October 31, 2012

Atomos releases Avid DNxHD support

The new AtomOS 4.0 operating system upgrade for the Atomos Ninja-2 and Samurai external recorders, will support Avid’s DNxHD production codec in addition to Apple ProRes, so that user’s recordings can be directly editable in their non-linear editor of choice.

The update is free of charge and downloadable from the support section of the Atomos web site.

“There has been huge demand from our customer base for Avid support,” said Jeromy Young, CEO and co-founder of Atomos. “Now, editors have a choice of native codec for their editing system. Both Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD provide higher quality, with higher bitrates and 4:2:2, 10-bit resolution. Both are ready-to-edit straight from the Samurai's HDD or SSD, in your preferred NLE.”

AtomOS version 4.0 allows encoding to Avid DNxHD in the following formats: High - 220/185/175Mbps (10-bit); Medium - 220/185/175Mbps (8-bit); Low - 145/120/115Mbps (8-bit). The firmware has apparently been well received by customers who were invited to beta test it following a successful preview at IBC in September.

The HDMI-equipped Ninja-2 and HD-SDI-equipped Samurai field recorders allow the recording, monitoring and playback of 10-bit uncompressed images straight from a DSLR or camcorder directly to Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD.

AtomOS 4.0 is being released only for Samurai now, from www.atomos.com. It is a full working version, but Atomos refers to it as a pre-release because it will be further updated to support Ninja-2 in late November.

[[UPDATE: Atomos has introduced new Samurai Blade with a sharper monitor and upgraded operating system (AtomOS5) – it has also cut the price of both the Samurai and Ninja-2]]

October 30, 2012

Sony PMW-F5 + F55 4K cameras

Sony has announced two new 4K cameras (the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55), plus the impending arrival of the 4K upgrade for the NEX-FS700, as it begins to get serious about moving beyond HD. The new cameras will use a new codec: XAVC. All the cameras use single Super35-sized CMOS sensors.

Sony started its move into 4K (4096x2160 pixels) with the F65 last year, and now has a range of 4K-capable equipment, including domestic and professional LCD and projector displays.

The high-end F65 is well regarded in the film industry, and the camera has been used on such movies as Oblivion and After Earth.

In fact, the F65 is now going beyond 4K, following its version 3.0 upgrade it will also be able to shoot 6K and 8K Raw (it uses a full 8K/20-megapixel sensor). It will also be able to shoot at up to 120 frames per second in 8K. It can be fitted with a new 0.7-inch OLED viewfinder (the first such for this type of camera), and has received several other film-related additions, such as anamorphic lens support.

However, as the F65 moves even further upmarket, the F55 and F5 should slot seamlessly in underneath it.

Open codec architecture

The cameras will support four codecs: XAVC, for high frame rates and 4K, MPEG2 at 50Mbps, MPEG4 SStP (Sony’s SR Master codec) and Raw 4K “by the switch of a button, depending on what job you want to do,” said Olivier Bovis, Sony’s Head of AV Media.

The F5 and F55 will need the new AXS-R5 recorder for Raw, but everything else will be recorded internally on a new, faster, memory card: SxS Pro+, which will support higher frame rates and bit rates – it is about 20/30% faster than an SxS Pro card at writing/reading and comes in 64GB and 128GB versions.

The F55 will be able to simultaneously record both MPEG2 50Mbps and XAVC 4K to the same SxS Pro+ card, which means you can have a readily usable 50Mbps version for offline editing in a 4K production, or just hold an archive of 4K shots for the future while shooting for today’s broadcast standards. You should also be able to record Raw 4K at the same time to the R5 recorder.

Internally, the F55 will be able to record HD (1920x1080), 2K (2048x1080), QFHD (Quad Full HD - 3840x2160), and 4K, while the F5 will be limited to 2K and HD, but once you add the R5 both will record Raw 4K and higher frame rates.

The F55 “has a very wide colour gamut [same as the F65] and high frame rates: up to 180fps in 4K and up to 240fps in HD,” said Bovis. It also has a Global Shutter to avoid any rolling shutter skew effect or flash banding. The F5 will shoot at up to 120fps in HD. The F65 can shoot at up to 180fps at 4K and up to 240fps in 2K Raw.

The cameras are promised to offer a wide dynamic range (14 stops), high sensitivity, and low noise.

