September 28, 2011

PAGlink increases battery versatility

PAG's new PAGlink system of smarter, smaller and lighter linkable batteries is claimed to have greater energy density than any other system marketed so far.

The PAGlink V-mount lithium-ion batteries link together to multiply capacity and run-time, and can be transported in passenger aircraft without quantity restriction.

They will power all classes of camera and allows users to link multiples batteries (two, three or more – up to eight). Three linked batteries weigh less than 2.2kg but can create a single unit of nearly 20Ah (288 Watt-hours), extending run time and allowing up to 12A current to be drawn. The batteries incorporate heavy-duty contacts designed for high-drain applications.

PAG has also created an intelligent network, enabling batteries to communicate with each other and operate as one. This allows batteries to be charged as well as discharged whilst linked. Charging can take place on any V-Mount Li-Ion charger, such as the PAG Cube, or IDX and Sony equivalents – because they can all be linked while charging, it means you'd only have to bring one small charger to charge eight batteries.

PAGlink offers a choice of on-battery displays. The PL96T has a numeric run-time display, while the lower-cost PL96e (pictured on the back of a Red camera above)  has a five LED indicator, displaying state of charge to 20% and run-time to a resolution of ten minutes. The multiple batteries can report their collective state of charge information for display in the camera viewfinder.

They also have precision temperature management, extending low temperature performance down to -20°C, and can be hot swapped at any time without interrupting the flow of current.

By David Fox

September 27, 2011

Anton/Bauer Matrix Cheese Plate

The new Matrix Cheese Plate from Anton/Bauer can be used to attach its Gold Mount batteries to Sony's PMW-F3, Canon's EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D and EOS 60D DSLRs, Panasonic's AG-AF100/AF101 and the Red Epic.

The Matrix Cheese Plate mounts directly on a 15mm or 19mm rod system (15mm or 19mm clamp kits sold separately), to allow for easy mounting of a variety of Gold Mounts including:
- QRC-DUAL PT – Gold Mount with 4-pin XLR and two PowerTap outputs for the Sony F3, which also mounts directly to the AJA Ki Pro Mini;
- QR-DLSR – 7/14 Gold Mount for Canon 5D, 7D and 60D;
- QR-VBG – 7/14 Gold Mount adapter for the Panasonic AG-AF100/AF101;
- QRC-EPIC, for Red's Epic, with auxiliary PowerTap connector, power cable and 6p LEMO power connector.

These Gold Mount systems can also be used on third-party cheese plates and rigs, including Cinevate, Shape, Redrock Micro and Genus.

By David Fox

September 26, 2011

Sachtler Ace tripod and head

Sachtler has developed a completely new fluid head for its new Ace tripod system, which is designed for use with compact camcorders and DSLRs weighing up to 4kg.

For Ace, the compact, durable and lightweight head has a completely new, patented, drag: Synchronised Actuated Drag, which is claimed to guarantee the accuracy and repeatability of its larger systems "at an astonishing price/performance ratio" offering "a genuine broadcast feel for every videographer."

As it seems it will sell for about £450 ($550/€500), it's hardly cheap, but it is about 20-40% less than a Vinten Vision Blue or other main rivals (although specifications are not exactly comparable), and the head action feels good.

The SA-drag offers three vertical and three horizontal grades of drag (+ 0), to enable fine adjustment for precise panning and tilting. It also has a five-step counterbalance that makes fast counterbalancing of the camera set-up very simple, from 0 to 4 kg, and has a tilt range of +90° to -75°. With the mid-level spreader its height range is 78-169cm, with floor-level spreader it is 57-173cm, and it collapses to 85cm for storage.

It uses a glass fibre-reinforced composite material, which makes the new 75mm fluid head lighter (1.7kg - with legs and mid- or floor-level spreader the total package weighs 4.4 or 4.6kg), with a comfortable and non-slip surface. Sachtler says it paid special attention to ergonomics, so that users can work intuitively (which you can). It also has regular Sachtler features such as a practical parking position for spare camera screws and the long 104mm sliding range of the camera plate. 

