[ This article was first published in the September, 2010, issue of
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Chris Gibbs asks:
I’ve been a stills guy for over 20 years and understand that side implicitly, the film part is new to me and I have a question about SONY’s implementation of 60fps interlacing in some of their products?
I’ve been told that SONY uses the 60i format as a wrapper and that the file is actually a 30p (progressive) inside there, just ready to be extracted as 30p in FCP??????
My concern Larry is this, I’m shooting multi-media on the Canon 5Dmkll and want to augment my 5Dmkll stills AND video with footage from a small handycam like the Sony. But I’m concerned about mixing & matching the Sony 60i footage (whatever they actually are) with my Canon 5Dmkll 24p/30p frame rates in Final Cut Pro.
I do not want to make a lot of extra steps for myself by trying to mix this SONY 60fps interlaced with Canon’s progressive format if I can help it!
Larry replies: Chris, this is not, ah, completely true.
A 60i format shoots 60 fields a second, which get combined into 30 frames a second. Each frame consists of two fields, each 1/60th of a second apart. This time difference is what causes all the grief in dealing with interlaced images on the computer, which displays all images progressively.
Since before you were born, every program we have ever watched on standard definition TV is interlaced — it was part of the format invented back in the 1930’s. There is nothing inherently wrong with interlacing – UNTIL it gets displayed on a computer, at which point, it is a disaster.
So, while a frame consists of two fields all wrapped together, it is not progressive, since the two fields are shot 1/60th of a second apart. A true progressive frame is when all lines of the image are shot at the same time. Most Sony cameras, and all their low-end systems, do not shoot progressive — except, maybe, at 24 fps.
And, while I should never say never, you are going to have a great deal of problems matching images between your Canon 5D and the Sony Handy-cam. From colorimitry, to depth of field, to quality of lens, to image clarity, to compression ratios, to … oh, I don’t know, pick anything… these cameras won’t match.
Yes, you can get them to resemble each other – but how much time do you want to spend in editing?
The differences between these two cameras are so great, that progressive vs interlacing is the least of your problems.
My suggestion is to rent or borrow the Sony camera, shoot it, and see what you think. If you didn’t have the Canon, you’d probably like it – because it looks like what you think video looks like. After you see the Canon, you won’t.
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