Sony HVR-1500 deck breaks my heart to little pieces

So first off, I find it shocking that the first mention I get of a new HDV deck is via a DVD mailed to me by Sony. I’m speaking of the HVR-1500, a new half-rack studio HDV deck. No links here, because Sony has no mention of it on their website. It sounds like it was announced in conjunction with the HVR-V1U camera.

So why does it break my heart? Because it’s SO close to being what I really want. It’s got expandable input and output options. One of those options is HD-SDI output. But input? Oh, I’m sorry, I’m afraid it’s limited to SD-SDI. What?!

This is such blatant marketing-driven stupidity on the part of Sony. We can’t have folks using HDV as a record format in a professional setting, that’d be crazy! So we best cripple the product.

I’m encoding the video they sent me to post here, so you can marvel at the greatness that Sony almost achieved. I’m going to be doing some shin-kicking at NAB this year …

[Edit: Video Posted Below]

12 thoughts on “Sony HVR-1500 deck breaks my heart to little pieces

  1. Cool your panties, Babe, and check this out:
    Everything you bitched about this HVR-1500, apparently it ain’t so. It has all sorts of digital audio and video inputs and outputs, just about everything imaginable. STANDARD. Like SD-SDI and HD-SDI via BNC, for starters. AES/EBU digital audio. Etc. There is only one, moderately priced expansion board, and that will give you analog composite, component, S-video and XLR balanced audio IN/OUT. So I can hook up to it my Betacam SP deck, for example, record to HDV, and then output this upcomnverted image to an HD monitor or PJ via the HD-SDI interface.
    I would like to see what Panasonic or JVC will have for around $7,000 street price that is this versatile and that can be readily hooked up to a $5,000 HD monitor or to $70,000 HD projector via HD-SDI.
    Of course, I like to bitch about Sony and the rest of the AV gang as much as the next person… :~))

  2. Actually, that’s pretty much in line with what I said. They have HD-SDI output, but only SD-SDI input. Check the “features” tab, under “Standard interfaces.”
    So again, it’s almost everything I want, but then … it isn’t.

  3. Tough life, but at the end, we all croak. Meanwhile… Yes, SONY is indeed such a bastard for selling a VTR for under $8,000, and yet not giving us all the darn features that they have in their full-sized HDCAM VTRs (priced in the $42,000 to $56,000 range) and in their HDCAM-SR deck (SRW-5500), priced at over $90,000 w/o the optional Digital Betacam card.
    On the other hand, there is a perfectly good explanation why there is SD-SDI IN+OUT but only HD-SDI OUT in this el cheapo VTR. And that is because if you want to feed an IN signal via HD-SDI, you should not be meddling with any cheap HDV gear, anyhow. You know… use a Panasonic Varicam, or a Sony HDCAM-SR, or at least a regular HDCAM. Then you can go in via HD-SDI (BNC) and get something worthwhile to record in the appropriate quality.
    On the other hand, if you use a sub-$5,000 HDV camcorder, for example, you really don’t need HD-SDI, irrespective of what out friends at Canon want you to believe.
    Personally, I would not hook up a $50,000 to $150,000 procid video camera to a $7,900 VTR, even if I could do so via HD-SDI, but that’s just me. On the other hand, I can couple this HVR-1500 VTR with the NEC NC800C 2K projector we just ordered, and use the VTR’s HD-SDI OUT to the PJ’s HD-SDI IN.
    Short of using the HVR-1500, I would need to get either an HDCAM VTR (a pretty bad and ancient format by now), or an SR or Panny D5 deck, the cheapest of which would set me up for $75,000 or thereabout.
    Incidentally, you can also hook the Sony HVR-1500 the fantastic Panasonic BT-LH2600W 26-inch monitor that also has nice HD-SDI inputs, like the NEC PJ.
    Incidentally, I was wondering when this baby will actually hit the streets? I certainly want to get one with the additional analog card.

