Welcome to the age of consumer HD video

I LOVE my Canon 5D MK II. Check out this video I filmed with it last week at the LeWeb Conference. Make sure you watch it in HD (might buffer if you don’t have a good connection, it’s best if you open the video on its own URL and make sure the HD button is clicked).

This was filmed using nothing but the Canon with 17-40mm F4.0 lens. Total cost? About $3,800. No extra gadgets other than I use a $150 Bogen/Manfrotto monopod to steady the camera.

YouTube’s video quality is spectacular.

How big a deal is this? Well, Mike Arrington and I interviewed Chad Hurley, cofounder of YouTube, and at the end of the interview we talk about the impact that HD will have (you can see Mike Arrington’s Techcrunch post and video here). Here’s that interview (here’s the URL for that video, watch it on its own page for best quality):

The thing is, for “pro” quality now you only need a $4,000 system but you can get pretty damn good quality with a Kodak Zi8 or a FlipCam. The Kodak works great at 720p quality and OK at 1080p. But those cameras are only $200. The fact that you can do decent HD for $200 and distribute those videos for free is a revolution.

Welcome to the age of HD video. Where’s yours?

One problem with this HD age is you can really see when I haven’t done something technically well. For instance the Chad Hurley video is slightly not focused properly (the 5D isn’t easy to focus in video mode). But the fact that I can do this at all is incredible. Thanks, too, to LeWeb for putting in high speed lines so I could upload these two videos from the conference floor.

20 Replies to “Welcome to the age of consumer HD video”

  1. i had my hands on one, the quality is incredible EXCEPT with fast pans and exposure control tricks that are necessary when shooting video (software limitation or canon suicide policy?)…

  2. tonygil: actually fast pans are OK, but not online (the compression needed is still pretty immense to get these things out to you in any quality). I have some exposure control now that Canon has updated its software but not enough for sure.

  3. Unfortunately the bandwidth availability of most users doesn't match the quality of the video equipment (either for viewing the video from Youtube or I am sure uploading to Youtube).

    And waiting for the little icon to download enough video to fill the buffer two or three times in a 30 sec video makes the experience suck.

  4. Yup, that's why YouTube doesn't turn HD on by default. We covered that in the interview with Chad Hurley, too. By the way, the bandwidth at LeWeb was incredible. The first video, which was about 700mb in size, uploaded in just a few minutes.

  5. It's the wave of the future to be sure. More and more video, testimonials via video. The one thing marketers can't fake is real people and we can judge their excitement about a product by their tone of voice in addition to their body language etc.

  6. Seriously agree with the Q – even the Normal Definition is awesome! (HD was just too slow for my current laptop connection, obviously too stuttery)

  7. I've been posting thousands of 720p videos on the web since 2005 at http://techvideoblog.com from consumer electronics tradeshows and tech conferences mostly. Before Youtube HD I would upload DivX HD files to my http server and stream them at 3.5mbit/s using the DivX Web Player browser plugin. Here my best videos filmed at LeWeb in 720p http://www.leweb.net/blog/guest-post-peekfon-ri… I'm using my Sanyo HD1000 since January 2008 and before I was using my Sony HC1 HDV camcorder. Sure the optics on your $4000 Canon is impressively awesome, may be the closest one can get affordably to Cinema HD kind of quality (cheaper than the Red Cam). Though I also think all those 720p and 1080p pocket cams have pretty good quality, as long as they have acceptable microphone quality, preferably external mini-jack microphone input.

    I'm also looking forward to HD Youtube on my HDTV. I can play it back right now with the Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android which I think is the first pocketable Youtube HD 720p player. Once Android based $100 Youtube HD set-top-boxes are available everywhere, then the real Youtube HD revolution will begin.

  8. Reserved desks? That's too sweet.
    Looks like a great location and setup. No Internet problems at a tech con, unimaginable!
    Now I'm curious about the conference. Looking forward to your first hand reporting of it all.

  9. I agree, but lets say that someone will need to work 5 months in order to get U$ 3.800 in my country. So you will need to work for about 2 years in order to buy a Canon 5d MK II, and …in 2 years who knows..

  10. Robert, I'm suffering a little sticker shock and cognitive dissonance. $4,000? Really, that's consumer level? It seems high end pro-sumer.

    The clarity of your subject was startling in how amazing it was, but I was a little disappointed in not just the fast pan, but when people walked by, they seemed to be in a special effects universe.

    As the technology gets better and better, I think the artistic side of things, like editing out boring bits, prepping subjects and interviewers for smooth delivery, and thinking through a shot list, angles etc. will become more and more important.

  11. Yeah, I guess this is “prosumer” but my videos done with a $200 Kodak are pretty damn good too. Yup, compression is still a problem. Putting up the raw videos would be fun, but some of my videos are 10gigs. Not easy to get delivered to you yet. But, yes, production values will always matter. For these kinds of videos, though, it's all about the conversation not about production values. For our videos over on http://building43.com though, we'll still use two HD cameras that are optimized for this kind of stuff (and that will be edited down).

  12. I love the quality but the audio still is really not good. If you take a look at what many are doing with the Zoom mobile audio recorder, I think engadget did a great video on this with a 7d. The difference between a good video and a great video is the sound. Love the content though, keep it coming.

  13. Oceans of HD and not a drop to watch. Resolution doesn't mean quality, it only means resolution. Besides, HD is actually too vivid and over-white, and without doing Red Giants or 24p warm-film tone contrast re-renders slash color corrects, HD is quite literally horrid.

    And furthermore RED ONE is where the real revolution is…

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