NAB 2012: AJA Video Systems
AJA Video Systems came to NAB 2012 with a host of powerful new and upgraded products. One of these that caught a lot of attention is the new T-TAP, an inexpensive, very compact Thunderbolt-powered device that delivers 10-bit SD, HD and 2K video and embedded audio output from any compatible Mac. The price? An unbelievable $249.
Compact is not just a buzz word here: the AJA T-TAP literally fits in the palm of a hand - or, as AJA describes it, is "smaller than a deck of playing cards." To get broadcast quality video and audio output from a device this small is a sign of AJA's engineering ingenuity - and a powerful sign that Thunderbolt is changing the industry.
AJA President Nick Rashby reported that T-TAP is based on the same architecture as AJA's Io XT Thunderbolt I/O, and that the 10-bit output far outshines the 8-bit quality supported by DisplayPort adapters. Since both HDMI and SDI are active, the user can also work simultaneously with professional and consumer devices. T-TAP also supports 3D monitoring, outputting directly to 3D HDMI monitors for stereoscopic review. Eight-channel embedded audio provides playback of multi-channel mixes such as 5.1 or 7.1.
File-based workflows also got some assistance from AJA, with the release of a new member of the Ki Pro family, the Ki Pro Rack, a 1 RU standalone device. Priced at $3,995, Ki Pro Rack does the same job of enabling recording of high-quality edit-ready files...but in a new 1RU rack mount form factor. Rashby explains that many customers use the Ki Pro unit as "portable, cost effective VTR alternatives." In addition to these customers, Ki Pro Rack is also a solution for facilities migrating from tape to file-based workflows since it features the function of a tape deck with the instant access of a file-based system. Ki Pro Rack relies on the same SSD (spinning disk storage modules) as the Ki Pro; recording capacities scale up to 500GB. Ki Pro Rack can create either Apple ProRes 422 or Avid DNxHD files for editing without the need to import or transcode files.
"Ki Pro Rack offeres a host of unique features," said Rashby, who also noted that familiar buttons and operation minimize the learning curve. "We don't like our customers to have to learn new ways of operating."
Ki Pro Rack
With the debut of Ki Pro Quad, AJA Video Systems also enabled the 4K output of the Canon C500 camera, another NAB 2012 favorite. "This may be our coolest product," said Rashby, who noted that last year, AJA introduced a free firmware upgrade for Kona for 4K input/output for both PCs and Macs. Ki Pro Quad, which is priced at $3,995, is a solid-state portable video recorder that captures edit-ready files in a range of formats: 4K (4096 x 2160), Quad HD (3840 x 2160), 2K (2048 x1080) and HD (1920 x 1080). Ki Pro Quad offers 10-bit 4:4:4 and 10-bit 4:2:2 support.
AJA worked very closely with Canon to create this portable and very cost effective 4K workflow solution, says Rashby. "It accepts RAW camera output via SDI simultaneously outputting that data via Thunderbolt," he said. "Files are transferred in real-time to Mac via Thunderbolt, performing a hardware de-Bayering processing that can also be used for 4K monitoring in real time."
It's almost impossible to overstate the importance of the products released this year by AJA Video Systems. With T-TAP, the company has shown how today's technology can be used to create incredibly powerful systems in small form factors at an amazingly low price. With Ki Pro Quad, AJA creates a pathway for 4K production and post. More than one expert has noted that, despite the brouhaha over 4K production, very little of it is being done. The cameras may be there, but it's the connectivity offered by products like AJA Ki Pro Quad that will make it a reality.