November 25, 2010

CNN makes leap from DV to HD

CNN is beginning its final push to go completely tapeless, with the purchase of 177 JVC GY-HM100U ProHD camcorders, as it begins to replace hundreds of ageing, tape-based standard definition DV camcorders now in use across CNN’s global operations. It is expected to become tape free in 2011.

The HM100 is a compact, handheld 3-CCD camcorder recording HD video at 35 Mbps in the XDCAM EX MPEG-2 format, which is already used by CNN. The camcorder can record 1920x1080 50/60i or 24/25/30p files in either the .mov or MP4 formats directly onto SDHC memory cards. Recording .mov means that Final Cut Pro users can simply drag the files onto the timeline with no transcoding. It costs about £2,000 ($3,000).

“The GY-HM100 ProHD camcorder is well suited for a fast-paced newsgathering organisation,” claimed Larry Librach, JVC VP, Broadcast & Public Sector. “Its lightweight form factor, sturdy solid-state recording, and high-quality imaging make it an ideal complement to CNN's traditional shoulder-type ENG equipment.”

NEX-VG10E adds AF support

Sony’s large-sensor Handycam NEX-VG10E has gained the ability to autofocus with A-mount lenses from Sony and Carl Zeiss, via a free firmware upgrade.

It will allow autofocus with 14 A-mount SAM and SSM lenses, provided you fit the optional LA-EA1 Mount Adaptor, and do a separate firmware upgrade for the LA-EA1. With an A-mount lens attached to NEX-VG10E, autofocus takes approximately 2 to 7 seconds.

The SAM lenses covered:
·         DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6
·         28-75mm F2.8 
·         DT 55-200mm F4-5.6
·         DT 30mm F2.8 Macro
·         DT 35mm F1.8 
·         DT 50mm F1.8 
·         85mm F2.8

The SSM lenses covered:
·         Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA
·         Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 ZA
·         Distagon T* 24mm F2 ZA
·         70-200mm F2.8 G
·         70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G
·         70-400mm F4-5.6 G
·         300mm F2.8 G

November 23, 2010

Bag design throws light on interiors

Petrol Bags has added three new bags to its range – a doctor's bag with interior lighting, a case for lights, and backpack for DSLRs.

The new Black Deca Dr. Bags have a lighting system for the bag’s interior, making contents easier to see during nighttime shoots without resorting to a torch in your mouth or trying to identify a cable using the light from an iPhone.... The battery-powered LED lights are replaceable and easily installed or removed via an internal zipper.

Inspired by a traditional doctor’s bag, the semi-rigid equipment bag is designed to hold a camera and accessories comfortably and securely and offer fast and easy access to its contents. It is made from black 900D and ballistic nylon fabrics, with a floor made from Petrol’s new shock-resistant, moulded AbsorbaPad. Attached by Velcro, it provides extra protection against accidental damage from  jolts. A pattern of ridges and raised dots on the Pad's surface provide extra grip to keep the camera steady. Twin connecting brackets on the bottom of the bag allow for the quick and easy connection of Petrol’s new Snaplock wheel and trolley system (purchased separately).

The design includes: hinged, extra wide opening for fast and easy access to the camera with a mattebox and microphone attached; detachable padded internal dividers for custom configuration; bottom panels of shockproof, cold-moulded laminate for extra equipment protection; exterior side pockets for additional storage; U-Grip interlock carrying handle; adjustable, ergonomic padded shoulder strap; and dual directional easy-glide zippers. The Deca Dr. Bag is available in six models, to fit compact camcorders or full-size broadcast cameras. 

Light Case

The new Deca Light Case  is a lightweight, semi-hard carrier that holds up to four light heads and four stands (up to 88cm). Five internal cushioned dividers separate the main chamber into sections for storing heads, cables and gels. The dividers can be removed to create a single large compartment.

Features include: rugged twin side handles; an ergonomic interlock carrying handle; and dual-directional, easy glide zippers. The exterior is constructed of heavy-duty water-resistant 900D and ballistic nylon fabrics. On the bottom, twin connecting brackets allow for the quick and easy connection of Deca’s new Snaplock wheel and trolley system.

There is also a smaller model for three light heads and stands up to 73cm long.

Digiback Backpack

The top lid of the new Digiback DSLR Backpack unzips to reveal an upper compartment contoured to fit a DSLR camera with the lens attached. When outfitted with a telephoto or other extra long lens, the camera can be inserted with the lens in a vertical position. The spacious lower chamber has ample room for accessories.

Removable internal dividers help secure contents and create pockets for holding a mattebox, camera plate, follow focus, extra lenses, camera light, spare batteries, viewfinder, and more. There’s also space for holding a laptop. The contents are cushioned by layers of padded brushed polyester, and double-sided exterior monopockets offer additional storage.

The integral backpack system uses breathable 3D mesh, with padded shoulder straps and adjustable sternum and waist straps, and cushioned back support. Contents are accessible from either side, and a rear zipper completely exposes the pack’s interior.

By David Fox

CamCage seeks Kickstart support

An animator has created an interesting new low-cost camera cage that will be produced if prospective purchasers pledge the $20,000 he needs.

The CamCage Mini is a softly rounded aluminium camera bracket that securely surrounds your camera on three sides with handles and is joined by two brackets that can carry the camera and accessories.

The initial $20,000 needed for the first production run of 125 units is being gathered through the new US-based Kickstarter project, which requires prospective users to pledge money – they will then be the first to get their hands on the units (although nothing is paid over until the full amount is reached, which has to be before the cut-off deadline in this instance of December 14).

