audio, etc.). Mostly consumer oriented but I saw a link to Videography's review of the DSR-2000, so you never know...
 

VARs & Vendors:

VARs (Value-Added Resellers): a semi-random collection of companies that build affordable systems and actually seem to care about DV customers as if their business depended on it. I list a number of the Big Names in the business, but inclusion on the list does not necessarily indicate an endorsement nor does absence from this list imply some sort of deficiency -- but I will say that DVLine and ProMax get consistently high marks for service and support. Sorry about the USA-centric focus, but that's where I live and these are the places I hear about. Listed in alphabetical order.


Vendors: not necessarily DV-specific but good to know about:


Note: a "box house" is a low-overhead seller who specializes in getting boxes in and shipping 'em out: a place to go for low prices but not for pre-sales or after-sales service & support. If you order from a box house and the gear doesn't work, typically it's up to you to go to the manufacturer -- not the seller! -- to get warranty support. They're great if you don't mind the hands-off attitude, but don't expect 'em to jump to attention when your new camcorder goes belly-up the day before an important shoot. If you expect white-glove treatment, loaner gear to cover emergencies, and the like, go to a full-service vendor instead. Box houses are ideal when you're on the cheap and you can afford to assume all the risks of equipment failure without a dealer backing you up.
 

Web & Email Discussion Lists

DVCentral's DV-L mailing list is dedicated to all things DV-related. Like any list, the caliber of the discussion varies, but there are a lot of good folks involved. Highly recommended - but subscribe to the digest; it's far more manageable than hundreds of individual email messages each and every day.

Creative Cow (no, really: "creative communities of the world", they claim; I think that Ron & Kathlyn just like cows) appears to be the place where many of the serious discussions are going on these days. As of mid-July 2003, the way to start is click on the cow to enter, click on "Change Forum", then click on "categorical" to list the fora by category or "categorical (w/ descriptions)" for more info. Most of my professional colleagues are forum leaders there, including folks I know from manufacturers and vendors, as well as working professionals. There's no forum specifically DV-related, but there are fora for most NLEs, various bits of production equipment, local user groups, and general craft-related discussions.

Both 2-pop and DV.com have a variety of DV-related fora, but I've found their web-based systems have grown painfully slow over time and the quality of interaction has been degraded thereby. Both site are prime examples of what happens when the marketeers triumph over the web-usability folks; they're downright painful even over broadband, and completely intolerable (IMHO) over dialup connections.

USENET

rec.video.professional and rec.video.production newsgroups discuss pro/industrial/broadcast issues (for the most part) including the DV formats. Professional is somewhat moderated (but, apparently, not very actively the last time I looked); production is definitely more of a free-for-all.

rec.video.desktop focuses on nonlinear editing. It tends to have a more amateur/newbie audience than the professional and production groups -- which can be a help or an annoyance, depending on your own level of experience.

Paul Newman in the UK adds, "there is now a rec.video.dv hierarchy on usenet. The group rec.video.dv.tech is reasonably active as is the top group rec.video.dv."



These listings are not comprehensive or complete, not by a long shot. If you know of a site or a mailing list I don't mention and not accessible through the other links, please let me know, and tell me why it should be listed. Thanks! -AJW


Why this Website?

You won't find a better videotape format in terms of price/performance for standard-definition television than DV or its related formats DVCAM and DVCPRO. Also, DV is the first broadcast-quality format small enough for a camera master to fall into a cup of tea (trust me on this; no need to try it yourself).

I first experienced DV in October of 1995, when I saw a Sony DCR-VX1000 hooked up to a 32" Sony XBR monitor. I was impressed enough by the live pix from this consumer 3CCD camera, but completely astounded by the off-tape playback, which at first glance looked as good as live video. I lay awake for three nights, thinking "the world has changed: Digital For The Rest Of Us..." before buying a VX1000, and selling my pro/industrial EVW-300 3-chip, interchangeable-lens Hi8 camcorder to pay for it. With the advent of DV-native digital editing in 1997 (the DPS Spark), things only got better... and they've improved a whole lot since then.

Along the way, I found that a lot of people shared my curiosity about DV and enthusiasm for it. I also found a lot of superstition, misinformation, mythology, and FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) masquerading as fact. Some of this is actively spread by folks afraid of or dismissive of the revolution in SDTV imaging and production that DV makes possible, but there's also plenty of heard-it-through-the-grapevine stuff and nonsense that sprouts up organically, like weeds. As a filmmaker, I found the level of confusion to be irritating; as an engineer, I found the FUD infuriating.

