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Ki Pro v2.0 Installed

We just installed the Ki Pro v2.0 upgrade yesterday on all the Ki Pros in our Rental inventory.  Here is what to expect… Ki Pro version 2.0 New Features The following features are implemented with version 2.0 firmware: • 8 channel embedded audio support-choose between 2 channels or 8 channels of audio via embedded SDI • Multi-unit Gang recording via the Web UI-use the web UI and ethernet connections to Ki Pro units on a common network to start and stop recordings • Custom Clip Naming-allows users to define their own naming convention using the front panel UI or the web UI • RS-422 support-allows interaction with some serial control devices and some non-linear editors Note: AJA has specifically tested with JL Cooper and FutureVideo 9-pin serial controllers. Other controllers may also be used, but may have not yet been tested by AJA. AJA has specifically tested 9-pin serial control with Apple Final Cut Pro’s Log and Capture and Edit to Tape for RS-422 compatibility. Other non-linear editors, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, Autodesk Smoke and Sony Vegas, do not yet fully support ingest/output control via RS-422 when used with Ki Pro. Future firmware updates to Ki Pro will continue to add support for additional non-linear editors when controlling Ki Pro via RS-422. The following features are not implemented with this firmware release, but are planned for future firmware releases: • ExpressCard/34 media support • LANC and Lens Tap control of the device • Use of FireWire 400 port for timecode data • Use of FireWire 800 port for connecting Ki Pro to host computer as “media reader” Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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New Sony HD Camcorder – PMW500!

I had a chance to see the new Sony Camcorder – PMW500, here at Rule Boston Camera, recently. It is full size 3×2/3″ CCD (not CMOS) camcorder recording on the SxS cards (2 slots) using XDCAM HD 4:2:2, 50Mb/s codec. The pick up section is identical to the high-end PDW F800 — it can record in XDCAM (UDF) and XDCAM EX (FAT) modes and file formats. The software available now – XDCAM Clip Browser EX and XDCAM Transfer Tool work with the files, but Sony promises a new XDCAM Browser, incorporating functionality of both, into one application. The camera looks and feels good. It bridges the XDCAM (Disc) and XDCAM EX (SxS card) worlds, and promises high quality for SxS recording. It will probably appeal to EX1R/3 users asking for better quality picture. For XDCAM-on-disc recording users, it is a cheaper alternative, but they have to embrace the world of proper data back up and file management. The LCD screen is very good quality, power consumption is 29W, which is not bad either. Recording times are long depending on the SxS card size. The price puts it above PMW350 and under PDW700/F800. Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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Come see the ONLY Sony PMW-500 in the country on Wednesday Sept. 15th here in our Learning Lab!

This Wednesday September 15th we are excited to showcase (and to experiment with) a newly announced 2/3″ SxS camcorder called the PMW-500 which combines XDCAM Optical Disc performance with solid-state memory workflow.

pmw500
Sony's new PMW-500 full shoulder camcorder.
You could say that it blends many of the best features of the XDCAM HD Professional Disc cameras such as the PDW-700 or PDW-F800 with the SxS solid state recording technology of the XDCAM-EX lineup.   This camera was just announced the other day at IBC 2010 and we are happy to have Sony’s Kaori Uno and local DP Doug Jensen with us for a hands-on, practical and informative introduction to the latest in the XDCAM line-up. Please join us at 10:00 am.  We look forward to seeing you!

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Hot off the presses from IBC 2010

AJA Announces Ki Pro Mini, Portable File-Based Recorder at IBC 2010

kipromini

Miniature 10-bit 4:2:2 flash disk recorder mounts easily on digital cameras and accessories

Amsterdam, Netherlands, IBC Conference Stand 7.F11 (September 10, 2010)–AJA Video Systems brought production and post one step closer together today with the introduction of Ki Pro Mini, a smaller, lighter version of its breakthrough portable tapeless recorder that captures to the Apple ProRes 422 codec directly from camera. The highly portable Ki Pro Mini flash disk recorder mounts easily to digital cameras and accessories, enabling it to fit unobtrusively in small spaces for on-set capture of 10-bit 4:2:2 files that are immediately ready for editing. Ki Pro Mini offers a small form factor, support for SDI & HDMI cameras and key features including:

  • 10-bit full-raster recording to Apple ProRes 422 SD and HD formats (including HQ, LT and Proxy)
  • Recording of SD/HD files from digital video cameras to Compact Flash (CF) cards
  • Mac OS X friendly media and native QuickTime files–no log-and-capture required
  • Professional video connectivity through SD/HD SDI and HDMI I/O
  • 2 channels of balanced XLR audio with switch selectable line/mic levels
  • 8 channels of embedded digital audio over SDI and HDMI
  • Flexible control options including familiar front panel and web browser interfaces
  • Optional Ki Pro Mini Mounting Plates that attach to hot shoes, battery plates and virtually any other accessory bracket
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum construction that delivers light weight and maximum ruggedness

Ki Pro Mini supports a streamlined Apple file-based production-to-post workflow, recording native Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime files onto CF cards, which are formatted as HFS+ volumes that are instantly connected to a Mac computer via off-the-shelf CF card readers. “Anywhere a camera can go, Ki Pro Mini can follow,” said AJA President Nick Rashby. “It’s smaller than some battery packs and mounts to virtually everything. We designed Ki Pro Mini for any sized production that needs seamless 10-bit file-based acquisition– it’s about extreme portability and going from lens to post in a flash.” Ki Pro Mini is planned for availability in October and US MSRP is $1995. For a complete set of features and technical specifications, please visit www.aja.com. About AJA Video Systems, Inc. Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video interface, conversion and Desktop solutions supporting the professional broadcast and post- production markets. With headquarters in Grass Valley, California, AJA maintains an extensive sales channel of dealers and systems integrators around the world. For further information, please see our website www.aja.com.

Sony Professional strengthens XDCAM line-up

with PMW-500
 and XDCAM Station

Sep 10, 2010 pmw500 New 2/3-inch XDCAM HD422 memory shoulder camcorder and XDCAM Professional Media Station reinforces commitment to choice and innovation

IBC, Amsterdam, 10th September 2010 – Sony Professional today announced the latest additions to its hugely popular XDCAM HD422 line-up. The new products, which re-emphasise Sony’s continued commitment to the thousands of XDCAM users around the world, include a new XDCAM HD422 memory camcorder – the 
PMW-500.

The PMW-500 combines the exceptional picture quality of the PDW-700 with the operational flexibility of recording onto solid state SxS memory card. The PMW-500 is equipped with three 2/3” Power HAD FX CCD image sensors and can record both 1080 and 720 HD pictures at 50 Mb/s. It is ideal for broadcasters, rental companies and freelancers looking for a versatile memory based camcorder. Major broadcasters, including RTL TVI in Belgium and WDR in Germany are amongst the first to already have placed large orders ahead of product 
ex-factory.

“The PMW-500 represents the next step in the evolution of the XDCAM product range,” said Richard Brooking, of Sony Professional. “Since 2003, XDCAM has become an industry standard with over 150,000 units sold worldwide. Customers have been requesting an XDCAM HD422 memory camcorder for some time to sit alongside the phenomenally popular PDW-700 Professional Disc camcorder. So we are very happy to be launching the PMW-500 at IBC.” The PMW-500 has two slots for recording onto SxS Memory Card*. First introduced to the XDCAM EX range in 2007, SxS memory card provides an extremely high level of reliability and fast access to recorded data, both critical in demanding professional operations. At IBC, Sony is also adding a new higher capacity 64GB (SBS-64G1A) card which can record 2 hours of material at HD422 50Mbps MXF mode, or more than 4 hours of material and has an increased transfer speed of 1.2Gbps (SBS-32G1A & SBS-64G1A). The PMW-500 ex-factory will be within October 2010.