The $160 CamCage Mini can fit any camera that is 12.5cm high (plus the quick release plate), which includes many compact camcorders and almost all DSLRs, such as the Canon 5D Mark II. It weighs 660g.

Its maker, Bryan Evans, who works in the animation business in Los Angeles, believes that it will be ideal for extreme sports, such as skating, diving, surfing or any action filming with camera movement, which it helps stabilize. "The curved handles have incredible strength and great grip feel to inspire confidence in the field or studio," he claimed.

"When I shoot video I like to move the camera and get a variety of angles, and this lead me to look at camera holders of all kinds. I did quite a bit of research and was struck by two things: first, almost all of them are really expensive; and, second, they weren't really designed for the human hand. So I decided to build my own," he explained. "It gives your camera more handle area than any other camera rig in existence at a lower cost."

Evans built prototypes out of inexpensive PVC pipe and has put a DIY CamCage video on his site if anyone wants to build their own – for about $30 in materials ( "In the end, I wanted something stronger, with larger diameter tubes for better handgrip," so he turned to metal, which lead to "an entirely new bracket design, which is an open accessory platform. You can put microphones, lights, monitors, audio recorders (I've used the Zoom H4 and H1 both); anything that attaches to a quarter-inch thread or a one-inch tube works great on this." He envisages versions for larger cameras if this one is a success.

[UPDATE: Funding was unsuccessful on the Kickstarter project, however, CamCage is going ahead with limited production runs - and the standard unit is available for pre-order at $159 flat pack or $199 fully assembled]

By David Fox

LDK8300, Phantom, Alexa awarded

Both Grass Valley and Vision Research have won Technical Emmys for slow-motion cameras, while Arri has won an HPA award for its Alexa.

It is Grass Valley's 17th Technical Emmy Award, this time for the design and implementation of its LDK 8300 HD Live Super SloMo camera system.

Since its was introduced in 2008, the LDK 8300 has been used extensively at major sporting events, such as the 2008 Summer Olympics, 2010 Winter Olympics, and 2010 World Cup, and is widely used throughout Europe for live slow motion.

“The Grass Valley LDK 8300 is unique in its ability to deliver extremely high-quality images at multiple frame rates, allowing it to be used as a standard HD camera and for captivating slow motion effects at 2x or 3x speed,” said Jeff Rosica, Senior Vice President of Grass Valley. “This latest recognition by NATAS is a testament to our engineering team in Breda, The Netherlands and countless others who have made the LDK 8300 such a resounding success within the global production community. We set the standard in 3x Super Slow-Motion in SD with our LDK 23 camera system and now we’ve set a new standard in HD with the LDK 8300.”

Probably the most interesting technology it uses it is AnyLight flicker reduction, which compensates for the flicker caused by artificial lighting and enables it to cope with the uncertainties of stadium lighting (which can often have different types of lights flickering at different rates).

Ultra Slow

The high-speed Vision Research HD Phantom camera won its Emmy from NATAS in the same category as the LDK 8300. “We are truly honored to receive this distinguished award,” said Andy Jantzen, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Vision Research.  “The ultra-slow-motion technology we created has been widely adopted in sporting and other live events around the world, including the Super Bowl, World Series, Olympics, World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.  Our technology also is used in television commercials and motion pictures and is a key component of the 3D imaging that can now be seen in many Hollywood films.

The technology being recognised can be found in the Phantom v640 digital high-speed camera when used for broadcast applications (as well as in the v12.1 and v710). The v640 (pictured left) can record at speeds of up to 2,700 frames per second at 1920x1080, allowing ultra-slow-motion replay.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' 2010 Technical and Engineering Emmys will be given to both Grass Valley and Vision Research at the 2011 CES Show in Las Vegas in January, in the category of HD Super Slow Motion System for Acquisition, Recording and Playback for Broadcast Entertainment and Sports Production.

Alexa Excellence

Arri has won the Hollywood Post Alliance first Engineering Excellence Award given for an acquisition system, for its Alexa camera.

The Arri Alexa (right) is the first camera to support the recording of Apple ProRes 4444, 422 (HQ), LT or PROXY encoded images onto on-board SxS memory cards for Direct To Edit delivery. This means that no transcoding or re-wrapping is required for editing in Final Cut Pro. Avid Media Access also supports ProRes for Media Composer 5, allowing time and cost savings. Productions can also record in uncompressed HD or ArriRAW with QuickTime/ProRes off-line editing proxies created directly in the camera.

“We are honoured that the Alexa camera has been recognized by the HPA for Engineering Excellence. Arri has always focused on providing the highest quality cameras with convenience, reliability and ruggedness to meet the demanding needs of production. In the digital world, this commitment extends to providing convenient and compatible workflows to support post production," said Glenn Kennel, President of Arri.

By David Fox

November 22, 2010

BBC buys 50 Canon XF305 cameras

The BBC's DV Solutions department has ordered 50 units of Canon's XF305 compact HD camcorder from CVP, the largest supplier of Canon HD equipment in the UK.

The XF300 and XF305 are already selling well to independent production companies, as the cameras are the most affordable models approved for HD use by the BBC. The new order positions the XF305 as the successor to Sony's HVR-Z1 tape-based HDV camcorder, which became the most popular compact camcorder for SD production after DV Solutions had bought large numbers.

The XF300 and XF305 are the first compact camcorders to record internally at a 50Mbps data rate, one of the requirements the BBC has for HD broadcast applications. It records onto solid-state Compact Flash cards.

"We are delighted that the BBC has placed this order with us as it clearly demonstrates that not only is the Canon XF305 the BBC's preferred handheld HD camcorder but that CVP is the BBC's preferred supplier," said Phil Baxter, CVP's CEO.