Hence this website: I got tired of answering the same old questions over and over again. By putting 'em all on the web, I can say "just go read my FAQ" -- and plenty of people hit these pages (or their many copied and repurposed versions, authorized and otherwise, elsewhere on the web) without ever asking me their questions in the first place. In any case, the word gets out: confusion gets reduced, the straight dope gets spread around, and people can rest more easily at night...

Why me? I'm a filmmaker/videographer with some 20 years of shooting and editing experience, and a video systems & software engineer with nearly that much time in the trenches. Putting this info together and publishing it seemed like a natural thing to do; it was needed.

The focus here is on DV25 formats: DV, DVCAM, and DVCPRO (a.k.a. D-7), with a bit of Digital8 data as well. The audiences I envision when I'm scribbling are the professional videographer and editor and engineers looking for basic info: the corporate/industrial shooter; the TV station engineer; the event videographer; the small postproduction shop; the indie filmmaker; the advanced amateur or "prosumer".

My mindset is that of one coming from the whole low-end to midrange film & video world: Hi8, 3/4", BetaSP, MII; linear A/B roll editing in Y/C or YUV analog; MJPEG compressed nonlinear editing; low-budget filmmaking in Super8, 16mm, or Super 16mm with editing on a bench with long-shaft rewinds or maybe even a Steenbeck or Moviola flatbed if there's an angel funding the rentals (of course, that was back in the days before affordable NLE; nowadays you'd have a hard time finding a Steenbeck or Moviola!).

If you're brand-new to video and/or video engineering, this site might be heavy going. Skim/skip the tech details and go for the stuff you're looking to learn; the tech stuff will always be there if you develop an interest later on – read up on it here.

If on the other hand you spend your days in Henry or Flame suites or doing multilayer D-5 or D-1 linear editing with an Axial 2020, a DVEeous, and an A72 or Texus, you'll probably think I'm too bullish about DV25 and not sufficiently cognizant of the limits of 4:1:1 sampling or 5:1 compression. Rest assured, DV25 is no DigiBeta or D-5; it's not even close to D-9 or DVCPRO50. But while I wouldn't suggest DV for those national ad campaigns or big-budget theatrical shows with heavy-duty compositing, it's the clear price/performance leader for a vast range of productions where money is an issue. Staying 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 uncompressed is nice if you can afford it, but that level of production is simply unaffordable for most people (at least it was when DV came out). And furthermore (this is the really subversive bit), plenty of folks can't see the difference anyway...

There's no advertising on this site, and no one pays me to maintain it. I call things as I see them, not that I'm always objective, but at least there are no hidden commercial motives guiding my writings. My sole purpose here is to convey useful information, not to sell stuff. If you think I've got something wrong, please do everyone a favor and let me know. I may argue points of opinion, but I'll move immediately to correct errors of fact.

Note that I don't maintain contact with other websites repurposing/pirating this stuff, so I can't speak to their up-to-dateness -- nor to their adherence to the call-'em-as-I-see-'em, no-commercial-influence philosophy.

The site grows sporadically as time goes by, but I'm not actively updating it; ten years after writing the first DV FAQ page, DV25 is a well established and understood format, and there's not a lot more to say! Still, if you have corrections, additions, suggestions, or the like, please send 'em to me.



All materials on this page copyright © 1998-2008 by Adam J. Wilt.
You are granted a nonexclusive right to reprint, link to, or frame this material for educational purposes,
as long as all authorship, ownership and copyright information is preserved and a link to this site is
retained. Copying this content to another website (instead of linking it) is expressly forbidden.

you are here >
DV - contents & links
  Detailed listing of this site's DV contents, and links to other sites.

DV Technical Details
  The DV Formats Tabulated; standards documents & where to get them.

DV FAQ - technical
  DV formats, sampling, compression, audio, & 1394/FireWire/i.LINK.

DV FAQ - editing
  linear & nonlinear; hard & soft codecs; transcoding; dual-stream NLE.

DV FAQ - etc.
  16:9; film-style; frame mode; slow shutters; image stabilization, etc.

DV Pix
  DV sampling, artifacts, tape dropout, generation loss, codecs.

Video Tidbits
  Tips & tricks, mostly DV-related; getting good CG.

 
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last updated 2008.09.26