From time to time someone will pop up on a forum or user group with tales of fried SDI boards, dead monitors or dead audio devices. Often the reason for the death of these units seems obscure. One day it all works fine, the next time the monitor is plugged in it stops working.
A common cause of these types of issue is the use of individual power supplies for each device. Most modern power supplies use a technology called “switch mode”. Most “wall wart” power supplies are switch mode. Computers use switch mode power supplies, they are probably the most common type of power supply in use today.
The problem with these power supplies is that the voltage they produce is not tied to a common earth or ground connection. A 12 volt power supply may have an output voltage that measures 12 volts across it’s positive and negative terminals, which is great. But the negative terminal might be many volts above “ground”. Used singly this is not normally a problem but if you use a couple of different power supplies with negative terminals floating at different voltages, if you connect them together current will flow from one to the other as the establish a common base voltage.
As an example if you have a monitor powered by one power supply and a camera powered by another, when you connect the monitor to the camera current may flow down the SDI or HDMI cable from one power supply to the other causing damage to the chips that process the SDI/HDMI signals.
Even if there is no damage this current can lead to audio hum or other electrical noise.
How can you prevent this?
First use only high quality power supplies. Wherever possible try to run everything off a single power supply. Powering the camera from a high capacity power supply and then feeding any connected accessories via D-Tap or Hirose outputs on the camera is good practice. Also powering everything by batteries helps. If you must use separate power supplies then connect everything together before connecting anything to the mains and before turning anything on. This should ensure that any current runs through the shield and ground paths in the cables rather than possibly travelling down the delicate signal part of a connection as you connect things together.
So this landed in my inbox today. Atomos are releasing what on paper at least is a truly remarkable new recorder and monitor, the Shogun 7.
For some time now the Atomos Inferno has been my go-to monitor. It’s just so flexible and the HDR screen is wonderful. But the new Shogun 7 looks to be quite a big upgrade.
The screen is claimed to be able to display an astounding 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 15+ stops of dynamic range. That means you will be able to shoot in log with almost any camera and see the log output 1:1. No need to artificially reduce the display range, no more flat looking log or raw, just a real look at what you are actually shooting.
I’m off to NAB at the weekend and I will be helping out on the Atomos booth, so I will be able to take a good look at the Shogun 7. If it comes anywhere near to the specs in the press release it will be a must-have piece of kit whether you shoot on an FS5 or Venice!
Here’s the the press release:
Melbourne, Vic – 4 April, 2019:
The new Atomos Shogun 7 is the ultimate 7-inch HDR monitor, recorder and switcher. Precision-engineered for the film and video professional, it uses the very latest video technologies available. Shogun 7 features a truly ground-breaking HDR screen – the best of any production monitor in the world. See perfection on the all-new 1500nit daylight-viewable, 1920×1200 panel with an astounding 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 15+ stops of dynamic range displayed. Shogun 7 will truly revolutionize the on-camera monitoring game.
Bringing the real world to your monitor
With Shogun 7 blacks and colors are rich and deep. Images appear to ‘pop’ with added dimensionality and detail. The incredible Atomos screen uses a unique combination of advanced LED and LCD technologies which together offer deeper, better blacks than rival OLED screens, but with the much higher brightness and vivid color performance of top-end LCDs. Objects appear more lifelike than ever, with complex textures and gradations beautifully revealed. In short, Shogun 7 offers the most detailed window into your image, truly changing the way you create visually.
The Best HDR just got better
A new 360 zone backlight is combined with this new screen technology and controlled by the Dynamic AtomHDR engine to show millions of shades of brightness and color, yielding jaw-dropping results. It allows Shogun 7 to display 15+ stops of real dynamic range on-screen. The panel is also incredibly accurate, with ultra-wide color and 105% of DCI-P3 covered. For the first time you can enjoy on-screen the same dynamic range, palette of colors and shades that your camera sensor sees.