  4. I heard rumor of Q1-07, but I’m not so sure.
    In any case, I don’t think it’s fair to say “well, if you’ve got HD-SDI you can afford HDCam or DVCProHD”.
    I want to do a live three camera shoot with Canon XL-H1s. Paired with the new AV-HS300G, you could have a very portable three camera high definition setup for around $50k. That’s pretty sexy to me. I don’t see the problem with going to HDV tape in this case.
    I’m also working primarily with students. Asking a student to drop $100 for an HDCam tape is pretty unreasonable, compared to $3 for a miniDV tape.
    My fallback, above the HVR-1500 is to go with an Xdcam PDW-F70 deck, keeping in mind that internally XDCam is just HDV without all the negative press. That deck streets for ~$15k, and I’d happily pay that much for an HDV deck with an HD-SDI in. I’ve got three DSR-1500s, a DSR-60 and a DSR-80 – all relatively expensive decks that pull in SD-SDI signals on that lowest of formats, DV/DVCam. When we bought the 60s and 80s 7 years ago, you could have made the same argument – “If you can afford SD-SDI, you should be going DigiBeta,” but DV has served us well and I believe HDV will as well.
    Anyways, I understand that your case doesn’t call for feeding HD-SDI into an HDV deck, but that doesn’t mean that nobody else has a need for it…

  5. Obviously, professional HD-SDI for the consumer (err… prosumer) HDV format is a ridiculous overkill. After all, HD-SDI (via BNC) is also what $75,000 to $100,000 studio VTRS and up to $250,000 cameras use! Why should the same thing be suitable for a rather pedestrian format (HDV) that you can get into the low thous?
    I personally would not purchase the Sony HVR-1500 for sub-$8,000 and immediately demand that it does the same things that Sony’s own HDCAM and pro SR decks do.
    According the Cineworks Digital Post Production in Miami (a 2K DI post house with all the bells and whistles), HDV is a doomed format. For off-line editing of material, DVCAM and DVCPRO 25 is infnitely more reliable!
    So, even with the HVR-1500 deck, they tell me that I should take from the telecine either DVCAM or DVCPRO 25 tapes (the 1500 plays back both), and not HDV. Even though HDV is high-def and the other two are only standard-def. Something to do with “long gap” in HDV and all that techno-stuff. You probably know more about it, Meh.
    With respect to camcorders, I never even had one in my hand, so I am not the right apostole to preach. We shoot exclusively onto film, and then immediately telecine/datacine and then work from the low-rez and full-rez tapes or from the optically arrayed hard drives.
    However, as you know the Canon HDV camera has a basically useless HD-SDI out, in that no tape recorder in the planet will record for you “uncompressed HD-SDI.” It doesn’t exist. I don’t know what you will end up with if you connect your Canon XL-H1s to a VTR with HD-SDI input (the HVR-1500 does not have that, as we know). Have yout tried this trick yet? I don’t see how any tape will accomodate a data flow of app. 1.5 Gb/second, do you? Isn’t that the bandwidth of wholly uncompressed HD-SDI? Even Sony’s topliner SRW-5500 in 4:4:4 dual-stream mode gets up to “only” about 400-480 Mb/second. And these babies are usually used to record images captured by an HD or 4K digital camera, or else scanned in 2K or 4K material from 35mm film neg.
    With respect to XDCAM, are you taking about the standard-def version or XDCAM HD? If the latter, I certainly do not trust that format standard. I mean, just what sort of a quality image can you acquire and store at an 18 Mb/sec rate? Here we have one extreme on the low end (18 Mb/second with XDCAM HD, and then you have the astronomical wholly uncompressed 1.5 Gb/second monster with the XL-H1 on the other end. Neither is very practical, I fear.
    With respect to “feeding HD-SDI into an HDV deck,” the SOny HVR-1500 does not do this. And I don’t think anybody will ever come out with an HDV recorder that will intake an HD-SDI signal. In fact, as far as I know, only this one Sony HDV model can even take in a SD-SDI signal and output HD-SDI, and none other made by JVC. Panny is not in the HDV racket, they have their own rackets brewing… :-))
    I don’t see how or why even Sony will surpass this feat (accomplished by the HVR-1500) at a later time. I hope I am wrong, though. It would be nifty.
    Lot of people promote Panny’s DVCPRO HD as a lower cost alternative to HDCAM/SR and D5. My view is that it is a DV-sized 1/4-inch tape format being transported at 4x speed. And since at breakneck transport speed it maxes out at about 40 minuts run time per large cassette, it is not suitable for long formats, not even for episodic TV. Unless you want to break down the show into multiple cassettes.

