Sanyo

Why We Love the SANYO Xacti

True to its word, the SANYO Xacti is a real "dual camera." It shoots video, and it takes still shots. It even does them both at the same time, and it's the most impressive selling point about this amazing alternative to both a standard pocket camera and a point-and-shoot video camera.

In both versions — the horizontally-aligned VPC-FH1A and the pistol-gripped, vertically-aligned Xacti VPC-HD2000A — shooting video is an outstanding experience. With a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, the Xacti can shoot video at 60 frames per second, offering a full 1080p experience, the highest-quality HD video available.

Want slow-motion? You got it. By shooting at up to 600 frames per second, the Xacti can slow the action down to a crawl, one-tenth normal video speed. A 16x advanced zoom lens lets you get right up into the action.

The quality of the Xacti's video is second to none. SANYO's 3D noise reduction system takes into account signal noise not just in a single frame of video, but also in the frame preceding it, making for a smoother, crisper picture. Add to this the Xacti's electronic image stabilization system, which intelligently understands the difference between an intentional pan and accidental camera shake, and you'll soon see that the Xacti's video image quality is unparalleled.

Face Chaser TechnologyMost users who are shooting video tend to shoot their friends and family, and that's why SANYO includes a "Face Chaser" function in the Xacti line. With Face Chaser, the Xacti can follow the faces of up to 12 subjects, ensuring that the people you care about most are always in focus. It can even identify subjects when they're shot in profile instead of head-on.

But the Xacti isn't just a video camera, it's also a world-class still camera, too. Its 8 megapixel sensor means you can shoot photos suitable for printing at just about any size, and all of the video camera's features work when shooting stills — including the Face Chaser feature and the digital image stabilizer.

With its wide dynamic range, still image quality is exceptional even under less than ideal lighting. We also love the "reverse sequential shooting" system: As long as you hold the Photo button down, the Xacti captures still shots. Release your thumb from it and the camera records the most recent images you shot before you let go of the button to the camera's storage card. You'll never miss a shot, because the Xacti is always grabbing as many photos as it can.

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Hands-On With the Sanyo Xacti: Special Effects

In this video, Chris demonstrates the special effects capabilities of the Sanyo Xacti FH1A. Also, follow the exciting conclusion of the team's location scouting mishaps from the last episode.


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Hands-On With the Sanyo Xacti: Sequential High-Speed Stills

In this episode, the team's location scouting excursion doesn't exactly turn out as expected. Plus, Chris demonstrates shooting with sequential high-speed stills.


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Where to Buy Xacti In the USA In Canada

Hands-On With the Sanyo Xacti: Slow Motion

Week two of the series. Chris demonstrates the slow motion feature of the Sanyo Xacti, and we get acquainted with Nate Maggio and Caitlin Dissinger, the two actors he has cast in his short film. Things get heated in this "Behind the Scenes" look at the creative process.


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Hands-On With the Sanyo Xacti: iFrame

Meet Chris, he's a videographer/filmmaker who just got a hold of his own Sanyo Xacti FH1A camera. Over the next several weeks, he'll be creating a short film project using his new camera and demonstrating some of it's features in the process.

This week, he covers the Xacti's iFrame format, which helps simplify the editing process with iMovie.


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Where to Buy Xacti In the USA In Canada

Hands-On With the SANYO Xacti: iFrame

Hands-On: iFrame

Meet Chris, he's a videographer/filmmaker who just got a hold of his own Sanyo Xacti FH1A camera. This week, he covers the Xacti's iFrame format, which helps simplify the editing process with iMovie.




Hands-On With the SANYO Xacti: Slow Motion

Hands-On: Slow Motion

Week two of the series. Chris demonstrates the slow motion feature of the Sanyo Xacti, and we get acquainted with Nate Maggio and Caitlin Dissinger, the two actors he has cast in his short film. Things get heated in this "Behind the Scenes" look at the creative process.




Hands-On With the SANYO Xacti: Sequential Stills

Hands-On: Sequential Stills

In this episode, the team's location scouting excursion doesn't exactly turn out as expected. Plus, Chris demonstrates shooting with sequential high-speed stills.




Hands-On With the SANYO Xacti: iFrame

Hands-On: Special Effects

In this video, Chris demonstrates the special effects capabilities of the Sanyo Xacti FH1A. Also, follow the exciting conclusion of the team's location scouting mishaps from the last episode.


Where to Buy Xacti In the USA In Canada

Why High Definition?

HD

High-definition. It sounds impressive, but what is it really? Are high-definition, or HD, features and content really worth seeking out?

Let's start by asking: What is high-definition, anyway?

HD is defined as content saved or broadcast in the widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio (meaning the ratio of the width of the TV screen to the height of the screen is 16/9, or 1.778), and with a resolution of at least 720 horizontal lines, although 1080 lines of resolution — the uppermost HD standard today — is even more desirable.

The three major HD formats are 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. The number refers to the resolution, as outlined above, and the letter following it refers to the type of scan the TV or content source uses: "p" is progressive and "i" is interlaced. Without delving into too much detail, progressive scan is considered superior because it processes images twice as fast, refreshing the entire screen with each refresh instead of just half of it. (As such, interlaced screens can seem jittery to some.)

Sanyo's Xacti VPC-HD2000A and VPC-FH1A shoot in the best HD format available today: 1080p.

Why is HD quality important? As televisions get larger and larger, the quality of an image gets more important. On your old 15-inch television, low-grade VHS content probably looked fine, but when you blow that video up to display on a 60-inch monster TV set, imperfections become glaringly obvious. Even DVD images, with 480 lines of resolution, can look pixilated on very large sets, make HD content all the more important.

