Jul 30, 2010

Best Apple Compressor Settings for DVD Widescreen Downconversions

Ever since the first affordable handheld HD camcorder hit the market almost 6 years ago there has been a great deal of misinformation and outright myths about the realities of how to make a great-looking DVD from HD content.

Some people assumed that it simply wasn't possible to do and instead the HD camcorders should be put into mini-DV widescreen mode to shoot the original content, which would make for really good looking DVD's since it would all be in standard-definition anyway.  This also started the myth that since DVD's are SD that a movie shot in SD would simply transfer directly to a DVD, no problem.  Anyone who knows about the DVD/MPEG2 specification knows this is completely false, but to the uninitiated it seemed totally logical.

Before I delve into these "best" settings for use in Apple's Compressor let's first look at the realities of making a proper final encode for a DVD:

First, there are 2 basic DVD capacities, single-layer and dual-layer, at approximately 4GB and 8GB respectively.  A finished movie of any format being exported straight from an editor as a "self contained" movie, even in an SD format will be tens and most often hundreds of gigabytes in size.  Obviously too big to fit into even a dual-layer DVD.  In fact, not even a dual-layer Blu-Ray can take that much data since BR tops out at 50GB!  So what's a movie-maker to do?  You have to "compress" or squeeze your final movie file down to DVD-spec size.

Second, the process of creating a DVD is called, "authoring", and DVD Studio Pro and other pro authoring programs use a split-file architecture whereby the video and audio assets are completely separate files and become linked during the authoring process.  That means when making your final encode from your finished movie you'll always end up with two file types:  ".m2v" which will be the video component and ".ac3" or AAC for the audio half.  (There are other audio formats that will work for DVD authoring but AAC is the best choice because it takes up far less space without noticeable quality degradation.)

While DVD Studio Pro does have the ability to transcode your final movie files into DVD-compatible formats it absolutely is not optimized for the task and has very limited options for doing so.  Basically you DO NOT want to let DVD Studio Pro making your final encodes, you want to manually control the process using Compressor, period.

Another myth is that DVD's can playback at 60p or, 60 frames-per-second in progressive mode.  Unfortunately NTSC DVD's only have 2 playback frame-rates, either 23.98 (24p) or 29.97 (30p) either interlaced or progressive (progressive having much better per-frame quality and looks drastically better on newer HDTV sets).

While Compressor can give you commercial-grade results from your final encodes it is also very slow at doing it's job (creating a Virtual Cluster would greatly speed-up this process and will be discussed in another posting in the future).  So, I'm going to supply you with (2) versions of Compressor settings:  One that is the "Best of the Best" and give you stunning results - but will be painfully long in completing. The second I'll call "2nd Best", the results will be better than if you let DVDSP4 handle the encode - maybe even better than Apple's default "Best" droplet setting in Compressor but will take significantly less time to encode.

And by the way, the best thing to do when you're doing encoding tests is to export a 10 to 30-second sequence from your Final Cut timeline - hopefully one with a lot of motion or scene changes - and put it into Compressor with these various settings, and see what the end result looks like.  Then you'll know which one you want to use.  So onto these settings: (Note - these screenshots have been zoomed up because the default text size in Compressor is too damned small for normal humans to see clearly.  NOTE TO APPLE:  Give us UI FONT SIZE CONTROLS in all the FCS apps!)

First up:  Video Format which is found under the "Encoder" tab at the very top.  Notice the file format is MPEG-2 and the extension is m2v, that's the file you'll see when imported into DVDSP4.  (please disregard the "geometry" pop-up you see - that unfortunately was there when I made the screen-shot)

In each selection you'll notice the "star" button on the right; click it to highlight it which allows you to choose the options to the left.  Video format should be either NTSC or PAL (Yes, DVDSP4 can make either an NTSC or PAL disc image).  Manually select the frame-rate that matches what your timeline settings were in FCP.  If you shot at a frame-rate higher than 24p the select 29.97; aspect ratio should be set to 16:9 and let field dominance be "auto".

The next tab is under the upper Encoder tab is, "Quality":

Do NOT set a bitrate higher than what you see here, mainly because older DVD players would not be able to keep up with a max bitrate of 8Mbps.  Blu-Ray and newer DVD players can handle whatever you throw at them, but play it safe anyway.  Make Motion estimation "Best" here.

Forget about the GOP and Extras tab as they have nothing to do with quality settings and are for advanced use anyway.

