June 30, 2011

GenArts gives Sapphire the Edge

GenArts has introduced Sapphire Edge, a new budget visual effects plug in, for Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas, with support for FCP X (now in beta) scheduled for August.

The $299 plug-in comes with more than 350 high-quality preset looks that are quickly applied to any video, via its Preset browser (the FCP X version will be integrated into the X interface). Looks appear to be easy to customise, but users will also be able to download further looks every month from FX Central (this collection will cost $99 per year, but the first year is included).

It is "very streamlined and easy to use," and is aimed at lower budget users than its high-end software, said Todd Prives, GenArts' Senior Business Development and Marketing Manager, who previewed Sapphire Edge at last week's FCPUG London SuperMeet,

It gives real-time previews of how an effect will look with the scene you are using it with. "There's not a whole lot of fiddling around with parameters to get a look," he added.

It allows users to quickly stylize and colour-correct any video with effects such as Filmstyle, FilmDamage, and TVDamage, and add numerous transitions with natural looking lighting effects such as DissolveLensFlare, DissolveGlow, and DissolveGlint.

The software has multiprocessor and GPU acceleration support, and will run on FCP 6.0 or newer, with Motion 3.0.2 or newer, and Final Cut Express 4 or newer, as well as with Sony Vegas Pro 10.

Sapphire Edge is powered by the same effects engine that powers GenArts' high-end ($1,699) Sapphire effects platform, which works with a wider range of host software, including Avid, After Effects, Autodesk and Nuke. It was used by ILM to create some effects for Iron Man, and is used by the BBC, CNN, ESPN, HBO, NBC, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

By David Fox

June 24, 2011

Hague launches Pro Cam-Slide

B Hague has introduced a new Pro Cam-Slide using a roller within the sleeve that it claims will create "easy smooth camera movements far superior to standard sleeve bearings used by other suppliers."

This is thanks to its use of the latest Igus Hybrid Roller Bearings running on an Igus WS-16-60 Linear Rail. The rail is 1metre long, and the camera is mounted to a sliding carriage allowing users to create "super smooth tracking shots".

The PCS1000 Hague Pro Cam-Slide costs £296 (ex-VAT), should be quick and simple to set up, and can be mounted on any sturdy tripod, placed on a table, or put on the floor for low shots.

The carriage is supplied with both 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch threaded screws to attach a video head or ball head to the carriage. The camera can also be attached directly to the carriage.

On the side of the carriage is a carriage lock, which will hold it in a set position. The lock can also be used to add drag to the carriage if required.

The rail can be supported in various ways, with 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch threaded mounting holes in the centre and at each end, for mounting directly to a tripod or across two tripods.

Two rail supports are also supplied, one for each end of the rail, for use on a table or the floor, and they also prevent the carriage from coming off the end of the rail. The rail supports have four self-aligning adjustable feet for use on uneven ground.

Related post: Track and slide + HDSLR stabilisation

By David Fox

Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle ships

[UPDATED with SSD info] Blackmagic Design's new HyperDeck Shuttle, its low-cost uncompressed on-camera recorder, started shipping today, apparently to high demand. 

[See our review of the HyperDeck Shuttle]

The $345/€235/£215 unit can capture uncompressed 10-bit video onto laptop-sized (2.5-inch) Solid State Disks, and offers i/o at up to 3Gbps SDI or via HDMI 1.4a. The compact deck is battery powered for location use, or it an be powered via included 12v power adapter or external camera batteries. It can also be used with live production switchers.

"There are a lot of pre-orders to fulfil. It was probably the most popular product we launched at NAB," said Blackmagic's Director EMEA, Stuart Ashton (pictured above with the Shuttle at last night's FCPUG London SuperMeet).

Instead of having to use whatever compression system is used by the camera, or by other external recorders, the Shuttle bypasses the camera's compression and records from SDI and HDMI directly into the highest quality uncompressed video. "It takes the most perfect image from the camera and delivers it to the editing system so that you can make your choices there," he added.