The BBC has also chosen Sony XDCAM EX PMW-350 and Sony PMW-500 models as its new shoulder-mounted 2/3-inch ENG cameras for news and current affairs (see the full story at TVB Europe). The PMW-500 is the first XDCAM EX solid-state camcorder to record at 50Mbps and has the same form factor as the PMW-350 (which records at up to 35Mbps).

By David Fox

Sony shows Super 35mm NXCAM

Sony has shown a potential spoiler for Panasonic's AG-AF100/AF101 that boasts a larger Super 35mm sensor for desirable shallow depth of field shots and 50p recording.

This will be an entry-level digital cinema camera, recording AVCHD at 24Mbps – however, full details are still sketchy and where Panasonic offers 50p/60p recording (on its high-end consumer SD700 and TM700 camcorders) it uses 28Mbps MPEG4-AVC/H.264 recording, which is not part of the AVCHD standard. The S35 NXCAM will also have uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 output through HD-SDI and/or HDMI.

The camera will use an E-mount interchangeable lens system identical to the Alpha series lens system used on the NEX-5 and NEX-3 stills/video cameras and Handycam NEX-VG10. It will also be possible to fit A-mount lenses via a lens adaptor, and PL-mount lenses with another adaptor (which may be part of the package). There are also other third-party lens adaptors to allow the camera to be used with lenses from the likes of Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Leica.

Besdes 50p (and presumably 60p), it will also record 25p (and 30/24p), although Sony currently seems to be planning separate European (25/50p) and US (24/30/60p) versions rather than a single worldwide model.

It will use a Super 35mm-sized CMOS sensor, apparently the same sensor as on the PMW-F3, and record to SDHC or Memory Stick media. It will have two-channel uncompressed audio and its design is based on a lot of feedback it got at IBC when it showed the VG10, so it will have XLR audio connections, improved ergonomics, and a wider range of recording formats. List price should be about €6,000 and it is expected to ship sometime after NAB, which is in April.

Related posts: Sony PMW-F3: Budget filmmaking?, Panasonic AF100 / AF101 - the movieSony's HD DSLR in a HandycamSony embarks on 35mm camera development + Sony NEX-FS100 takes on DSLRs

By David Fox

November 12, 2010

Chrosziel adapts to 3D and DSLRs

German accessory specialist, Chrosziel, has announced support for the new Panasonic AG-3DA1 3D camcorder, as well as new DSLR and related products.

The AG-3DA1 fits on the same Chrosziel Light Weight Support (LWS 401-415) as used with the Panasonic HVX-200 / 200A. The MatteBox MB 450R2 Super Wide and the MB 456 Academy (Chrosziel’s recommended combination) can be used, as can any other Chrosziel MatteBox with at least 5-inch filter holders. Using 5-inch filters means that the angle of rotation is fully unrestricted, causing no vignetting. It has developed Light Prevention Rings with masks that follow the outer shape of the dual lenses for 130mm (Super Wide and Academy) and 142.5mm connections.

Chrosziel LWS with hand grip on Sachtler Cine DSLR plate

Its new €69 Adaptor Plate Sachtler 401-400-CDS allows the use of all of Chrosziel's LightWeight Supports on the tripod plate of the recently introduced Sachtler Cine DSLR head. The long wedge plate with twist stop directly takes cameras or lenses with tripod thread. The new adaptor plate means that Follow Focus and MatteBox can be used. The plate uses the fixed rear twist stop of the Sachtler wedge plate and is fixed with the existing 1/4-inch screw. On the Chrosziel Support, the adapter is fixed twist-safe with two provided 1/4-inch screws.

The slideable slot-nut in the Chrosziel LWS bottom also allows the use of the Handgrip DSLR, the Chrosziel shoulder brace Balancer and Shoulder Pad proVideo (with the adapter in the foremost position) without the need to take off the Sachtler wedge plate, so that users can change from tripod to shoulder in a second. With this Adapter Plate, both HD DSLR and video cameras can use this Sachtler head.

Its new €19 accessory clamp, the DSLR 3310, has been developed for its DSLR handle. There are rarely enough 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch connections to fix accessories when you shoot with HD DSLR cameras, so the new clamp slides onto the handgrip rod and is fixed with a screw in the desired position. It provides two 3/8-inch threads, one of them with a 1/4-inch insert. The clamp also fits on all LightWeight Supports with standard diameter 15mm and can thus e.g. take an articulating arm to carry the receiver of a remote control.

By David Fox

Indie shows 3D in the RAW

Vienna-based IndieCam has a new, modular 3D system ideal for Indie filmmakers, with small cameras and the ability to record RAW video.

The tiny 1080p 50/60 cameras output a 10-bit RAW file, using Adobe's Cinema DNG format. The prototype system uses single 2/3-inch CCD sensors that produce a 12-bit signal, going through an in-camera look-up table, which means it is not just a linear translation, so it can retain more of the 12-bit goodness. It can also output YUV 4:2:2.

The small cameras mean the rig could have an interaxial distance of just 40mm (although that depends on the size of the C-mount lenses used).

It is also developing its own Shuttle recorder that can record the RAW files and acta as a camera controller. The Shuttle has two HD-SDI inputs, and multiple power outputs, for monitors, etc., but IndieCam is also designing a remote control system for it, which would give users the option of recording on another HD-SDI recorder, such Convergent Design's nanoFlash or the AJA Ki Pro Mini. "It is not necessary to use the camera heads with our Indie Shuttle system," said Peter Niklas, software and hardware development (pictured).

Camera aids include histograms or zebra stripes, and it can create anaglyph previews on its 7-inch monitor. The LCD is sunlight readable and will come in DVI or SDI versions.

