nano takes EX3 to new level
nano takes EX3 to new level
|A Creative Cow Feature Story
Lakewood, California, USA
©2009 Michael Palmer and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.
In today's High Definition video production world, digital acquisition is now the mainstream workflow for a wide spectrum of production levels. In this article, CreativeCOW leader Michael Palmer takes a look at Convergent Design's new nanoFlash SDI/HDMI digital recorder.
In today's High Definition video production world, digital acquisition is now the mainstream workflow for a wide spectrum of production levels. Even though Panasonic, JVC and Sony all have tapeless HD solutions you're going to want to consider Convergent Design's new nanoFlash SDI/HDMI digital recorder.
The nanoFlash is a small standalone High Definition and Standard Definition digital recorder, allowing the user to choose higher bit rates beyond most cameras capabilities, recording to affordable compact flash media cards.
I've been lucky enough to have received the first nanoFlash unit just a few months back, and I must say it has been an extremely easy unit to operate. I don't even need to push the record button, as it can be triggered from the record button on the camera. I also can't get over the size: while the nano has the most powerful feature-set of any digital video recorder on the market, it is by far the smallest. I own the Sony XD Cam PMW-EX3 camera and I conveniently placed the nano on the back cold shoe using a small tripod Manfrotto ball mount. I can power both the EX3 and nano using the Anton Bauer (QR-EX3 Gold Mount) adapter using the D-Tap to 4 pin Hirose cable. The nano is extremely power-friendly using only 6 watts of power during recording and 0.2 watts in standby mode.
Ok, so it's the smallest digital recorder on the market with the most features of any digital recorder on the market and it's power-friendly. So what is the big deal? Well, the nano allows you to take full advantage of your camera's front end capabilities, while bypassing the native compress level of your current tapeless or tape based system's back end, creating solid digital video files up to 5 times the quality of your current camera's capabilities. Yeah, that's beyond HD Cam levels and the closest yet to uncompressed levels. Oh, and you can even choose how the files are wrapped, either as MXF or Quicktime .mov, creating edit-ready files for any NLE. This is a huge time saver, as there is no time spent rewrapping the files. In fact, you can actually start editing directly from the CF card.
The Sony PMW- EX3 is limited to 35Mbps 4:2:0 VBR, but it does have Sony's new EXMOR 3- CMOS (true 1920x1080) progressive sensors that delivers an outstanding HD image, and you can access this 10bit uncompressed signal from the SDI port. The nano supports several bit rate levels and allows you to record digital (Master Quality) video files to qualified compact flash media cards up to 220 Mbps. By simply choosing the 50 Mbps (or higher) level you will now create files with full-raster, 4:2:2 color space.
The nano uses the latest Sony "Torino" MPEG-2 encoder, yes the very same encoder found inside the Sony PDW-F800, and while many people believe it can only encode as inter-frame (Long GOP), it can also encode as intra-frame (all I-frame). The I-frame feature choice begins at 100 Mbps. However, Convergent Design believes you will see a superior image using the Long GOP option at the100 Mbps bit rate, and they recommend using the I-frame at the 220 Mbps level for best results.
As broadcast standards are being set it seems more and more networks are now requiring 50 Mbps 4:2:2 as the minimum HD levels and in some cases require a second redundant copy during acquisition. For my workflow I record to both the native SxS cards and to the nano to be completely redundant. I mainly use my nano at the 100 Mbps level with affordable 32 gig CF cards yielding 40 minutes record time to each card. The down load speeds can vary depending on the CF adapter you use and the drive connection, but typically I can download a 32 gig card in about 10 minutes using a express 34 CF adapter on my MBP to an external firewire 800 drive.
Here is a single frame capture example of the 35Mbps 4:2:0 vs 100 Mbps 4:2:2 nano recording. This is an extreme shot as the camera was simultaneously panned and rotated, to create a real CODEC torture test. The differences are quite dramatic and clearly demonstrate the advantages of higher bit-rate and 4:2:2 color. This comparison clearly dispels the notion that Long-GOP cannot handle high-motion, especially at the 100 Mbps level.
MPEG-2 compression has long been criticized and made to believe (by the P2 camp) it used more computing (CPU) power to edit inter-frame compression. This is simply not true; MPEG-2 is a CODEC that decodes extremely fast, making it very easy for non-destructive NLE's to work with. Even conforming MPEG-2 with software is no longer an issue with today's computing power standards, and if you work with Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 or newer, you can set your sequence compressor to render (Sony XD Cam) to Apple's new Pro Res codec for final out put.
Convergent Design has just added support to allow you to create MPEG files specifically for DVD and Blue Ray. You will simply play back your rendered sequence directly from your timeline recording to the Nano. This is just another way to use this powerful hardware encoder in your post production, saving you the time and aggravation that comes from working with your current compression software.
So now you want to know about all those features stuffed inside this little box. Here is a list of the current features:
- Supports a wide range of bit rates, DVD & Blue Ray; 18Mbps Proxy up to 220Mbps I-frame Master Quality
- 3:2 Pull-down removal
- 7-Second Record Cache
- Records / Plays back both SDI or HDMI signal
- Time-Lapse Interval recording
- Choice of Quicktime, MXF, or MPEG wrapped files
- Full-Raster 4:2:2 Color Space (50/100/140/160/220/280 Mbps)
- Intra Frame recording (100/140/160/220/280 Mbps)
Convergent Design is also working on several new features that will be available in the next few firmware updates.