On-set HDR redefined with real-time Dolby Vision HDR output
Atomos and Dolby have teamed up to create Dolby Vision HDR “live” – the ultimate tool to see HDR live on-set and carry your creative intent from the camera through into HDR post production. Dolby have optimised their amazing target display HDR processing algorithm and which Atomos have running inside the Shogun 7. It brings real-time automatic frame-by-frame analysis of the Log or RAW video and processes it for optimal HDR viewing on a Dolby Vision-capable TV or monitor over HDMI. Connect Shogun 7 to the Dolby Vision TV and magically, automatically, AtomOS 10 analyses the image, queries the TV, and applies the right color and brightness profiles for the maximum HDR experience on the display. Enjoy complete confidence that your camera’s HDR image is optimally set up and looks just the way you wanted it. It is an invaluable HDR on-set reference check for the DP, director, creatives and clients – making it a completely flexible master recording and production station.
“We set out to design the most incredibly high contrast and detailed display possible, and when it came off the production line the Shogun 7 exceeded even our expectations. This is why we call it a screen with “Unbelievable HDR”. With multi-camera switching, we know that this will be the most powerful tool we’ve ever made for our customers to tell their stories“, said Jeromy Young, CEO of Atomos.
Shogun 7 records the best possible images up to 5.7kp30, 4kp120 or 2kp240 slow motion from compatible cameras, in RAW/Log or HLG/PQ over SDI/HDMI. Footage is stored directly to reliable AtomX SSDmini or approved off-the-shelf SATA SSD drives. There are recording options for Apple ProRes RAW and ProRes, Avid DNx and Adobe CinemaDNG RAW codecs. Shogun 7 has four SDI inputs plus a HDMI 2.0 input, with both 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 outputs. It can record ProRes RAW in up to 5.7kp30, 4kp120 DCI/UHD and 2kp240 DCI/HD, depending on the camera’s capabilities. 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes or DNxHR recording is available up to 4Kp60 or 2Kp240. The four SDI inputs enable the connection of most Quad Link, Dual Link or Single Link SDI cinema cameras. With Shogun 7 every pixel is perfectly preserved with data rates of up to 1.8Gb/s.
Monitor and record professional XLR audio
Shogun 7 eliminates the need for a separate audio recorder. Add 48V stereo mics via an optional balanced XLR breakout cable. Select Mic or Line input levels, plus record up to 12 channels of 24/96 digital audio from HDMI or SDI. You can monitor the selected stereo track via the 3.5mm headphone jack. There are dedicated audio meters, gain controls and adjustments for frame delay.
AtomOS 10, touchscreen control and refined body
Atomos continues to refine the elegant and intuitive AtomOS operating system. Shogun 7 features the latest version of the AtomOS 10 touchscreen interface, first seen on the award-winning Ninja V. Icons and colors are designed to ensure that the operator can concentrate on the image when they need to. The completely new body of Shogun 7 has a sleek Ninja V like exterior with ARRI anti-rotation mounting points on the top and bottom of the unit to ensure secure mounting.
AtomOS 10 on Shogun 7 has the full range of monitoring tools that users have come to expect from Atomos, including Waveform, Vectorscope, False Color, Zebras, RGB parade, Focus peaking, Pixel-to-pixel magnification, Audio level meters and Blue only for noise analysis.
Portable multi-cam live switching and recording for Shogun 7 and Sumo 19
Shogun 7 is also the ultimate portable touch-screen controlled multi-camera switcher with asynchronous quad-ISO recording. Switch up to four 1080p60 SDI streams, record each plus the program output as a separate ISO, then deliver ready-for-edit recordings with marked cut-points in XML metadata straight to your NLE. The current Sumo19 HDR production monitor-recorder will also gain the same functionality in a free firmware update. Sumo19 and Shogun 7 are the ideal devices to streamline your multi-camera live productions.
Enjoy the freedom of asynchronous switching, plus use genlock in and out to connect to existing AV infrastructure. Once the recording is over, just import the xml file into your NLE and the timeline populates with all the edits in place. XLR audio from a separate mixer or audio board is recorded within each ISO, alongside two embedded channels of digital audio from the original source. The program stream always records the analog audio feed as well as a second track that switches between the digital audio inputs to match the switched feed. This amazing functionality makes Shogun 7 and Sumo19 the most flexible in-the-field switcher-recorder-monitors available.