The full system is expected to cost less than €40,000. Although the camera heads are available now, in limited quantities, the recorder and controller will probably not be ready until NAB. The remote control should be available this month.

The system has been used on a few projects so far, including one multicam shoot with 12 3D rigs.

Related post: IndieGS2K global shutter camera

By David Fox

November 11, 2010

Financial markets rise on HD news

Business TV specialist, Globelynx has upgraded fixed camera sites in London's financial centre to meet demand for HD coverage from Sky News.

It has delivered its first HD TV broadcast in collaboration with Colt, providing a live HD feed from the trading floor at spread betting and CFD (Contracts for difference) provider, CMC Markets’ offices in the City of London, allowing its presenter to deliver hourly live reports throughout the market day for a special feature on the City.

A permanent Colt link connects CMC Markets to Globelynx Network’s master control switch using uncompressed 1.5GB broadcast circuits over its London metro network, which has been designed specifically for HD, requiring a five-fold increase in bandwidth compared to standard definition, as well as offering low latency and jitter.

The Globelynx fixed camera network is used for live TV interviews from the business and financial sectors without requiring satellite truck deployment or travel by interviewees to studios. To meet the new demand for news in HD, Globelynx is now upgrading some of its camera sites and plug in facilities, which are located at the offices of leading banks and other businesses across London, apparently accounting for 80% of all in-office broadcasting systems in London. During 2010, Globelynx has also expanded into Holland and will soon be setting up in France, using connectivity from Colt. 

”Our close working relationship with Colt has allowed us to respond promptly to the demand from our camera-using customers and from Sky News for full broadcast quality HD feeds of live business news and analysis. We are delighted with the on air results," said David FitzGerald, Globelynx CEO.

Terry Quigley, head of Industry Practices at Colt added: “HD TV demands a real step-change in bandwidth from standard definition and we are delighted to be supporting Globelynx on its first live HD deployment. We are seeing increasing demand for HD information delivery from across the broadcast sector.”

By David Fox

November 10, 2010

Shoulder stabiliser with Endura-nce

IDX Technology's new Shoulder Stabilisation System for hand-held cameras offers users the extra power of IDX’s high-capacity Endura batteries.

It is designed for use with camcorders and HD DSLRs and is based around an A-CA74E shoulder adaptor base, on which the camera position can be adjusted for balance. It has a cushioned shoulder pad and an adjustable, rear battery plate for attaching an optional P-V series plate, which allows the connection of a V-Mount battery.

The A-HG74 handgrip support option has three cushioned, adjustable handles, two at the front and a third at the rear to add support to the chest area. The A-HG74 has an integrated tripod adaptor for attaching the system to a standard tripod.

There are three optional V-Mount plates that take the battery’s 14.4v output and convert it to: 5v or 7.3v for a range of Panasonic, JVC and Canon models; 12v for the Sony EX series; or 8.4v for other Sony camera models (it is pictured fitted to a JVC GY-HM100). There are seven optional DC cables that connect from the regulated D-Tap of the P-V plate and plug into the camera battery channel or power input terminal. Each P-V plate has a second D-Tap output for lights or audio accessories.

By David Fox

Correct 3D errors + convert 2D-3D

The new Teranex VC1 production toolkit corrects errors inherent in beam-splitter rigs and does real-time 2D to 3D video conversion.

The newly introduced package comprises of two main software applications that build on the dual-channel architecture of the Teranex VC100 hardware platform. They are: The VC1-3DTK 3D toolkit, which enables broadcasters to correct any errors arising from using a dual-camera beam-splitter or mirror rigs; and the VC1-2D-3D Advanced Stereoscopic Processor, which takes care of the 2D to 3D conversion.

The VC1-3DTK 3D can correct and resolve many 3D production issues. It provides 3D synchronisation to ensure right and left eye streams are perfectly time-locked even when sourced from non-genlocked cameras. It does horizontal and vertical flipping, pixel-accurate horizontal and vertical positioning, axial rotation, colour-correction and adjustment of video signal parameters to match right and left eye streams. It will also do 3D logo insertion with X, Y and Z positioning.

The VC1-2D-3D stereoscopic image generator gives the ability to repurpose 2D content for 3D distribution or mix 2D archives with 3D content It can also insert 3D logos with adjustable horizontal, vertical and depth position.

Two encoding/decoding processors are also available. The VC1-3D-ENC encoder converts 3D image content into the main stereoscopic formats, such as side-by-side, top/bottom and checkerboard streams. The VC1-3D-DEC decodes from these formats back into separate right and left image channels.

Existing VC100 users will be able to upgrade their systems with the new software. The VC100 platform is an HD/SD universal frame synchroniser supporting 107 format conversion configurations (expandable to 257). It is available in single or dual-channel versions, with composite and component video in/out, analogue and AES-digital audio in/out plus expanded format and frame-rate conversion support including linear HD standards conversion. Additional features include aspect ratio conversion with active fill information, video indexing with active format description, full SD 608 and HD 708 closed-caption conversion support, colour correction, logo insertion, integral video and audio test signal and timecode generation, all under local or IP-based remote control.

The VC1 production toolkit and real-time 2D to 3D video converter is available in the UK through Teranex distributor, Preco Broadcast Systems.

For a comprehensive report on the powerful 2D to 3D conversion this can do, have a look at Adrian Pennington's article for TVB Europe.

By David Fox

Rory Peck Awards 2010

[Updated with winners] Broadcasters increasingly rely on freelancers to go to places that they are reluctant to send their own staff, to bring back stories that would otherwise not be told, something demonstrated by the finalists at this month's Rory Peck Awards.

