July 23, 2009

HD video recording in a nanoFlash

Convergent Design has finally started shipping its long-awaited nanoFlash recording unit. It allows any camera equipped with HD/SD-SDI or HDMI outputs to record at up to 160Mbps 4:2:2 using the Sony XDCAM codec (or up to 220Mbps I-frame only) on a small, lightweight recorder.

It will give popular, low-cost cameras, such as Sony's EX1, the ability to record higher quality (including green screen effects shots) on lower-cost solid-state media (as it uses Compact Flash cards that are available for about one eight the price of proprietary media), and bypassing the camera's inbuilt compression system.

It can record full-raster 4:2:2 160/140/100Mbps I-Frame or 100/50Mbps Long-GOP video on two CF cards using a Sony MPEG2 hardware CODEC. It is small enough (10.5x9.25x3.5cm) to fit onto a DV or HDV camcorder, and weighs less than 400g. It can also be used with helmet cams or to create tiny 3D rigs (multiple units can be triggered simultaneously).

Features include: HD/SD-SDI and HDMI I/O, with Loop-out, and monitor / playback to a professional or consumer display; embedded audio (HD/SD-SDI or HDMI); NLE support for Final Cut Pro (.mov); Avid, Edius and Vegas Pro (.mxf); optional remote control with Record Trigger and a red Tally LED; good battery life (6.5 ~ 19.5volt, 6 Watt power consumption when active and 0.2W in stand by), optional battery adapter; LTC input; and optional ASI Encode/Decode (MPEG2 TS) with closed captioning, for use as a tiny professional player/recorder for microwave uplinks or IP connectivity.

 It can also operate as a Standalone HD/SD-SDI → HDMI or HDMI → HD/SD-SDI converter. Recording formats include: 1080i60/50, 1080psf30/25/24, 1080p30/25/24, 720p60/50, and 486i/576i (4:2:2 I-Frame at 30/40/50Mbps - IMX), plus PCM 16/24-bit audio. Using two 32GB CF cards, it can record about 50minutes at 160Mbps, 80 minutes at 100Mbps, or 160 minutes at 50Mbps.

 Further features that are promised for future free firmware upgrades include: metadata support (for a wide range of information, such as programme name, location, format details, scene ID, good take info, etc.); Redundant Recording, for mirrored recording to the two CF cards at once; RS-485 remote control, including metadata input; 24p removal; time lapse capture; 1440x1080, 4:2:0 Long GoP at 18 ~ 40Mbps recording; 10-bit recording (it is currently 8-bit only, as MPEG-2 is); MPEG1 Layer II (ASI) audio.

Most of these features will also be coming to the existing, larger Flash XDR unit (which has four CF slots, HD/SD-SDI I/O and XLR audio inputs). The best price We've seen for it so far is $2,775 – although it only seems to be shipping in the US at the moment.

Related post: Convergent Design Odyssey7 + 7Q

By David Fox

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