Shogun 7 will be available in June 2019 priced at $US 1499/ €1499 plus local taxes from authorized Atomos dealers.
I’m sitting here in the UK, Its February and it almost 20c (68f). Very nice indeed for the UK this time of year. Just a couple of weeks ago I was in Northern Norway, up above the arctic circle running one of my annual Northern Lights adventure tours. The weather there was very different. At no time did the temperature get above -15c(5f) and for most of the trip it was around -24c(-11f) both during the day and during the night.
Now, you might consider me a sadist when I say this, but for my Northern Lights trips I normally want it to be -20c or colder. The reason being that when it’s very cold like this we normally get beautifully clear skies. And we need clear skies to see the Aurora.
After many years of taking a full size video camera up to Norway I decided to go light this year and just take my trusty A7S and A6300 cameras. We get around on snow scooters and on sledges towed behind the snow scooters. This can make lugging around a larger camera tricky and there are times when you just can’t take a big camera. But in order to get the very best from these cameras I also decided to take an Atomos Ninja V.
The Ninja V is the first of a new generation of recorders and monitors from Atomos. It’s much smaller than the Shogun range of recorders making it a better size and weight match for smaller cameras and DSLR’s. It has a very, very nice 5″ screen with a maximum brightness of 1000 Nits. The 1000 Nit output and Atomos’s clever way of driving it means it can display both SDR and HDR images depending on how it is set up. A key difference between the Shogun and the Ninja devices is that the Shoguns have both SDI inputs and HDMI inputs while the Ninja only has an HDMI input. But if your using this with a DSLR than only has an HDMI output, as I was, the lack of SDI connectors is not a problem.
The build quality of the Ninja V is really good. Most of the body is made of aluminium. The rear part where the slots for the SSD and battery are is made from plastic, but it appears to be a good high quality and tough plastic. A new feature is an “AtomX” expansion port tucked inside the battery compartment. The expansion port allow different modules to be attached to the Ninja V to add functionality such a video over IP (ethernet) using the Newtek NDI protocol for live streaming or to turn the Ninja V into an IP connected monitor. There is also an AtomX sync module that allows you to wirelessly synchronise timecode and control multiple Ninja V”s on a single network and to use Bluetooth remote control. You can find out more about the AtomX modules here https://www.atomos.com/AtomX
Anyway – back to Norway. We were very lucky with the weather, and with the Northern Lights. On the first night at the cabins we stay at the Aurora put on a pretty good display. I was shooting with my Sony A7S with a Sigma Art 20mm f1.4 lens. I was shooting a mix of time-lapse, in which case I simply record the raw frames in the camera on it’s internal SD cards as well as real time video.
The Northern Lights are only rarely very bright. Most of the time they are fairly dim. So I was using the Sigma lens wide open, shooting at 24fps and with the shutter at 1/24th. The adjusting the cameras ISO to get a nice bright image. At times this did mean I was using some very high ISO’s with a lot of gain. Shooting like this is going to put a lot of strain on any codec. But the Long GOP XAVC-S codec used in the A7S is going to be very hard pushed to not introduce a lot of additional artefacts. In addition my older original A7S can only record HD internally.
By using the Ninja V I was able to record video of the Northern Lights in 4K using the ProRes codec. I used ProRes HQ and ProResHQ uses much less compression than XAVC-S. So even though both the internal recordings and the external recordings are limited to 8 bit (due to the cameras HDMI output limitations rather than any limitation of the Ninja) the ProRes recordings are far more robust and will noise reduce in post much better than the XAVC-S.
When you’re working outside for extended periods and it’s -27c(-17f) it’s tough on the gear and tough on you. When shooting the Aurora my camera are outside all night, exposed to the cold. Typical problems include frost and ice on the front element of the lens. The moisture from your own body can easily freeze onto the lens if you stand close to the camera. If you look at the lens to check it for frost and breath out you will leave it coated in ice.