By David Fox

September 23, 2011

P+S Technik PS-Cam X35 speeds in

P+S Technik's new PS-Cam X35 combines the benefits of sync-sound and higher speed rates into a single, flexible digital camera, which can record at any speed from 1-450 frames per second.

It has a Super-35 CMOS sensor with global shutter (which avoids rolling shutter jello effects), base sensitivity of 640 ISO, dynamic range of 11 stops, and HD-SDI outputs (1.5 or 3Gbps). Onboard memory (18GB) records more than four minutes in normal speed or 40 seconds at 150fps. It will also deliver 24-60fps shooting via its HD-SDI output.

"The PS-Cam X35 is the first film-style digital cinematography camera made for the DAILY creative use of various kinds of special speed and motion effects (slow motion, fast motion, ramped motion and time lapse)," the company claimed.

It is "a proper all-purpose sync sound camera" and "an exciting alternative for crews and producers who want to make the leap from film to digital as seamlessly as possible while having motion effects capability with their main camera package at their fingertips." It means the main camera can be used for any motion effects footage without the additional cost of a separate high-speed camera and technician.

It will take just about any type of lens thanks to the PS-IMS (interchangeable mount system), which can accept a wide range of cine, TV and stills lenses.

It will initially record uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 HD, with both 10-bit 4:4:4 uncompressed and 12-bit RAW uncompressed planned future options, and P+S is working with Codex Digital, whose Onboard Recorder can be used with the camera and subsequently generate whatever editing formats might be needed, such as Avid's DNxHD, Apple ProRes or DPX. Price should be about €58,000.

This is the first camera that is a 100% P+S Technik product (it co-developed and manufactured the Weisscams and SI-2K). It will compete with the likes of the Red Epic and Weisscam's upcoming T-1, as the whole area of higher-speed cameras begins to open up.

There is an interesting blog post about the X35 from Joel Bergvall (director, DoP, editor, etc.), who had the chance to try out the prototype on a shoot and goes into a lot of detail. He also has a "Thank You For Not Smoking" commercial shot with the camera on another post.

Related post: P+S Technik to launch PS-Cam X35

By David Fox

Boxx TV Cerulean wireless links

Boxx TV's Cerulean is a new high speed, zero-delay, licence-exempt wireless link, that is at least as fast as fibre.

The portable (5kg), point-to-point 3Gbps microwave link carries two video streams or one 3D feed, with no errors and no latency, making it an alternative to fibre on productions where cables would get in the way. It works with multiple camera feeds, and can also be a redundant hot standby for critical real time acquisition.

It uses the undeveloped, extremely high frequency band, 60GHz, which has a transport latency below 2ns, similar to (or slightly better than) the performance of fibre optic networks. At 60GHz, the beam width is small (5º), so several devices can operate in the same area without interference, and no spectrum licences apply.

Signals are uncompressed, so there is no encoding delay, and one version of the product supports all High Definition formats. Field tests and live shows so far have shown that it operates over distances of up to about 500 metres.

“We designed Cerulean for critical acquisition applications, primarily OB and sports. It can be set up in under five minutes. All you have to do is plug the boxes in, tilt the transmitter and receiver to line them up, and it will work anywhere in the world," said Boxx TV CTO, Scott Walker (pictured).

Related post: Boxx unveils cost-saving wireless links

By David Fox

September 19, 2011

UKFCUG Glasgow meeting Thursday

The UK Final Cut Users' Group is holding its first ever meeting in Scotland this Thursday (22 September), with an interesting looking line up.

Doors open 6.30pm, and the first presentation starts at 7pm, with How To Edit with FCPX by Rick Young (pictured top), who will reveal what it is good for, how it works, and how to integrate FCPX into your current workflow.

