Here’s a little bit of good news. I (and others) was critical of Sony when they announced their VENICE camera because it was going to launch missing a lot of features that I thought it should have. It appears Sony listened (not to me, I’m not that full of myself), because they have made a MAJOR feature change for the launch.
In the world of video, I would hate to be a BlackMagic Design competitor. They iterate so quickly, and drive their prices down so relentlessly that it must be hard to keep up. Today they launched a few revisions of their signal conversion boxes. The link will take you to a page featuring a 25 minute Grant Petty video. These boxes aren’t sexy, but they are the necessary glue that holds facilities together. The main news? All of their Mini Converters now accept 4K signals and can either pass the signal through as 4K, or downconvert to HD, and all for the same price as the previous HD versions. They also de-imbed audio, and have the capability to add 3D LUTS to the outputted signal. Their Micro Converters which were already inexpensive at around $100, have had their prices roughly halved again. They also announced a 8K capture card Today to work with a forthcoming version of Resolve. Busy beavers!
Negatives? The Micro Converters have made the new price partially by not shipping with a power supply (since they can power off a standard USB connection). I haven’t talked to anyone from BM or handled the latest units, but from what I can see in the pictures, a problem I’ve complained about in the past still seems to be present: there is nothing securing the USB connecter to the casing, it is only soldered to the circuit board. I’ve personally seen two earlier units take a little jolt to the USB connection and break off. Then what? Since they are so inexpensive, it’s not worth the shipping, time without the device and cost of repair to send it away to be fixed: just buy a new one. As they say in the movie Paul “It’s a false economy!” In the rental market, I can see a LUT being loaded into a Mini Converter, and then not being normalized before it goes out again. That could make troubleshooting difficult: “I have an image, but why does it look so weird?”
“Teradek’s Serv Pro is a $1799 camera-top wireless transmitter, sending H.264 video and audio to as many as ten iPhones, iPads, or iPod touches. VUER is the free app that receives the Serv Pro’s transmissions. The two combined form a wireless monitoring system for any production that needs to show a feed to multiple people.”
I really can’t encapsulate it easier than that. As the reviewer mentions, with some of Teradek’s products, you need a degree in arcane networking to make them work. I’ve been leary of their solutions for that reason, but they seem to have made this one very easy.
Sony has their 3rd generation of digital wireless transmitters hitting the market. It’s kind of a shame that Sony hasn’t made many inroads with the professional “bag audio” users, as I’ve always thought they brought a lot to the game. I like Zaxcom in this space, but I have to say that none of their transmitters ever looked this sexy!
One thing that might help Sony in this space is if they made their slot-in receivers dual compatible: with their camcorders but also with the SuperSlot alliance. Lectro does it by allowing the multipin connector on the bottom of their receivers to be swapped out, and Sony could do the same.
Maybe the SuperSlot alliance wouldn’t like them as a member though, because Sony continues to only allow access to the second internal channel of their camcorders by Sony receivers: if you plug in a Lectro receiver you have to do the silly work around of a specially modded receiver with a bloody external cable. Ridiculous.
ARRI has announced a number of new products at IBC. I’m interested in the news that they have adopted the Lumen Radio standard for controlling their LED panels. With Kino-Flo also building Lumen wireless into their lights, I guess it’s “safe” now to invest in what the industry seems to have chosen as a de facto standard. Check out my two video reports from CineGear on this.
One talks with Lumen Radio about their laptop control software:
The other talks with the company Cinelex, who are making fader/lighting control panels with a Lumen Radio built in:
I’ve often wondered why nobody else has done this. I think the easier way to think of it is as a wired stick mic that has a wireless transmitter built into its handle. The XLR connector is covered with a rubber plug when not in use. All the standard Zaxcom wireless transmitter pluses are onboard including NeverClip™ and onboard recording. It has exchangeable mic heads on the Shure standard, and a LED ring that can change colours for marking or to represent active functions.
UPDATE: Newsshooter has an interview discussing the camera
Well, Sony’s long teased Full Frame cinema camera has finally been revealed. Jon Fauer had early access and has a 28 page report on it if you want to dive deep.
My first impressions? Promising, but hampered. It will ship with only limited capabilities. Sony has teased this long enough that you would think it would be a little more fully baked on release.
The positive? They have learned a few things. The viewfinder uses a LEMO connector rather than their proprietary flat multipin, and the connector is mounted at a point that it won’t immediately snap off (it might get in the way of lens accessories though). It has industry standard 12V and 24V power connections. The lens mount is really interesting. Flat to the sensor is a locking E-mount, but fitted overtop of that, is a really solid looking PL mount that can be removed with 6 screws. The camera has 8 levels of ND filters built in, and they can be activated remotely. The sensor itself is replaceable, in an attempt to future-proof. The body is relatively compact, roughly the same size as a RED with a jack pack attached, but the Sony does get significantly bigger when you add the optional external RAW recorder. They are rating it at 500 ISO, with the option to go up to 4000 ISO. They say that it has a better signal to noise ratio than the F65. They are also emphasizing new colour science over outright resolution. It will eventually record 6K RAW, whereas the F65 was an 8K camera.
The negative? It does not have a global shutter, but Sony says “jello vision” should not be a problem. At this point, it only seems able to do 60 frames per second. I think the biggest negative is the incomplete feature set at launch. This used to be a problem with RED, but unfortunately Sony has adopted this “ship it and fix it later” approach. Those firmware updates will be free, but like ARRI, they will be charging for licenses to enable higher end features. In my opinion, the F65 (and even the F55, in terms of a “cinema” camera) never really took off. RED and the Alexa 65 have a lead in the full frame market, and in the cinema market in general. To quote Top Gun:
“And let’s not bullshit Maverick. Your family name ain’t the best in the Navy. You need to be doing it better, and cleaner than the other guy. Now what is it with you?”
If Sony wants to break into the high end, they need to offer better technology and complete feature sets at a lower price. This latest offering does not cut it.