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

March 19, 2013

Litepanels LED light launches

Litepanels has several new LED lighting products at the NAB2013, including a new bi-colour version of its 1x1 panel, three new lighting kits, and the first NAB appearance of its largest Fresnel fixtures.

The new 1x1 LS Bi-Color is the latest in the Litepanels range of flat panel 30cm x 30cm (1ft x 1ft) fixtures. The soft, directional output is adjustable from daylight to tungsten, and boasts 100% to zero dimming with no colour shift.

Colour and dimming adjustments are provided via on-fixture knobs. Other features of the LS Series fixtures include: flicker-free analogue dimming and power by AC or DC, but without studio-specific components such as DMX control for dimming and colour changes. The entry-level priced 1x1 LS Bi-Color is aimed at budget-conscious markets.

Litepanels also has three new traveling kits featuring its 1x1 LS fixtures:
          - the LS Traveller Duo Kit, with one 1x1 LS Flood and one 1x1 LS Spot;
the LS Traveller Trio Kit, with two 1x1 LS Floods and one 1x1 LS Spot;
the LS Traveller Trio Plus Kit, with two 1x1 LS Bi-Colours and one 1x1 LS Flood.

The kits come with light stands for each fixture and a hard sided carrying case.

It is also showing production models of the largest members of its Fresnel fixture family (pictured top): the Inca 12 (tungsten balanced) and Sola 12 (daylight balanced) fixtures.

These combine the performance of large Fresnel fixtures with the advantages of LED technology. Both versions supply controllable illumination comparable to a 2K traditional fixture while using a lot less energy than traditional tungsten or daylight Fresnel fixtures. They have custom-designed, lightweight Fresnel lenses, and should emit even, collimated light that is easily controlled manually or via an integrated DMX module to facilitate remote dimming and flood-spot focusing simultaneously.

By David Fox

New Petrol Bags for cameras + audio

Petrol Bags will launch new audio and camera bags and accessories at NAB2013, (April 8-11 in Las Vegas), including a new backpack for compact camcorders, a bag for large cameras, mini LCD hoods for Canon’s C100, C300 and C500, and a large audio mixer bag.

The new Deca Airflow Camera Backpack (PC306 - pictured top) has a rainbow shape to allow air to flow through for greater comfort. It is designed for smaller camcorders up to the size of a Sony PMW-200. It also has a pocket for a 17-inch laptop and accessories. The main compartment has a run around heavy-duty zipper for easy camera access. Other features include sternum strap and padded waist straps for wearer comfort, and exterior pockets for extra storage.

The new Deca Camera and Accessories Bag (PA1000 - pictured above) has “an ultra-wide” opening, so that it can be used for fully equipped digital cinema cameras, such as the Sony F65 or Arri Alexa, or may be used as an accessories case.

Its internal structure is made from a one-piece honeycomb frame offering strength and protection for your equipment. It also features ergonomic interlocking grip handles and external top straps to secure a tripod.

Petrol is also launching Mini Hoods that are purpose-built for the Canon EOS C100 (PA1018) and C300/C500 (PA1016 - pictured above) to shade the LCD monitor on the popular digital cinema cameras. Both are constructed of lightweight nylon, with rigid internal panels. Sturdy black nylon binding straps should secure the Mini Hood firmly in place.

It is also launching a new raincover for the Canon EOS C100 (PR400 - pictured above).

Petrol’s sound equipment carriers have proven successful, so it is introducing the Deca Large Lightweight Audio Bag (PS617) that is designed for sound recordists who use the Sound Devices 664 mixer, with or without the CL6 Controller. This wearable carrier promises user comfort, safety, equipment organization, and practicality in the field.

Within the bag (pictured above), the mixer and controller are fully accessible and readouts are easily viewable. It offers a roomy, cushioned main compartment to safeguard delicate equipment. The standard removable internal divider accommodates the 664 Mixer and attached CL6 Controller, while offering easy access to the unit’s XLR connectors.