After a half-hour break, at 8.30, Andy Bellamy from AJA will introduce its latest products, including the new Io XT - the first dual Thunderbolt port I/O device.

At 8.55, Alastair Brown, who created the Glidetrack, will show how these tripod mounted dollies for DSLR and video cameras evolved, and what it enables users to do.

At 9.20: After editing for a decade in FCP, what's it like to switch to Adobe Premiere Pro? Producer/director, Matt Davis (pictured) is making the transition from FCP7 to PPro 5.5. What were the advantages? What were the pitfalls? What were the surprises?

9.45 - 10.30pm - IBC overview: HD Warrior, Philip Johnston, and MacVideoTV's Rick Young will look at what was new at IBC 2011, including: the new JVC GY-HM150; AJA offering DNxHD recording for the Ki Pro Mini; new Thunderbolt devices; Sony's SR memory and 100GB optical discs; Mike Tapas adapter for manual control of EOS lenses on large sensor DSLRs; and more….

It will be in the Thistle Hotel, Cambridge Street, Glasgow, G2 3HN, and entry costs £5. Click here to register for the UKFCUG Glasgow meeting. Seating is limited.

By David Fox

September 18, 2011

First Alexa M cameras ship to CPG

Arri has delivered production prototypes of its modular Alexa M camera to the Cameron Pace Group. The M was developed with CPG for use in 3D rigs.

“The Arri team has been amazingly responsive to the needs of the 3D market by creating the Alexa M,” said Avatar director and CPG Co-Chairman, James Cameron. CPG will be the exclusive distributor of the Alexa M in its Phase 1 rollout.

“The success of 3D will be based on designing technology that supports the creative process of the filmmaker; we are excited about the Alexa M towards that goal. The team at Arri has brought to the industry a great step forward toward quality 3D,” added Co-Chairman and CEO, Vince Pace.

The front-end of the Alexa M transmits uncompressed RAW sensor data at around 18 Gigabits per second to a back-end image processor/recorder using a hybrid fibre optic cable that can also power the head. Weighing well under 3kg, the Alexa M head has multiple mounting points.

The fibre means the head can be up to 1km from the body, which “allows for some unique and extremely innovative 3D camera applications. We hope CPG will take full advantage of them in the months ahead,” said Franz Kraus, Managing Director of Arri Munich.

The feedback Arri gets from CPG will help develop the final production version expected early 2012. Arri will also integrate elements of CPG’s 3D rig automation technology into the Alexa M.

By David Fox

September 16, 2011

Rotolight AlphaNova + Magic Eye

Rotolight’s new AlphaNova series of energy-efficient flood lights has a unique colour matching ability that will allow users set its colour via an iPhone and match the colour temperature seen by the phone’s camera. This would be useful where DoPs need to match the light on a character shot in a greenscreen studio to the light on location.

The Magic Eye app also provides remote control over all three ANova variants, including the £999 ANova One 5600K and 3200K lights, but the colour matching works with the £1,145 bi-colour (2800K to 6900K) ANova Two.

Using the iPhone (or iPad) camera, it takes the ambient light colour and level “and transmits that via WiFi to the light, which accurately replicates that colour of sampled light,” said Rotolight’s International Sales Director, Rod Aaron Gammons (pictured above). It also allows instant recall of previous settings.

The 38W lights are claimed to be the equivalent of 1kW Tungsten. They output no heat, run from a V-Lock camera battery for two days on full power, and can be linked together to form one large array.

Although not available until the end of the year, Rotolight took orders for 100 units in the first three days of IBC (having only finished the lights a few days before), with the potential of another 1,000 in the pipeline. Unlike most LED lights, the ANova range won't be manufactured in the Far East, but are being built at Pinewood (where Rotolight is based).

Related post: Rotolight's Stealth approach to lights

By David Fox

Canon 95x8.6 lens widest in its field

Canon’s new Digisuper 95 (XJ95x8.6B) is claimed to be the world’s widest-angle long zoom HD field lens, and should be of great interest to outside broadcast companies.