Wires and cables that are soft and flexible in normal temperatures become as stiff as steel rods and can crack and fracture if you try to bend them. All batteries will loose some of their capacity. Very small batteries are worst affected. Larger batteries tend to fair a bit better, but there is a tremendous difference between the way most cheap budget batteries behave in the cold to good quality brand name batteries. For this reason I power my complete setup from a single PAG PAGLink V-Mount battery. The PAGlink batteries are great for all sorts of different applications, but for these trips a big benefit is that a small plug type charger can be used to charge many PAGlink batteries by stacking the batteries together. Then to power multiple devices I use the clip-on PAG Power hub plate to provide 5V for the camera battery adapters that I use, 12V for the lens heaters I use and another 12V feed for the Ninja V.
After more than a few minutes outside the camera kit itself will have become extremely cold. If you then take that kit inside into a nice warm cabin the warm moist air in the cabin will condense onto the cold camera body. Because the camera body will be extremely cold this will then freeze. Before you know it the camera kit is covered in ice. What you can’t see is that it’s likely that there will also be some ice and moisture inside the camera. It can take hours to warm the camera back up again and get it dried out properly. Bagging the camera before you take it indoors can help, but taking the camera in and out many times over the coarse of a shoot like this can cause a lot of damage. So I prefer to leave all the camera kit outside for the duration of the trip.
This means that when you come to fire it up you are often trying to switch on an absolutely frozen camera. In the past I have had problems with cold recorders that wouldn’t start up. But I’m pleased to report that the Ninja V always came to life no matter how cold it was. Whenever I pressed the record button it went into record. Operating the touch screen in the cold was not an issue. In fact using touch screen gloves, the Ninja was really easy to use. Pressing small fiddly buttons isn’t easy, even with thin gloves, but the touch screen turned out really easy to work with.
A big change on the Ninja V over previous models is the operating system. The new operating system looks really good and is quite logically laid out. Gone is the old AtomHDR slider that changes the brightness of the screen when in HDR. This is replaced with dedicated viewing modes for Native, 709, PQ HDR and HLG HDR and viewing via a LUT. I prefer the new fixed HDR modes over the Atom HDR slider modes as it eliminates the uncertainty that can sometimes creep in when you use a slider to change the brightness of the display. In my case, when shooting during the day using S-Log2 I would simply select S-Log2 as the source and then use PQ to display an HDR image on the screen. At night when shooting the Aurora I used Rec-709.
The Ninja V can take the same size 2.5″ SSD caddies as the current Shogun recorders. So I was able to use the SSD’s that I already own. However to keep the size of the recorder down it has been designed around a new slightly shorty SSD form factor called SSDMini. When you use a standard size 2.5″ SSD it does stick out from the side of the recorder by about 25mm. If you use an SSDMini it doesn’t stick out at all. SSDMini’s are currently being manufactured by Angelbird and Sony. They have the same sata connector as regular 2.5″ SSD’s and the SSDMini’s can also be used on the larger Atomos Shoguns.
By the time we were ready to leave Norway we had seen the Northern Lights on 3 different nights. By day we had seen some beautiful sunrises as well as other optical effects like sun dogs caused by the light from the sun being refracted by ice crystals in the air. The Atomos Ninja V had impressed me hugely. It just worked perfectly despite the extreme cold. It allowed me to record at higher quality than would have been possible without it and turned out to be easy to operate. What more can you want really?
Over the last few days there have been various rumours and posts coming from Apple about how they intend to get back to providing decent support for professional users of their computers. Apple have openly admitted that the Trash Can Mac Pro has thermal problems and as a result has become a dead end design, which is why there haven’t been any big updates to the flagship workstation from Apple. Apple have hinted that new workstations are on the way, although it would seem that we won’t see these until next year perhaps.
Another announcement came out today, a new version of FCP-X is to be released which includes support for a new ProRes codec called ProRes Raw. This is BIG!
Raw recordings can be made from certain cameras that have bayer sensors such as the Sony FS5 and FS7. Recording the raw data from the sensor maximises your post production flexibility and normally offers the best possible image quality from the camera. Currently if you record 4K raw with these cameras using an Atomos Shogun or similar the bit rate will be close to 3Gb/s at 24p. These are huge files and the cDNG format used to record them is difficult and clunky to work with. As a result most users take the raw output from the camera and transform it to S-Log2 or S-Log3 and record it as 10 bit ProRes on the external recorder. This is a bit of a shame as going from 12 bit linear raw to 10 bit S-log means you are not getting the full benefit of the raw output.