The Awards, which recognise the skill and achievement of freelance cameramen and camerawomen in international news and current affairs, take place on November 17 at London’s BFI Southbank.

The finalists also show how freelancers have raised the bar technically, demonstrating what small cameras can do in difficult situations.

The face of conflict - up close, personal and intimate – dominates the films short-listed for the two awards for News and for Features, with stories from Bangkok, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe and both sides of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The struggle of everyday life away from conflict characterises the shortlist for the Sony Professional Impact Award, with stories showing the human face of illegal immigration in the US and Guatemala, the plight of Roma gypsy children forced to steal and beg, and the harsh reality of life for children in the slums of Mumbai.

“The standard and range of entries to this year’s awards show that the freelance community is vibrant and thriving,” said Tina Carr, Director of the Rory Peck Trust. “Every year we are impressed by the level of commitment, drive and courage. Many of this year’s finalists worked under extremely difficult circumstances to produce extraordinary stories."

“We have three extremely moving films on this year’s Sony Professional Impact shortlist,” added Olivier Bovis, Sony Professional’s AV Media Business Head, and one of the judges for the Sony Professional Award. “I was particularly impressed with the way the finalists translated the emotion of what they saw through the camera lens. Each of them managed to articulate the human dimension of their stories in a way that had real impact - and that’s not easy to achieve."

Finalists – The Rory Peck Award For Features 2010

Hopewell Rugoho Chin'ono for A Violent Response - Shot in Zimbabwe and part self funded with Television International for K24. Some footage has been broadcast by ITN.

Najibullah Quraishi (pictured above), won the award for Behind Enemy Lines - Shot in Afghanistan; Clover Films for Channel 4 - Dispatches

Paul Refsdal, for Taliban: Behind The Masks - Shot in Afghanistan; Novemberfilm and Norwegian Film Institute for NRK

Finalists - The Rory Peck Award For News 2010

Roger Arnold, won the award for Bangkok Street Protests, Thailand, for Wall Street

Robin Forestier-Walker, for Kyrgyzstan, for Aljazeera English

Greg Brosnan / Jen Szymaszek, for In the Shadow of the Raid - Shot in Guatemala and the US, and part self-funded with support from the Institute for Justice and Journalism Fund. Broadcast by PBS

Finalists - Sony Professional Impact Award 2010

Sebastian Rich, for Afghanistan, for NBC News

Nick Read (pictured top), won the award for The Slumdog Children of Mumbai, India - True Vision Productions for Channel 4 - Dispatches

Liviu Tipurita (pictured above), for Gypsy Child Thieves - Shot in Spain, Italy and Romania, for BBC Two - This World

Flying cameras Via Rail

Mo-Sys Via Rail II is a customised, horizontal camera rail system that can also, now offer vertical movement too, with a new scissor lift. "That gives us a new dimension, while keeping the floor clear," said its CEO, Michael Geissler.

"More and more newsrooms are wanting to have that dramatic opening shot flying over all the desks," and the Via Rail II system is fully computerised, allowing cameras to travel at up to 1.5m per second – faster on request. It has completed a vertical system, in Lebanon, that rises through four studios (above each other) at up to 4m per second.

Most of its clients order it in lengths of 20-50m, which can be almost any shape they like, and it has recently won five orders in Europe and the Near East.

By David Fox

Zeiss extends Compact Prime range

Zeiss CP.2 100mm/2.1 CF CloseUp from Stefan Czech on Vimeo.

Carl Zeiss has expanded its Compact Prime CP.2 lens series with two new focal lengths: 50mm with macro; and 100mm with close focus function. These lenses have been developed for filming with HD DSLR cameras and extend the range to nine lenses of 18-100mm.

The 1.49kg CP.2 100 mm/T2.1 CF can focus as close as 70cm. The 1.35kg CP.2 50mm/T2.1 Makro allows close-up shots to be taken at a distance of just 24cm. All the Compact Prime CP.2 lenses come with interchangeable PL-, EF- and F-mounts. They will cost from €3,700.

Zeiss also plans to offer the Compact Prime range with Micro 4/3 and A-mounts. “The possibility of using our CP.2 lenses flexibly for three different camera systems is not only interesting for new customers. Stores that rent cameras and camera equipment also benefit from the lenses’ enhanced flexibility," said Michael Schiehlen, Head of Sales of Carl Zeiss AG Camera Lens Division.

In its collaboration with Arri, there is now a new Arri/Zeiss 12mm/T1.3 Master Prime – the range now goes from 12-150mm over 16 models.

By David Fox

Bluetooth control for Canon lenses

Canon has developed a new wireless lens control system using Bluetooth that is "ideal for use on cranes or jib arms, or in confined spaces," according to Jan Maarten Kloosterman, sales & marketing, Canon Europe (pictured).

The WB10R/T works with Canon's digital ENG video lenses and has a delay of less than 40 milliseconds.

It can operate up to about 10m, and uses very little power. The controller takes two AA batteries, which should last more than 80 hours of continual operation, or a DC power cable. The receiver can be connected to the viewfinder or strapped to the body of the camera.

It will be available in December, although only in a limited number of countries initially.

By David Fox

November 08, 2010

Sony PMW-F3: Budget filmmaking?

Sony's upcoming Super-35mm sensor camera, the PMW-F3, will cost more than twice the price of Panasonic's AF100/AF101, but adds a 4:4:4 option.