“Normally when we make it wider, you get distortion, but here it is very minimal. It’s really fantastic,” said Ken Koyama, Canon’s European Broadcast Products Director (pictured).

It augments Canon’s 86x, which is the biggest selling OB box lens, but while it is wider and zooms longer, it is fractionally smaller at 61cm in length and weighs about the same, 23.2kg. The price is about 5% more than the 86x, and Canon has already taken more than 30 orders, all from Europe, for shipping next February.

Its Image Stabilization System has an improved optical shift-type stabiliser that incorporates a sensor inside the lens to detect vibration. Compensating optics are then engaged at high speed to cancel out any effect on the image. It appears to be able to sense the difference between wobble and deliberate movement, so that when you pan the camera and then stop to take the shot, the stabilisation system stops immediately – generally, these type of systems continue moving for a short time after the pan stops, which means your framing goes awry. Canon did do some work on this with Vinten a few years ago, but this required sensors in the tripod head, linked to the lens system.

The 95x also uses new technology to counteract breathing (which can occur when focusing causes a lens to change picture size/angle of view): the Constant Angle Focusing System uses a 32-bit CPU, to calculate and control the zoom to give an almost zero zooming effect when focusing.

By David Fox

September 06, 2011

ABC Products P15 multi-axis head

ABC Products' new P15 remote head can support up to 25kg on its 2-axis model, or 15kg for the 3-axis version.

Its modular design means that users opting for the lighter 2-axis version (12kg) can add the third later, taking the weight of the unit up to 19.5kg.

“The P15's relative light weight means that it is equally at home rigged in the studio or quickly attached to a mobile crane or jib. This level of flexibility is what modern production operations need in order to get the most out of their equipment. As such this is a great tool for the modern broadcast and film environment," said Nick Allen-Miles, MD of Ianiro UK, its distributor.

It boasts silent operation, precise, intuitive controls and robust build quality. The remote head allows users to continually change the speed, movement, tilt, pan and roll of the camera using a joystick, electronic controller with built-in 4.3-inch touchscreen (pictured) or a pan bar. There is also the option of focus and zoom control via its integrated motors.

Its euro mount system or optional Mitchell adapter allows cameras to be rigged quickly and simply. These mounting options mean that the head can be attached to a large range of cranes or jib arms.

By David Fox

New Fujinon HD zoom lenses

Fujinon has introduced new lenses for 2/3-inch and 1/2-inch format cameras, in its Select and Exceed series ranges.

The 2/3-inch XA20sx8.5BMD (pictured above) and 1/2-inch XS20sx6.3BRM Exceed lenses "offer excellent telephoto performance at a price level you might expect of SD professional lenses," said Paul Goodwin, Divisional Head Broadcast & CCTV Products Division, at Fujinon's UK and Ireland distributor, Pyser-SGI.

They are suitable for video conferencing and pan and tilt systems. "Both lenses offer HD telephoto reach at a very effective price. Either lens will produce a head and shoulders image at around 12 metres from the subject," he said.

The XA20sx8.5 has a focal length from 8.5 to 170mm. Maximum relative aperture is F1.8 up to 113mm and the minimum focusing distance is 0.9m from the front of the lens. Weight is 1.48kg without the lens hood. The focal length of the XS20sx6.3 is from 6.3 to 126 mm. Features include: Inner Focus, Quick Zoom, Cruise Zoom and digital servo control.

The 1/2-inch format Select Series ZS17x5.5 BERM ENG-style HD lens (pictured) includes a 2x optical range extender and the fast digital servo package found on Fujinon HD Premiere series lenses. "The Select range is priced at a similar point to SD broadcast lenses, yet offer excellent HD image quality and all the options of the Digi-Power servos," added Goodwin.