Having high-quality still images can be even more important. When images are in motion, as they are with a video, imperfections are often fleeting and hard to spot. But pause a DVD on a large TV or load up a still shot captured with insufficient resolution and you'll quickly spot flaws like jagged lines, blurry motion, and colors blending together where they shouldn't. In contrast, HD images (or paused motion pictures) look far more crisp and distinct.

Remember that your TV or monitor needs to support HD content if you want to take advantage of an HD source like the output of the Xacti VPC-HD2000A or VPC-FH1A. If your TV can't handle the resolution provided by the camera, it will automatically drop down to the maximum resolution it can display.
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Offline and Online Options for Sharing Your Video

Sharing your videoSo you've shot your perfect home video... now what? Well, you need to get it into the hands of an audience, of course.

The easiest option with both the Dual Camera Xacti VPC-HD2000A and VPC-FH1A requires minimal effort on your part: Just connect an HDMI cable to the camcorder and plug it into any HDMI-capable TV or receiver. Both cameras include all the circuitry required (the HD2000A's HDMI port is in the included base station) to output high-definition to any TV or monitor. Just plug the camera in and play the video back normally.

For a more permanent solution — or for sharing multiple copies of your video creations — burning a DVD makes good sense, since special hardware (beyond a standard DVD player) is not required. Most movie-editing software includes DVD burning features, including Apple iMovie, Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro, Corel Digital Studio, and Windows Movie Maker, and once your video is imported into a video-editing application (simple with the industry-standard format support that the Dual Cameras offer), it can just as easily be output to disc as often as you'd like.

Another option: Save your movie in MP4 or iFrame format to a flash-based storage medium. Many set-top devices (and most computers) now include ports for SD cards or USB thumbdrives, letting you connect storage devices directly without having to burn an optical disc.

Physical media is only half of the picture. Online options let you share your creations with as much of the world as you feel comfortable with, and with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The most obvious way to share video online is through the copious video-sharing websites of the world. YouTube is inarguably the most popular of these sites, but its 10-minute limit on uploaded video may pose a challenge for those with a lot to say. Metacafe, Veoh, and Vimeo are all also high-quality sharing websites, but each of these also has limits on how large uploaded videos can be.

One challenge with many video sharing sites is that, while they're simple to use, viewers can't download the videos for posterity but can rather only watch them in their browser. Another option for sharing videos widely is to upload the files to a file-sharing website like Megaupload, Mediafire, or Box.net. File-sharing sites don't let you stream video directly but rather host it for later download. You supply a URL to your friends and family and they download copies at their convenience for later playback on their computer or for burning to a DVD. All of these sites have limits on the size of the file you can upload, but if you pay extra for premium service, those limits are usually drastically increased.

 

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Simple Video Editing Tips and Tricks

Editing Still Images for
the Web

Videos aren't the only media that need editing. Still photos can often use a nip and tuck, too.

  • Resizing is key. If posting on a blog, make sure the image doesn't spill over the edge of the frame in which it's placed. Most still cameras take enormous images by default and these will need to be radically cut down to fit on the average website. 500 pixels wide, give or take, is a pretty common image size.
  • Crop intelligently. Before you resize an entire photo, make sure you've cropped it to show only what's important. If you intend to show a person's face, crop out the background. Girlfriend's in front of a national landmark? Crop out the guy having his picture taken a few feet away.
  • Get rid of red-eye. Almost every photo editing application has a red-eye elimination mode. There's no reason not to use it to be rid of those devil eyes.
  • Simple color corrections can do wonders. If you shot a picture in low light or with unflattering lighting, a quick tweak to the color properties can turn a relatively ugly shot into a thing of beauty.

Distributing unedited and untrimmed video is no way to dazzle your friends and family. Take a few tips from the professionals and turn raw video into impressive, well-edited masterpieces.

  • When in doubt, cut it out. Shorter is almost always better no matter what kind of video you've shot. Remember: One minute of a gurgling baby is just as effective as five minutes. The last thing you want is for your audience to get bored.
  • Don't cut too frequently. Unless you're a seasoned video editor, try not to cut more than a few times per minute. Videos that are too jumpy can be distracting and hard to follow. At worst they can nauseate your audience. Good edits should not be noticeable and should instead be natural, organic parts of a film. Watch for natural breaks in the action where you can jump to another scene.
  • Go easy with the special effects. Adding color filters, psychedelic overlays, and animations that pop in and out will quickly make your video look like amateur hour. Keep things professional and eschew these cheap tricks.
  • Soundtracks can help when used in moderation. Don't blast music over the action, but adding tasteful, scene-appropriate music can be a big help to your film. Narration can also be of use if you're looking to inject humor or understanding into what's going on.
  • Remember continuity. When editing a long scene, try to keep what's on the right on the right and what's on the left on the left. Think about two people talking: If you're cutting a scene together and person A is sitting to the right of person B, don't suddenly cut to a scene where the two are reversed, or where person A is sitting alone but facing to his right. This will quickly confuse the audience.
  • Establish where you are. Before jumping into the action, establish the scene with a shot that tells people where they are (an exterior shot of a home, a campground, a circus), before jumping into the close-ups. Remember you can always grab this shot when you leave.
  • Watch a lot of movies. Pay conscious attention to editing in feature films that you like and you'll naturally pick up information about how it's done. Take notes and practice on your own films.

 

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