If you haven’t seen part one, first jump over to part one, then take a look at the video below.
The Cinemartin NEXT has some really great connectivity even though it’s very small. When you are using it on location you can use just the built in high brightness touch screen, but as soon as you get back to base you can expand the display to one or two external monitors using the display port connectors. Expanding the desktop over a couple of external monitors turns the NEXT into a fully featured workstation that is perfect for editing, grading or transcoding functions.
In addition to the display port outputs for the computer desktop you can also connect a professional video monitor to the HDMI or SDI outputs of the integral Decklink video card. If you are working in SD you can even output via component or composite video. So with 3 monitors, two showing your desktop and one showing your video output you have a plenty of screen real estate to work on.
With this type of setup you will want to add an external keyboard and mouse. The touch screen display is great on location, but for more intensive edit, DiT or encoding operations a proper mouse and keyboard is much better. As there are plenty of USB3 ports you could just use a USB keyboard and mouse. Or you can plug in a tiny bluetooth adapter and connect your mouse and keyboard wirelessly.
As the NEXT is a computer you can run whichever edit application you prefer, or pretty much any application of any type that you wish. There is plenty of processing power (up to generation 5 i7 muticore) and lots of memory (up to 32GB) so it will run almost anything you want to throw at it, including OS-X.
When I tested it running Adobe Premier CC the editing experience was just as slick and smooth as my dedicated edit work station. I could edit the 4K uncompressed material recorded directly on to the NEXT’s internal SSD with ease. Even transitions such as dissolves played back at 4K without jumps or skipping. The Decklink card gives you a direct monitor output connection from the Premiere Timeline at up to 4K. This should also work with the majority other other edit applications as the Decklink cards are pretty much the industry standard these days.
By using the USB3 ports you can expand the NEXT’s storage or bring in material from other sources with ease.
One very neat way to expand it’s storage is with one of Samsungs T1 micro USB3 SSD’s. These drives really are tiny, not much bigger than an SxS card, but while small they do also offer great performance and can be used to record and playback 4K material. With 4 USB3 ports you could add up to 4TB of T1 storage or connect the NEXT to an external raid array for bigger projects.
Once you have done your editing you can play out your projects timeline direct from the NEXT. The integral Decklink hardware will play out 4K, HD and SD direct from Adobe Premiere’s timeline or via the included Decklink Studio player software.
In addition you can use the boards hardware downconverter to playback 4K content in HD, or HD content in SD. This is really useful if your working with 4K material but only have an HD monitor. The hardware based down conversion is much better than trying to re-scale from 4K to HD within Premiere. By attaching a breakout cable to the Decklink card you can get a full range of inputs and outputs including standard definition composite, component and Y/C (S-video).
The ability to play out and edit directly from the timeline will be great for news and other fast turnaround projects. By shooting directly on to the NEXT, editing directly with the NEXT and then playing out directly from the NEXT you cut out all those normal transfer, transcode and rendering steps that can really slow down your workflow.
If you do need to transcode your footage then the NEXT has a built in background encoder that can transcode to a number of ProRes and H265 presets very quickly while you are getting on with other work. Its hard to find decent H265 encoders at the moment. The Cinemartin Live application included with the NEXT is really very good and produces remarkably compact files with great image quality. H265 is great for sending material via ftp to broadcasters for breaking news stories. The compact file size means your transfer will happen quickly. Need to stream or ftp wirelessly? Well that’s no problem as you can simply insert whatever type of wireless modem you need into one of the USB3 slots, whether that’s a wifi dongle or 4G/LTE dongle. For wired connections there are already a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports built in to the NEXT.
In terms of image quality, well the NEXT uses a Decklink 4K input and output card. These cards are used in high end edit systems (it’s what I have in my workstation). The uncompressed video is just that: Uncompressed. You can even record full RGB 444 in 4K at up to 60fps with the higher end models. This means that there are absolutely no compression artefacts. What comes out of the camera is what’s recorded, with no loss. So the playback is identical to the camera output. This means you are getting the absolute best quality recordings possible, better in most cases than the cameras internal recordings. There are some side by side examples in the video at the top of the page of just how video compression can really degrade the quality of a recording.
Uncompressed video like this is wonderful for green screen or chroma key where compression artefacts can really degrade the quality of the key. Its also fantastic for shooting in log as you retain every possible bit of data in the log recording so you will have the best possible master recording to take into the grade. And don’t forget you can even do the grade using the NEXT. Adobe SpeedGrade runs very well on it. If you don’t need uncompressed then there is also the option to record compressed using very high quality MJPEG as well as a DPX recording option. If you want ProRes than that isn’t a problem as you can shoot in uncompressed and then while shooting use the Cinemartin Live application to transcode your uncompressed footage to ProRes in the background. It’s recommended that if you want to do this you opt for one of the i5 or i7 processor models to deliver the fastest encoding performance.
Of course video is really dull without sound. In the sound department the next won’t disappoint either. You can record and play back up to 8 channels of audio embedded in the HDMI or HDSDI video stream or you can use the separate AES/EBU digital inputs or up to 4 channels of analog audio in and out (depending on model) that can be connected via the decklink cards breakout cable.
If you are shooting in 3D then a single NEXT can take the HDSDI outputs of both the left and right cameras at the same time and record both in a single multiplexed video stream. This saves the often time consuming chore of re-syncing and pairing discreet recordings and keeps everything together in a perfectly synced single file. I really wish the NEXT had been around 4 years ago when I was still shooting a lot of 3D.
The power consumption is very low at around 30W. This means you can easily run it from a D-Tap connection on your camera or existing battery system. If you need a stand-alone battery system then you can use highly affordable external laptop batteries batteries that start at about $150 and will typically power the NEXT for between 3 and 5 hours.
The NEXT isn’t going to be a device for everyone. It is a bit bigger than some of the other recorders on the market. But it can do so much more than just record. As already mentioned you can use it to edit, grade, encode and stream. You can even use it to check your emails. You could use it as a video player for interactive installations, use it as a high end 4K media server. A recorder with multi-channel audio capabilities for concerts or other similar events. There really isn’t anything else quite like it on the market. Price wise it is very competitive compared to other 4K capable recorders starting at around $2200 USD for a basic 4K HDMI capable unit going up to around $6000 for the very highest specified unit. But don’t forget, this isn’t just a recorder, it can do so much more and cuts out the need to transfer material from cards to the computer for editing. So do take a look at the wealth of information about the NEXT available on the Cinemartin web site.