The PL-mount camcorder will record to Sony's SxS format, using the XDCAM EX  35Mbps 4:2:0, 8-bit, MPEG-2 Long GoP format. However, it will have HD-SDI and HDMI outputs for recording 4:2:2 50p or 59.94p on to external recorders (while recording to the SxS cards at the same time). Users will also be able to record full 10-bit 4:4:4 video via an HD-SDI dual-link output option to an SR Memory Portable Recorder that should be introduced at NAB in April. The SR Recorder will use a proprietary memory pack, recording the open standard MPEG-4 HDCAM SR format. It will be considerably smaller than the existing SRW-1.

This will mean that the F3 could be used as a B camera for users of Sony's high-end F35 and SRW-9000L cameras (which also use S-35mm sensors and PL mounts), and intercut seamlessly with the SRW-9000L in its optional 4:4:4 mode (where the F3 can record 1080 23.98/25/29.97PsF – it can also record 10-bit 4:2:2 1080 at 50 or 59.94p).

The PMW-F3 is aimed at indie filmmaking, commercials, pop promos and TV production and its "tentative list price" is €14,500 for the PMW-F3L body-only version, rising to €20,700 for the PMW-F3K with three PL lenses. First deliveries are scheduled for January 2011.

"This is very competitive for a true Super 35mm camera," claimed Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager at Sony Professional Europe. "There is a lot of competition in the 35mm world, but we need to compare this to a similar Super 35mm camcorder with a sensor that has been specifically designed for motion picture capture.

"We have designed the camera to offer ultimate flexibility. Many users have produced movies using XDCAM EX, but yes at the top-end of the market users may choose a higher data-rate, so we have implemented 10-bit 4:2:2 output. The dual-link HD-SDI option offers the ultimate picture quality of 4:4:4 recording onto SR Memory." The SR Memory will be cheaper per GB than SxS.

The PMW-F3K will include three Sony PL-mount prime lenses (35mm, 50mm and 85mm – all T2.0, manual focus with a 95mm filter diameter). Sony also plans to introduce a range of zoom lenses directly compatible with the F3 mount, and will show these at NAB - probably including a video style zoom.

The PL mount will be compatible with a variety of cine lenses such as Cooke, Arri, Fujinon and Zeiss, and there are also hot shoe interfaces for Cooke/i and Arri Lens Data System technology, allowing the camera to capture lens-related metadata.

Sensor sensitivity

The approximately APS-C size Exmor Super 35mm CMOS imager boasts high sensitivity  (ISO 800, F11) and low noise levels (a signal to noise ratio of 63dB in 1920x1080/59.94i mode), as well as wide dynamic range. "The latitude is 460% in standard mode or 800% in S-Log, which is equivalent to about 12 Stops of Dynamic Range," explained Drummond. S-Log and four levels of Hyper Gamma can be selected and will allow users to tailor their images during post-production in the same way they would in a film based workflow, with Look Up Table information recorded onto the SxS cards - making it an ideal format for colour grading.

Although CMOS sensors exhibit rolling shutter effects (such as skew), this is claimed to be "vastly reduced due to the fast refresh time of the CMOS sensor."

Recording formats include 1920x1080 and 1280x720 (35Mbps), plus 1440x1080 (25Mbps HDV), at 23.98/25/29.97p, 50/59.94i and, in DVCAM mode, 25/29.97PsF and 50/59.94i. Frame rates available for slow or fast recording are: 1 to 30 frames per second at 1920x1080p (17 to 30fps in dual-link mode) and 1 to 60fps at 1280x720p (17 to 60fps dual-link).

The F3 has a 3.5-inch 1920x480 pixel LCD Screen, which uses a hybrid design with both transmissive and reflective panels to offer clear viewing in bright sunlight (the same screen as the EX1R). There is also a 0.45-inch 16: 9 viewfinder.

It also has genlock and timecode interfaces for multi-camera use. A 3D system link option, coming in April, will allow users to synchronise timecode, genlock and control functionality with a single cable, locking together left and right cameras to simplify 3D acquisition.

Average power consumption is 24W, so it can record continuously for just under three hours (with dual-link option off) using a BP-U60 battery.

It weighs about 2.4kg (without battery or lenses), and the body measures about 15x19x21cm.

Input/Output: Composite BNC;  Audio output - RCAx2; SDI output - BNC, HD-SDI/SD-SDI selectable; HD-SDI Dual Link Out - BNCx2 4: 2: 2 1080 50/59.94P 10bit output; i.LINK (FireWire IEEE1394); Timecode input - BNC; Timecode output - BNC; Genlock input - BNC; USB - Mini Type-B connector; Headphone output - Stereo mini-jack; 12-volt DC input - 4-pin XLR type (male); Remote - 8-pin; HDMI output.

It records two-channel 16-bit, 48kHz linear PCM uncompressed audio, with two XLR connections. It comes with a stereo microphone (with windscreen).

There will be 2 SxS memory card slots, but an optional MEAD-MS01 or MEAD-SD01 Media Adaptor allows recording to a high-speed Memory Stick or SD memory card. However, these won't have the ability to record slow motion or to salvage files if the card is removed while recording.


It is likely that the F3 will be used to produce some great images, and will almost certainly find itself used for high-end productions, whether as a B camera for movies, or a compact camera on a Steadicam or in confined spaces for commercials, where the ability to record 4:4:4 will be particularly useful.

Certainly, anyone who might want to occasionally record 4:4:4 for movie or effects work should consider this camera. But, for anyone who just wants the 35mm shallow depth of field look, then the price of Panasonic's AF100/AF101 at €4,900 (list) makes it more appealing (especially given the high cost of SxS media compared to SD cards). However, the Sony has a bigger sensor (exact dimensions haven't been released, but it is probably about 30% larger), so it will give even shallower depth of field – similar to a much cheaper, but feature-limited APS-C sensor HD DSLR. For all practical purposes, the more efficient AVCHD codec of the AF101 at 24Mbps will at least match the older MPEG-2 compression at 35Mbps used by the F3.