  6. You’ve got some interesting points, but I think there is some confusion.
    First off, I’m not expecting to do uncompressed HD recording. The only realistic way to do that is to go directly into a computer, capturing to a large RAID array. However, there are plenty of decks which will record an HD-SDI signal to tape – the HDCam and HDCam-SR decks that you mentioned, as well as some DVCProHD decks.
    Just because you can’t record uncompressed HD-SDI to a tape, that certainly doesn’t make the Canon output useless. The XL-H1 HD-SDI output gives you access to a 4:2:2 (instead of 4:2:0) color space, as well as a signal that hasn’t been run through any compression. If you were concerned about the utmost quality (I’m not) you could feed the signal into an HDCam-SR deck and capture the full color space, albeit with some compression.
    I don’t care about any of that though. For me, HD-SDI just provides a simple way to move a signal around in a multicamera live environment. HD-SDI is what the switchers use, so that’s what I’ll use. I just need a way to get the HD-SDI signal onto a tape, and that’s the whole point of this thread. I’m not using HD-SDI to get any advantages over HDV in terms of quality, I’m happy with the quality of HDV.
    In any case, I totally agree that HDV isn’t right for everyone, and it sounds like it’s not right for you. However, just because that’s the case, you seem to think it’s not right for anyone. That’s just not true. If you haven’t used it, you shouldn’t judge it like that – it’s a stellar format when used for the intended purposes.
    Also – XDCamHD can operate at either 18, 25 or 35 mbit. When in 25mbit mode, it’s just HDV wrapped in MXF. 18 and 35 are slightly different, but in the same range.
    In any case, to sum up – HD-SDI is not just for rich folks, it’s a pratical way of moving a signal around within a multicamera environment. There are reasons to be feeding a signal down HD-SDI aside from quality. It may not be right for you, but it’s right for us.

