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December 31, 2008

MxR cards in use

Our MxR cards recent arrived, so I grabbed some snaps of them, in use with some Transcend 16gig SDHC cards.

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On the left, we have a total of 48gigs. $200 total - $105 for the MxR adapters, $95 for the SDHC cards. On the right, we have one 16gig SxS card, which run about $750 right now.

Unless you need to overcrank, you'd be insane not to order some MxR adapters right away. Awesome.

Posted by at 4:39 PM

December 28, 2008

Compressor annotation plist format

Compressor accepts annotations on the command line via a plist file. This lets you add things like keyword metadata, author, etc. But Apple has neglected to document the file format. Luckily it wasn't too hard to reverse engineer by poking at the traffic the compressor GUI sends to qmaster.

Under the root node, just make keys named 'com.apple.quicktime.keyword' or .producer or whatever. Then populate the values as you wish.

Attached is a sample plist file with a producer and keyword field. You'll probably need to 'view source' to actually see it in your browser. Merry Christmas.

Untitled.plist

Posted by at 2:17 PM

December 25, 2008

YouTube API and quicktime mime types

This is a quick post just in case some poor soul finds it in a google query - it seems that the youtube api no longer accepts video/quicktime as an acceptable mime type for the Content-Type of the mime portion of the client upload payload.

Use video/mov and things will be peachy.

Yes, this was very obnoxious to troubleshoot.

Posted by at 11:33 PM

December 23, 2008

Play HDV with Perian

Say you're too cheap to buy the Calibrated codecs, but you want to play HDV quicktime files on a Mac without Final Cut Studio.

Well, if that's you, I've made a patch for the current trunk of Perian to allow it to open Quicktime HDV files.

You'll need to apply the patch in the terminal, and then build Perian in XCode.

hdvPatch

Posted by at 11:30 AM

Ubercaster gets more Uber

Ubercaster, an all-in-one podcasting application, has been updated to 1.6, adding integrated support for Skype and a number of other nifty things.

I've played with Ubercaster a bit in the past, and although the learning curve is a bit steep if you want to really take advantage of it, for the Leo Laportes of the world I think it's an amazing solution.

Picture 4

Posted by at 9:00 AM

December 18, 2008

NIPROS: Truth in Advertising

I recently had a chance to test the Sony NIPROS studio package, courtesy of Z Systems here in Minnesota. The verdict? It does what it says on the tin.

So, what is the NIPROS package? Well, NIPROS is actually a company in Japan, which manufactures a fiber multiplexer/demultiplexer rig. Sony takes this, pairs it with an XDCam EX3 camera and some accessories, and sells the whole thing as a bundle for $29k. One end of the NIPROS gear essentially takes all of the various inputs and outputs from the camera (HD-SDI, genlock, remote, power, etc) and spits them down a standard SMTPE fiber cable (two copper + two single mode fiber strands). The other end breaks them back out. The NIPROS gear also adds tally and intercom, not normally found on the EX3.

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You can use your choice of either a Sony RMB-150 or RMB-750 remote (not included) to do remote control of the camera.

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The whole setup is essentially plug and play. Hook up all the connectors, following the clear and concise diagram, and turn it on. No need to tweak settings on the NIPROS gear. It really seems like the sort of rig that you can setup once and then forget about. Because the NIPROS pieces are essentially "dumb" - just multiplexing/demultiplexing, with no regard for the signals being passed - you don't have to worry about SDI formats being passed, etc.

Sony is pushing this as a package - while they will sell you just the NIPROS gear, they'd much rather sell it with an EX3. So, how does the EX3 work as a studio camera? Surprisingly well in most areas. I put it up against a Sony D50WSL with a Fujinon 17x7.6BERM lens. This wasn't a fully scientific test - I just pointed them at a gray chip chart in a variety of lighting conditions and compared them on a Videotek VTM-440HD/SD scope. I checked the EX3 in both 1080i60 and downconverted SD modes, to get a more direct comparison.

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Results? The EX3 did as well or better than the 2/3" D50. When I put both cameras wide open and dimmed the lights till I was at 10 foot candles on the chart, the whites were hitting about 63IRE on the EX3 and 55 on the D50 - essentially equal. That was pretty shocking, when you consider the cost difference and sensor size difference. That's progress for you though.

Other folks have done more extensive reviews of the EX3, so I won't dig into that further. It's a great camera. For studio use, I think I'd be inclined to go with a more traditional lens, like the Fujinon 18x5.5BERM.

Downsides? Well, it'd be nice if the camera unit didn't have a fan, but it's a very quiet fan. I'd like some option for a push-to-talk from the lens remote for the intercom. A tally breakout connector would be nice, since the tally on the front of the NIPROS will be hidden behind a prompter, and is in kind of a funny place in general. That's about it.

