April 12, 2011

Low-cost recording spells Blackmagic

Blackmagic Design has unleashed two new low-cost uncompressed recorders for studio and on-camera use that could really impact the way people record video. The prices are significantly lower than anything anyone else has shown, and the quality should more than meet most user's demands.

The $345 HyperDeck Shuttle will capture uncompressed 10-bit video onto 2.5-inch (laptop-sized) Solid State Drives. It has up to 3Gbps SDI I/O and HDMI 1.4a I/O. It is small and battery powered for use on location, or can be used with live production switchers. It may not have the touch-screen display of the Atomos Ninja or Samurai, but you could buy a reasonably nice monitor with the savings...

[See our review of the Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle]

The Shuttle bypasses the camera's compression and records from SDI and HDMI directly into the highest quality uncompressed video. SSDs are cheaper per gigabyte than other solid-state media and fast enough that users can edit directly from them by plugging the SSD into an eSATA dock, which eliminates file copying. It captures widely compatible uncompressed QuickTime files that can be used with all popular software packages, such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and DaVinci Resolve. Of course, there is a good reason why compression was invented; uncompressed video takes up a lot of memory, so you will have to invest in larger SSDs. However, these tend to follow Moore's Law by doubling in capacity/halving in price every 18 months or so. If SSDs seem too expensive now, the Shuttle may be something to consider in the mid term rather than immediately. Also, if you edit on a laptop, or don't have the latest high-spec computer, it may not have the capabilities to handle as many streams of uncompressed video as you'd get with compression - but you can always import and transcode uncompressed into ProRes or some other edit-friendly codec.

The Shuttle is machined out of a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminium and has an internal battery. There is also a USB connection for software updates and settings.

"It's hard to imagine something so tiny can capture full uncompressed 10-bit SDI in HD and play it back, all from a removable SSD disk that you can edit on. It's incredible, and so low cost that everyone will be able to work in uncompressed quality", said Grant Petty, Blackmagic's CEO. "SSDs really are the 'videotape' format for the 21st century, and it seems like every day the disks are getting even bigger, faster and more affordable."

The HyperDeck Shuttle should be available in May and can also be used as a video playback source for digital signage systems or switchers.

[UPDATE: It started shipping June 24, see: Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle ships]

VTR replacement for under $1,000

The $995 HyperDeck Studio has dual slots to allow automatic recording onto the next disk when one record disk fills, for unlimited duration recording.

It features "a beautiful user friendly VTR style design" with function buttons, a jog wheel for jog and shuttle, plus external RS-422 control. It has a high resolution LCD screen displaying timecode and transport information plus a colour thumbnail preview of the current clip in record and playback. Crystal look buttons give customers full transport control just like a broadcast deck. It also has Ethernet for transport control and setting changes.

The 1RU device can be used in outside broadcast vans or a master control room, for on-set recording and viewing of dailies, as a video server, or for replays at live events. Users can simply swap SSDs for playback of a massive library of clips.

"This is the recorder that's affordable, the highest quality possible and uses standard SSD media, so it really is the next generation broadcast deck", said Petty. "HyperDeck Studio is the perfect companion for our new ATEM production switchers because you can flip between disks as they fill so you can record virtually forever. It's also a fantastic cart based system for clip playback on live productions and will dramatically raise the production values on live events. It's all very exciting."

The HyperDeck Studio will be available in July.

By David Fox

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