A very useful tool: Atomos Samurai reviewed


TV-Bay Magazine
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By Stephen J. Brand
International cameraman Stephen J. Brand’s work takes him to some far-flung places. As well as work for BBC Channel 5, ITV and Channel 4, Stephen recently spent 6 weeks in the Middle East filming a wildlife commercial for Qatar TV using a Sony EX3 and an Atomos Samurai, which he describes as a ‘‘very useful little tool”. Here, he tells us exactly why.
“The Samurai kit is portable, but very practical. We have many problems to deal with filming on location. There are many different HD cameras, different media formats and different codecs. Some cameras record to tape, others to CF cards, SxS or SD cards. Most cameras actually throw away data by squeezing and compressing it down when recording it - e.g. Sony’s XDCAM disk cameras only record at 50Mb/s, even though the camera sensor can process much more visual information.“
“The Samurai works with any HD/SDI camera, and can take it to new performance levels too. It takes just a minute to attach the recorder, format the SSD drive and then you can record video at 220Mb/s, increasing the latitude and colour space of the camera. I think the minimum requirement for green-screen is 100Mb/s, if you have a 50Mb/s camera, plug in the Samurai and you are fine. The Samurai is a fraction of the price of a new camera e.g. the Sony EX3 which is good in very low light, small and capable of taking a variety of lenses but only records 35Mb/s to SXS cards. The BBC requires a minimum of 50Mb/s for HD, so the camera becomes useable again with a Samurai at 100Mb/s in LT.”
“I’ve tested a Sony F3 for aliasing/moir by pointing the camera at a brick wall, recording 35Mb/s internally to SxS cards and with a Samurai attached at 220Mb/s. Just by looking at the ‘live’ compressed image on the internal monitor of the camera, there was moir, but the Samurai screen had no signs of the moir pattern. The SxS card footage had moir and the SSD from the Samurai was great.”
“Recording to SD and CF cards you are restricted by the read/write speeds of the media - SD around 45Mb/s and CF around 90Mb/s. SSD drives are robust with no moving parts and can easily record 220Mb/s 4:2:2 10-bit. SSD drives are getting cheaper by the week – a 120GB is typically around £70 – with read/write speed of around 500Mb/s!”
“The Samurai really is ‘Plug and Play’. Many production companies don’t have an array of ingest machines for different formats, so their post-production departments like the fact that they can just tell you to shoot in ProRes for FCP or DNxHD for Avid, there is no conversion needed. The SSD drives are easy to attach and quick to download.”
“You can also use your camera to record a safety copy. Record in camera to either tape, CF, SD or SxS as the offline and record the master to the Samurai on SSD. Post-Production will confirm if they need it in ProRes or DNxHD and what quality, either e.g. ProRes LT (100Mb/s), 422(150Mb/s) or HQ (220Mb/s). Some productions like to supply the SSD drives which they take with them at the end of the day and some like you to supply the SSDs and download onto their laptop and mirror drives as we go.”
You can contact Stephen J Brand GBCT, Cinematographer on 0044 7976 731725 or email sjbrand@dop2000.freeserve.co.uk.

Tags: iss075 | atomos | samurai | review | cameraman | recording | backup | Stephen J. Brand
Contributing Author Stephen J. Brand

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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Articles
Managing Technological Change
Alan Wheable Continual technological change in the broadcast and media industries can make it difficult to plan for the mid to long term. Typically, broadcasters and media organisation are still implementing the last set of changes to working practices when the next changes come along.
Tags: iss133 | omnitek | ip | waveform | vectorscope | ultra tq | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
What is next in OTT
Mary Kay Evans In the past year alone, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the amount of OTT content that’s being streamed. In the first quarter of 2018, there’s been a 114 percent year-over-year growth in streaming video hours, and those numbers are only expected to rise. With OTT revenue predicted to reach $16.6B in 2018, a 40% gain over last year, there’s no question that OTT is booming, and that there’s never been a more critical time to pay attention to the space.
Tags: iss133 | ott | verizon | cisco | Mary Kay Evans
Contributing Author Mary Kay Evans Click to read or download PDF
Live audio contribution over wireless networks
Pablo Rodrigues Altmann Wireless “live” contribution from anywhere at any time, this is the ultimate goal for most news reporters. The old favorite of using ISDN is becoming harder and much more expensive to access easily. Today most of us use wireless daily, in particular Wifi and HSPA/LTE 4G networks. These are now mature technologies and widely used for many applications in the home and whilst out and about. However there are still some professionals who prefer to persevere with the traditional, costly and limited ISDN communication technology before jumping into the wireless era.
Tags: iss133 | adrl | wireless audio | isdn | cellular audio | Pablo Rodrigues Altmann
Contributing Author Pablo Rodrigues Altmann Click to read or download PDF
Taking on a self employed placement year
Joshua Round The idea of being self-employed or freelancing has always been somewhat terrifying for me. There is a level of uncertainty and responsibility that comes with the freedom of being self-employed, the likes of which makes me wonder why I chose to give it a go for my placement year as part of my university course - (BSc) Television and Broadcasting.
Tags: iss133 | placement year | university | student | education | portsmouth | Joshua Round
Contributing Author Joshua Round Click to read or download PDF
IBC in a post Brexit world
Peter Savage 2 Cast your mind forward and we are not in 2018 but next year and, yes, it’s you and me walking to the departure lounge to catch the plane to IBC just as I, and perhaps also you, have done for the last 25 years. (By the way, where is my long service award – and perhaps a new pair of shoes as I must, surely, have walked the equivalent of five Caminos covering the 12 halls in the Rai). We are at the gate and my imagination kicks in as I hypothesize on what the trip might look like next year. I leave it to you to decide which is closest to what might be to come.
Tags: iss133 | azule | brexit | ibc | finance | Peter Savage 2
Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF