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High Definition Video for Independent Filmmakers
A How To Guide for Digital Filmmakers
Welcome all! This is my blog to share my latest research,
thoughts, etc. on utilizing HD for independent filmmaking.
YES, I am available for consulting
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
First off, I recognize I'm certainly not the first to do this, but here's my OOBE (out of box experience) on this stuff. Pictures here. I just wanted to get my experience as an A/V consumer out there.
So UPS showed up with a box from Amazon today - my Blu-ray player! Or as most of you would refer to it - a Sony PS3 game system that also happens to play Blu-ray movies. I've heard that (and blogged earlier today) something like 90=% of existing Blu-ray players out there are PS3's - and I don't doubt it. One of my friends is a hard-core consumer A/V geek, and his opinion was that the PS3 was the best Blu-ray player, PERIOD. And he can afford ANYTHING (drives a 911 convertible during the week, a 600+ horsepower '71 240Z on the weekend at the racetrack - boy has BUDGET).
But I digress.
So I got my PS3, and I'll all jazzed to hook it up. It comes with power, A/V, and networking cables in the box, and conveniently, the controller itself is a USB device, so you can use any USB device cable with it. Sounds like you're ready to rock, no? Well, yes, but really no.
Looking to this as an HD audio/video device, some initial complaints:
1.) the included A/V breakout cable with three RCA plugs? That isn't component, that's COMPOSITE and RCA stereo pair. So while it is true that they include cables in the box to connect to your TV or HDTV, it is in the lowest possible common denominator plug. As a gaming platform, there's some logic to it, but as a high end A/V device, this comes across as just plain cheap for a $600 item.
2.) No HDMI cable included. Harrumph.
3.) Only one digital audio output, and it is digital optical - no digital coax. Many high end devices offer both.
4.) No digital optical cable included.
5.) There is no IR port on the device, remote control is done via Bluetooth - so 98% of the universal remotes out there can't be programmed to control the Blu-ray playback, you're stuck with at least 2 remotes for most folks. Double harrumph. Bluetooth is great for non-line-of-sight controlling, but far from ubiquitous. But I do like Bluetooth remoting - my coffee table is in the way for some of my A/V gear, and I have to either bankshot off the ceiling in the correct spot or hold up the remote to clear the table.
6.) while an Ethernet cable is included, it is only 9 or so feet long - who has an Ethernet drop or box within 9 feet of their TV stuff? I need a longer one - 12 would have done it for me.
7.) As a gaming device, only one controller included - this works for Internet based gaming, but not 1-on-1 in person.
8.) the controller cable is woefully short - I'd have to put the PS3 three feet in front of the TV to have the cable long enough to reach me sitting down EDIT - well, shows what I don't know - it is a Bluetooth, and the USB is just for charging. So nix this one! So New # 8: if you want to connect via component, in either SD or HD, the PS3 lacks traditional jacks - you have to buy Sony's cable for $20. Monster makes one, too, for $50 if you're a complete tool/sucker. For the record - Monster Cables are not only massively overpriced, but they aren't that good in the first place - lots of shielding, not so much cable in the core. There is no good reason to buy Monster Cables, EVER.
9.) As a Blu-ray player, the "this is a gaming platform" is reinforced by the fact that there is no "normal" A/V remote control included - until my remote gets here, I have to use a game controller to play back (once I get it set up). Awkward.
10.) Update - now I have a #10 - as a media device, there is no hardware disc eject on the device - you have to do it through the remote or a controller. EDIT - nope, there is one! It is just subtle - it is a touch sensitive area, clearly labelled, right in front of the drive slot - so they HAVE done a nice job with this. My unobservant bad.
So after plundering some other gear for an HDMI and toslink cable, I finally got all set up.
Firing it up for the first time, with HDMI, toslink, and Ethernet in place, you flip the master power switch on the back, THEN press the touch-sensitive on/off switch on the device.
The first screen you see tells you to connect the controller and press a button.
Then you select your language of preference.
