September 14, 2013

Arri Amira documentary camera

Arri has revealed its first documentary-style shoulder-mount digital camera: the Amira, which takes the sensor and many features of its Alexa, and adds such things as in-camera colour grading and 200 frames per second shooting.

“Everyone wants the Alexa image quality, but said make the camera smaller, lighter and more affordable,” said Stephan Shenk, Arri’s general manager, camera division. “But not too small or too light, as documentary shooting often involves large lenses that need to be balanced.”

September 12, 2013

IBC 2013

Yes, It's September - it must be IBC.

There should be some new and interesting bits of kit at the exhibition.

April 09, 2013

Atomos Samurai Blade looks sharp

Atomos announced its latest field recorder, the Samurai Blade, at NAB, which it promises will answer demand for a recorder that is also a fully fledged on-camera monitor.

It competes with the larger Convergent Design Odyssey7 monitor-cum-recorder on base price ($1,295), but unlike the Odyssey the Blade includes recording capability from the start, and will be the less expensive option if you don’t need the raw and higher-speed recording capabilities and extra screen size of the Odyssey.

April 08, 2013

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design keeps on keeps on disrupting the market with broadcast equipment at lower prices than the competition, and has done it again with two new cameras: The £665/$995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the £2,675/$3,995 4K Production Camera.

Both offer high quality lossless 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW and Apple ProRes recording, and lots of interesting features that should keep prospective buyers salivating until they ship in July.

Sony PMW-400 XAVC camcorder

Sony gave its XAVC codec another boost at NAB in Las Vegas with the introduction of a new broadcast camcorder that supports it. It also extended XAVC downwards for prosumer and consumer users. In other news, Sony also introduced a new studio/OB camera.

The new PMW-400 shoulder-mount camcorder (pictured above) is an “affordable” broadcast camera with three 2/3-inch high quality Exmor CMOS sensors – boasting good low-light sensitivity of F12 at 59.94Hz and F13 at 50Hz.

April 05, 2013

LiveU LU² modular live links

The new LU² from LiveU is the first modular system for bonding cellular networks, for live transmission from the camera. It is being launched at NAB and will allow users to combine two LiveU field units for occasions where additional resiliency is needed. LiveU systems are widely used by broadcasters for news coverage.

LU² users will be able to increase the number of connections, and therefore boost the uplink bandwidth available, by connecting an additional LiveU unit via a standard Ethernet cable. This will work with its current units, so is available immediately.

Its first implementation, the LU40², combines two LU40-S units together in a lightweight backpack (under 4lbs/2kgs, including batteries), providing up to 12 cellular/network connections. The LU40² GUI is controlled remotely by a standard smartphone for greater flexibility and ease of use on-the-move.

This new development complements the Xtender, LiveU’s wireless external antenna, which can be combined with any LiveU product, and offers up to 13 cellular connections.

“The new LU² modular approach allows customers to add connections on the spot, as needed, in challenging scenarios such as crowded areas and remote locations,” said Samuel Wasserman, LiveU’s CEO. “This concept offers a highly flexible and cost-effective solution for HD live video transmission anywhere, anytime.”

By David Fox

April 03, 2013

Canon shows 4K to handheld at NAB

The annual NAB show in Las Vegas is America’s biggest broadcast expo, and Canon is using the opportunity to demonstrate everything from high-end 4K workflows to a three new handheld cameras that should be useful for professional use.

You can get the full details on the small new XA25, XA20 and Vixia/Legria HF G30 camcorders on our Canon XF Notebook blog, but these palmcorders should appeal because they promise to be an improvement on one of our favourite small camcorders, the XA10. Plus, the XA25 includes HD-SDI output for uncompressed signals for broadcast use.

March 29, 2013

Final Cut Pro updates

Apple has updated Final Cut Pro X (to 10.0.8), Compressor (to 4.0.7), and Motion (to 5.0.7). 

FCP X version 10.0.8 is mainly a maintenance release, but it does add a couple of features.

Users of Arri Alexa cameras can now record Apple ProRes with Log C video levels, then view with standard contrast and colour levels in Final Cut Pro X. This non-destructive display option lets you view footage in the Rec. 709 colour gamut (the standard for broadcast video - pictured above) without having to render or apply an effect, while accessing the full dynamic range of Log C (which has so little contrast it almost looks foggy - as seen below) for colour grading and compositing. When editing is complete, export XML from Final Cut Pro X to send the Log C files for finishing in third-party applications such as DaVinci Resolve or Autodesk Smoke.

FCP X gets XAVC support

The latest version of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X (10.0.8) can now work with Sony’s new XAVC codec (as used on the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55), so that users can import XAVC files directly into FCP X and start editing immediately.

It has support for resolutions up to 4K, and users can work natively or convert to Apple ProRes in the background for better performance.

The plug-in requires: FCP X 10.0.8 or higher for the XAVC format or FCP X 10.0.6 or higher for the XDCAM format, and supports only SxS Cards, not Professional Disc. XDCAM Professional Disc users can use Content Browser software to ingest material into Final Cut Pro X.

One user (nweaver) who had downloaded the plug-in said: “Very happy to report that 4K XAVC on 27-inch iMac 3.4ghz/680MX is VERY fast in FCPX. Like 1080p fast.

“Moreover, the GPU scales it on the fly to pass to the Blackmagic Mini Monitor to output at 1080p, high quality scaling, no hiccups whatsoever. Like working with 1080p, except there's 4x the pixels that you don't see unless you go blowing up clips.”

Another user (sconnor99) on the added: “It works very well with 4K XAVC material on our 2008 8-Core MacPro. It's slightly surreal editing 4K like it's just 1080! I get realtime, even with CC and 300% zoom.”