  7. “There are plenty of decks which will record an HD-SDI signal to tape – the HDCam and HDCam-SR decks that you mentioned, as well as some DVCProHD decks.”
    Great, add to the list the Panny D5 deck (model 3700). Too bad about the HVR-1500, though. I was not sure what happens if you feed UNCOMPRESSED HD from a camera via HD-SDI into one such deck. Apparently, it (the VTR) takes the uncompressed signal and then compresses it to the one used by the deck — HDCAM, HDCAM-SR, D5, or DVCPro HD. If it can do this, then the Canon XL-H1 is a fantastic investment indeed. So, you can just hook up one or more Canon H1s to an HD-SDI inputted VTR, and press “Record?”
    “If you were concerned about the utmost quality, you could feed the signal into an HDCam-SR deck and capture the full color space, albeit with some compression.”
    Well, I hold that compression is good. In fact, I cannot live w/o it. Of course, in the Canon XL-H1, you basically have a $5,000 camera body and a $3,000 lens. Now, if you hack the lens and put on the Canon body a $50,000-$80,000 Cooke cine lens, you still have a 1/3-inch sensor to deal with that information. That is not going to “see” things the same way as the Red 4K camera does or as the competing topliner digital camera offerings from Philips, Sony, Panavision, even Panasonic (Varicam) do.
    When you scan in film @ 4K rez on the DaVinci (expensive!!!), you are still not at an “uncomprsseed” film resolution, That would be closer to 8,000 lines of vertical resolution for full frame of low ASA 35mm negative film these days. So, even the absolute top film shoots compress (from native 8K down to 4K or 2K), you see. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. :-))
    As you know, “Apocalypto” was shot using the Panavision Genesis cameras and the signals were recorded to the half-sized field portable Sony HDCAM-SR decks. Cost Gibson a lot more, perhaps, than going with 35mm film for acquisition.
    “HD-SDI is what the switchers use…” Can you please tell me which HD digital switchers are you considering and how much they cost? Any URLs for the mfrs you can share, please?
    With respect to HDV’s uses, it is of course great for recording and playing back material. But since it dos not have directly addressable frames, like for example DVCAM and DVCPRO has, the format “falls apart” at editing. I am sure you can edit it, but when you have 10-15-20 hous of raw footage and you want to be accurate to 1 frame, maybe HDV is not really the ticket, hmm? I am just parroting here complaints I heard from others, HDV did not do me wrong yet. Of course, I haven’t edited anything in pure HDV, either.
    With respect to XDCAM’s compressions, you are right, of course. Well, I “meant” to say “maximum 35Mb/second.” At that rate, I don’t trust the thing no way, no how. Even with the basically ENG-grade, decade old Sony HDCAM, you go well over 100Mb/second. And that standard is with us for 10, 11 years now. I am not sure why Sony thinks that the world now can only afford to go up to 35Mb/second by way of data storage and access for high-def material?
    “HD-SDI is not just for rich folks… It may not be right for you, but it’s right for us.”
    Well, I don’t move around any ucompress high definition signal amongst multiple studio cameras, like the crafty folks do at NBC’s Rockefeller Studios, but not being dirt poor either, we do use HD-SDI quite a bit.
    For starters, the editing computer workstation (PC on XP Pro, 2 x Dual Core) is affixed with the PCIe card hooked into the BMD MultiBridge Extreme.
    On this BOB, I have two HD-SDI INs and 2 HD-SDIs OUT (they also double as SD-HDI BNC jacks). Good thing that we don’t use crap like any Avid NLE, right! Hey, they want to sell their own “propietary” hardware, you know… the stuff that can do half as much as the BMD Multibridge and yet, miraculously, cost 8x as much! Wow!
    On the NEC PJ, we have two HD-SDI inputs. So… from the PC server alone I can go with with 4:4:4 dual stream or 4:2:2 single stream x 2 (for those rare 3D projections) right into the DI-grade projector. Not too shabby, the results look good, too.
    The 26-inch Panny video momnitor that we have in the editing room also takes HD-SDI in, yeah!
    Now… how many HD-SDI connections in use is that so far?
    With respect to the Sony SRW-5500 deck, no, we ain’t got one. Nor do we have the Panny 3700 D5 deck. I hear those decks are strictly for rich folks, Republicans mostly… ;~))
    So… getting the new HVR-1500 deck from Sony would let me go from a 1/4-inch HDV tape to the PJ via HD-SDI. Nifty. And cheap.
    So, instead of bitching about Sony cheapskating me ad nausea, I am very glad indeed that they will now make a small VTR that has an SD-SDI input, internal upconversion, and HD-SDI utput. So I don’t have to shell out $43,000 to $98,500 for another model of VTR with the coveted HD-SDI output. That’s all I’ve got on the whole convoluted HD-SDI biz, really.

  8. “So, you can just hook up one or more Canon H1s to an HD-SDI inputted VTR, and press “Record?””
    Yup. From that perspective, the XL-H1 (and the new XH-G1) can be treated very similarly to an HDC-1500 or F900 or whatever. Feed it sync, pull the HD-SDI and go.
    In any case, I can certainly see your point of view on the HVR-1500 being a good value in a lot of circumstances. That’s definitely true. It just doesn’t work for me, and thusly I’ll continue my bitching … I’m kinda like that though.
    Thanks for your perspective though, it sounds like you’ve got quite the setup there.