Other key features of the PMW-500 camcorder include:

  • XDCAM HD422 codec for exceptional picture quality at low data rate.
  • Switchable between MXF and MP4 for recording in XDCAM HD422, XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX modes.
  • Option to record MPEG IMX and DVCAM material allowing users to migrate to HD at their own pace.
  • Interoperability with major NLE systems enabling smooth workflow migration.
  • Lower power consumption for extended record time during shooting.
  • Four channels of uncompressed 48 kHz digital audio.

Another major introduction at IBC is XDCAM Station, a family of professional media recorders that bridge the worlds of SxS Memory card and Professional Disc. There will be three models in the line-up:

  • XDS-1000 – featuring an SxS Memory card slot and internal HDD storage
  • XDS-PD1000 – featuring an SxS Memory card slot, a Professional Disc drive and internal HDD storage
  • XDS-PD2000 – featuring an SxS Memory card slot, a Professional Disc drive and internal SSD storage

Depending upon the model chosen, customers can copy material from SxS memory card or Professional Disc onto the Hard Disc or Solid State storage within the XDCAM Station. The material can then be accessed for non linear editing or can be replayed under slow motion control. SDI input and output and network capability allows the device to function as an MXF gateway linking XDCAM media, baseband video and networked operation. The Professional Disc based models will also be able to record and read Sony’s new higher capacity 128GB Quad Layer Professional Discs, PFD128QLW. “These are extremely flexible devices offering yet more creative options for XDCAM users,” explained Richard Brooking. “We see applications within broadcast centres where customers can use XDCAM Station as an ingest gateway for their SxS memory card and Professional Disc media, and also on location for live applications and material sharing between camera operators and production staff.” The XDS-1000 will be available from March 2011, with the XDS-PD1000 and PD2000 available in summer 2011 along with PFD128QLW. *Recommended media for PMW-500 and XDCAM Station series are: SxS PRO: SBP-32, SBP-16, SBP-8 SxS-1: SBS-64G1A, SBS-32G1A, SBS-32G1 (**only SBS-32G1 needs firmware upgrade in the memory media itself.)

AJA Introduces Hi5-3D Mini-Converter For Stereo 3D Monitoring

September 10, 2010

3G/HD-SDI to HDMI 1.4a and SDI converter enables simple 3D playback on monitors and projectors

Amsterdam, Netherlands, IBC Conference Stand 7.F11 (September 10, 2010)–AJA Video Systems, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, announced the availability of Hi5-3D, a new mini-converter that combines dual 3G SDI inputs into various multiplexed 3D formats for output on true 3D HDMI 1.4a and SDI to enable simple, flexible stereoscopic viewing on 3D monitors and projection systems. The Hi5-3D’s true HDMI 1.4a output supports EDID transactions that automatically configure 2D/3D functions according to the HDMI monitor’s capabilities. Input SDI 2 is frame-synchronized to input SDI 1 in 3D modes and SDI input audio is embedded in both the HDMI and SDI outputs. Hi5-3D also supports 2-channel RCA audio output with user control of channel selection, along with AJA’s Mini-Config application for user configuration and firmware download. Other key features include:

  • Side-by-side, top-bottom and frame-packing modes
  • Complete H and V image flip control in any combination
  • Easy user control via dipswitch or USB
  • Support for both 2D and 3D inputs

“3D has brought a new level of complexity to post-production workflows, and our goal is to help simplify that,” said AJA President Nick Rashby. “The Hi5-3D converter automatically combines SDI input into stereo output and enables video pros to quickly and easily view 3D on a monitor or projector without making major changes to the workflows they already have in place.” Hi5-3D is available In October, and US MSRP is $495. For a complete set of features and technical specifications, please visit www.aja.com.