Viewfinders + monitors

Thanks to a new digital interface, the PMW-F5 and F55 will also be able to use the new DVF-EL100 1280x720 OLED viewfinder. There is also a new 3.5-inch 960x540-pixel LCD viewfinder (DVF-L350), offering 10x the contrast of previous Sony LCD viewfinders plus a flip-up eyepiece for direct monitoring, and a 7-inch 1920x1080 LCD on-camera monitor (DVF-L700).

The PMW-F55 can also connect to Sony’s new 4K 30-inch 10-bit LCD monitor (PVM-X300) for on-set monitoring, dailies and editing using four 3G-SDI interfaces to monitor pictures at 4096x2160 resolution at up to 60p while recording and playing back XAVC 4K images. It can also be connected directly to the 84-inch BRAVIA 4K LED TV for monitoring, but at a resized horizontal resolution of 3860 pixels.

Batteries + rigs

The F5 and F55 also use compact new Olivine (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries that promise twice the lifetime of conventional Lithium Ion cathodes and provide an hour of power for Raw recording when using the R5 with either the F5/F55 (Raw is more power hungry than the other codecs). There is also a new 2x faster battery charger.

The cameras will also have a new shoulder rig, “so you can easily use it shoulder mounted. It’s very modular in how you want to use it,” said Bovis.

PL-mount lenses

The F55 and F5 cameras come with a PL lens mount, for use with high-end cine-style lenses, but Sony is also launching six new CineAlta T2.0 PL-mount lenses for the cameras (20, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 135mm).

Each is certified for 4K and is designed to minimize geometric distortion, vignetting and breathing. A 9-blade iris should deliver pleasing bokeh (out-of-focus effects), and the focus rings rotate 240°. For easy lens changes, each has the same external diameter, matte box diameter, and gear locations for follow focus and aperture. All are the same lenght except for the 135mm. 

The cameras are fitted with a native FZ mount (but the PL-mount adaptor is supplied), so users will also be able to fit other adaptors for Canon EF, Canon FD, Nikon DX, Nikon G, Leica M and even 2/3-inch B4 lenses.


The F5, F55, F65 upgrade, and lenses should be available by the end of January, but 2K and QFHD recording for the PMW-F55 and 2K for the PMW-F5 will be available through a firmware upgrade. Frame rates higher than 60fps will also require a firmware upgrade.

Prices should be announced in November.

NEX-FS700 + HXR-1FR5

At its introduction, last April, Sony promised that the NEX-FS700 would be able to record 4K, and soon it will, using the new HXR-1FR5 interface unit, which has 3G HD-SDI input, to deliver Raw data, and the new AXS-R5 recording unit – which uses a new generation of Access Memory Card with 512GB of storage. It will also require a firmware upgrade.

Although the FS700 can already record high frame rates in HD, it won’t have that feature in 4K, where the available frame rates will be 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 50p and 59.94p.

The HXR-IFR5 and firmware upgrade should be available between April and June 2013.

By David Fox

October 04, 2012

Mole-Richardson LED lights

LED lights Mole Richardson from UrbanFox.TV on Vimeo.

LED lights that are fully colour matched to traditional incandescent fixtures are the promise of Mole-Richardson with its first move into LED lighting.

Although broadcast LED lighting has been around for several years, finding fixtures that don’t suck isn’t easy. Certainly, cheap LED lights exhibit huge colour spikes and troughs, making it impossible to match them with traditional lighting fixtures (and difficult to colour correct for). Even more expensive LED lights haven’t been perfect.

This year there have been several introductions that are a great deal more accurate, and Mole-Richardson’s new ranges are amongst the best we’ve seen.

The lights use a new Osram Kreios LED that was “designed for us specifically for the film industry. The tungsten matches traditional tungsten lights on film exactly,” said Mole-Richardson’s Sales Director Paul Royalty (pictured).

“We worked very closely with the ASC, Kodak, Panavision and Technicolor to ensure it matched.”

Its mainstay $4,500 12-Pack uses 12 circuit boards, each with 20 LEDs (for 240 total). The fixture is DC driven (10-50 volts – so that it works with a wide range of power sources) and DC dimmed. “This doesn’t have any flicker,” Royalty said. The tungsten version is claimed to offer the output of an equivalent 750W traditional fixture, while the daylight version gives about 10% more output, because the LED chip is naturally blue.

