HDMI – Pro or No

Forums General Discussion HDMI – Pro or No

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    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 10 replies - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
  • Replies
    John Brawley
    Moderator

    Ray were going around in circles.

    HDMI is demonstrably the poorer choice.

    It’s less reliable.

    It’s less prevalent and less preferred by the majority of users…most likely because they agree with what I’m asserting.

    I don’t know why you’re picking this hill to die on…

    You’re the one that said “cinema camera” and then complaining that the cinema cameras you think are cinema cameras are not cinema cameras. All to prove that those models that use HDMI are cinema worthy.

    You’re the one using words like “professional”.

    Professionals all avoid HDMI where they can. Sometimes they can’t avoid it. No one is rushing out there to choose it over SDI. I don’t understand why you can’t accept that truth.

    You’re hung on language I think. You see judgement in words like “professional” and “cinema” but I’m talking about what works better and what is proven empirically.

    Snobbery has nothing to do with it. Again an indicator that you see judgement where this is really about what works.

    JB

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

    I don’t know why you’re picking this hill to die on…

    Because you haven’t made a demonstrably cogent argument. Just because you say so, doesn’t make it so. And I’m still on this hill, unless you decide to nuke me because you can’t tolerate disagreement.

    Just to put things into context. I’m ex-military and I’ve stood in front of generals and told then that what they are proposing is wrong. Senior officers have retreated from those encounters and I’ve stood my ground. My career didn’t suffer, because it was my job to call things out. And I’ve been proven correct a number of times and received later calls confirming such, with hints not to be so forthright in future.

    Me, IDGAF.

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    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/‬.

    Ray you realise you’re only helping to back up my argument ? Your list there buddy is when big movies have used a particular camera, likely for a crash cam or high risk shot. They’re all 5D references.

    More than likely if it’s a crash cam they didn’t have anything connected to it including HDMI, while they chose many other cinema cameras that shoot 99.5% of the rest of the film don’t have HDMI. They used it when they had to if at all.

    As I acknowledged, just because someone shot a movie with an iPhone, that doens’t make an iPhone a cinema camera.

    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.

    This is your thread and you started this topic.

    I think HDMI has a place in professional work when there is no alternative. No one else will post here that they would choose HDMI over SDI when both are offered.

    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.

    I agree with you. HDMI is not fiT for purpose. That’s why it’s not used or even installed on very many professional cameras and almost no cinema cameras.

    I don’t know why you’re picking this hill to die on…

    Because you haven’t made a demonstrably cogent argument. Just because you say so, doesn’t make it so. And I’m still on this hill, unless you decide to nuke me because you can’t tolerate disagreement.

    Just to put things into context. I’m ex-military and I’ve stood in front of generals and told then that what they are proposing is wrong. Senior officers have retreated from those encounters and I’ve stood my ground. My career didn’t suffer, because it was my job to call things out. And I’ve been proven correct a number of times and received later calls confirming such, with hints not to be so forthright in future.

    So you were right once, you must be right this time ? Is that your cogent argument ?

    Why is it HDMI doens’t work over long distance ?

    Me, IDGAF.

    Wow what a demonstrably cogent argument you make here.

    You’re actually contradicting yourself though because you’re going to an awful lot of of trouble to make a very thin case for the rehabilitation of the perception of HDMI. So clearly you do give a fuck.

    Your military experience isn’t relevant unless they use HDMI and SDI in combat and have some good fact based examples to share with us? It seems to be an attempt to justify your belligerent stance. Just because you put your hand up in the face of SOP and understanding of set protocol?

    Also, I’ve shot a lot of defence force recruiting commercials in my time and I’ve spent time at more ADF facilities and bases than many of it’s own members, including frigates, submarines, M1 Abrams, F-111’s, Seahawks and Blackhawks. I’ve been inside the more secure display rooms for Jindalee. Yeah Ray, I’ve worked inside of DSTO as well. My favourite moments were shooting a Hornet that was flying so slow it was nearly stalling from the back of a C130 with it’s back door open flying flat out and the Tiger Helicopter recruiting commercial that had 3 million dollars spent on it before it was shelved and never used when they realised that the female tiger test pilot flying it couldn’t be depicted when women weren’t flying in combat positions (at that time)

    In one year I shot over 100 DFR commercials. I’ve been at sea, I’ve filmed during live fire exercises and know the ADF quite well. I was alway impressed by the professionalism and skill of most personal.

    Just because you say so, doesn’t make it so.

    So then…just because YOU say so doesn’t make it so either? What are we in kindergarten now?

    And I’m still on this hill, unless you decide to nuke me because you can’t tolerate disagreement.

    I don’t understand what “nuke” me means. I’m happy for you to disagree with me. You just haven’t shown why HDMI should ever be preferenced over SDI.

    Give me a solid example from your own personal actual experience where SDI failed to do what HDMI could actually do better.

    Have you even used SDI ? What SDI equipment do you currently have ?

    Doesn’t change the argument does it hey, because I have nearly 30 years of practical tangiable experience. Quite a few years working inside of military environments, which I only mention because that’s your benchmark of credibility. I also spent 5 years as a prep tech and manager at Australia’s largest Australian owned camera rental and sales company, where I got some very insightful experiences about what end users of cameras find reliable and useful.

