Softron’s OnTheAir Video: playlist automation for OS X
Softron Media Systems demoed their suite of fully Mac-native broadcast automation apps, with OS X compliant user interfaces. Their capture and playout apps use AJA or BlackMagic cards, standard codecs, and are AppleScriptable. Never heard of Softron? They’ve been in TV Stations in Europe and Asia for several years; in Russia this past year; they’re just now coming into North America. If you’re interested in Mac-flavored broadcasting, dowload demo software or the user manuals and see for yourself.
Of course, there are other Macintosh broadcast apps—BUG.tv is also Mac-centric, and Building4Media‘s front ends are cross-platform—but I thought Softron deserved a look since they’re new to our market.
Cine-tal monitor and Iridas SpeedGrade OnSet
Cine-tal‘s 24″ monitors have options for internal four-input switchers; dual-link connections; internal framestores, WFM and vectorscope modules; and loadable LUTs (lookup tables). When coupled with SpeedGrade OnSet a Cine-tal monitor lets DPs and DITs capture images, grade them, then load the grade back into the monitor to apply it—live, in real time—to other shots. Cine-tal monitors run from $10K – $20K depending on options; SpeedGrade OnSet starts at $600, a mere snip, but like a “gateway drug” (with a tip o’ the hat to Jon Carroll), it serves to draw you into the full range of Iridas products for high-end look design that will rapidly drain your wallet even as they give you more control over color grading (grin).
Flash XDR guts in a plastic bag: blue daughterboard is the Sony codec
Convergent Design‘s Flash XDR, a portable video recorder capturing HD to CF cards, was the talk of the show; Convergent was kept busy making room on their small demo table for ever more awards while I was there. The XDR, a hefty box the size of a trade paperback, uses a Sony MPEG-2 codec to capture HD at data rates up to 100Mbit/sec for long-GOP or 160 Mbit/sec for I-frame, recording on 4 off-the-shelf CF cards. $5000, shipping soon; another $1000 for ASI I/O (very handy for broadcasters); optional uncompressed capture coming this fall, which will be interesting to say the least: uncompressed capture to CF cards???
The Flash XDR and Panasonic’s AJ-HPM110
XDR isn’t the only solid-state standalone recorder; Panasonic’s AJ-HPM110 records SD and HD to P2 cards using the tried-and-true DVCPROHD codec or, with an optional board, AVC-I, arguably the highest-quality acquisition codec currently available (aside from HDCAM-SR): full-raster, 10-bit, 4:2:2 AVC (a.k.a. h.264) I-frame video. The 110 also offers real-time pulldown removal from Varicam sources as well as full clip editing, format cross-conversion, and playlist creation. $12K; AVC-I option is $3K.
Stereo Iconix rig
The Iconix camera is one of the very few HD cameras small enough to position side-by-side in a 3D rig with the normal 2.5″ interaxial spacing. Even the SI-2K Mini 3D rig on Silicon Imaging’s booth used a beamsplitter to get the proper interaxial spacing. The Iconix camera itself (which in use is tethered to a CCU with a multipin cable) would just about fit inside your average prescription pill bottle.
Next: supports, viewfinder, recorder, fleeting attraction…
Hoodman’s WristShot – the cure for inadvertent Dutch angles
Hoodman was selling the WristShot, an arm-mounted camera support, after showing it at last year’s NAB and then spending the intervening year refining it. WristShot straps to your wrist, providing an articulated arm on which the camera is mounted via the supplied quick-release plate (a quick-release adapter for your tripod is also provided). Once so mounted, the camera is supported at both its handgrip and its tripod socket, so it won’t sag to the left. I found that even the side-heavy HVX200 was tamed by the WristShot—it was still a heavy li’l bastard, but I could at least move my left hand around between zoom & focus rings and the 200’s various other controls without risking the sideways slump. $200.
Unannounced RED prosthetic?
Bob Sliga wandered past the Hoodman booth with various RED cohorts, and upstaged the WristShot with his own RED-branded BrokeArm ™.
Sony’s OLED viewfinder
That Sony viewfinder I mentioned Sunday night? Dang, it was gorgeous! Between it and the FED demo (more details here), it’s clear that we may not be stuck with the limitations of LCD displays for too much longer.
Codex Digital Portable and disk pack
The Codex Digital Portable at BandPro‘s booth, seen on its side. Note the organic curve, to hug the body when hung from a shoulder strap; the elegant UI; the transilluminated buttons. The glowing blue ring glows in different colors depending on the mode: recording, playback, standby, etc. I want one… can a disk recorder be cuddly?
Segway? Steadicam? Seggicam?
Handsfree Transporter is its official name, but we wound up calling it the Seggicam as it zipped past us from time to time. The Steadicam arm mounts to the vehicle, so that’s a load off your back (and knees), and vehicle control is mediated through the knee paddles, so your hands are free to aim the camera. I want one on these, too; perhaps I can rig the Codex Digital Portable to it… (grin)
Time, like an ever-rolling stream…
The HDW-700A was a $65K camera in its day, and it still shoots darned nice 1080i HDCAM video. But this forlorn 700A, being flogged at a booth in Central Hall, attests to the fleeting attraction of all the bright and shiny toys that NAB dangles in front of us. (Sadly, I don’t remember whose booth it was, but they were very pleasant folks with lots of battle-tested gear looking for new homes. If anyone remembers who these folks were, post a comment or drop me a note so I can credit them.)
Coming up in a day or two: NAB wrap-up and analysis. Stay tuned…