Enter ProRes Raw: ProRes Raw will allow users to record the cameras raw output at a much reduced bit rate with no significant of quality. There are two versions, ProRes Raw and ProRes Raw HQ. The HQ bit rate is around 1Gb/s at 24fps. This is not significantly bigger than the ProRes HQ (880Mb/s) that most users are using now to record the raw, yet the full benefit of 12 bit linear will be retained. A 1TB SSD will hold around an hour of ProRes Raw, compare that to uncompressed raw where you only get around 20 mins and you can see that this is a big step forwards for users of the FS5 in particular.
ProRes Raw (the non HQ version) is even smaller! The files are smaller than typical ProRes HQ files. This is possible because recording raw is inherently more efficient than recording component video.
It is claimed by Apple that ProRes Raw will play back in real time on MacBook Pro’s and iMacs without any additional rendering or external graphics cards, so it obviously isn’t terribly processor intensive. This is excellent news! Within FCP-X the playback resolution can be decreased to bring improved playback performance in less powerful systems or mutistream playback.
It looks like you will be able to record from a 4K DCI from an FS5 or FS7 at up to 60fps continuously. This breaks through the previous limits for the Shogun of 30fps. The FS7 will be able to record 2K raw at up to 240fps and the FS5 will be able to record 4K raw at 100 and 120fps for 4 seconds. Other raw cameras are also supported by the Atomos recorders at differing frame sizes and frame rates.
At the moment the only recorders listed as supporting ProRes Raw are the Atomos Shogun Inferno and the Sumo19 and it looks like it will be a free update. In addition the DJI Inspire 2 drone and Zenmuse X7 Super 35mm camera will also support ProRes Raw.
Whether you will be able to use ProRes Raw in other applications such as Resolve or Premiere is unclear at this time. I hope that you can (or at least will be able to in the near future).
After a brief teaser campaign Sony have now released details of a new raw recorder for the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras.
The AXS-R7 is a new more rugged dual slot recorder that works with A series AXS cards (that’s the newer smaller size, not the original large size cards). Being dual slot it should allow for relay recording.
The new recorder has a lot more processing power than the original to support new functions such as cache recording up to 30 seconds and has a more rugged housing with dust and moisture filters. One of the new features coming with this recorder is the ability to record at up to 120 fps in 4K raw. For this new faster AXS cards will be needed and these will be released at the same time as the recorder this summer.
To support the new recorder the F5/F55 cameras will get new firmware. Version 8 will also introduce the ability to record XAVC class 480 which in 4K is 480Mb/s at 24/25/30p and 960Mb/s at 50 and 60p.
So all in all a series of significant upgrades for these cameras that continue to just get better and better.
Here’s the full Sony press release:
Basingstoke – February 25th, 2016: Sony’s next generation of CineAlta products provides enhanced features for production professionals now shooting in 4K RAW with large sensor cameras; handling large files can be done easily while maintaining the highest levels of image quality.
The new products include an upcoming RAW recorder, the AXS-R7 for the F55/F5 and higher-speed AXS memory cards. These are complemented by the newest firmware (Version 8) for the F55 and F5, continuing Sony’s development and support of the CineAlta platform by adding new features and capabilities directly based on user feedback.
“These new technologies answer the question of ‘why shoot in 4K 16-bit RAW’? And, demonstrate Sony’s commitment to the F5 and F55’” said Ainara Porron, Marketing Manager, Cinematography, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “Working in 4K RAW and High Dynamic Range (HDR) opens up new creative possibilities for production professionals who are not prepared to compromise on image quality.”
New RAW Recorder
Compared to previous Sony 4K recorders, the new recorder doubles 4K RAW recording from 60 FPS up to 120 FPS from the F55 camera. For shooting at higher frame rates, the recorder captures 2K RAW at up to 240 FPS from the F55 and F5, for playback with 10x super slow motion.