Features include: Inner Focus, Quick Zoom, and Zoom Limit to confine zooming within the desired shooting angles. The ZS17x5.5 has a focal length of 5.5 to 94mm, increasing to 188mm with the 2x extender. Maximum relative aperture is F1.4 up to 77mm, and MOD from the front of the lens is 0.6m. It weighs 1.58kg without the lens hood.

By David Fox

Leica Summilux-C cine lenses ship

The new Leica Summilux-C lenses are the first cine lenses produced by Leica Camera.

The T1.4 prime lenses have identical external dimensions, with focus and iris rings in exactly the same place, for ease of swapping, with a 95mm threaded lens front (they each weigh between 1.6-1.8kg). They also boast ultra high resolution and optimization for new digital sensors, which reveal more lens imperfections than traditional film.

The first lenses shipped recently from Leica's new factory in Germany, with Otto Nemenz International in Hollywood taking several sets of the initial eight lenses. It costs about $180,000 for the set of 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm (a 16mm and 65mm are also planned). "The lenses are already out working on productions," said Nemenz. "Everyone that has used the lenses likes them and the demand for the Leicas is very high."

"In the world of digital cinematography with its clean, sharp images, there is an increased spotlight on the choice of lenses," added cinematographer Florian Ballhaus, who tested them on his recent movie, Gambit (CBS Films).

"The Leicas have a wonderful character while being perfectly predictable with their gentle Leica look that one expects from the still lenses we all know and love. They are as sharp as you want them to be but the focus falls off quite gently. I found myself using less filtration with them because they render skin tones so beautifully. I was very impressed with how uniquely they handled highlights and flairs."

"These are in every way the lenses that we've been waiting for. When Leica first approached us with this project they had some very high design and performance ambitions for these lenses. All I can say is they've delivered," commented Amnon Band, President and CEO, Band Pro - exclusive distributor for the lenses.

By David Fox

Angenieux Optimo 45-120mm zoom

The new Optimo 45-120mm S35mm cinematography lens from Angenieux has a zoom ratio of 2.7x and a reasonably fast aperture of T2.8 (wide open). It weighs less than 2kg, making it suitable for handheld or Steadicam work.

Its optical design avoids breathing. It also has a 320º focus rotation with more than 50 precise focus witness marks.

“Along with the cinematographer’s vision, lenses offer a high degree of creative control during the film making process,” said Chris Beauparlant, VP, US Sales and Marketing, Thales Angenieux.

The lens has similar specifications to the 15-40mm and 28-76mm lightweight Optimo lenses it has been designed to complement, delivering fast apertures, good contrast and colour reproduction.

The Optimo 45-120 will also be available with the Angenieux Data System, ADS/i module integrating Cooke Optics' /i lens data protocol and designed for all Angenieux lightweight lenses, including the Optimo DP 16-42 and DP 30-80. The ADS/i module enables monitoring and transfer of key lens data for many applications such as post-production analysis, lens synchronization for 3D, special effects and virtual studios.

The lens can also use Angenieux interchangeable mounts for APS-C format DSLR cameras, such as the Canon EOS 7D, EOS 1D MK IV, Nikon D3000/D3100, D300, and D7000.

By David Fox

September 05, 2011

Lowel Prime LEDs shine brighter

The first lights in the new Lowel Prime LED range, the 200 and 400 fixtures, should be available for delivery later this month.

Lowel Lighting claims they will be brighter than similarly sized production LEDs, and also offer a wide 50º-beam angle making their output easier to use. Outputs are 4870 and 7095 Lux at 0.9 meters for the 200 and 400 respectively.

The lights are compact at 44.9x38x8.9cm and 6kg for the 200 and 63.3x38x8.9cm and 7.9kg for the 400, both including the C clamp. The kits also include a gel frame and three safety cables.

All models are available in daylight or tungsten colour temperature with a colour rendering index of more than 91. Manual dimming is included as well as DMX control. All models run from 90-240v AC, are quiet with fanless operation and are available with a hanging C-clamp or for stand mounting. Accessories include barn doors, honeycomb grids and front diffusers.