Then you are presented with a choice if HDMI is connected - "An available HDMI device was detected. Do you want to output vieo and audio using that HDMI?" You can select Yes or No. Hmm...I want HDMI video, but toslink audio - which should I choose?
I'll select NO for now, since I want HDMI video...OOPS, bad choice, the screen went blank.
Fortunately, I already had the composite attached to the TV (the horror, the horror), so I was able to see the screen again. Now I was presented with a "Select a Time Zone" choice, but NO option to go backwards as I had on the prior screen. Hmm...bad.
I set the Time Zone to CST, then I can enter the date.
AH - I discover by accident that pressing the left pad button goes backwards....all the way to language selection. OK, let's try this again.
I change the HDTV input back to HDMI, and I can see the language selection again. GOOD!
OK, I pick English, this time I say YES to HDMI audio & video, and I get a new screen:
"Do you want to automatically switch to the optimal settings? If the reoslution is not supported, the screen wil temporarily go blank. After 30 seconds the system will go back to the original resolution."
That sounds good, so I switch from the default No to Yes and press Enter.
Next screen: nice and sharp at 1080p, so I accept by selecting yes within 30 seconds and we're back to Time Zone, which held the prior settings, and the next screen is:
"Enter your user name to log in to this system."
I do that, then there is a summary screen of all you've picked- English, CST, time/date, and user name. Done and good.
Next screen - sign up for PLAYSTATION Network? Gee, I dunno - does it cost? Lets find out.
I press the X key, and I'm told:
"A system software update is required.
Go to [Settings\] and perform [System Update]."
Wow, I'm glad I'm plugged into an Ethernet jack already.
Oh - I didn't realize I was already in the menu system yet. I go to System Update, that looks like it'll take several minutes to pull down the updates, but at least it successfully negotiated a DHCP based acquisition of an IP address.
After downloading the update, there's a soft-restart process, then a User Agreement pops up. Power scroll down and clickwrap your soul away.
New capabilities in the update include:
-PS1 & PS2 games uprez to HD
-PS1 & PS2 game saves can be brought to PS3
-DVDs are uprezzed to HD, but it says SOME cannot be upconverted when ouputting via component or D-terminal connectors. What is a D-terminal connector?
-Internet play enabled
-images & music can be shown/played on a remote device over a network with a PC or Digital Video Recorder...curious to see how that works, anybody already know, please Comment away below
-can print photos (!)
-zoom & trim functions for photos
-new slideshow types for photos
"Do not turn off the system during the update. If you do, you may not be able to restart the PS3 system. Once the update is started you cannot go back to the previous version of the system software. Press the X button to start the update."
Another progress bar - the last was downloading, now we're installing I take it? Then why the semi-reboot earlier?
Several minutes later update installed, click OK, then a definite reboot going on.
So now what? I start digging around the menus - there's choices for BD/DVD playback, there's what to name this system, etc.
Some interesting choices hiding in the menus:
RGB Full Range (HDMI) - Limited or Full - just doodling, Full seems contrastier/darker
Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Super-White (HDMI) Sets for use of a TV that is compatible with Super-White output - defaults to Off, turning it on does nothing obvious. Hmm...a little scary. But I'm using a Sony HDTV with a Sony PS3, I should get in trouble/overburn anything....right?
HEY! It appears the PS3 has WiFi capability - I may not need to hard-wire my unit - it can see my two wireless networks in the house (sweet!)
There's a web browser as well, but it is a bit non-intuitive at first - plugging in a keyboard & mouse (ostensibly doable w/USB ports) would certainly help.
There's LOTS of menu choices in here, so this is a good enough place for me to wrap it up.
General takeaway - this thing is LOTS more than a Blu-ray player, more even than a game system - it can do pictures, music, and videos as well, I just need to start figuring out how all that stuff works.
But I've got some work to do in the meantime, more later.
Update an hour later after writing - I'm already getting some feedback in the comments about stuff I didn't know. I intentionally went into this "blind," not reading a single page of the manual - what the typical consumer would experience and do. As I learn more I'll update. I did get wireless networking set up, so that's cool as well.
Who'd a thunk I'd need 3 internet connections in the living room? And I still don't have a DVR...