The much smaller, 20W Single uses just one circuit board and its size makes it suitable for use in a car or other confined space.

It is offered as a three light kit (tungsten or daylight) for $3,500, with a three-light controller (below) with master and individual dimmers, plus fixed and wireless DMX control. An accessory turns three Singles into a larger compact light.

It has also developed two prototype LED Fresnel lights – a 600W and 1kW equivalent (using about 10% of the power), which it hopes to have ready to ship by NAB (April 2013). It will come in a new design of fixture, but “it will also come as a retrofit for our existing incandescent product,” offering an easy way for its customers to upgrade.

Mole-Richardson took its time before adopting LEDs. “We wanted to see where the industry wanted to go and needed to find a partner that could deliver the colour quality we wanted,” said Royalty.

“It had to match existing fixtures. Other manufacturers want you to throw out your traditional fixtures, but we don’t feel that is the best way to go.”

By David Fox

Panasonic AG-HPX600 camcorder

The new AG-HPX600 is Panasonic’s first upgradeable camera, built to answer customer complaints that every year their cameras were superseded by new technology.

It is “backwards and forwards compatible,” said Nigel Wilkes, UK Group Manager for Broadcast (pictured top). The P2 camcorder comes with AVC-Intra 100 (as well as DV and DVCPRO formats), but users will able to add 50Mbps Long GoP recording and AVC-Ultra at 200Mbps as they become available.

The camera has a newly-developed single 2/3-inch CMOS sensor “with very good low light sensitivity” (F12 at 60Hz or F13 at 50Hz), low noise with an S/N of 59dB, a gigabit Ethernet network connection and will be able to do variable frame rates (1-60 frames per second at 720p and 1-30fps at 1080).

Other features include: Chromatic Aberration Compensation; Dynamic Range Stretch; Advanced Flash Band Compensation (to avoid shots where flash photography causes a flash over half of the screen); various gamma and digital image settings; waveform and vectorscope display; an optional camera extension system (AG-CA300G Camera Adaptor and AG-BS300E Base Station) for studio integration; and a choice of two new colour viewfinders.

“It’s the lightest shoulder-mount camcorder on the market, weighing in at 2.8kg,” he added. Users will also be able to add WiFi to allow mobiles and laptops to view clips, whether live or a previous clip while the cameraman is recording another.

It will also support Panasonic’s new micro P2 card (using the SD card form factor) that will be able to record 200Mbps. It will fit into a P2 card adapter and ship in February.

Panasonic will also introduce a new Remote Edit app that allows users edit and deliver content in-camera. This won’t work with Panasonic’s older cameras, but will with the HPX600 and future models. The camera will export the EDL, which means you can do your rough cuts on location.

Dealers are currently offering the mid-range camera from less than £10,000 (+ VAT) – about €11,000 or $13,500 plus viewfinder.

LiveU support

Panasonic has also got together with cellular uplinks specialist LiveU to integrate the HPX600 with LiveU’s LU40i or its new LU40-S uplinks, which will mean that users get all the information from the LU40 (such as transmission status and video quality) in the viewfinder, making it simpler for a one-person crew to operate.

The LU40 sits behind the battery (picture below) and supports up to four 4G LTE/3G cellular links (which are bonded together to increase the data rate), plus additional WiMAX, WiFi and LAN connections, at once, so that users can transmit live video to their studio or direct to the internet.

For online media, the LU40i version will support major content delivery networks and online video platforms, for end-to-end live video. In Europe, LiveU is now working with Qbrick (www.qbrick.com), linking up to its OVP and CDN, to offer a simplified live streaming service.

The compact new LU40-S no longer uses Aircards (as in the LU40i), but modules with SIM cards, which means it can be lighter, at about 700g. It also has a new proprietary antenna to boost the signal (on WiFi, 3G and 4G) and typically less than two seconds delay, as well as store and forward and ftp capability. It transmits at rates of up to 4Mbps (compared to 12Mbps for LiveU’s high-end LU60 and LU70 models).

Features include: a low latency interview-mode; video and audio indicators; less than one minute boot-up; and control from its touch screen, the server or from any web-enabled device. When used with the External Antenna, the LU40-S can support up to 13 network connections.

LiveU leases the LU40 for about €950 per month, including an unlimited data plan, 24/7 support, and free upgrades of hardware and software.

By David Fox