It might not be the death of the HD DSLR, which will still be the first option for those with lower budgets or stills photographers shooting occasional videos, but between this and the AF101, it should finally put paid to the market for 35mm adaptors for the EX1 and other small camcorders.

Related posts: Panasonic AF100 / AF101 - the movieSony's HD DSLR in a HandycamSony embarks on 35mm camera development and SRMemory lets Sony go beyond HD

By David Fox

November 05, 2010

Best in show: Links + Infrastructure

The editorial teams of TVB Europe and the IBC Daily highlight the best new products at IBC every year, in every hall and every category. These are all written up (by me) for the October issue (downloadable in full as PDFs or readable online by clicking the top right of the TVB home page).

You can also view the full list of winners for Links and Infrastructure products, with more information on each product, but here is that list in brief. This is the last category.

Blackmagic Design – Universal Videohub - broadcast router available as a 72x72 5RU frame, or 288x288 18RU frame, with full deck control, SD, HD and 3Gbps auto-switching, redundant power supplies and, on the 288, redundant crosspoint cards, at a much lower cost than many rivals.

Bridge Technologies – VB12-RF - portable diagnostics tool for transmission engineers that covers IP, ASI and QAM and requires no external equipment or power supplies.

Draka/Fischer Connectors – Triax HD Pro+ - Triax users (about 80% of European broadcasters) can get more life from their camera systems thanks to this new HD cable that promises a "minimum 30% longer transmission distance."

MultiDyne – LightCube - designed for location use for ENG or sports broadcasts, this battery/AC-powered box provides fibre transport for up to 80 HD signals, 225 audio channels, Ethernet, composite signals, and intercom.

Prime Focus Technologies – Clear - content management via infrastructure and software in the cloud, which can bring considerable cost benefits.

Quantel – QTube - will allow any media recorded on Quantel servers to be viewable, and frame accurately editable, anywhere in the world within 20 seconds. "It is a close-to-air workflow that works globally instead of inside a building," said Dr James Cain, principal software architect (pictured top).

RF CentralMicroLite - small, energy efficient wireless camera transmitter using MPEG-4 compression that can be mounted on the back of a Litepanels Micro on-camera LED light (pictured above).

Signal Telecommunications – Signal 3G ENG - provides uplink truck quality broadcast video in any environment, as long as there is cellular signal, using up to four different carriers and up to nine 3G USB modems.

T-VIPS – TVG 450 - JPEG2000 gateway offering 'visually lossless' (80-150Mbps) or 'mathematically lossless' (about 600Mbps) delivery of HD, 3Gbps 1080p and 3D over a variety of contribution links without quality loss.

Telecast Fiber Systems – CopperHead 3400 - camera-mountable fibre optic connection for 3D or dual-link applications, such as slow-motion or 4:4:4 digital cinematography (pictured right).

Related posts: Best in show: Lighting + Support, Best in show: Audio, Best in show: TX + Delivery, Best in show: Recording + Production and Best in show: Acquisition

By David Fox

November 02, 2010

Best in show: Lighting + Support

The editorial teams of TVB Europe and the IBC Daily highlight the best new products at IBC every year, in every hall and every category. These are all written up (by me) for the October issue (downloadable in full as PDFs or readable online by clicking the top right of the TVB home page).

You can also view the full list of winners for Lighting and Support products, with more information on each product, but here is that list in brief.


Dedo Weigert Film – Dedolight Ledzilla upgrade - the small, flexible on-camera light can now do a lot more (Dedo Weigert pictured top holding the Ledzilla with new Chinese Lantern accessory).

F&V/Dedo Weigert Film – Z.96/TechPro Fillini Click - on-camera light jointly developed by a Chinese manufacturer and the Dedolight maker, each adding practical innovations, such as the ability to click up to four lights together to make a big LED panel.

Gekkokezia - hard-source lights are based on Gekko's kleer colour tunable LED light engine - as used by Sky News. 

LitepanelsSola - LED Fresnel lights use about a tenth of the power of traditional fixtures, with on-camera and stand-alone versions (pictured right).

Photon BeardWi-Light - low-cost wireless control for studio lighting, using WiFi.

VidessenceExceLED - LED key lights available in 25W, 50W and 100W fixtures.


Bradley EngineeringSkytrac HD - cablecam designed to look good in shot, be weather proof and very safe for use above crowds. Fitted with Bradley's new Gyro 350 five-axis stabilised gimbal.

Element Technica Neutron and Pulsar - compact and mid-size 3D rigs.

VintenVector 430 - fluid head with a very wide payload capacity (10kg to 43kg).

VintenVector 750i - Vinten's first encoded pantographic head, for virtual and augmented reality applications for outside broadcast or studio use (pictured left).

By David Fox

Best in show: Audio

The editorial teams of TVB Europe and the IBC Daily highlight the best new products at IBC every year, in every hall and every category. These are all written up (by me) for the October issue (downloadable in full as PDFs or readable online by clicking the top right of the TVB home page).

You can also view the full list of winners for Audio products, with more information on each product, but here is that list in brief.

ALC NetworX – Ravenna - open standard for real-time distribution of audio and other content over IP-based networks supported by loits of manufacturers.

EBU – Loudness recommendation R128 - viewers hate having to constantly alter audio levels when they switch between channels, or when commercials come on. This new recommendation is being built into audio equipment from more than 20 manufacturers and should put an end to it (picture top).