By David Fox

March 18, 2013

Datavideo MS-3000 production unit

A new, low-cost modular production unit that can be used as a flyaway or be quickly fitted in a van has been unveiled by Datavideo. The MS-3000 Portable Production Unit will cost from about £12,000-13,000 for a full, turnkey system.

It sold the first one at BVE for live events production with eight cameras, and the system will be available as a completely customisable package, including free fitting of equipment a buyer already has, according to Allan Leonhardsen (pictured), sales and marketing director of Holdan, the Datavideo distributor, which will assemble the unit at its UK facility.

The PPU is based around the SE-3000 8- or 16-channel 2M/E broadcast vision mixer (which costs from about £9,000 and has two mix/effects channels, full 3D effects, transitions, picture-in-picture and sophisticated keying, including chromakey effects), and will almost certainly include talkback, hard disk recorders, vectorscope and waveform monitors, and power distribution sensors.

It is designed to be easy to install in a small van or temporary studio. As a single cased unit, running on caster wheels, it can be rolled in to place to provide instant television and AV facilities.

“We want it to be that you turn up, plug it in, and be live in seconds,” explained Leonhardsen. “We’re not using systems like embedded computers that take a long time to boot up. We want to make sure that if you lose power, you are back on line in five to ten seconds, maximum. It’s very much aimed at the live market, or anyone who wants stability.”

Holdan hopes to create set configurations, to make it easy for customers to specify and check price points, and talked to prospective users at BVE to find out what they’d need in such a package (one item being coffee cup holders – so users are less likely to spill drinks on it), but he expects that almost everyone will want to choose their own configuration. As it will be created from a kit of modules, it will be possible to keep prices low despite the customisation.

“We can create integrated solutions but we don’t believe in it,” he added. “We don’t want it to happen that one item goes down and the whole system goes down, which is why we are using independent modules. We believe in stability and non-embedded functionality, so that independent items do independent jobs. If a hard disk recorder goes down, you can simply replace it rather than sending the whole thing back.”

Although Datavideo manufactures all the items, customers won’t have to specify them and can have a unit from another manufacturer fitted instead.

At BVE it showed a flyaway-style configuration with two 17-inch LED HD monitors, the SE-3000 switcher, dual-screen vectorscope test devices, a 16-way intercom, audio mixer and hard disk recorders. Units for live encoding, real-time graphics or additional media playout facilities can simply be inserted into the rack enclosure. Power for the PPU is supplied by a Datavideo central distribution system, which operates from 110-260v. This can have power outlets on the back for the cameras, tally, talkback and prompter (through a single multicore cable), and can be fitted with up to three redundant power supplies.

For use in a van, it has a system that clicks into the normal seating rail system, so that a people carrier can be turned into an OB van (and back) in about ten minutes – it has already used this system for a few vans in Europe and the Far East, which Leonhardsen sees as being ideal where an OB van is only needed occasionally, or to allow the system to be moved between studio and OB use.

Holdan has put up a video of the Datavideo equipment, in the Mercedes Sprinter van shown at BVE (and seen in the background of the first photo), giving more details on its benefits and how it works.

Studio in a briefcase

Also new at BVE was the Datavideo HS-2800 portable integrated production studio (pictured). The briefcase-style HD production switcher can be up and running on location in a matter of minutes, and has eight digital inputs, a built-in multi-view video monitor and 10-bit video support.

It supports multi-camera shoots, blending video sources, audio feeds, logos and graphics, and is designed for small-scale live production, or AV use for events or corporate production.

“With HD-SD conversion, downstream keying and dual picture-in-picture functionality, producers can deliver very polished TV for multiple audiences,” said Leonhardsen.

Features include high-quality digital video effects, multiple XLR inputs, a 17.3-inch monitor to display input sources, programme preview and the live programme, and an eight-way intercom system complete with headsets and tally lights.

By David Fox