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The New Panasonic AG-3DA1 3D Camcorder

Rule Boston Camera just received the Panasonic AG-3DA1 camcorder which I decided to take out this long weekend for a test drive.  The camera is similar in shape and weight to the Panasonic HPX170 camera with the exception of its dual lens and longer lens hood. The camera is lightweight and has the core features of most camcorders with the exception that it shoots 3D and has dual HD-SDI outputs.  The 3DA1 uses dual SDHC cards to record media with one card for left eye and one for right eye.  One of the great things about choosing SDHC cards is that they fairly plentiful and inexpensive.  Tracking down an HD deck with dual HD-SDI inputs is difficult and expensive so this camera embodies simplicity and ease of use by going with common media.  Since the camera records AVCHD codec (MPEG4/H.264), SDHC cards are more than fast enough to write to and even a class 4 card will work.   Each card is given a channel and fed time code so it stays in sync in post when locking up left and right channels. The camera has three methods of output, dual HD-SDI, HDMI 1.3 and cards via a card reader to transfer.  There are no analog outputs for composite, component or S-video.  Audio is handled via the on-board stereo mic or via two XLR audio inputs.  Audio is embedded on the HD-SDI and HDMI and can be monitored via a 3.5 mini headphone jack on the back of the camera.  The built-in mic picked up a fair amount of noise during testing so an external mic is essential especially if used on-set indoors.

Panasonic AG-3DA1 head on

First, I would like to say that if you have ever shot anything in 3D before with either a side-to-side or beam-splitter rig, you’ll find that this camera is very easy to use.  Unlike the aforementioned rigs, you don’t need to worry about adjusting two lenses simultaneously for focus, zoom and iris.  Left and right eyes must match in focal length, focus and zoom or the 3D effect is blown, so a lot of control is required with traditional rigs.  The 3DA1 lenses are electronically and mechanically linked so focus, zoom and iris are tied automatically without the need for external hardware.   The AG-3DA1 allows you the freedom to focus without the technicalities of 3D inhibiting the creative process (to an extent).  With all that being said, this camera is not a run-and-gun camcorder.  If your shots are not locked down but stationary, it will work fine.  If you plan on Steadicam, dolly shots, zooming or any movement with the camera, you must plan for it in advance.  You have the ability on the camera to dial in convergence (where the optical axes of the left and right lenses converge) which allows you to dictate what is in the foreground and what is in the background — providing a sense of depth. While this ability is great, if it goes unplanned your shots could become unusable because the left and right eye are separate channels and not multiplexed together.  This can be corrected later (to a degree). Something else to consider is that the convergence adjustment utilizes the same dial as iris and is switchable, so you cannot adjust iris and convergence at the same time.  As long as you plan for this it should not be a problem, but if you are shooting from room-to-room or outdoors-to-indoors, for example, you should plan on remaining equidistant to the subject at all times so you can adjust exposure without affecting convergence.  There is a mix feature on the camera that will allow you to display left and right channels superimposed onto the swing-out viewfinder.  This allows you to see any convergence adjustments you make that you might not otherwise see when monitoring on a single channel.

AG-3DA1 on Kessler Revolution motorized head.