With the recorder, 4K shooters can take advantage of RAW cache recording at 23.98p for up to approximately 30 seconds while in standby mode, an important feature in documentary or wildlife production where capturing spontaneous action is required.
The new recorder is designed for rugged field performance. A metal filter separates and seals the recorder’s ventilation shaft from the electronics to prevent the entry of dust and water. The recorder’s camera connections are more secure, with a large top bracket that accepts four widely spaced 1/4-inch screws.
The additions to the CineAlta line also include new high-performance versions of Sony’s AXS memory cards (1TB and 512 GB capacities) with sustained read and write speeds of 4.8 Gbps, and 44 minutes at 59.94p or 22 minutes at 120 FPS. The dual-slot recorder also accepts current A-series of AXS media, but the new cards are designed to support the write speeds required for 4K RAW 120 FPS recording for those who require that level of performance.
PMW-F55/F5 Firmware Version 8
The latest firmware update (Version 8) for the F55 and F5, upgrade license installed, enables support for XAVC 4K Class 480 recording at 23.98p, 24p, 25p and 29.97p. Leading third-party vendors already support XAVC 4K Class 480, for those creative professional requiring a higher data rate version of XAVC.
“These newest additions and updates to our CineAlta platform are all the direct result of user feedback,” Porron added. “It’s no longer about simply delivering a product. It’s about delivering the right products that can grow with a customer and fit within a workflow that is constantly evolving as production requirements change.”
Hot off the press from NAB is the announcement that the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q will be able to work directly with the FS700 to record 4K and 2K with from the FS700 with 2K raw going up to 240fps. This is really great news. I’ll be posting a video blog about this later in the week. for now here is an extract from the official press release
LAS VEGAS, NAB Booth C11001, April 8, 2013 — Sony is announcing that its affordable 4K production camcorder, the NEX-FS700, will support a direct connection to Convergent Design’s new Odyssey7Q. The combination will allow recording of 2K RAW at up to 240 frames per second, with 4K video enabled via a single 3G connection.
The NEX-FS700 can achieve a high frame rate of up to 240 fps recording in 2K RAW while recording to the Odyssey 7Q. The 240 content fps is recording continuously, without windowing the imager or line doubling the signal. This assures full resolution at all times without windowing artifacts.
The direct connection to Convergent Design’s new Odyssey 7Q complements Sony’s own newly announced recording solution using the AXS-R5 RAW recorder and the new HXR-IFR5 interface unit. Now professional users have even more flexibility in choosing a workflow that meets their needs for today’s diverse client requirements.
“The addition of RAW and 4K recording unleashes the full power of the FS700’s state of the art 4K imager, vastly increasing the potential applications for the camcorder and resulting in tremendous flexibility in post-production,” said Peter Crithary, marketing manager for large sensor technology at Sony Electronics. “Now, interoperability with the exciting Odyssey 7Q in addition to our own recording technology gives users a wide range of cost effective choices when working with diverse workflows.”
The latest free firmware release for the Sound Devices Pix240, called “Aurora” adds the ability to record 10 bit or even 12 bit ProRes444 RGB or YCbCr. Using the Pix240’s 3G HDSDI input this means that you can record the full 10 bit S-log RGB output of the Sony PMW-F3 (or the F5 if you want ProRes or DNxHD). This makes the PIX240 the cheapest portable recorder that can record the RGB output, previously the cheapest option was the Convergent design Gemini. Of course you must have the RGB option on your F3 for this to work, but with the prices of used F3’s at rock bottom (I’m looking for £5.5k for mine) a used F3 plus a PIX240 works out at about £8k ($13K) which really is a bargain for this quality of image. Full details on the firmware update are on the Sound Devices website.The Pix240 is a good, solid and robust external recorder with a high quality monitor, XLR audio inputs and the ability to record to compact flash cards or SSD’s making it very versatile. It really is quite incredible how little you need to pay these days for top end image quality, more than good enough even for cinema release. I’ve shot several cinema commercials with my F3’s and they have always looked excellent when projected on a big screen.
I’ve been testing and using a Gemini with my S-log equipped PMW-F3 for a month now and I have to say that every time I use the combo the image quality amazes me.