Although SSDs can be expensive, and recording uncompressed uses a lot of disk space, they 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. As SSDs get cheaper and capacities increase, Ashton believes that camera crews will naturally gravitate to using less compression. Blackmagic has tested various SSDs with the device and will provide a list of all that it has found suitable on its website (and has now sent us the list, with some additional info, which is posted below).

A 128GB SSD will capture about 12.5 minutes in HD, while a 512GB SSD can store about 50 minutes (10.24GB disk space per minute). SD video is generally four times as much as you get compared to HD.

The Shuttle captures uncompressed QuickTime files that can be used with all popular software packages, such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and DaVinci Resolve.

Tested and Certified SSDs: 
  • OCZ 240GB Vertex 3 
  • Crucial 256GB C300 
  • Kingston 64GB SSDNow V+ 
  • Kingston 128GB SSDNow V+ 
Blackmagic Design is currently certifying further SSD drives for use with HyperDeck. It is likely that other drives in the same range from the same manufacturer will also work.

SSDs for HyperDeck use the Mac OS X HFS file system. These drives can still be read on a PC, but this requires third party software such as MacDrive by Mediafour. "This is a great and inexpensive tool for any Mac to PC workflow," they said.

There is a time limited demo version of this software available. http://www.mediafour.com/products/macdrive 

The first version of HyperDeck Shuttle is shipping as a stand-alone product, with no utility software required or needed. In the near future there will be a release of a software utility for the Shuttle that will provide further configuration or upgrade options.

"We are also in the process of updating the support section of our website for HyperDeck Shuttle, with the quick start manual and FAQs."

Related post: Low-cost recording spells Blackmagic

By David Fox

June 22, 2011

Grass Valley updates Edius 6 NLE

Grass Valley has announced several upgrades for its Edius 6 nonlinear editing system, including the ability to ingest live video on one Edius client while beginning to edit on a different system, as well as extended file format support.

With Apple having delivered a Final Cut Pro upgrade that has fewer broadcast features than the previous software, Grass Valley is enhancing its broadcast offering - although it does only run on Windows...

The new Simul Capture Option is designed for live productions, where being able to simultaneously edit on one Edius system while still ingesting on another one enables much faster turnaround, making it ideal for breaking news. It also allows the speedy creation of playlists on the fly.

Edius clients connected via K2 SAN or Edius Workgroup Storage can individually access and edit the video, allowing for multiple edits from the same source.

Videos can be ingested as MXF format (MPEG-2, AVC-Intra, DVCPRO, HQ codec) as well as AVI format (Grass Valley’s HQ and HQX codec and Uncompressed). Editing markers can be placed within the captured live content, allowing for a smoother editing workflow.

The Simul Capture Option will cost about $2,000 when it ships in July.

Faster workflow

Grass Valley will also have a free update of the Edius software next month. Version 6.03 will support extra video file formats and hardware-assisted H.264 encoding, and add support for Grass Valley’s Edius NX, SP and HD legacy hardware.

Users will be able to do 50p and 60p file import (supported by JVC and Sony camcorders), allowing for a smoother workflow within Edius 6.

Anyone using a computer with Intel’s Second Generation Core Processor, will also get support for Quick Sync Video Hardware H.264 video encoding of MP4 files to complement the AVCHD acceleration introduced in Edius 6 version 6.02. This will mean faster than real-time encoding of videos for iPhone or Play Station Portable, as well as H.264/AVC videos up to 1920x1080p50/60.

Edius 6.03 will also support the legacy Edius NX and SP PCI-based i/o and acceleration hardware and the HD PCI-X based HD-SDI i/o breakout box, in addition to the current Storm range of editing hardware.

By David Fox

June 21, 2011

Apple ships Final Cut Pro X

Apple has released Final Cut Pro X, "a revolutionary new version of the world’s most popular professional video editing software", at the lower price of £180/$300. There is no longer a Final Cut Studio, but Motion 5 and Compressor 4 have also been released (now just £30/$50 each at the Mac App Store).

So far only the English-language versions are available to download, but versions in other languages are expected this week. The existing version of FCP already has more than 50% of the broadcast market, and the new lower price should help it consolidate its position. However, there are questions about various aspects that previous FCP users have taken for granted, such as full support for tape i/o, EDLs, monitoring, etc.

