HDMI – Pro or No

Forums General Discussion HDMI – Pro or No

  • Post

    I noticed on the other Blackmagic forum that there’s quite some vehement derision of HDMI, with the view that it’s for amateur cameras only and no Blackmagic professional camera should ever have HDMI. I always believed that what made a camera professional was how and where it was used, not what it contained. Now I understand that SDI has its advantages, but to suggest that HDMI should never appear on a ‘professional’ camera I find somewhat narrow minded.

    Now pretty much the only arguments that I’ve heard for SDI are the fact that it has a locking connector and that you can run long cable lengths, much longer than HDMI. I’m not really convinced that the locking capability is a good argument, as I’ve never had a HDMI connector comes loose, as the good one have their own locking capability (and I don’t need long lengths). Also, with long-run cables and a locking connector, I would hate for someone to tangle a foot in the SDI cable and bring down an entire rig because the SDI connector was so securely attached that it wouldn’t come out (or does that never happen?).

    With long run cables, the move nowadays is to wireless connectivity of monitors and the like, where some of the latest devices I believe can reach around 800m or perhaps more (https://teradek.com/collections/beam-family). And wireless transmission is taking over many other previous cable tasks. That kind of makes the argument for long cable runs a bit moot in many instances. SDI cables are also much stiffer and more difficult to route than good quality HDMI cables that can be easily routed around a rig. HDMI cables are also easily sourced just about anywhere, should one go missing or whatever.

    But what is even more interesting is that HDMI 2.1 is capable of 48G and delivering at least 8K 60fps video, https://www.hdmi.org/spec/hdmi2_1; whereas, 12G SDI is currently limited to 4K UHD. HDMI is also capable of delivering audio and power. Perhaps HDMI is only an ‘amateur’ format because it’s ubiquitous in all manner of consumer products and SDI has traditionally been the mainstay of more commercial products.

    Now I’m not suggesting that SDI is a lesser product, as it clearly has its advantages in broadcast and other similar situations, but is HDMI a lesser product in what in many cases are run and gun situations, single operator uses and the like? These operators may be missing out on benefits provided by HDMI and in fact be disadvantaged by not having as many accessory choices because of the lack of HDMI in a camera such as the URSA. There’s also the cost factor, as clearly products that offer HDMI and SDI are often more expensive or, if you need/want HDMI, it means buying additional components.

    Or is this SDI vs HDMI issue perhaps just snobbery, a way to make one group of products appear of a higher order?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)
  • Replies
    Rich H
    Keymaster

    Like all things, they’ll evolve. In 5 years we might all be viewing videos via USB-C or Thunderbolt. One of the pros HDMI has going for it is the ability to pick up a cord almost anywhere in case something goes down. For micro budget, even indies, this can come in really handy.

    SDI has its place. So does HDMI. HDMI 2.1 could be a new beginning. But SDI might have a high speed coming its way sooner than later. I say use what you got when you have it.

    I don’t believe in anything being discounted, you never know when something might actually be handy. Given that you can put HDMI and SDI on a ‘professional’ monitor, transmitter etc, why not a ‘professional’ cine camera? There are other advantages as well.

    Say you’re on an indoor shoot, could be product or anything, and the client or whatever is there and wants to get a better view of what you’re shooting instead of just looking into your small monitor. They have a TV or large computer monitor there and so you just loop the camera external monitor to the TV or computer monitor via the device’s HDMI cable.

    I just tried this with my VA to my 32″ monitor and it worked perfectly. I could even carry around a cheap, large, HDMI monitor just for that purpose and connect via HDMI if ever needed. Or you could get a portable 15.6 ” monitor like this, or something similar.

    You could even connect to a portable monitor via a HDMI transmitter. There are plenty about that are very inexpensive for just this sort of situation.

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    HDMI is crap.

    It’s a consumer oriented home entertainment connector that was designed to be on the back of your TV. Plug it in once and maybe unplug and re-plug when you move house or paint the wall.

    It was never designed for multiple duty cycles a day on set.

