I like to think of myself as a bit of a pioneer at the frontier of the new age of HD Digital Cinematography. Investigating the best of the new technology available to our industry and evaluating its possible impact. I ‘d like to explain the impact of some of the particular examples of this today starting with:-
XDCam EX Tapeless HD Camcorders. One word….WOW!. My brother got a good deal a few years ago on a Sony CineAlta FW900 HD CamCorder at about £50,000 (Half price), he must be kicking himself now!. For under £4000 you can buy a Sony CineAlta PMW-EX1 which shoots 1920x 1080 HD 25P at 4:2:2 with incredible quality and flexibility direct to SxS expresscard memory chips which can be inserted straight into a Mac or PC Laptop. Add a Letus35 lens adapter and you have a fantastic rig with cinematic movie making capability. The Letus allows you to connect your high quality 35mm SLR lenses to give you total control of Depth of Field, it also has a spinning imaging element which gives a ‘film grain’ look to the images with a loss of only half a stop. See DOP Philip Bloom’s website for the stunning filmic results (www.philipbloom.com) , ….take note all you budding Fellini’s. Sony have also introduced the PMW-EX3 camcorder with interchangeable broadcast lenses, and the PMW EX30 Edit Deck for SxS Media.
The next area of impact is Capture. If you are lucky enough to already have a decent HD Camcorder with HD-SDI Output , MOTU (Mark Of The Unicorn) have just the thing for you…..the MOTU V4HD. This astounding new unit has just arrived in the country (www.V4HD.co.uk) and gives you every kind of video and audio connectivity and conversion you might need from humble Composite to HD-SDI, and captures it at Full 1920x1080 HD, feeding it to your PC or Mac host (Desktop or Laptop) in Full raster Apple Codec ProRes422 or Panasonic P2 HD Codec DVCProHD. Perfect for location or studio, the uses of this box are enormous, HD-SDI Capture/Playback, stand-alone converter, timecode generator, word-clock master, shareable computer interface. It uses Firewire 800 to connect to the host and allows enormous flexibility, at just £1599 it is a bargain. Ideal for Final Cut users or PC Adobe Premiere.
Final Cut Server. – Warning this product will change the way you and your colleagues work - forever! Now a group of editors/Fx Artists/Directors/Remote Clients can collaborate together, with Final Cut Server taking care of filing and version tracking all your files, emailing the creative members, archiving, rendering , etc, starting from less than £600. For workgroups of Final Cut Macs with Client PC’s (yes I said PC’s !!) so now everyone can collaborate, regardless of platform. Adding TeleStream’s Episode Pro Plugin will vastly enhance the number of available render formats and includes most of the PC codecs (WMA, XVid, DIVX, etc)
Plug In , Turn On. Check out the amazing new FX Factory Pro plug-in for Final Cut/Express, Motion and now Adobe After FX. This plug uses the FxPlug Codec which performs nifty real-time, hardware accelerated (via your Graphics card) image processing. Fx Factory Pro now works with Adobe Premiere and delivers over 300 Plugins and templates for around £200 (bargain !).
Dropping Frames, …stuttering video, broken firewire disk….sound familiar ??. You need a faster, more reliable Video Storage System. Uncompressed HD needs up to 210MB/sec, Broadcast SD needs around 30MB/sec and typically both of these codecs severely exceed the capability of a single Hard Disk. Also cheap external firewire disks are usually made with the cheapest drives available in an unventilated hot box, run that for video for a few hours and the drive will die of heat exhaustion. What’s the solution? A new RAID. Raid 5 gives you HD performance and reasonable security, Raid 6 gives you double security and good HD performance, Raid 0 is downright dangerous and not suitable for valuable footage or long term storage. Enter the astounding new RocketRAID 3522 controller and the ProAVIO editBOX 8MS. This Raid bundle uses an eight lane PCI express controller (one lane per drive), and has the latest Intel IOP RAID controller chips. I have personally tested this setup and got the following results, RAID 5 = 656MB/Sec, RAID 6 =600MB/Sec, RAID 0 = 787MB/sec. These results are enough to power an uncompressed 4K HD edit (RED Camera etc.). Now you might say ‘but I don’t actually need that kind of speed, I’m shooting DV or HDV, etc. Well. Here’s the reality, for each crossfade edit you need double the playback capability, and most importantly for any colour correction post production, you should really be doing that on an uncompressed image otherwise the results will be very unpredictable , so you do need a fast safe RAID. And next time your firewire drive dies, taking your clients project with it, consider the better alternative. Mac User labs reviewed the ProAVIO editBox 8 as ‘Best Desktop Storage Solution’ and Macworld last month said “ Best storage solution ….period!” (EditBox 8MS / RocketRAID 3522). For huge storage solutions for Red Camera or big post production facilities, ProAVIO now have the RS16FS, an expandable 16 bay rackmount 4Gb Fiberchannel Raid that can cascade the storage capability to a further 7 16 bays racks giving a total storage capacity of up to 128 Terabytes, costing from about 30p / Gigabyte. The important thing about these systems is that you can migrate them forward to your next computer system, so an investment now in Video Storage will pay dividends for the future and empower your HD career.