For instance, there doesn't seem to be any AAF or OMF export for FCP X, so that you can exchange files with Pro Tools, for example, although this can be dealt with using a third party app like Pro Export FCP, from Automatic Duck, but it is expensive for something that should be available in FCP. Other third parties, such as AJA, are also announcing support for FCP X, so that Kona card users can cope with the lack of Log and Capture in FCP X (see the AJA pdf on Working with FCP X) - thanks to Final Cut master trainer Chris Roberts for his observations....

Apple claims that FCP X "completely reinvents video editing with a Magnetic Timeline that lets you edit on a flexible, trackless canvas; Content Auto-Analysis that categorises your content upon import by shot type, media and people; and background rendering that allows you to work without interruption."

For many users, the fact that it has moved to a modern 64-bit architecture, which should mean significant speed gains, will be reason enough to upgrade.

“Final Cut Pro X is the biggest advance in Pro video editing since the original Final Cut Pro,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We have shown it to many of the world’s best Pro editors, and their jaws have dropped.”

“I’m blown away by what Apple has done with Final Cut Pro,” confirmed Academy Award-winning film editor Angus Wall. “Final Cut Pro X is incredibly modern and fast, but most importantly it lets you focus on telling your story in the most creative way, while it actively manages all of the technical details.”

The user interface appears to be heavily influenced Apple's consumer-focused iMovie, which inspired the Magnetic Timeline. It offers a trackless approach to editing, that lets you add and arrange clips wherever you want them, while other clips instantly slide out of the way.

There is also Clip Connections to link primary story clips to other elements like titles and sound effects, so they stay in perfect sync when you move them. Related story elements can also be combined into a Compound Clip that can be edited as a single clip. The "groundbreaking" new Auditions feature lets users swap between a collection of clips to instantly compare alternate takes, and could be a great time saver.

Content Auto-Analysis scans any media on import and tags content with useful information. FCP X then uses that information to dynamically organise clips into Smart Collections, consolidating clips by close up, medium and wide shots as well as media type and the number of people in the shot. Clips can be tagged with range-based keywords to add custom search criteria to the media.

Final Cut Pro X has been completely rebuilt from the ground up as a 64-bit application, to takes full advantage of the latest Mac hardware "so you never have to wait for the next edit, even if you’re working with 4K video." It uses multi-threaded processing and the graphics card's GPU for much faster background rendering and much improved real-time playback performance. Additionally, a ColorSync-managed colour pipeline ensures colour consistency from import to output.

Motion 5

It includes powerful tools for audio editing and colour correction, and is complemented by two companion apps, Motion 5 for professional motion graphics and Compressor 4 for advanced media encoding. All three are downloadable from the Mac App Store.

Compressor 4

FCP X will be on show at the London FCPUG Supermeet on Thursday.

The user manuals for Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4 are available online.

[UPDATE: Philip Hodgetts' What are the Answers to the Unanswered Questions about Final Cut Pro X? gives a pretty comprehensive look at those things that aren't yet complete (and perhaps never will be....)]

[FURTHER UPDATE: Excellent look at all the new features and commands, etc., by Steve Martin at Ken Stone's Final Cut Pro web site]

Related posts: Apple reveals Final Cut Pro X + X-rated: Apple FCP X - an analysis

By David Fox

ABC Products' high-strength Jib 100

Following its well-received DSLR Light-Jib, ABC Products has launched Jib 100, which can support up to 20kg (more than four times the payload of the light jib), for use with larger cameras. 

The Jib 100 is claimed to be "extremely sturdy", manufactured to a high specification with a robust, rigid structure. Its build quality means that it should have the reassuring strength and stability to support fully rigged broadcast and film cameras, from the Panasonic HPX3700 or Sony PMW-500 to the Arri Alexa or Sony F900R. "The jib is built to last and will give directors of photography precision results time after time," said the company.

It should give users smooth and controlled camera movement to create a fluid effect to a shot, and comes with integrated horizontal and vertical brakes as well as a fine trimmer to level the jib for maximum control.

It has a boom-length of 1.62m, and if it is attached to a tripod the arm will allow for over-head or ground level shots. It can be used with any heavy-duty tripod with a 75mm or 100mm head.