Next up is Frame Controls tab up top which has just a single area of options (unlike Encoder which has 4 sub-tabs):

Again, you must manually hit the "star" button on the right to actually turn-on frame controls.  Set all the fields as noted above, make sure you use "Adaptive Details" and for the best all-around image clarity use no-more than a setting of "6" for anti-alias and "12" for details level.  More than that and you'll start seeing moire and macro-blocking from details being over-sharpened.  Rate conversion should be set to "best".

And that's it for the Video portion.  Audio is even simpler:

Set the File format to Dolby Digital (AC3/AAC) and make your settings exactly as above.  Do NOT make your data-rate any higher than 224 kbps as it will not make your audio sound any better it will just take up more space.  (We're only dealing with a stereo audio track here, not 5.1 or 7.1)

In the preprocessing tab uncheck everything; the only time you'll need to use things like a DC filter or low-pass is for very specialized audio which 98% of indie editors do not deal with, so don't bother.

But, remember I said that the "best of the best" might too painful to wait for it to finish it's job?  Take a look at these settings below  - which is video-based only.  Audio encoding takes very little time and reducing the quality there wouldn't be worthwhile.  These settings below will take much less time to encode but will not be nearly as gorgeous as what was listed above.

You'll notice that the bitrate has been lowered and, all the Frame Controls have been lowered to "Better" instead of "Best", and "Adaptive Details" has been unchecked as well as adding any anti-alias or details filtering.

Again, using 10 to 30-second test file encodes will tell you which of these settings best fits your needs.

Now this is far from being an exhaustive listing of what Compressor is actually capable of, in fact there are several other deeper controls that can alter image color, sharpness and a host of other attributes to your finals, but for overall image-quality for HD to SD-widescreen downconversion for DVD, this is what you need.

Jul 29, 2010

Apple discontinues 24 & 30" inch displays, leaves only glossy 27" inch

At first blush it would seem all Apple has done is remove monitors from their offerings that may or may not be their highest sellers in their monitor lineup.  Certainly the 27" inch iMac is one of their biggest sellers amongst both the general consumer and amateur visual creative people so it stands to reason that a stand-alone 27" inch monitor would also sell well.

As I've said many times both publicly and privately, no visual-creative professional worth their salt would want - or need - a glossy screen throwing back reflections at them and creating annoying and often times impossible-to-remove glare which occludes the very details we're trying to look at during our work.  Anyone who's been forced to move their head around or, reposition a glossy-screened monitor to try and avoid this issue knows of the headaches this "pretty" type of screen creates.  And by the way, sometimes the headaches are literal, caused by eyestrain in dealing with these glaring reflections.

So thanks, Apple, for once again proving that "Beauty is more important than functionality.", and that if the device doesn't look like an iPhone, you won't make it.

If you're a creative pro then don't waste your money on Apple's "I wanna-be an iPhone when I grow up" monitor and get a Dell or Samsung instead.

Jul 27, 2010

Avid Media Composer 5 suite vs. Final Cut Studio: A Suite Comparison - Part One

Ever since posting the "coming  soon" notice for reviews of all the current NLE's (including the PC-only Edius 5) I've had countless questions about the age-old question of Avid vs. FCP "which is better" being asked incessantly.  Typically the "which is better" debate is totally pointless because it always comes down to both personal preferences and what the budget/production needs are.  However, this time things are a little bit different and not what most are expecting.

There are two ways to make this head to head comparison:

1. Comparing just the actual editor itself, Media Composer to Final Cut Pro and;

2. Comparing the entire suite offerings.

It will be a few weeks before I have time to drill down into the actual editing comparisons between these two however Avid has made sweeping changes both to interface handling, opening up the architecture to third-party offerings such as external monitoring with AJA or Matrox devices and making the software overhead more efficient (faster rendering). But I already have enough info to make a *suite* comparison, and it's still in the FCS favor.  Why?

First, Avid's DVD authoring program is nothing more than a re-branded Sonic DVD-it Pro HD offering; it's the exact same interface and features with the Avid name attached to it - and it's a PC-only program.  Yes, it does handle Blu-Ray but considering "real" BR authoring isn't ever going to be available on a Mac (according to the latest rants from Steve Jobs, who has said "no native Blu-Ray ever on a Mac..." in a recent interview scooped by Apple Insider) BR is a non-starter anyway.