    SDI is co-ax cable. HDMI is thin multi-strands of cable. 19 of them. SDI is one, with a shield. HDMI’s thin cables are more prone to breakage in the cable itself as you use it.

    HDMI is also a two way comm. Basically each devices has to handshake and talk to each other, establish comms etc. Like modems talking.

    SDI is just a pipe of serial digital data.

    SDI is much more robust, over longer cables runs, less prone to interference and just works over many more cycles.

    HDMI doesn’t.

    That is my experience form in the field and talking to product managers of many brands of cameras about HDMI Vs SDI…

    Having used both for years, SDI has it’s problems, but HDMI is plagued with them. it’s just a crappy home format that was never designed to be used on set, but it never stops people from trying…

    JB

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by John Brawley.

    There’s the rub. I’m not talking about it being used on film sets all day long with crews to manage everything, but by those who work on their own and similar, where hauling around 100m+ rolls of coax cable etc is not an option.

    HDMI is only as durable as you want it to be. Being lighter cable for a start, it easy to lay it out properly on your rig and make it as safe as anything else. Plus being readily available, it’s easily replaced if things do go awry. The HDMI cables on my rigs aren’t going to go anywhere soon, they are locked in place and the cables are well away from any chance of catching on things.

    HDMI is simply another option, if it’s there, it can be used if necessary and, at the moment, it’s still able to deliver higher speeds and quality than SDI. Now if we were talking about mini or micro-HDMI, then that’s another story.

    I should have added to this by way of the fact that there are many professional videographers that use hybrid cameras either as their main camera or for B-roll and all they will have available is HDMI, mostly mini or micro-HDMI. Are users of such gear professional or not?

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    I think maybe you’re getting hung up on the label and judgement attached to that label.

    I don’t think of it as pro or not.

    Just if it works or not. Mostly HDMI in my experience is strongly in the NOT pile.

    JB

    Oyvind Fiksdal
    Participant

    HDMI = Tall shoulders and sweating.

    I think maybe you’re getting hung up on the label and judgement attached to that label.

    I don’t think of it as pro or not.

    Just if it works or not. Mostly HDMI in my experience is strongly in the NOT pile.

    JB

    I’m not hung up on it, but perplexed as to why some deride it so much. While it may not suit every application, it’s certainly not the devil incarnate. Clearly the major film making, studio broadcast etc industry is committed to SDI, but there is another major industry such as the Indi film makers, other independents etc who see no issue with using HDMI.

    It’s almost like the Mac/PC debate when it comes to editing. Creatives use a Mac, gamers use a PC. So if you don’t edit with a Mac, you’re not a ‘creative’ (God I hate that word).

    I don’t want to flog a dead horse here, but I did a bit of searching (out of curiosity) and checked out the specs of some prominent cine cameras, Canon C300 MkIII/C500 MkII, Sony Venice/FX9, Panasonic EVA1 and they all have HDMI. So basically the statement reflecting that professional cine cameras don’t have HDMI, is perhaps a tad in error.

    Rich H
    Keymaster

    I don’t want to flog a dead horse here, but I did a bit of searching (out of curiosity) and checked out the specs of some prominent cine cameras, Canon C300 MkIII/C500 MkII, Sony Venice/FX9, Panasonic EVA1 and they all have HDMI. So basically the statement reflecting that professional cine cameras don’t have HDMI, is perhaps a tad in error.

    banned…jk jk

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Rich H. Reason: to clarify humor
    John Brawley
    Moderator

    I don’t want to flog a dead horse here, but I did a bit of searching (out of curiosity) and checked out the specs of some prominent cine cameras, Canon C300 MkIII/C500 MkII, Sony Venice/FX9, Panasonic EVA1 and they all have HDMI. So basically the statement reflecting that professional cine cameras don’t have HDMI, is perhaps a tad in error.

    Ray none of the cameras you mentioned are “professional cine cameras”

    JB

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    I don’t want to flog a dead horse here, but I did a bit of searching (out of curiosity) and checked out the specs of some prominent cine cameras, Canon C300 MkIII/C500 MkII, Sony Venice/FX9, Panasonic EVA1 and they all have HDMI. So basically the statement reflecting that professional cine cameras don’t have HDMI, is perhaps a tad in error.