By David Fox

New generation Ianiro LED lights

Ianiro is showing prototype Fresnel-lens LED lights at IBC using newly developed LED arrays.

Its new 180W device compares well against its similar-size Solaris tungsten 1kW. The prototype uses three Ianiro custom assemblies: Solaris LED C (cool white), Solaris LED W (warm white) and Solaris LED WT (tunable white), which it combines to give a more accurate light.

Ianiro has been cautious about adopting LED technology, believing it "has been the victim of inflated expectations" and sees its potential as only just starting to be realised.

LEDs can overheat if driven beyond the manufacturers’ recommended limits, affecting colour temperature and reducing both output and durability. Many LEDs can now be powered up to 3A (compared with earlier 350mAh and 700mAh units), but most are powered at 1A/1.5A, for greater stability. To balance performance and efficiency, Ianiro's prototype does not push drive current to the maximum.

As multi-diode assemblies, LEDs can suffer from shadowing, depending on distance from subject and placement of individual LEDs. To counter this, mono-chip arrays, with LEDs mounted closer together, reduce shadow fragmentation and improve uniformity and control. Improvements in lenses and hoods to limit shadows allow switching from Par-type lights (multi-LEDs with small lenses of different angles) or simple Panel units, to true single-front-lens projectors that allow for changing the angle from spot to flood.

LED assemblies are also becoming available with better CRI characteristics, suited to TV and film, but at high colour rendering, less light is produced so there is still a compromise between quality and output.

Ianiro will market test its early models before final technical data is announced and the final ergonomic designs released.

By David Fox

FCPUG IBC SuperMeet on Sunday

The Fourth Annual Final Cut Pro User Group Amsterdam SuperMeet takes place next Sunday (11 September), to coincide with IBC. It will be at the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Dam Square, with talks and demonstrations from filmmakers, colourists, and editors. 

Speakers include: Michael Wohl, one of the creators of the original Final Cut Pro and an authority on Final Cut Pro X, which he will demonstrate; Adobe's Jason Levine (pictured above at a previous SuperMeet) talking about Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5 for FCP editors; film editor Eddie Hamilton describing the workflow on X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass, using Avid Media composer; and Autodesk's Jim Geduldick with the latest on Smoke on Mac OS X.

London-based colourist, Dado Valentic, who graded BAFTA winner Flying with Monsters, and the world’s first 3D opera Carmen in 3D, as well as 3D commercials for Panasonic, Red Bull and Nintendo, will discuss his workflow using the latest DaVinci Resolve 8, from Blackmagic Design. He will talk particularly about his work on fashion promos for the likes of Christian Dior and Zara. "The SuperMeet events are always really exciting and it will be great to show how I’ve used Resolve 8 to grade my latest projects," said Valentic.
DSLR Guru, Philip Bloom (pictured above at a previous SuperMeet), will show his best creations from a year that has seen him work for George Lucas, and shoot with many of the most talked about cameras, such as Panasonic's AF101, the Sony PMW-F3 and Red's Epic. Bloom will also be holding an Amsterdam DSLR Meetup, on Saturday (10 September), at 19:00, to talk about filmmaking, DSLRs, and anything else that comes up. RSVP at his Facebook Meetup Event Page

Tickets cost €15 online, or €20 at the door – if they are still available. SuperMeets have always sold out.

Doors open at 16:30 with an exhibition of more than 20 software and hardware developers, plus free food, and there will also be the traditional World Famous Raffle, with more than €37,000 worth of prizes from Blackmagic Design, AJA, Atomos, Adobe, Avid, nVidia, Zacuto, Red Giant Software, Telestream, Maxon, Artbeats, Boris FX, Glyph Technology, MotionVFX, Noise Industries, Imagineer Systems, Tiffen, and others.

By David Fox