"This is a great example of German engineering," said Nick Allen-Miles, MD of Ianiro UK, distributor for ABC Products. "Its industrial-strength is class-leading and, as with all ABC Products, it's designed to be quick to assemble so there's no time lost in production waiting for the jib operator."

The Jib 100 is reasonably portable, packing down into a 1.5m long carry case and weighing 19kg.

June 16, 2011

London FCPUG SuperMeet Thursday

The Final Cut Pro User Group SuperMeet will take place on Thursday (June 23), with an opportunity to see Apple's newly-released Final Cut Pro X.

This is the second SuperMeet in London (it was previously held in 2009), and it returns with perfect timing just as Apple releases FCP X. The SuperMeet will again be held in the Great Hall at the Kensington Conference and Event Centre.

The most recent SuperMeet, in Las Vegas during NAB, was where Apple chose to grant a first public look at FCPX, to a crowd of more than 1,800 (many of whom immediately posted videos on YouTube).

"It was an amazing night,” said Daniel Berube, head of the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group and SuperMeet co-producer. “Apple surprised us and the world by showing off portions of Final Cut Pro X and the reaction was nothing short of exuberant. But the presentation left us with more questions than answers. So in London, we hope to answer many of those questions. Assuming FCPX is released by then.”

“This is certainly shaping up to be the year of Final Cut Pro X,” added Michael Horton, head of the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group and co-producer of the SuperMeet (pictured above). “It’s going to be an exciting night, that we can guarantee.”

The main session on FCP X will be with producer, director, editor, consultant and Apple-Certified trainer Larry Jordan – if you haven't seen him before, he really is worth seeing in action – we've shared a few conference platforms with him before and there are few, if any, people who can explain FCP X or editing in general better than he does.

Also confirmed are: Colourist Alexis Van Hurkman demonstrating the latest version of DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic Design (five copies of which will be won in the traditional SuperMeet raffle – alongside lots of other goodies from the likes of Adobe, Matrox and Telestream); Joe Billington will demo Smoke on Mac OSX, showing off what it can do for 3D; and there will be presentations from Red Giant Software on the Magic Bullet Suite and Genarts.

Doors open at about 19:00 with the SuperMeet Digital Showcase, featuring more than 15 software and hardware developers including: Blackmagic Design, AV3/GET, Genarts, G-Tech, Jigsaw, LaCie, Red Giant, Qube Master and others.

"This London SuperMeet will be our second time here and the second time we have done a stand alone SuperMeet that is not tied to a trade show," added Berube. "It will not be our last either, as we move forward to distance ourselves from trade shows and further build our global community with unique offerings. We have brilliant support in the UK from the creative community and we expect another excellent turnout."

Tickets are £15.

By David Fox

June 13, 2011

UHS-I SD cards give 3x transfer speed

Sonnet Technologies and Panasonic have introduced higher-speed SD card technology conforming to the new UHS-I standard, that promises to greatly reduce file transfer times from camera to post.

Today, a class 10 SDHC card can record and transfer files at up-to 30MBps, but this is set to at least triple with UHS-I, which allows speeds in excess of 90MBps – although as ever, real-world performance may be hampered by the overheads of USB protocols or other sluggishness….

Panasonic's new SDHC UHS-I memory cards are designed for professional use, combining high speed with reliability and durability. The cards incorporate a controller to protect data from sudden power failure, a refresh function to extend the archival life by more than ten times, and smart data writing to minimize the risk of defects caused by intensive writing.

They are also equipped with something called Proof 5 to withstand severe conditions (water repellent, shock, magnet and X-ray resistant, and capable of working in temperatures between -25ºC to 85ºC). The new 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions will be available from the distributor, Holdan, from the end of June.

Panasonic will also release a USB 3.0 Reader/Writer for SD cards, to make the most of the high-speed data transfer performance of the UHS-I compliant cards. The catchily-named BN-SDCMAB has two card slots, for full size SD and microSD cards. It will also be available end of June 2011.

Sonnet Technologies will also support UHS-1. Its new SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer is an ExpressCard/34 unity, which fits into any MacBook Pro or Windows notebook computer that has an ExpressCard/34 slot.