Considering the plethora of DVD-based work for the indie market and that Avid does not offer a native Mac OS X DVD authoring option well... that's just damned silly.  Not to mention that Sonic DVD-it Pro HD is a pro-sumer application and does NOT have all the high-end features - especially for replication-standard mastering - that DVDSP4 has.  To wit, I know many Avid editors who cut on Media Composer and then export their MPEG-2 and AC3 files to then author in DVDSP4 simply because it's such a well-rounded application.

Speaking of exporting, Avid ships with the latest version of Sorenson Squeeze, which did not fair well in my head-to-head comparisons of Mac-based encoders (you can see that review posted here). For quality (not speed) it was last on the list with Compressor and Episode Desktop beating each other for tie-breaker.  Yes Sorenson is much faster than Compressor but it's quality of MPEG2 and H.264 encodes do not match Compressor's quality, period.  And these days MPEG2 and H.264 are just about the only 2 types of encodes being made; you're either going to make a DVD or post up to the web, rarely anything else.

And then there's price:  The MC5 suite is more than double the cost of FCS "3" at $2495 retail.  That's hundreds more than even Adobe Production Premium CS5.  Worse of it all, for all that money you're NOT getting a native Mac OS X end-to-end solution - no DVD authoring!  Really?

As I say, I've yet to make a direct comparo between Media Composer vs Final Cut Pro strictly as a stand-alone editor but if you're thinking that MC5 might be a viable Mac OS X replacement for the entire FCS suite the answer is a solid "no".

More coming soon...

Jul 21, 2010

Clip Wrap 2.1 for Mac Review: Fast Video Transcoding Wizardry for Mac OS X

With the advent of DSLR video and the newer consumer-grade cameras that use high-bitrate versions of the AVCHD codec the process of actually getting easy-to-view or better still, easy-to-edit footage from these new sources has been a bit of a pain in Mac-land of late.  Especially with cameras such as the new Panasonic TM700 (I've reviewed this camera recently) which shoots a native 1080/60p format FCP currently can't talk to that format *at all*.  That means you'd need something to transcode the footage into a file format FCP can recognize and drop to the timeline.

Enter ClipWrap.  What it does is very similar to what P2Log Pro would do for P2 users, it re-encodes the native camera files into a Quicktime wrapper that allows you to drag-n-drop to the FCP timeline.  However ClipWrap does not work with MXF-style data, only .m2t and .mts files created by HDV and AVCHD cameras.

ClipWrap has two basic modes of transcoding your footage:

1.  It simply re-wraps the camera masters into a Quicktime wrapper that allows FCP to recognize the clips to either be input into the Log & Transfer process or immediately dropped to the timeline.  Which one will depend on exactly what format you shot in-camera and whether or not it's a natively supported FCP format.  This simple re-wrap is blazingly fast and is much faster than real-time, up to 10x faster than real-time depending on your machine's speed and HDD available space.

2.  Or, ClipWrap can also transcode the camera masters into either ProRes, DVCPRO-HD or Avid DNxHD codecs to then be dropped into FCP, Premiere Pro, Avid or any other pro-NLE that can handle these formats.  Unfortunately the time it takes to transcode is very similar to how long it would take FCP's Log & Transfer to make the transcoding, and high-bitrate AVCHD files such as from the aforementioned TM700's 1080/60p format the process can take up to 6x longer than real-time.  And that's not a limitation of ClipWrap, that's all about the processing power available to the computer since the transcoding process is very much like final rendering in FCP:  It's very, very CPU/RAM/HDD dependent.

The real benefit of ClipWrap however is that it's a very small application and it's own overhead is extremely small, far less than having FCP running in the background during Log & Transfer allowing more computer-crunching assets to be allocated to the task hence, ClipWrap is definitely faster than using Log & Transfer for transcoding into ProRes, for example.

The user interface is also very simple and easy to understand; you simply point to the media you're going to have ClipWrap work on or, drag-n-drop those files directly into the UI, pick whether or not you're going to just re-wrap or transcode into another format, hit the "convert" button and watch as it crunches through your list of clips.  It's that easy.

For Mac-based editors ClipWrap is a godsend right now.  Many AVCHD cameras do not have native support in FCP requiring transcoding prior to editing and in some rare cases as with the TM700 there simply isn't any other application - that I'm aware of - that can even *handle* the transcoding process for it's footage!  That means depending on which camera you choose you may not even be able to look at the footage outside of the camera unless you've got ClipWrap to first take care of transcoding it.


