May 29, 2012

Canon widens ENG + OB lenses

Canon has introduced a new ENG HD lens and two new HD field lenses for outside broadcast use. The new 80x and 76x OB lenses and the 17x ENG lens all combine long focal lengths with wider angles of view.

The HJ17ex6.2B portable HD lens weighs about 2kg and is designed for use with 2/3-inch camcorders.

It is part of Canon’s HDxs series and offers a broad focal length range from 6.2mm to 106mm (212mm with built-in 2x extender) and a Minimum Object Distance of 40cm (shortened by about 30% compared to previous models) for close shooting in news situations. It can focus as close as 10mm in macro mode.

"On-location news coverage can frequently involve rapid changes in subject distance and associated focal length,” said Larry Thorpe, senior fellow, Broadcast and Communications division, Canon USA.

“The new HJ17ex6.2B is capable of adapting flexibly to all manner of filming situations, whether in close proximity to a subject or in shooting close-ups of a subject from far away.”

The HJ17ex6.2B is claimed to minimize optical aberration across the entire screen and exhibit superb optical performance throughout the field. It also features Canon’s Enhanced Digital eDrive technology, which utilizes high-precision digital servos with 16-bit optical encoders, to make it easier to program focus, iris, and zoom position and speed settings for precise, automated repeatability via an easy-to-use LCD menu, assignable function buttons, and a rocker switch built into the lens grip.

XJ80 and XJ76 lenses

The XJ80x8.8B and the XJ76x9B lenses are third-generation additions to Canon’s Digisuper range, which is widely used by outside broadcast companies as they give the long focal lengths necessary to get a close up of player in a large stadium.

They “deliver optical performance that has been significantly elevated over previous models,” claimed Thorpe, thanks to proprietary large-diameter aspherical lens technology, new glass materials, and sophisticated lens coatings that minimize aberrations and distortion that you usually get with large focal-length ranges. “Significant reduction of these factors enhances the excellent resolution and contrast of these lenses in a manner that contributes to superb picture sharpness across the entire 16:9 HD image plane,” he added.

The premium XJ80x8.8B lens delivers an 80x zoom with a maximum wide angle of 8.8mm (a horizontal angle-of-view of 57.2 degrees) – approximately 5% wider than previous long-zoom lenses. This means it should be able to capture everything from a stadium-wide shot to an athlete’s face.

It includes a new built-in Optical Shift Image Stabilizer (Shift-IS) as standard. This uses a new motion sensor, a faster control circuit and a new correction algorithm to significantly curb vibrations, particularly in the high-frequency range. When the new Shift-IS sensor detects vibration, a correction drive signal is created that shifts compensating optics at high-speed to instantly deflect the incoming light rays in a direction that cancels out the vibration's effect on the image. It also improves image tracking by virtually eliminating the image drift that can be caused by the sudden cessation of panning or tilting.

The XJ76x9B combines a 76x telephoto with a maximum wide angle of 9mm (a horizontal angle-of-view of 56.1 degrees) – about 3% wider than previous long-zoom lenses.

Both lenses include Canon's CAFS (Constant Angle Focusing System), which employs a 32-bit processor to help counteract breathing (where the picture size/angle of view changes during focusing). Both also feature improved digital servo systems using 16-bit miniature optical encoders and improved algorithms for zoom, iris, and focus to deliver increased responsiveness in terms of ultra-slow to very high-speed zooms, high-resolution control of both iris and focus, and precise repeatability of zoom and focus operations.

The lenses are also compatible with many digital virtual studio systems, with output of zoom, focus, and iris data.

By David Fox

May 28, 2012

World first ultra-slowmo PoV camera

The compact new LMC Antelope Pico is claimed to be the world’s first high-speed point-of-view camera to record at up to 330 frames per second in full HD.

Launched at NAB, it can provide a permanent HD-SDI live video output as well as a replay channel that can deliver from 25-330fps in HD1080i (and up to 660fps in extended/double image mode).

At 330fps it can deliver a 30 second replay using 32GB of memory. Its output modes cover 1080i 50/59.94/60 and 1080p 23.98 to 1080p 60 at 4:2:2, and it will also have a 23.98p to 30p 4:2:2 / 4:4:4 RAW and 2K option.

The small camera head measures 29x29x50mm, which should allow it to fit into spaces where no slomo camera has gone before, making it useful for covering goalmouth action, inside cars, or on board yachts.

It uses a 2K 2/3-inch global shutter CMOS sensor, takes 12-24v power and comes with 3D synchronisation. It takes C-mount lenses, with PL and B4 mount adaptors available.

The sensor has reasonable light sensitivity, at over 600 ISO, with 9.5 stops dynamic range. There will also be a high-dynamic range option. Features include: on-board de-flickering; image flip/flop (horizontal/vertical); and dynamic replay.

Both software-based and RS232 serial controls are available. LMC has designed special remote control and operational control panels to integrate the Pico into a professional broadcast environment that will allow production companies to use one RCP and one OCP for up to four cameras. Wireless and fibre systems will also be available.

Related posts: Fan riot destroys 1st Antelope cameraTiny HD camera blends in and Antelope slows down skiing + golf

By David Fox

May 18, 2012

Super Hi-Vision at 120fps for Games

NHK has developed an 8K image sensor for its Super Hi-Vision Ultra HD system capable of 120 frames per second, which should be ready for use at the London Olympics.

The new 33-megapixel (7680x4320 pixel - 16x HD) CMOS sensor will use an advanced two-stage (4-bit then 8-bit) cyclic analogue-to-digital converter to deliver a 12-bit image at the higher frame rate (twice that of the current SHV cameras).

