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HD For The Holidays: Formats, Formats Everywhere!

Sanyo has also released an H.264 1080i camera, the Xacti HD1000 camcorder. It captures full 1920x1080 (1080i) at 60 frames per second, using a newer CMOS sensor. Given the capture medium—SD or SD High Capacity (SDHC) chip—the camera is also able to grab 4-megapixel stills simultaneously, although it’s a bit of a sleight of hand as the camera is just tagging the appropriate video frame for later retrieval as a still.

In tests with this camera, the files can be immediately dropped into a Flash or Windows Media encoding tool to compress files for high-definition streaming.

This format has been around for a few years, and was the first prosumer format to tout 1080i recording. Except, unlike AVCHD—which really does capture 1920x1080i—HDV captured 1440x1080i and then extrapolated to 1920x1080. The big benefit of this tape-based format, though, is the ability to work with HDV in full native mode on a variety of video editing and transcoding tools: Final Cut Pro has a proprietary native HDV solution, while Adobe and Canopus both have native HDV capture and editing that conform to the HDV transport stream specs so that the files can be used on any HDV editing system (with the exception of Final Cut Pro) with no modification other than changing the file extension.

This format also works quite nicely with H.264 transcoding tools, as its MPEG 2 transport stream can be quickly manipulated by an H.264 transcoder or Sorenson Squeeze to create low bitrate versions of the files. It can also, with the use of a free tool called MPEG Streamclip, be de-multiplexed into separate audio and video streams and then used by Adobe’s Flash Encoder 2, FlixPro and other encoding tools. The output is top notch, according to our tests. Canon makes a great little HDV camcoder that’s almost palm sized, the HV10.

There you have it: A primer on the different types of high-definition cameras to ask for under your tree this year, and which you can probably justify as a business expense in the new year, now that HD streaming is upon us. Better hurry, though, as there are only a few more shopping (and persuading) days left.

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