J√ľnger – T*AP audioprocessor - can handle all requirements for 5.1 audio + conditioning on the station output, including loudness control (to Rec 128), Dolby decoding and encoding including metadata verification, and embedded 3Gbps audio.

Lawo – Sapphire - production console aimed primarily at OB and small studio use; can have from 4 to 40 faders, but can handle up to 384 I/O, and you can assign any input to any fader; compatible with Ravenna audio-over-IP networking.

Sennheiser – Frequency Finder - useful, free iPhone app (covering BeNeLux area initially, adding other countries soon), shows what frequencies can be used for wireless equipment (including what presets are usable with specific Sennheiser models). It uses the phone's GPS to show what's available where you are. The information is also available on its web site, covering the whole world, but the iPhone app (pictured above) doesn't need internet access.

Sound Devices – USBPre 2 - "substantial upgrade" to its $650 high-resolution audio interface for computer recording takes it to 114dB of dynamic range (up from 103dB), and adds numerous features. "It can also operate as a stand-alone pre amp, or A/D or D/A converter, just plug in any USB power source," said international sales manager Ed Capp (pictured right).

SSL – MADI-X8 + SDI-MADI - a router/splitter/aggregator and SDI-MADI de-embedder.

Zaxcom – TRX900LTS - small, wearable wireless transmitter with two microphone inputs and allows independent digital transmission of two isolated audio channels on a single RF carrier, giving a stereo image from the talent. It also has an internal timecode-referenced back-up recorder.

By David Fox

Best in show: TX + Delivery

The editorial teams of TVB Europe and the IBC Daily highlight the best new products at IBC every year, in every hall and every category. These are all written up (by me) for the October issue (downloadable in full as PDFs or readable online by clicking the top right of the TVB home page).

You can also view the full list of winners for Transmission + Delivery products, with more information on each product, but here is that list in brief.

Bluestreak – Mach Blue XT - first integrated Flash and HTML5 application development platform.

DVB – 3D TV standardisation - a standard for 3D transmission, for frame compatible TV.

Front Porch Digital – DIVApublish - It does deep analysis of archive content to generate searchable metadata (using speech recognition, face detection and scene classification) and then publish online.

JustAd.TV – IPTV advertising - "We're serving targeted, interactive advertising on TV, which no one else is doing," said CEO Yariv Erel (pictured right).

Omnibus – iTX Enterprise Suite - aims to double channel density for half the hardware cost (pictured top).

PlayBox Technology – TrafficBox - cost effective integrated traffic and playout system.

By David Fox

November 01, 2010

Best in show: Recording + Production

The editorial teams of TVB Europe and the IBC Daily highlight the best new products at IBC every year, in every hall and every category.

These are all written up (by me) for the October issue (downloadable in full as PDFs or readable online by clicking on the top right of the TVB home page).

You can also view the full list of winners for Recording + Production products, with more information on each product, but here is that list in brief.

Best new recording kit:

AJA – Ki Pro Mini - a more compact version of its successful Ki Pro (picture above).

AtomosNinja - an HDMI ProRes recorder using hot-swappable hard drives.

Convergent Designnano3D - 3D recording package providing synchronized 3D recording from two cameras.

Best new production kit:

Arri/Colorfront – On-Set Dailies - digital dailies tool from Colorfront optimised for use with Arri’s Alexa and D21 cameras (but works with others too).

Blackmagic Design – UltraStudio Pro - the first broadcast quality SD/HD capture and playback interface for USB 3.0 computers (pictured right).

EVS – XT[2]+ - six-channel server that can also be configured to do 4 full 1080p or 3D channels, thanks to its DualPower technology.

FilmLight – Truelight 3D Player - allows users on location to visualise how 3D material will look when it’s projected.

SonyMPE-200 - 3D processor that was one of the key boxes used to deliver the World Cup in 3D.

Wireworx – Smart Studio - world’s smallest mobile studio built in a Smart two-seater car, with 5 Convergent Design recorders in the back (pictured top) - see the results at

By David Fox

Best in show: Acquisition

The combined editorial teams of TVB Europe magazine and the IBC Daily highlight the best new products on show at IBC every year, in every hall and every category.

These are all written up (by me) for the October issue (downloadable in full as PDFs or readable online by clicking on the top right of the TVB home page).

You can also view the full list of winners for acquisition products, with more information on each product, but here is that list in brief.

Best new cameras - 2D:

CanonXF300/XF305 - the most affordable cameras on the BBC's list of approved cameras for HD production.

Hego – OB1 - A camera system that captures six viewpoints simultaneously from one position.

ImeciVC - The imec Virtual Camera takes live feeds from at least two cameras at once to create a new viewing angle or even create 3D video.

PanasonicAF100/AF101 - the first professional camcorder using a DSLR-sized sensor (pictured top).

Panasonic HPX3100 wireless camera control system

Best new cameras - 3D:

3D One - integrated 3D camera with binocular viewfinders.

ArriAlexa Plus and its new 3D upgrade

CanonXF105 - although this is a 2D camera, the way it uses its Optical Image Stabilisation system in 3D mode makes it innovative.

Frontniche – VC-3100 HD - An Ortho-Stereoscopic camera that removes the need for a convergence operator.

IndieCam – 3D camera system - uses tiny 1080p 50/60 cameras that can output 10-bit RAW (Adobe Cinema DNG) video (pictured above).

Best new lenses:

Fujinon3D lenses - Five zoom lenses that should make 3D lens set up and synchronisation easier because they are matched pair with a new control system.

PolecamHRO 69 - ultra-compact 3.5mm lens is designed for miniature 3CCD HD cameras (pictured right).

By David Fox