Related post: Sony XAVC codec explained

By David Fox

March 27, 2013

Convergent Design Odyssey7 + 7Q

A full-featured 7.7-inch OLED monitor that can also be a high-quality recorder (for Avid DNxHD, raw and 4K formats) is the attraction of Convergent Design’s adaptable new Odyssey7 and 7Q products.

As a monitor, it costs from $1,295, with the recording capabilities available as optional upgrades (online licenses for the various formats, such as DNxHD). Given that some users might only need a format like Arrirraw for a few days shooting, the licence for this will also be available for daily rental.

March 25, 2013

Teradek VidiU live streaming encoder

Teradek’s latest live streaming encoder, the $699 VidiU has just gone on sale, although there will be limited supplies for the first month.

It is designed to enable you to stream SD or HD video (up to 1080p30 or 1080i/60) on the web without a PC or laptop, either direct from a camera (via a wireless link) or from a video switcher, making it easier to do live web productions (or to put live broadcasts on the web). 

It connects via HDMI and encodes video in real time using high profile H.264 compression and AAC audio from 250Kbps up to 5Mbps. Embedded HDMI audio, headphone output, and a mic/line input are supported.

VidiU has API level integration with the Ustream and new Livestream platforms, to make streaming to your channel on these platforms as simple as logging into your account. You can, of course, use any content delivery network, as VidiU has a generic RTMP interface.

For wireless use, VidiU streams over dual band MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) WiFi, Ethernet, or via a single 3G/4G USB modem. Its rechargeable Li-Ion battery allows users to roam cable-free for up to 90 minutes.

VidiU can also stream a second video feed to an iPhone or iPad, via a free iOS application, for monitoring your live broadcast. As VidiU acts as its own dual band Access Point, you can connect your device directly to it or to your local network.

It is compact enough to sit on a camera hot shoe, at 7.5cm (3-inches) wide, by 10cm (4-inches) deep, by 2.5cm (1-inch) high, and weighs 142g/5 ounces.

By David Fox

Bradley Eybe mini remote camera

Bradley Engineering is introducing a new integrated mini camera, The Eybe, at NAB that should ship in May, with orders already in from broadcasters in the US and Britain who were involved in its development.

Cobham HD MPEG4 IP Encoder

The UK-based RF specialist, Cobham, has launched a new HD MPEG4 IP Encoder that features IP connectivity via 3G, 4G and LAN, and can be used on camera or stand alone.

It has been specifically engineered for broadcast use, and its high capacity, 3G capabilities should ensure access to fast wireless 3G internet connections from even the most remote locations.

“Our IP encoder provides even more bit rate efficiency with the added benefit of the ability to operate in standard, low and ultra-low latency modes,” claimed Cobham’s Broadcast Systems Director, Stuart Brown. “And with power consumption rated at a very low 7-9 Watts, this encoder is ready for extended periods of deployment in virtually any environment.”

There will be three models, with prices starting from about £3,000, and the device can be connected to any camera. The IP encoder has composite, SDI, HD-SDI and HDMI video inputs, while audio input options include balanced analogue audio running on 48-volt phantom power.

Broadcast-standard IFB (interruptible foldback) talkback is available as an option on all models. This takes advantage of Bluetooth and WiFi for complete wireless links between presenter, camera and the newsroom, including access to IT facilities, email and the internet that can be shared by the entire location crew.

The IP encoder also includes a USB port for high-speed file uploads or for use with a 3G/4G dongle. The encoder is available in three forms, a small brick unit, camera back or rack mount.

By David Fox

March 20, 2013

Upcoming Masterclasses + Open Days

There are several Masterclasses and Open Days on offer this month from various UK dealers.

One of our local west London dealers, Prokit, is holding a free Sony PMW-200 Camcorder Masterclass with cinematographer Alister Chapman at its Chiswick showroom on Thursday 21st March.

The Sony PMW-200, which records at 50Mbps, has proved to be a popular camera, and Christina regularly does training with it. It benefits from having half-inch sensors, whereas its competitors in the compact camcorder market, like the Canon XF305 and Panasonic HPX250, have 1/3-inch sensors.

The seminar will cover various aspects of shooting on the PMW-200, including:
- Overview of the features and workflow of Sony's XDCAM format
- Advanced shooting modes such as slow motion and 50P recording, interval recording (timelapse) and the PMW-200's cache record function, plus various shutter functions.
- How to get the best from the sensor and format: Understanding Picture profiles, detail and gain levels, gammas, matrix settings
- Advice on archiving workflow

Next week Chapman is doing a Sony PMW-200 Masterclass at Visual Impact in Bristol on Wednesday 27th March, where he’ll also be discussing the PMW-100 and PMW-150.

On the same day, Visual Impact will also have a Sony PMW-F5 Hands-on Day in London, at its offices in Teddington.

Chapman is also doing daily, one-hour overviews of the F5/F55 looking at 4K, colour space, raw and workflow at NAB in Las Vegas, 8th – 11th April, and is holding workshops in Helsinki, Vilnius, Riga in March and April.

CVP (Creative Video) is also holding a Sony PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Open Day at its Glasgow offices, with two Informal Drop-in Sessions: one in the afternoon (12pm to 5pm); and one in the evening (5pm to 7pm) on Wednesday 27th.

Incidentally, Alister also conducts expeditions to film the Northern Lights in Norway, and to chase storms and tornados in the US (New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and other states in the tornado belt), with the next one coming up from April 13th to April 20th. These include tuition on how to get the best shots of these natural phenomena.

Have a look at his beautiful timelapse footage of the Northern Lights embedded below:

By David Fox