Just as when HDV first made it's debut into the pro-NLE market and it's associated headaches with not having direct compatibility with FCP so too is the domain of all the AVCHD-format cameras today.  At some point FCP will follow suit (we all hope) with Premiere Pro and Avid and make AVCHD a drag-n-drop native format for editing, but until then ClipWrap is your best friend for getting your hard-won footage into FCP to create your masterpiece.

Basically, if you shoot any AVCHD-format camera and you cut on FCP then you'd better have a copy of ClipWrap to make your editing life easier.

Now that I have a copy of Avid Media Composer v.5 I'll be testing output from ClipWrap using DNxHD into Avid timelines, so stay tuned!

Jul 17, 2010

MCE Optibay Review: A 2nd Internal HDD for Apple laptops!

Earlier this year Apple released their latest "updates " to the MacBook Pro lineup, and as before they are sorely lacking behind their PC-based brethren when it comes to connectivity and overall feature set.

One of the biggest complaints from creative professionals about Apple laptops is that none of them, not even the top-o-the-line 17" inch model, comes with or has an option for a second internal hard disk.  And it's not as if it's not possible, again many PC laptops have had second internal drives as an option for almost a decade, so why Apple doesn't follow suit is another one of those, "why, oh why doesn't Apple get on-board" issues.

But like so many other things Apple refuses to do leave it to third party companies to fill in the blanks, literally.  MCE Tech offers a second-internal drive solution for ALL Mac laptops, not just the "pro" versions.

Enter the MCE Optibay, a simple and highly effective DIY kit that removes the internal optical drive and replaces it with your choice of 2.5" inch laptop hard disk.  MCE makes a kit for every late and early model of Mac laptops including the older G4 Powerbooks and Mac Minis.  Nobody is left out in the cold with this kit.

(NOTE:  Although the kit itself is straight foward enough it does require physically opening up the case of your Mac laptop, and if you're not familiar with or comfortable working on the innards of your precious Apple computer MCE does offer an installation service, where for a small fee you send in your laptop and MCE does the kit install for you.)

There are various versions of the kit MCE supplies allowing you to choose from a simple USB-connected enclosure to install the optical drive you remove from your laptop all the way to high-quality external Firewire enclosures.  You pick the solution that best fits your needs and budget.

For this review I was able to test two different kits designed for the pre-unibody 15" inch MacBook Pro which used the now older style ATA/IDE connector for the Superdrive and, the newer unibody kit in which the Superdrive is SATA, hence the replacement kit for the second drive is also SATA.  I selected the "free" USB enclosure to insert the Superdrive being removed from the laptop - just one of many options available from the MCE website.

Admittedly I have master-grade knowledge of computer build and troubleshooting so installing these kits was a breeze, but as I mentioned before if you don't have competent knowledge of computer system building then I'd highly recommend having MCE do the installation for you.

Included in the both the kits I received from MCE was the new drive tray to install the second drive, the very thin profile and plastic USB external case to install the Superdrive being removed from the laptop and, they even supply an anti-static multi-tool with properly sized ultra-micro-sized phillips and flat-head screwdrivers.  Very, very useful - and unexpected!

My only complaint about the kit is that the free USB external enclosure for the Superdrive requires using (2) USB connectors to provide both power and data connectivity.  It's definitely not an elegant solution and I would strongly recommend getting a stand-alone Firewire DVD burner enclosure instead.

In some pre-unibody models you may have to power-off the machine, connect the USB enclosure and then power it back up before the system will recognize the external optical drive.  It doesn't happen always and it depends on the system status at the time, and it's not an issue directly related to the MCE kit at all, but for some reason the USB internal bus on the older Apple laptops sometimes get a little confused as to what's connected and what's not.  A fresh re-boot or even just a log-out/log-in will clear the issue.  (It may also be a sign you need to do some system-wide routine maintenance to give the system a tune-up.)  In the unibody version this isn't required for some reason and the USB drive was seen and usable right away once it was connected to the laptop.

Performance is as expected between the two connectivity types:  In the pre-unibody version where the second HDD is connected via ATA/IDE the IO speeds averaged about 50-60 MBps; in the SATA version in the unibody MacBook Pro the IO speeds hovered around 85-90 MBps.  These speeds however will vary greatly depending on the actual HDD used for your second internal.  (My second internal drive is the Seagate 7200.4 250GB; had it been the newer 500GB drive the IO speeds would be have been closer to 100 MBps!)