The Gemini firmware has been updated many times in that month, but I can report that the latest release is nice and stable and delivering the goods. The gemini is remarkable easy to use, the on screen menus are clear and concise. Talking of the screen the LCD is very good indeed. It is clearly visible even in bright direct sunlight. I’ve also been using some other external recorders with screens and the Gemini stands out as a clear winner in this regard.
Power consumption is very good. I’m using Swit 86U batteries with a D-tap to power both the F3 and the Gemini and I get around 2 hours from a fully charged battery. This keeps the size and weight of the rig very manageable, no need to upgrade my tripod or use special mounts for the Gemini, it sits very nicely on the F3’s handle. You can still use the full kit handheld without needing to use a shoulder mount or wear the recorder in a rucksack or similar.
Now.. there are some important things to consider with the Gemini. It is a high end production tool at a low end price. You do get high end, beautiful image quality and you get the same kind of files as you’d use for high end movies and commercials. These DPX files are basically sequences of uncompressed still frames. If you are considering the Gemini you do need to think about your workflow. You will be generating some damn big files, 750GB per hour and that presents a few issues.
Don’t expect to transfer your material to a laptop hard drive in real time. The Gemini uses ultra fast SSD’s because regular hard drives are not fast enough for 444 uncompressed data, so you just won’t get real time uncompressed copies to a laptop drive. It’s taken me up to 3 hours to copy an hour of footage to a fast single hard drive. If you want real time or faster transfers of uncompressed 444 (from ANY device) then your going to want a nice big, fast, raid array, that’s just a fact of uncompressed life.
One option with the Gemini is to convert your files to a compressed codec as you transfer from the SSD’s. This can actually end up faster than doing a straight copy as with a fast computer the material can be pulled of the SSD quickly, encoded and then the more compact file written to a conventional hard drive. For this to be effective I recommend at the very least a dual core i5 2.3Ghz machine. For current model MacBook and iMac users you will be able to use the Sonnet Echo Express thunderbolt to express card adapter along with a Sonnet Express34 to dual eSata adapter to get fast transfers (available December).
I’ve been transcoding to ProRes 4444 and the results are superb. Avid Media Composer 6 now includes a 444 codec but I have not tested this yet. My i7 iMac will encode from uncompressed to ProRes 444 at around realtime speeds.
Another thing you must consider is that because DPX is a stills sequence, there is no audio. At the moment the Gemini does not record audio, so I record both in camera with audio plus the DPX files on the Gemini. It’s pretty straight forward to sync them up in post. There will be a firmware update in the future to add audio recording to the Gemini, so this is just a temporary issue.
So, being realistic about things. The Gemini 444 is a great device. It’s uncompressed so the image quality is fantastic. But you must consider that this is a very high end uncompressed recorder and with any uncompressed HD recorder you will end up with big files. I won’t be using the Gemini for everything I do, the workflow doesn’t suit fast turnaround productions and frankly it’s overkill for web videos etc. But when quality is paramount the Gemini truly excels, performing as well as devices costing many times more, yet offering one of the best LCD’s, very low power and it is a featherweight in comparison to some of the other external brick recorders.
OK, I wrote about this without digging deep enough. If you read the original article I claimed that ProRes was clipping my files at 104%. Well it’s NOT. The ProRes files are just fine, BUT some Quick Time applications are clipping the files at playback. In FCP the files are OK. Premiere appears to be reducing the level of the files a little and Quick Time player is clipping the files at approx 104. So this isn’t as big an issue as I thought, but you do need to keep an eye out as to what is happening with highlights and super whites depending on what software you are using. I was wondering why I hadn’t seen this before. In part it because I am no longer using FCP.
Just obtained a picture of a pre-production Convergent Design Gemini mounted on a Panasonic AF101. It really shows just how compact this device is. The LCD is 800×400 resolution and a very bright 800 nits, which is nearly twice as bright as an iphone or ipad! You have to remember that this is not just a monitor but also a 4:4:4 10 bit, uncompressed recorder! With a street price of less than $6k this will be the perfect match for the Sony PMW-F3.
Camera setup, reviews, tutorials and information for pro camcorder users from Alister Chapman.