This architecture also allows it to reduce power consumption, with the ADC drawing 800mW (out of a total drive power of 2.5W). To deal with the high number of pixels involved, the sensor outputs alternating rows of pixels to ADCs on either side, each of which has 48 parallel outputs. It also means that the camera can be a lot smaller than the initial 8K cameras have been - 4kg and normal ENG size compared to about 20kg for the earlier models.

The sensor, which has been developed with Shizuoka University, will probably still get rather warm at these frame rates, so heat management will be a significant issue.

Each pixel measures 2.8 x 2.8 microns, and the 26.5 x 21.2mm chip (which is about the width of a Super35mm sensor, but taller) will use a 0.18-micron manufacturing process.

Two SHV cameras will be used to capture parts of the 2012 Olympics, with transmission to three large screens around the UK (plus one in the International Broadcast Centre) and three in Japan. Having the 120fps sensor will reduce motion blur and allow for much better slo-mo replay.

However, as the resolution increases (and 8K is 16 times the resolution of HD), motion defects become much more noticeable. “300 frames per second might just be acceptable, but 600fps would be better,” said colour scientist and camera consultant, Alan Roberts. At 300fps, the material would also be easily compatible with displays that run at either 50Hz (Europe) and 60Hz (US + Japan).

Using Long GoP compression, which typically combines a group of pictures in half a second, would lead to a GoP of 150 or 300 frames, but this wouldn’t lead to huge bandwidth requirements. “The motion between frames is very small, so the compression is much easier,” he explained, which means the increase in bit rate needed to convey high framerate material is minimal.

“The problem is in the shooting and the editing, because of the monstrous data files you have to deal with,” he added.

NHK this week demonstrated the first ever over-the-air transmission of 8K video (using a UHF TV link over two combined channels) over a distance of 4.2km in Tokyo. It has previously demonstrated transmission via satellite and the internet (in conjunction with the BBC). While 8K TV sets won't appear in homes any time soon (although Panasonic has built a prototype 145-inch plasma display), SHV does look incredible on a big screen (especially if you sit up close, immersed in the picture) and the 22.2 audio sounds great, so if you can get a look at any of the public displays during the Olympics, do....

By David Fox

Libec extends reach with Swift Jib50

The Swift Jib50 telescopic jib arm is Libec’s latest, easily portable camera jib, designed for both in the studio and location use.

A remote control box, monitors and a remote head can be fitted to the jib with minimal effort. Like the existing Jib30, the Jib50 is claimed to be quick, compact and dynamic, and can be set up in minutes.

Rather than fixing on extension units, a time consuming and often fiddly process, the Jib50's arm simply extends by turning the lock levers. Despite this additional mechanism, it can support reasonable loads.

Fully extended at 190cm it can hold up to 10kg load, as much as some systems can manage at a metre length. At its shortest setting (100cm) it can hold up to 20kg of equipment.

"Producers have become used to working around the limitations of their grip, as changing jib arm length has been something of a chore, especially on location where camera operators prefer to travel light. With Jib50 this is no longer an issue. We think its extendible arm, combined with its sheer strength make it an excellent choice,” said Nick Allen-Miles, MD of its distributor, Ianiro International.

It comes in kit form with a padded carrying case, weighs 16.4kg and costs £1,895.

By David Fox

Autoscript PicoPrompt for iOS

Autoscript has partnered with Teleprompting Techniques to offer a professional prompting app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users. PicoPrompt (below - $69.99/£47.99/€54.99) is available via the App Store, along with Picoscroll, a free scroll app. Autoscript also offers a scroll control and a connector for iOS devices.

For broadcasters, the main benefits will be gained through Autoscript’s latest upgrade to its WinPlus software, which is claimed to be the most widely used prompting application in daily use. The new version allows producers to select and send single stories or complete running orders from the broadcast studio to a journalist or presenter’s iOS device anywhere in the world.

“We have been working on this product for some time to ensure it meets Autoscript’s high standards, and we believe we’ve done it,” said Brian Larter, Autoscript’s Managing Director.

“In combination with our software the app offers some unique benefits, such as allowing the script to be automatically formatted correctly for the device on location, and giving the presenter more control.” He believes that this opens up “a truly professional way of prompting on location while still being linked to the studio.”

As TV presenters often have to host shows from places within a studio complex that aren’t permanently cabled, Autoscript’s Magno Wireless Foot Control (above) will allow them to control the speed of the script without the need to run cabling.

The ten channel device uses licence-free RF technology in the 400mhz range for Europe or 900Mhz in the US, is promised not to interfere with any other devices and can be used up to 100 metres from the receiver module, and is claimed to be easy to add to existing Autoscript installations.

Also new is the Smart Combiner Wireless Receiver, which will allow up to four separate wireless controllers to be used in a single studio, and further Wireless Smart Combiners can be added to increase this.

By David Fox

iCue Teleprompter for iPad

The iCue Teleprompter application for the iPad from Prompter People is claimed to be “smooth, clear and simplistic”, with lots of options, although with several other iPad prompters available, there is plenty of competition.

Text can be altered to change size, font, colour and visibility. The background colour is also adjustable. iCue works as a stand-alone application, but with iCue's display mirroring feature it becomes more usable if combined with one of Prompter People’s many iPad teleprompter set ups.

The $4.99/£2.99 iCue also allows for different control methods, such as the infrared wireless remote included with the Flex Series, Proline or UltraLight iPad teleprompters, as well as the free iCue Remote app. This turns an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into a fully functional remote control complete with playback, speed, search, scroll, timer control and shuffle. iCue can also be controlled using any Bluetooth keyboard.

Loading a script into iCue can be done by uploading text from emails, copied across via iTunes on a computer, downloaded from a web server, imported from other apps, or shared from another iCue equipped iPad.

For timing it can count up or down from a specific time, and can also be switched to a mirrored display when used with a suitable prompter mount.

By David Fox