And yes, if you're using Boot Camp to run Windows - and you preconfigure your second HDD with an NTFS partition - then Windows can see and use it just like any other HDD in it's system, with all the same benefits and caveats.


The option of adding a second internal drive is significant since Apple has seen fit to limit and delete several possible external HDD connections, such as the ExpressCard 34 slot (now only available on the 17" inch) and only a single Firewire port connecting external drives has become an issue video, photo and audio pros haven't had to deal with until now.  But having a dedicated second internal drive can provide a place for either primary media assets to reside or, if an external Firewire drive is used the second internal can become the scratch-disk or "cache" drive.  Regardless of configuration having a second drive in a laptop is a boost to workflow efficiency and allows for greater options.

Now if you really wanted to go nuts and transform your MBP into a real powerhouse you could easily replace your standard HDD's with (2) SSD-type drives instead, the MCE kit does support SSD drives with no issues, but you still have to consider the ultra-high price-point of SSD's vs. the performance they deliver.  But hey, at least it's an option!

Jul 15, 2010

Panasonic TM700 Review

It wasn't that long ago that Panasonic put the indie filmmaking community on fire with the DVX100, the first SD-format handheld camcorder to shoot true 24p (24 frames per second in progressive mode, giving the video a more filmic look and feel).

They did it again in 2005 with the HVX200, the worlds first tapeless professional handheld HD camcorder.  And while it's not a professional or even pro-sumer model Panny looks to have launched yet another game-changing HD-camera, the TM700.

At first blush the little palm-sized camcorder looks to be no different than it's competitors; AVCHD format, ultra-small size, SDHC-card media with a built-in 32GB on-board and a flip-out touch-screen interface.  But that's where the similarity stops:  The TM700 is yet another Panasonic first:  It's the first conumer-grade camera that shoots a *native* 1080/60p format.  Currently only very high-end professional cameras are capable of such a feat and even then only a select few.

Images from the camera are nothing short of stunning.  Panasonic has always been known to have vibrant, color-rich imagers in it's cameras, both still and video, and the TM700 certainly follows that tradition.  It's noise characteristics are also extremely good, besting pro cams such as the HPX170, Z3 and other dedicated video cameras.  But it's nowhere near as good as say a Canon 5D MkII or the newer 7D; DSLR's are currently the king-of-the-hill with respect to low-noise characteristics and it will probably remain that way for some time until the camera manufacturers figure out a way of transferring this low-light capability into a CCD, global-shutter camera.  (If you haven't figured out by now, I absolutely abhor rolling-shutter technology.)

Currently the TM700 represents the top of the line in Panny's consumer line of AVCHD camcorders but when you're at the top of consumer that means some pro-level features have been included.

To wit, the little TM700 does in fact have manual controls over almost every aspect of image capture; focus, white-balance, iris and shutter speed.  In professional ENG cams Panny introduced "Dynamic Range Stetch" or DRS for short, in which the differences between light and dark areas are lessened allowing for greater slightly better dynamic range and latitude especially in shadow detail.  In the TM700 that feature has been transferred and split into two features, "Backlight Compensation" and "Intelligent Contrast".  When both are turned on imagery remains amazingly vibrant yet more detail is recovered both in shadows and highlight areas of the image.

The two-stage OIS or optical image stabilization is one of the best I've ever seen in any camera at any price.  I shot a sequence hand-held with OIS turned on and did a slow pan - you can't tell the camera wasn't on a tripod.  Now that's really saying something, not about my ability to make a smooth camera move, but more about the OIS doing an above-average job of keeping things steady.

But despite all the cool trimming the TM700 does have a few niggles and even some near deal-killer issues when pushed to commercial-grade shooting standards.

The touch-screen interface sounds like a neat convenience feature but in practical use it's actually an annoyance since the flip-out 3" inch screen is quite small and, when you've been busy making adjustments to all the features having your paw-prints all over the screen will eventually force you into cleaning it just so you don't have a blurred image for viewing.

Having manual controls is cool, but accessing them is a bit of a pain.  The actual and only interface into the manual controls is a small button on the left-front side of the camera right in front of the flip-out LCD; when the LCD is open it's near impossible to get to that button without moving the screen out of the way.  That wasn't very well thought-out by the engineers unfortunately.