The Panasonic AG-3DA1 features I’m bringing to light are not to dissuade you, but to keep you informed so you can plan properly.  The camera features a slower boot time than most camcorders (approximately six seconds).  This could potentially be an issue but doesn’t really pertain to commercial work or feature work where the camera is turned on well in advance to shooting.  The camera features two 3CCD 1/4.1″ chips, so if you are planning to shoot indoors, you will need to consider a light kit due to the nature of the smaller sensors.  Noise in 3D is not pretty and can be very distracting, so it is imperative to have as much light as possible so you are not shooting at the lower threshold of the lens and sensors capabilities.  The sweet spot seems to be f/5.6 and higher on the lens.  Because the lenses are smaller there seems to be a bit more chromatic aberration than on an HPX170 for example.  This can have a large impact if you plan on shooting for Anaglyph Amber Blue or Cyan Magenta as it will pop on the screen.  There are post tools to reduce this, but, again, well-planned shooting and monitoring on set are probably the best ways to combat any potential issues.  You should plan on using a Kesson 50′ measuring tape or equivalent on location as the minimal focal distance of the 3DA1 is only 3’97” but the reference plane adjustment range for convergence adjustment starts at 7’2″ and goes to infinity.  You have to keep this in mind when shooting in order to maximize the 3D depth control as much as possible.  The camera does a fair amount of control on its own but the convergence adjustment is on the user to adjust if you want your footage to have any real depth to it.  There is a convergence display on the LCD that shows C00-C99 as a guide but its is only for rough estimation, and it is not accurate.  It also does not correlate to any system of real measurement.  The higher the number, the further away it is.  I tried to figure out a way to calculate based on these numbers but it never seemed accurate when using the camera day-after-day.  I used the shot marker whenever I racked convergence so that I would have a reference point in post when viewing in 2D single channel.  The convergence dial that shares Iris is small but usable and takes some getting used too.  After the second day of shooting, I got the hang of switching from iris to convergence and using the dial for both without taking my eye off the viewfinder, but it took a fair amount of practice.  There is also a button that will turn on 3D guide display, but, again, this is only for rough estimation, and it has no accurate distance of measurement built in. Zooming with the camera requires manual convergence adjustment to keep your subject depth accurate.  This is not automatically handled in the camera. It is highly recommended that you rent a 3D capable monitor if you rent this camera.  If you plan on shooting well and if you measure everything out, this is less of an issue, but realistically there is more to consider than just distances and convergence.  Another potential issue:  reflections and highlights which in the 3D world really pop on the screen and can be distracting, ruining your shot.  There were several shots I did that in 2D looked great, but when shot in 3D they were blown.  If I had monitored on location with a 3D monitor like the Panasonic BT-3DL2550, a 25.5″ 3D LCD I would have caught these highlights immediately in order to see which adjustments could be made to correct them.  This monitor will be available in the Rental inventory soon.  This next point might seem obvious, but, because both cards record simultaneously, you cannot eject a card while shooting or your shot will be lost. In a world of cameras that shoot dual solid state media, many people forget that you must treat the two cards as one card. Luckily the cards are located behind a locked plastic door which will keep you from accidentally pushing into and ejecting a card. The next major consideration when using the camera is post-production.  In my test case I used CineForm Neo 3D via FirstLight rather than as a plug-in on a MacPro 8-Core with 16GB of RAM.  A decent amount of RAM is a good idea especially if you are making adjustments and want to have real-time playback in the viewer.  Neo 3D works directly with the AG-3DA1 and allows you to bring in right and left channels independently. The main benefit of Neo 3D is that you can work with your footage in post without having a 3D monitor if you choose anaglyph and if you have the appropriate 3D glasses to match.  Luckily 3D glasses are trendy again and you can find them almost anywhere! My local gas station sells cyan magenta glasses for $1.  I picked up a pair and they worked perfectly.  Once in Firstlight you can select side by side, stacked, fields, onion skin, difference, anaglyph cyan magenta, anaglyph black and white, anaglyph amber blue, etc.  You can also swap eyes, monitor in 2D or just use left or right eye views.  In passive mode you can adjust parallax using the built-in vectorscope which you can also burn into the video. Working in the 3D tab of Cineform Neo 3D, you can adjust horizontal and vertical which can correct any convergence mistakes that might have been made in addition to depth tilt. This is all keyframe-able as well. There is also correction for primary curves on the encode and decode as well as Debayering and basic looks that can be assigned to the footage. If you do not have Cineform Neo 3D there are other solutions that will work such as the Quantel Pablo, Avid Media Composer (3.5 and up), Final Cut Studio (with plug-ins), Iridas, Dashwood 3D toolbox, Adobe and others.  A plug-in for CineForm Neo3D for Adobe will be released within a few months.

CineForm Neo 3D FirstLight stand alone application.

To sum up the experience, the Panasonic AG-3DA1 was great to work with.  Again I cannot reiterate enough the importance of being prepared in advance with pre-production, production and post-production well thought-out before shooting.  This should be the case with any shoot but more so with the special considerations of 3D.  The idea of a 3D camera that can be used with little to no crew is unheard of and the 3DA1’s small form factor allows for shots you could only get with a SI-3D rig.   If you are planning to shoot 3D but have no experience with 3D beam-splitter rigs or side-by-side rigs, and if you have a small budget, you really should check-out the AG-3DA1 camera.  You, too, can make a 3D feature, short, commercial, web project or spot without significant training or budget.  The Panasonic AG-3DA1 is now available in Rentals. Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974