It'll be interesting, going forward, to see how this compares to AppleTV as a pictures/music/video playback device. A commenter has already pointed out how to get it to work with iTunes etc. - is it a one time export, or a live link that would, for instance, reflect changes in playlists, etc.?
The usb cable is only for loading the rechargeable battery :)
Some SAN disk boxes (Buffalo, Lacie etc.) have server components for this embedded.
A good Mac server app would be EyeConnect by Elgato. It allows sharing iTunes, iPhoto, EyeTV, Folders etc.
Best regards, Oliver Busch
But most all consoles do this with cables and memory cards - my Wii required me to buy the component video cable separately as well.
And all the new consoles do photos, video, web browsing, etc.
Second, where is your HD DVD Player?
Ah the PS3. First onto the controller USB, You will also have to connect the controller to the PS3 with the USB cable everytime you upgrade the firmware (and it locks you out of the Playstation Network unless you have the latest firmware)
The D-terminal is a D-4 connector that is common in Japan and is used instead of Component but does the same thing. Think of the HVX200 with its D-4 connector and the supplied D-4 (D-terminal) to component cable.
Sony should have included at least a combo composite/component cable similar to what came with the All Xbox 360s minus the core. And Microsoft even thrown in an HDMI with their elite 360. The HDMI does not come on unless the display has HDCP, meaning Apple displays won't work and there presently is no VGA solution (360 has an optional first party VGA cable)
The PS3 has built in WIFI and that's a $99 option on the 360.
Yeah the web browser sucks, but you can install Linux and thats backed by Sony. See in the menu "Other OS." You will have to repartition your Hard Drive which means anything other than the firmware will be erased.
You can also install a larger hard drive, it WILL NOT void your warrentee and its any old SATA notebook drive will do. See the slot at the bottom (When placed vertically) That says hard drive.
That's all I can think of right now.
How about some testing with 1080p encoded files? I couldn't make them play, but maybe someone can... I'm mac based, I heard on the PC side some things work...
Does 1080p wmv encoded files work on the X360?
I'm still trying to figure out if these consoles are a viable way for displaying HD content on Roadshows, events, or even small short film festivals, or should I stick with the PC connected to the projector/Plasma route...
It certainly would be a lot more "idiot proof" for handling and troubleshooting...
I'm not sure why your 1080p Mp4s aren't working on the PS3, maybe your compressor settings are doing something odd?
Here's a quick guide to making 1080P PS3 compatible .mp4's with video using Apple QuickTime Pro
You should be able to get the same results out of Compressor...
(Mpeg Streamclip is also a pretty good choice and allows for batch exports and multiple etc...)
- Select Movie to MPEG-4
- Press Options...
MPEG-4 Export Settings
- File Format: MP4
+ Video Format: H.264
+ Data Rate: anything around 20000kb/s works well
(Any higher than 20mbps and the video may start to drop frames)
+ Optimized for: Download
+ Image Size: Current (1080p or 720p)
+ Frame Rate: Current
+ Key Frame: Automatic
+ Click Video Options...
+ Restrict Profile(s) to Main
+ Encoding Mode: Best Quality
+ Audio Format: AAC-LC (Music)
+ Data rate: 128kbps (etc)
+ Channels: Stereo
+ Output Sample Rate: 48, 000 kHz
+ Encoding Quality: Best
+ Uncheck "Enable Streaming"
also remember the PS3 has a pretty strict file structure/ordering system for external drives and discs.... if want videos on discs or USB drives to show up instantly in the XMB Menu, make sure they are in a folder called VIDEO
otherwise you have use the "triangle button" and select "show all" and manually browse to the folder...
hope this helps
I'll try this immediately when I get back to my workstation.
Thanks for the info! HD for Indies- Not only we have Mike's great insight, we have the knowhow of a fantastic reader audience!
If you have any further problems give MpegStreamclip a go, you can save and load profiles...(something painfully missing from Quicktime Pro! <- ignoring Compressor that is!)
I'll email my Streamclip profile to you if you are still struggling.
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