You can only scroll through the 4 manual control options; focus/WB/shutter speed/iris.  Once you've made your settings if you have to go back and re-adjust something the camera - for some inexplicable reason - re-adjusts the other parameters in an attempt to give you an "optimal" setting first, then allowing you to change it to what you want.  This is very, very annoying since the last thing you want to do is have to re-adjust all 4 settings if you only need to change one of them.  I can only hope Panny addresses this goofy behavior in a firmware update soon.

The marketing hype about this camera is that it will shoot "24p", however that's a half-truth.  24p can only be accessed when "Digital Cinema" is turned on however it's not true progressive, it's simply frame-doubling an interlaced format.  This is very similar to the in-camera trickery that both Canon and Sony used in their pro-sumer HDV cameras to simulate a progressive format - but it's not true progressive and you can plainly see horizontal scan lines in post-production.

The only real progressive format available on the camera is when you use the dedicated 1080/60p button, and in that mode with "Auto slow shutter" turned on the slowest progressive frame-rate is 30p, not 24p.  However this really isn't a deal-killer per-se since over 90% of videos produced today are sent out to the web, and all web-based video hosts transcode their footage into 30p sequences anyway, so shooting in 30p - or 60p will produce the best looking results.

Speaking of which, images shot in the above mode produces far better results than  the interlaced modes by a large margin.  If you really want to get the best results out of this camera then ALWAYS shoot in 1080/60p, period.

Of course with any newer-tech, bleeding-edge technology comes the post-production caveats and the TM700 has it's hood-winking moments too.  For editing on the Mac you'll have to use Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro or Avid to fully access the 1080/60p format.  Final Cut Express and other consumer-grade NLE's will NOT be able to use the format, period.

But just getting your 1080/60p footage INTO your NLE of choice is a bit of a pain too.  On the Mac side ClipWrap will be your best friend, and the best workflow is to have CW transcode the footage into either ProRes or, DVCPRO-HD.  (DVCPRO-HD or DV100 is actually much easier to work with than ProRes, despite Apple's claim otherwise.)  For the PC Panny has supplied Windows-only conversion software but it leaves much to be desired and you should seek out a ClipWrap-type of program to do that job instead.

Unfortunately the transcoding process of taking the 1080/60p camera masters into either DV100 or ProRes is a very time-consuming task; expect it to be 2-3x times longer than real-time depending on the length of the clip and the speed of your computer.  This is one reason that AVCHD and other long-GOP formats are not ideal for serious, professional productions, just because the time it takes to transcode the footage eliminates the time-saving benefit of a tapeless workflow!  (In the future I'll be posting more info about that)

Amongst the list of niggles and less-than-great features is the all important user interface and camera menu structure.  Quite frankly, it sucks!  The camera is chock-full of silly, almost nonsensical features that are really about trying to woo the general consumer into having this plethora of "features" but all that's really been accomplished is that accessing the most critical camera functions has become an exercise in trying to decipher exactly what any given setting is supposed to do.  I'm a professional camera operator and even I have been stymied by the TM700's list of options and the poorly laid out menu.

Not to mention that many of these so-called "features" aren't always available.  Depending which mode/s are selected in-camera you either will or won't be able to use other options in the menu, and there's no clear guideline that tells you ahead of time "this feature only works when THIS feature is also turned on - or off...".  Just when you think you'll be able to use "Intelligent Contrast" for example, the camera will tell you, "Not available in "X" mode turned on...".  Really?  Panny needs to either completely re-work their menu structure or, make it much more obvious when and why certain features become available - or not.

Although the TM700 shoots a very high bitrate version of AVCHD in it's highest quality setting of 1080/60p it still does not hold up to broadcast standards for color reproduction in post, and serious color grading will quickly fall apart visually even at the first stage.  That's mainly due to the 4:2:0 color space of AVCHD, so you while the imagery looks spectacularly clean on the LCD and even initially on a computer screen it will easily show it's weaknesses when pushed just a bit.


Despite all it's pro-sumer weaknesses the TM700 represents a true powerhouse of affordable, handheld HD videography.  It's imagery currently has no match in it's pricepoint and it's low-light capabilities start to rival that of DSLR's.  Add to that the manual controls, time-lapse options and superb OIS it's not only an excellent consumer-grade camera but it may also be a great 2nd camera for commercial productions where rolling shutter and color issues are not critical.