For small studios, educational uses and anyone looking for HD studio capabilities for well under $50k, this is by far the best solution I'm aware of. I think it's pretty slick for portable multicamera production as well. Because you don't need a particularly beefy tripod to support the camera, and the "CCU" is relatively small, you could easily carry this in to just about any location. I wouldn't be surprised to see units like this pushing into markets that would have traditionally gone with much more expensive rigs - the EX line has proven that it can compete with much more expensive cameras, and in an era in which the whole world is out of money, a $29,000 1080p studio rig is tough to beat.

Posted by at 10:35 AM

December 17, 2008

Playing with a NIPROS

I'll have my full thoughts up tomorrow. But for now, this grab from the manual made me chuckle:

Picture 1

Posted by at 11:35 AM

December 12, 2008

Creative Vado HD: Another Day, another pocket HD cam

CNET has posted its review of the Creative Vado HD, another contender in the Flip MinoHD / Kodak Zi6 space. The big selling point of the Vado is that it adds HDMI output, unlike the rest which only offer component.

It seems like a solid contender, but it sure is ugly... it almost looks like a prototype unit or something. Anyways, take a look at the review for the full scoop.

Posted by at 9:25 AM

December 10, 2008

Zacuto Camera Comparison

Zacuto, a camera rental firm out of Chicago, recently did a camera comparison between a load of different cameras. Their video is available, along with some more information on the shoot. The video has a lot of discussion about the test - they're definitely aiming towards digital cinema, rather than ENG or some other type of acquisition. It's a relatively interesting conversation, well worth the 10 minutes.

Saw it on FreshDV.

Posted by at 2:40 PM

December 8, 2008

SD cards in the XdcamEX cams, now even easier

A fellow named Ross Herewini posted on DVInfo today, announcing a line of SD card to ExpressCard adapters that are purpose built to fit in the EX1/EX3 cams. One of the downsides of the previous solutions was that you had to leave the cardslot door open, potentially exposing the camera to dirt, etc.

He's not taking orders quite yet, but it looks like they'll be about $50. Throw in a $31 16gig Transcend SDHD card. Pocket the $700 savings over SXS cards.

Only downside is that you can't overcrank beyond about 40fps, but you can always keep an SXS card around for that.

 Conf Attachments Sony-Xdcam-Ex-Cinealta 9995D1228737851-Sdhc-Substitute-Sxs-Cards-Image1

Posted by at 11:07 AM

December 5, 2008

Death of the trade show

We saw hints of it last year, when Apple and Avid pulled out of NAB, but now comes news MacWorld San Francisco looks to be dying a rapid death, and one can assume that many other big tech-industry trade shows aren't far behind. So far, we know that Adobe and Belkin have pulled out of MWSF. They're traditionally two of the biggest exhibitors. MWSF continues to extend their early registration times as well.

Obviously, we're in a recession and the world is falling apart, but I'm guessing these are the sorts of things folks won't reverse course on even when the economy gets better. As NAB approaches, it'll be interesting to see who else pulls out. Fun!

Posted by at 1:22 PM

Social Screencasting

I just found out about a new project from TechSmith (of Camtasia fame) called the Jing Project, which combines a free screencasting (and still-image capture) application with an online hosting service.

The screencasts are recorded directly to flash, and the interface, while not very HIG-y, is pretty simple. Capturing isn't as smooth as Screenflow, but hey, it's free. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

Very slick!

Splash

Posted by at 12:09 PM

December 4, 2008

Massive camera review database

If it's one thing Germans love, it's data. In that vein, Slashcam has launched an amazing online database of camera specs and reviews. Check it out at http://camcorder-test.slashcam.com, helpfully provided in English for those that don't sprechen sie deutsch. Here's hoping they can keep it up to date.

Posted by at 9:43 AM

December 3, 2008

Play Quicktime HDV files on Windows

One of the downsides of the way Final Cut Studio handles many modern formats (wrapping from m2t/mxf/mp4 to quicktime) is that the files are difficult to play on Windows, even with Quicktime player. Because Apple hasn't made things like its HDV component available for windows, you were out of luck.

Calibrated Software comes to the rescue with a set of decode-only codecs for OSX and Windows, which allow you to play back DVCProHD, XDCam (HD/EX), HDV and more. They're very reasonably priced, and seem like a great solution for folks who need to share content from FCS with PC users, or even with other Mac users lacking the FCS quicktime components.

Posted by at 10:40 AM

VLC plays XDCam MP4 files

There are a number of file-based cameras out there that record MP4 files, but often those files won't open directly in something like Quicktime Player. However, according to this thread on DVInfo, various versions of VLC will play XDCamEX files directly. Neato.

Posted by at 10:22 AM

Upscaling Made Easy

HomeCinemaChoice has a solid article about upscaling, the process of taking a standard definition source and making it HD-ish.

There's a lot of confusing terminology and marketing-speak used to describe the various technologies out there, so it's nice to have it broken down in a straightforward manner.

[Via Engadget]

Posted by at 10:10 AM