Using the 2.5Gbps (more than 300MBps) PCI Express interface should allow it get maximum performance from the card. The adapter is available from Holdan.

"Whether crews are using one or multiple cameras, a fast turn-around from production to post is essential. UHS-I will make a real difference - the speed increases are very impressive indeed," said Jill Keane, product specialist with Holdan.

Related post: Lexar USB 3 CF + SD card reader

By David Fox

Boxx unveils cost-saving wireless links

Boxx.tv, which specialises in 5GHz camera links, has launched a new hotspot service useful for news coverage and developed a prototype IT-based camera link using low-cost components that it will launch at IBC.

Its new Street-Live network of wireless hotspots should allow broadcasters to stream live pictures for significantly less than the cost of a satellite truck. It is being set up, initially, in London. "It's similar to a hotspot you'd find in Starbucks, but doesn't use 2.4GHz, so you don't get interference from standard WiFi," explained Boxx.tv CTO, Scott Walker (pictured).

"We provide a fixed bandwidth connection to the internet [of up to about 20MBps], but what happens within that we have no control over." It would be used in conjunction with Quicklink, Streambox, or Dejero, which most news crews tend to have, "and we provide them with a fast, reliable upload."

Current hardware systems for sending live pictures back via the web "are all restricted by the lack of access to a fast, constant and reliable connection into the internet," he adds.

"All these platforms have been designed to work with very bad quality internet, typically in places like Afghanistan or Libya, where the connection would typically be under half a megabit. So when you offer these platforms 10, 15 or 20Mbps, they perform very well."

A typical news truck or satellite feed would use 4Mbps or possibly 8Mbps, but the two are not directly comparable as the mobile platforms typically send the most important parts of the picture two or three times, to ensure it gets through, and can then re-assemble it, something a sat truck, with its dedicated bandwidth, won't have to do. However, "there is plenty of bandwidth to stream an HD picture with Street-Live," he says.

Its first use was for the recent Royal Wedding at Westminster Abbey, where it was used by TV2, Denmark, and a CBS regional news feed, providing a 10Mbps uplink.

That hotspot covers Westminster, from the Abbey to the door of the Houses of Parliament and, with the addition of a small antenna on a pole, crews can also connect from Abingdon Green (the favourite stand-up position for reporting from Westminster with Parliament and Big Ben in the background). The Street-Live connection is on the fourth floor of a building near the Abbey. If it had been higher, it would have cost more and Boxx wants to keep the costs low – they should be about a fifth the cost of using a satellite truck (or less).

"The wedding was a testing ground to see if the concept would work (we knew that the technology would), and it proved that. It fitted in with the way the news crews worked."

Boxx has also been asked to set up a location in Leicester Square, where most of London's movie premieres take place, and the financial channel, Bloomberg, wants a system set up near the Bank Of England. Boxx plans to have other hotspots in place for the 2012 London Olympics. The technology can cover up to about 10km from a hotspot, so long as they can find a suitably high building.

"The technology doesn't have boundaries, so you can do an interview in the stadium, or outside. It is small technology and can be carried around in a backpack. As long as you can see the receiver you can go live." He believes it will also be important for crews wanting to ftp stories. "For example: you want to go live for the 6o'clock news with a two minute story that needs to be top and tailed with a live cross. You book a slot between 5.45 and 6.15, ftp a 100MB two-minute story that takes five minutes to go up, and gives you the rest of the booking to top and tail live."

A single hotspot could cope with two to four broadcasters at once, but the number of crews that can use it at once depends on how much bandwidth they book – although each cell can be expanded to offer more connectivity (so long as Boxx has enough time to arrange it – at least a four-week lead time). "The cell's the easy part. It's the connection to the internet that is challenging."

Whether the system can be used for links to a mobile camera depends on the location. Generally it will be free to roam if it is close enough (within about 500m depending on the topology), otherwise it will need to use a directional antenna.

"The technology can be rolled out anywhere in the world, so our big focus is to identify where news crews want to be."

Access points

Boxx has been working with 5GHz spectrum with its wireless products for about five years. "Everything we do is between 5GHz and 6GHz, which is traditionally a frequency our competitors don't use," he claims.