  9. Hi, and sorry Donker, you seem to talk a lot from what you’ve obviously no idea. Datarates, connections etc.
    There are also other people who could use HDV. And I don’t listen to everybody just because he’s in somewhat fancy post facility. I made my own experiences. We made 72min documentary, with 232hrs of HDV source footage. And guess what ? It was edited NATIVE. Single-pic accurate. Though machines have to heavily work on live decoding while jumping around in the footage, it works well. So don’t be fooled by people who tell it wouldn’t work or edit frame accurate. Bullshit.
    Other point why not go to DV or DVC for offline editing. Because you don’t see it. You have no idea how focus was, or if anything else was maybe wrong. Another feature. Experience just with that. You can edit the feature in HD ? DO IT! You see more.
    Thats exactly our reason why I would like to have an HD-SDI in: coming from Telecine, TC-burned in parallel record to HDV for offline-editing.
    No way to do ?
    Take this, hope it comes soon:
    If the link doesn’t work goto and look for “VC-300HD” under ‘Video Peripherals’
    regards, Rocco

  10. “you seem to talk a lot from what you’ve obviously no idea. Datarates, connections etc. There are also other people who could use HDV gear.”
    Hey, don’t you just love it how people who are using $5,000 DV and HDV gear ALWAYS seem to know a whole lot more about digital and high definition this, that, and the other, than others who work with $100,000+ Sony HDCAM-SR and Panasonic D5 and Panavision Genesis, etc. equipment? Hey, what the hell would they know, eh? If they can afford to purchase all that useless, expensive stuff, it ony means that they are stupid as rock… ;-))
    “I made my own experiences. We made 72min documentary, with 232hrs of HDV source footage.”
    Well, I must say, you must be way, way up in the Guiness Book of Weird Records for the world’s highest shooting ratio. What was that, now? 8000:1? Uneless you were staking out the submersible white elephants of Atlantis for like five years, I don’t see how one can shoot 232 hours for a 72 minte edited piece, even if it is a docu.
    By way of illustration, the last large format project we did something with was an independent feature film. They shot 14 hours of footage and the finished movie clocked in at 88 minutes. And even then the producers was griping about all that waste.
    “And guess what ? It was edited NATIVE. Single-pic accurate. Though machines have to heavily work on live decoding while jumping around in the footage, it works well.”
    Good idea, as we have a format with HDV that does not even have individually addressable frames. On the other hand, if you want to see how long it takes before the computer crashes in trying to assign a frame number for each cut, this seems to be a good exercise, I guess.
    “So don’t be fooled by people who tell it wouldn’t work or edit frame accurate. Bullshit.”
    HDV, due to its long gap nature, have sample representative frames assigned in place of individual frame numbers. That is, not all the frames have individually assigned frame numbers from the get-go. Other formats — S-VHS, Betacam, all the way up — do. If you want to save money working in a given technology, you have to pay the piper somewhere by way of compromises.
    That is why projects originating on film or through high-def can still rely on an editing tape copy recorded onto standard-def DVCAM or DVCPRO.
    “Other point why not go to DV or DVC for offline editing. Because you don’t see it. You have no idea how focus was, or if anything else was maybe wrong.”
    You lost me. As I was just saying, $50,000 budgeted movies were off-line edited from S-VHS, 3/4-inch U-matic, and Betacam SP editing tapes for many, many years. When DVCPRO and DVCAM came out, these formats became the off-line ingestion format of choice by film editors. I personally never heard of anyone shooting to HDCAM SR, HDCAM, DVCPRO HD, or film, and the editing this material from an HDV tape. Why, have you?
    If you have a large pro video monitor or else you project the questionable footage to a large screen, you can tell problem areas instatntly. In fact, this is the first time I hear that other than HDV, there is no other tape format out there by which one could detect the occassional soft focus. Amazing, really.
    “Thats exactly our reason why I would like to have an HD-SDI in: coming from Telecine, TC-burned in parallel record to HDV for offline-editing. No way to do ?”
    Yes, you can take mulitple streams from your Rank or whatever to the higher online format and to the off-line format deck. Theoretically, there is no reason why Sony could not make an HDV VTR with both IN and OUT HD-SDI interfaces. The #1500 will only have HD-SDI OUT, though. Anyhow, for off-line editing, this means that the highest quality signal the 1500 can ingest is SD-SDI, as we have previously ascertained. But who knows what they will be coming out with at NAB in April, though.
    Sony just released their new HDW-D1800 HDCAM VTR. This is at a new low price point for them as well, in fact it is cheaper than Sony’s own Digital Betacam deck! This sucker records in HDCAM, and plays back in HDCAM, and also plays back both NTSC and PAL MPEG IMX and Digital Betacam. Not only that, it does 2:3 pulldown, which the other more expensive Sony decks (HDCAM 2000-series) could not even do. Combined with the nifty little HVR-1500, one could get well over a dozen of different 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch tape formats, in both NTSC and PAL, which is not too shabby indeed. No Betacam SP, though.
    “Take this, hope it comes soon:
    If the link doesn’t work goto and look for “VC-300HD” under ‘Video Peripherals'”
    Looks good. I personally would not need it, as I don’t like to manipulate a signal more than I absolutely have to. With the two Sony decks described by me above, they both have built-in hardware upconverters and downconverters, including the 2:3 pulldown. So you can shoot at 24 or 25 frames and utput to 60 or 50 Hertz video. So, most of what the Edirol does as a go-between you can do by hooking these particular two Sony VTRs together. And the rest you can use an inexpensive Blackmagic Design DeckLink card or Multribridge BOB. But this Roland baby looks interesting. Too bad the web site is bad, I mean I clicked on the pictures front and back, and still cannot tell visually what connections it has. Again, you can do all this and more already for a couple of years using BMD’s Multibridge Extreme.
    I just noticed on the specs that this Roland 300 box has only a single SDI IN and one OUT. So, it will not work for any dual link workflow. Also, it does not do your film rates (24p, 25p) and pull-downs, the best I can tell. I was wondering what it goes for money-wise, though. Do you happen to know?