- Under and over cranking support.
- Hot Swappable CF cards
- Redundant Recording to both cards
- GPS Metadata Support
- Loop Recording for surveillance/weather monitoring
- Metadata support
The nanoFlash is in my opinion a long-term investment, as I plan to use it through several generations of cameras. I can hardly wait for a DSLR camera that outputs a clean full raster HD signal from the HDMI output, as the nanoFlash will become the perfect recorder these new cameras. So if you want to take full advantage of your current camera the nanoFlash is the perfect solution. For me, the nano has taken my EX3 to a whole new level.
Los Angeles, California
Michael Palmer has been a film production professional since 1981, started as a Gaffer mastering the art of lighting for features, episodic TV and commercials shot on film. Michael has embraced the HD digital cinematography and now enjoys work as a DP,
|Related Articles / Tutorials:|
Convergent Design HD-Connect MI Converts Firewire to HDMI..RS-422
RSystems installer Bob Zelin torture tests every device that comes into his orbit. If he says it works in the real world, it does. If he says that it doesn't, it doesn't. He tests the Firewire to HDMI conversion feature at two Orlando facilities, as well as the Firewire to RS-422 conversion. Does the HD-Connect MI make the cut?
|Recent Articles / Tutorials:|
TV & Movie Appreciation
Bringing Homeland Home: Color Grading Season 8
Keith Shaw of Keep Me Posted (a FotoKem company) has been the colorist for Showtime's Emmy-winning drama Homeland since its pilot episode in 2011. The show's eighth and final season brings the most extreme looks yet to a show shot in locations around the world, and where a scene that takes days to shoot unfolds in only minutes on screen. The challenge to create unified, consistent looks has never been steeper, but a rock-solid workflow from a global team is bringing the popular series home to a strong finish.
How To Put Yourself In Any Movie, Part 2: Greenscreen
Not every VFX problem can be solved with a plug-in alone! Visual effects start with the visuals! In part two of his series on inserting yourself into any movie, filmmaker and effects artist Cody Pyper covers how to set up lighting to match shots from Hollywood movies, and how to set your camera to the best settings for shooting green screen.
Apple Motion for Motion Graphics: Chasing Dots
Thanks to longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell, you've already seen far more than you imagined from Apple Motion for titling, animation, and visual effects. Now get ready for...motion graphics? That's right, motion graphics in Apple Motion! In this clever tutorial ready made for your epidemiological explainer videos, Simon once again leads a master class in the depths of Motion's toolsets, including gradients, paths, cameras, and more.
Sundance Ignite Fellowship For Emerging Directors: 2020 Could Be Your Year After All
Nobody knows how the rest of 2020 and beyond will shape filmmaking and film festivals, but there’s no need for young filmmakers to put their careers on hold. The Sundance Institute and Adobe are looking for 10 documentary or narrative directors between the ages of 18 and 25 who’ve completed a short between one and 15 minutes long any time since August 2018 to receive Sundance Ignite fellowships as part of a year-long program that includes mentorship, artist grants, internships and program opportunities, an annual membership to Adobe Creative Cloud, and a trip to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Art of the Edit
Why Does An Edit Feel Right? (According to Science)
In this episode from the series The Science of Editing, Sven Pape of "This Guy Edits" and Dr. Karen Pearlman, author of "Cutting Rhythms: Intuitive Film Editing" discuss three cognitive concepts that go beyond continuity, including rhythm, subtext, and kinesthetic imagination. Packed with examples from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious, and many others, the Science of Editing will help even the most seasoned editors -- and viewers -- unlock new dimensions in the cinematic experience.
The Invisible Man Cinematography, with Stefan Duscio, ACS: Go Creative Show
Cinematographer Stefan Duscio, ACS and Go Creative Show host Ben Consoli discuss the technical issues behind filming an invisible character in Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man, using a robotic camera for VFX shots and the value of unmotivated camera movement. They also discuss why Stefan still uses a light meter, filming with the Alexa Mini LF and how he prepared for an IMAX release.
Apple Motion 5: Industrial Warehouse Title
Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for a title animation that's both epic and fun. "I couldn't think of a good name for this project," says Simon, "but it's a really dramatic look with plenty of interesting techniques to discover. We're in a warehouse, there's a neon sign hanging in mid air, it's reflected in puddles of water on the floor, and there are sparks. What more fun could you want?"
How To Put Yourself In Any Movie with Photoshop: Part 1
Filmmaker and artist Cody Pyper shows how to insert yourself or someone else into any movie using Adobe Photoshop. To finish the effect, you'll want to add some compositing, lighting, and perhaps some additional VFX finesse in Premiere Pro or After Effects, but here in Part 1 of his three-part series, Cody lays out how to conceive of the shot you want, how to set it up, and how to get started by building a clean background plate in Photoshop.
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects Glitter Text - No Plug-ins Required!
Learn how to create a GLITTER TEXT EFFECT in Adobe After Effects without ANY plugins! VFX guru and filmmaker, Surfaced Studio's Tobias G, introduces you to CC Particle World, a powerful particle generator included in After Effects! You can use it to create all sorts of cool particle effects including explosions, smoke, fairy glitter, stars and much more. Along the way, Tobias brings the remarkable breadth of in-depth tips and tricks that will help you raise the level of your own AE expertise for every kind of creative task.