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Sunday, April 17, 2011

NAB Trends : Whats Tape ? UPDATED

This year there were several small HD solid state recorders that could take SDI or HDMI in. Prices ranged from about $1k to $3k. If you have a tape based camera like a varicam, these boxes are bringing those cameras into the tapeless age.  All these new boxes had monitors of some sort and size with the cheapest unit having its screen touch sensitive to use on screen controls. Sound Devices probably released the best units with solid metal construction, real buttons, real connectors, and optional TC support on the $2600 PIX 240 model. The Sound Devices box is probably the one pro's will buy because of a couple of killer features :


1. External Stereo audio. before you can say "but don't many cameras have a frame or two of delay on their SDI outputs ?" Sound Devices has an adjustable delay to compensate. Don't you love it when they get it right in V1.0 firmware ?

2. Metal construction, solid sealing of the unit because, hey, sometimes we do shoot outside in the rain or snow.

3. If you don't need TC, you can get the PIX 220 mode which is a cheaper unit for $1600.

4. Record to ProRes or DNxHD codecs, ready to edit.

5. Use the SSD or CF cards of your choice.

6. Dual onboard batteries for continuous run time thats basically unlimited.

There is also way more including  media thats formatted by the PIX recorders as UDF volumes. UDF-formatted media are not limited to 4 GB file sizes like FAT32-formatted media. Additionally, UDF volumes are cross-platform, being directly mountable, readable, and writable in Mac OS and Windows. Hey these guys get it that takes need to be longer then 12 minutes.

The no brainer prediction : these units are going to be the industry standard for recording video because of their price, small size, rugged build, high quality image processing ( cross conversion, output ) high quality analog audio and digital audio ins, and ideal media choices with 2 popular codec options that record 10bit images.


The ATOMOS Ninja



$1k, touch screen, HDMI, SSD or drive in onboard removable sled, ProRes. Is there anything else I need to say ? well yes, its not as well sealed as the Sound Devices unit, and its a SD rather then HD res screen. However, the company is listening to users about making changes in its on screen controls and display, and if you don't need a top of the line unit, I think this one will make a lot of folks very happy.


I can't see anyone bothering to use tape if you have one of these units on your camera.  Even Sony had a 1TB solid state media card. Thats right, even Sony is getting it. The earthquakes in Japan have put tape production of everything from Beta SP to HDCAM SR down for now. Just try buying a SR tape if you can find one. Between this tragic even and market movement, I doubt tape has much life in it except at the networks who want SR deliverables. However, if you can even buy the tape, this may have to change in the next few months.