    You need to get over what ever this strange persecution of HDMI you think is happening.

    I conceded from the very beginning a “professional” will use HDMI if they must. I’ve used HDMI when I need to. But I don’t know anyone that would choose HDMI over SDI because it’s an intrinsically less reliable less robust protocol than SDI.

    JB

    Rich H
    Keymaster

    I think you can compare the two other systems as a analogy for this topic: wi-fi vs ethernet. Wi-fi is great. And will get you what you need, when you need it, but it will have its problems. Where ethernet is going to be more reliable, faster and thus the preferred choice. They both have its strengths, but if you were to choose one for speed and reliability, then you’d want to choose ethernet. Like HDMI and SDI. SDI is going to be the preferred choice, given if it’s what’s available. HDMI isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not as strong as SDI. USB used to be the slower signals when transferring data compared to firewire. Now it’s surpassed it and coming catching up to thunderbolt. HDMI could do the same. Just choose what works best for you in your situation.

    Rather than debate everything over again, to paraphrase, big budget movies clearly use the likes of Arri and all the other gear because primarily it’s about reliability, support and it’s what they are used to using for decades (even before digital). But another type of professional is quite content to use different gear and methods to produce their level of work. Yes, I’ve been inside Jindalee as well, sat on the floor of Iroquois while taking photos and lots of other interesting things, it’s been part of my job.

    With regard to predictions, I’ve had more than one correct one. Around 20 years ago I had a discussion with a group of air force pilots about the eventual adoption of pilotless aircraft for combat missions and I was met with a very vehement response that this would ‘never’ happen, there would always be a pilot in a combat aircraft. But look what did happen (and those combat pilots who later derided combat drones and those who operated them, rather quickly changed their minds as that group began to gain elite status. New technology brought new opportunities and new challenges that the professionals were willing to tackle). And drones have almost entirely replaced helicopters in big budget movies.

    I had a conversation with an engineer around the same time where I suggested that we’d be getting faster and faster internet speeds over the phone lines and he insisted that 56K was the fastest internet speeds that the copper phone lines would ever be capable of delivering. That changed rather quickly. And in another discussion with another engineer in the mid-90s, I suggested that future music, complete CDs, would be available on memory chips because much of music repetitive and could be recorded once and used again. I was told that this was impossible as the memory requirements for just a single song would be so huge that there’d be no way to record a full album on a memory chip. Something changed (at the time I knew nothing of compression technology). I have many more examples and it’s a pity I didn’t try and patent some of those ideas at the time (but they were probably well underway in any case).

    Yes, WiFi vs Ethernet is another example that could be used. Ethernet (multiple cables) does afford a greater degree of reliability, signal wise, and you can get PoE, but it’s also impractical to use in many cases, which is why the growth of WiFi is accelerating at such speed. That said the modern HDMI cable is ostensibly an Ethernet cable, there’s even an automotive HDMI coming that provides greater security and durability in an automotive environment. I currently use WiFi, WiFi extender and Ethernet over powerline, as it’s impractical to rewire my house and WiFi works quite well. How many would have believed what you now could do with WiFi, and mobile phone technology, 20+ years ago. What will we see in another 20 years? Then we have all those focus controllers (I notice that even Arri uses wireless controllers), wireless monitors (another Arri product) etc.

    But I think that at the end of the day we (John and I) will have to agree to disagree. Professionals (not just those making block buster movies) use the tools available to them, use tools that are not just effective but cost effective and are willing to adopt new technology when it arises. But I guess that context also matters, if only the gear determines what’s professional or not, then maybe John is correct. But somehow I have a feeling that others may disagree. I’m not sure what other things this guy does, but I’d call him a professional: https://www.youtube.com/c/ANDBERY/videos and maybe these guys as well: https://www.youtube.com/c/StillMovingMedia/videos, to keep the Blackmagic theme rolling along.

    This makes for interesting reading: https://rencherindustries.com/blogs/technical-advisories/hot-plugging-devices-on-arri-cameras. There’s also some very interesting information towards the end about P-tap (D-tap) connectors. It’s about Arri cameras, but clearly applies to all cameras.

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    http://www.bmcuser.com/forum/blackmagic-camera/general-discussion/23700-how-to-not-fry-the-hdmi-port-on-bmpcc

    Just as much a HDMI problem as SDI.

    It’s a ground / earth leakage problem related to power.

    JB

    I’m aware of that, which is why I never hot disconnect anything. The good thing is that if I have to disconnect the HDMI from my BMPCC4K or VA 12G, both start up in 2-3 sec, no waiting around (with Atomos, go make a coffee). The D-tap info is most interesting, especially the one about the safety-tap, as well as the part about SDI cable care.

    John Brawley
    Moderator

    Yeah Ptap / Dtap are also pretty unreliable and they are prevalent everywhere.

    Main problem is that its very easy to reverse the polarity on them by forcing them in the wrong way. You don’t have to push them very hard to do that either.

    Another bad connector!

    JB

    It would appear that it’s often the quality of the wiring, connector, construction, materials and basic design that will have a significant impact of reliability and durability. Couple that with ham-fisted uses and you’re asking for trouble.

Viewing 10 replies - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
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