  11. Checking in on 06/04/07.
    Well, anything new happening with the HVR-1500 on your end, Colin? I am still “considering” getting it. But I tend to agree that its lack of getting a signal ingested into it via HD-SDI is stupid for a deck costing now something like $6,300 at B&H.
    For instance, Sony VEGAS 7 does not take component analog signal input via Blackmagic DeckLink cards. So, it is either full-of-compromise Firewire or SDI for them.
    With this little Sony HVR-1500, the playing in from HDFV tape to PC can indeed be done via HD-SDI. So far, so good.
    But then, when it comes to printing back to tape — any tape format, not just HDV — this has to be done via standard-def.
    Obviously, it would be foolish to capture from tape in glorious HD-SDI, and then print back edited material via lower-grade Firewire. Sony’s VEGAS does not “do” component analog, so what else is left?
    BTW, would you happen to know if Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 and BMD DeckLink component analog (using a Beta SP deck) can work together? Also, if Premiere has EDL capabilities? With VEGAS, I was told it can save a job as a *.text file, which is certainly ot the same as a Sony 9100, CMX, Grass Valley, etc. pro *.EDL file type.
    As for using the HVR-1500 for NLE, due to the rather disastrous long-gap format of HDV, I understand that one is much better off doing the actual editing from and as DVCAM material, something this little VTR fortunately lets you do. Has this been a problem for anyone — i.e. editing frame accurately with long formats using long-gap type HDV as the source?

  12. My company owns a Canon A1 minidv hd cam. We shoot everything to hd on it, obviously. Will I be able to work with this format, these tapes on a Sony HVR-1500?

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