It currently offers Cobalt, a standard definition wireless system, and Meridian an uncompressed, zero-delay HD link with a limited range (about 150m). It will launch Zenith, a long-range (up to 1km), low-latency (under three frames) HD system using H.264 compression at IBC. This will use the next generation of technology that won Boxx an Emmy award in 2005.

It should cuts costs thanks to low-cost access points that can be deployed for about £200-£300 each. It uses cheap Cat5 cable and IP networking protocols and hardware to get back to the decoder. Users could potentially have hundreds of access points for a decoder.

Some of the APs include three radios, which would allow three cameras to access it at once, but there can be multiple APs in any location, all wired by Cat5, although there needs to be a decoder for each channel.

On a shoot in a building where you'll have four cameras, there could be four APs in each room, but if there is an area where you know you'll only use one camera at a time, you could have one AP programmed to work with any camera. Each AP could work with more than one camera at a time, but with reduced bandwidth for each.

"It's completely expandable. You can program it to do pretty much what you need it to do," explains Walker.

He believes it would be perfect for use in a sports stadium or for horse racing. Indeed, it is currently being beta tested at the Selangor Turf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to provide on-course coverage and output for satellite horse racing channels.

The furthest starting point at the course is 900m from the Grand Stand (where the access points are), which requires the use of a directional antenna on one AP. A wide view (120º) sector antenna is used on another AP to cover the far side of the course. The system automatically switches as the camera moves from one position to another (there is only one mobile camera being used).

There is also an AP for the parade ring and a further portable AP can be plugged into the internal Ethernet network for covering press conferences or interviews in the main buildings. The system could easily be expanded with Cat5 cable and another AP. Boxx also has another two prototypes being trialled, and its first use on a production in Europe will be on a stunt challenge type show for the UK channel Dave.

Zenith has two antennae on the back of the camera (compared to four on Meridian). Both systems use MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology, but Meridian uses four transmit and five receive antennae, whereas Zenith has a 2x2 system. Zenith sends its compressed images at 10-15Mbps, while Meridian is well over 500Mbps. "The trade off is distance or latency," he explains. Zenith should ship by the end of the year.

Meridan has been out for about 18 months and was initially seen by users as principally for video assist use (probably because of its short range but zero delay). That was its use on a just-released blockbuster 3D movie, where it sent 3D back to the video village and was used on a follow car for a horse chase scene. It was also used for video assist on the TV drama, Blue Bloods.

Although Meridian was first used for ice hockey coverage at the Vancouver Olympics, it is only now being used more widely for live broadcasts and light entertainment productions, such as a Penn and Teller special and Australia's Got Talent. Its extremely low latency means that directors can use the classic Steadicam shot circling a singer, with no cables in the way but perfect lip sync, "which is where we come in to our own," he says.

By David Fox

June 01, 2011

Plasma lights more efficient than LED

Photon Beard has announced a new, highly efficient lamp based on Light-Emitting Plasma. The Photonspot Nova 270 is a focusable daylight balanced source with a Fresnel lens, aimed initially at the location market as a lightweight replacement for smaller HMI's.

"It is the first luminaire in our industry to use this technology. It is very energy efficient - more so than HMI or LED," stated Peter Daffarn, Photon Beard's Managing Director (pictured with the Nova). Being plasma, it doesn't pass electricity through a light-generating element, but focuses radio frequency energy on to a small, gas-filled glass bulb that excites the mixture of gases so much that it becomes plasma.

It boasts "very low heat generation. LED still produces a lot of heat out the back. So does Plasma but it is about half of LED," he added.

It has a high CRI (94), giving the 5300K light "very good colour rendition" and it is flicker free, which is "very important for high speed photography."

It is a single source "so it provides good hard shadows and easily focusable light," he added. "The Nova 270 produces sharp shadows on both spot and flood and the barn doors provide good clean edges to the beam."

Unlike an HMI light, Nova needs no ballast, so it weighs less and there is less to go wrong. Its 30v DC power requirement means that it can run on mains or battery.