    Ray none of the cameras you mentioned are “professional cine cameras”

    JB

    Then what are they? And I just wanted to add, they have and are all being used to make movies, documentaries etc, so doesn’t that kind of indicate that they are professional cameras?

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    Then what are they? And I just wanted to add, they have and are all being used to make movies, documentaries etc, so doesn’t that kind of indicate that they are professional cameras?

    In the nicest possible way Ray, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I haven’t seen any of those cameras on set making narrative Cinema or TV.

    They are event cameras, doco cameras, corporate and low budget TVC.

    No serious movies are being made with those cameras. You don’t need to google any recent examples. They will
    Not be mainstream films or drama.

    You could look at a list like this.

    You could argue an iPhone has been used to shoot a movie but no one is going to argue that’s a cinema camera.

    Suck it up Ray. I’ve explained the technical reasons why. I’ve explained that in actual evidence why. You’re just burying your head in the sand and sticking your fingers in your ears and saying nah nah nah.

    It doesn’t get used on professional sets. If it does, then it’s usually because there’s no other choice. Occasionally o shoot with a Pocket 4k and it only has HDMI. I attach a monitor that then cross converts it to SDI so I can the transmit it though.

    HDMI sucks. It doesn’t mean for you it’s any less good. But you’re never going to be able to argue that it’s better than SDI in almost every conceivable way.

    JB

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by John Brawley.

    Suck it up Ray. I’ve explained the technical reasons why. I’ve explained that in actual evidence why. You’re just burying your head in the sand and sticking your fingers in your ears and saying nah nah nah.

    I’m not ignoring what you’ve said. Yes, blockbuster movies are made on Arris etc (which has nothing to do with HDMI and SDI, there’s more to these cameras which you obviously know). But why do you belittle lesser films, documentaries and the like that are made on less expensive cameras and calling the results, effectively, amateur stuff and those who make such products amateurs? That’s at least what I’m getting from what you are saying.

    I guess from your perspective, if all that you consider professional are blockbuster movies shot on $100,000+ cameras, then perhaps everything else is amateur. Like that old saying, ‘If all that you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’ I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I wouldn’t call these efforts ‘amateur’: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls059550382/. James Cameron is apparently going to film the next Avatar on the Sony Venice; I’d be hesitant to call him an amateur. What about those amateurs who decided to use one of the first digital cameras to film a blockbuster movie? I think some unknown by the name of George Lucas comes to mind. Then there are all of those amateurs filming TV shows, music videos, advertisements etc, etc, all earning a pretty good income and who I, personally, wouldn’t call amateurs.

    However, this is getting somewhat off-topic, as the subject was HDMI vs SDI for professional level work. I’m not debating that SDI is not the better, if not the only option (at the moment) for long cable runs and if you need/want a locking connector, but HDMI clearly does have a place in professional work. Wireless, I suspect, with be the next disruptive technology, for a number of reasons. I almost have this feeling that there’s a bit of denial going on here because cameras that cost a fraction of say an ARRI are now in the hands of film makers and giving them the ability to produce professional level work, not necessarily on major film sets.

    Perhaps the closest analogy I can come to what you’re debating are those who still insist that carburetors and physical throttle cables are better than fuel injection and electronic throttles (I’m a motorhead amongst other things), despite the fact that you can do so much more with the latter to produce power, torque and driveability (kind of what HDMI offers). And I might also point out that I have a science project manager background in defence research (another thing) and multi-strand cables are a pretty common thing in that industry, notably aerospace. If it’s fit for purpose, then it’s used.

    And I should point out that I’m very inquisitive and because of my science project management background where I was managing AU$30+ million worth of contracts annually, I had to be cognisant of outcomes etc, especially when it came those based on appeal to authority. I learned to question everything and never accepted the argument that ‘I’m an expert and therefore you shouldn’t question what I say.’ Many contractors fell afoul of that sort of hubris.

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