There will be more to come from the Nova line. "We are working on at least one variant of the Nova 270, available by IBC time, but can't say much at this stage.
The technology is also fairly new and there will be other wattages available in the future - just not sure when yet."

Daffarn believes that the Nova will be particularly well suited to location lighting (out on a film set in daylight) and high-speed photography due to its lack of flicker.

"This is the first energy efficient, focusable Fresnel that actually delivers a usable amount of light for a reasonable cost," he claimed. It produces almost the full spectrum of visible light, outputting 14,000 lumens, should have a useful lifetime of around 20,000 hours (the source is replaceable), and needs no cooling fans. The 273W light is claimed to give a similar output to a 2000W tungsten Fresnel.

By David Fox

Anton/Bauer mounts up for Alexa

Anton/Bauer has introduced a QR-HotSwap-AR Gold Mount, which can take two batteries, for the Arri Alexa digital camera system.

The Gold Mount enables users to quickly snap on a battery and provides three solid mechanical connections that lock into place, providing secure contact for uninterrupted power and self-cleaning gold-plated pins rated for high-current.

The QR-HotSwap-AR allows for either two Dionic HC or Dionic HCX batteries to be fitted at once, for seamless hot swapping and longer run-times. The mount also allows the camera to show the combined batteries’ remaining run-time via the InterActive Viewfinder Fuel Gauge.

“When shooting on location with the Arri Alexa, one of the most sought after cameras in all of digital cinema, the last thing Anton/Bauer’s Gold Mount users will have to worry about is a power failure because of a bad battery connection,” claimed Shin Minowa, vice president of marketing and business development. “The Anton/Bauer Gold Mount System is the most widely used battery mounting system in the industry and is available as factory standard equipment on many cameras from such manufacturers as Grass Valley, Hitachi, Ikegami, JVC and Canon.”

The Gold Mount allows for new cell chemistries as they are developed, meaning a battery introduced today can perform seamlessly on a current charger purchased ten years ago, with only a simple firmware upgrade.

By David Fox

Fan riot destroys 1st Antelope camera

The first of LMC's all-new Antelope MkII cameras was destroyed when some 500 fans staged a pitch invasion at the Frankfurt Arena, knocking down the system including an expensive 100x lens and the tripod.

The high-speed camera (serial number 001) got a shot of its assailant as he grabbed it, and he was identified by the police and arrested the same night. It happened following a Frankfurt vs Cologne match, and LMC's Head of Technology, Christian Schreiber, was operating the new camera. "It was pure chaos," he said. "He simply knocked it over… My heart missed a beat. As a developer it's cruel to see something like that."

The Antellope MkII has only just gone on air, following its introduction at NAB. The Ultramotion system is based on the Phantom 641 chip and was used first for Formula 1 coverage in Spain. According to another of its developers, Nikolai Bonstedt, the control system makes the system unique. "Both the RCP and the OCP are absolutely stunning when it comes to the variety of functions, the reaction time and the precision of the operating," he claimed.

The MkII can record at up to 5,350 frames per second in HD and its ENG-style housing allows handheld operations, particularly useful for events such as boxing or athletics, as it can be easily relocated during the production. It can be used with any B4-mount lens, although LMC recommends Canon's J100x for close-up shots or its J22x for handheld use.

Related posts: World first ultra-slowmo PoV camera and Antelope slows down skiing + golf

By David Fox

Prokit gets Wise to Express Card

Our friendly local dealer, Prokit, has become the exclusive UK distributor for Wise, the Taiwanese manufacturer of S2 Express Cards. 

The 32GB S2 Card fits in any ExpressCard reader or SxS recorder, such as Sony's XDCAM EX camcorders, like the new PMW-F3 (pictured above).

Uniquely the S2 Card also has a built-in USB2.0 port, for direct download to PC or Mac without the need for a card reader. The card is otherwise compliant with the ExpressCard specification. 

The 32GB S2 Card records approximately 106 minutes in HQ mode and 148 minutes in SP mode. ProKit is selling it for £275, £100 less than an equivalent Sony SBS card, and almost half the price of a Sony high-spec SBP 32GB card (£520).

Wise also makes Compact Flash cards and a variety of peripheral-based storage interfaces.