At this year's NAB Show, AJA brought new mini converters that allow 4K/UHD workflows to be incorporated into an SDI pipeline, more updates to the CION camera, and a new loan program that will circulate 100 CIONs among qualified camera operators across the US and Canada this summer. AJA's updates put 4K in full focus, allowing companies to convert SDI to 4K without changing their infrastructure and evolving their own 4K AJA RAW workflows and camera picture quality.
NEW MINI CONVERTERS BRING 4K FIBER CAPABILITY
Opening his yearly Vegas press conference in self-deprecating manner, AJA President Nick Rashby called out the seeming lack of excitement surrounding mini converters at a show as big as NAB, telling the crowd to hold their applause as he listed the new 4K capable specs.
But you know what? These are important pieces to the workflow puzzle, and if they don't work, we get five times as angry as we are bored by their spec sheets. Rashby added, "These products are the grease in the gears of any digital video environment, and with our new FiDO boxes and HA5-4K we're making it simpler than ever before to streamline pipelines in multi-format environments."
That's important and awesome.
FiDO-4T-ST and FiDO-AR-ST mini converters are quad-channel 3G-SDI to ST Fiber and ST Fiber to 3G-SDI Mini-Converters carrying up to 4x 3G-SDI signals on a single converter, with the ability to send signals from a 4K/UltraHD source (such as from the CION camera) or multiple HD signals over a long distance. They're ideal for mobile broadcast and studio or venue infrastructures because they're rugged and can be used inside or outside.
The HA5-4K makes a path for UltraHD/HD HDMI to SDI, converting the signal to 4x 3G-SDI, allowing UHD devices to be integrated into SDI workflows. It includes 2-channel HDMI embedded audio support and is compact in size, so you can use it in little spaces.
AJA is also now offering CWDM (Course Wavelength Division Multiplexing) Fiber choices, allowing multiple channels of 3G-SDI to be carried on a single Fiber. The advantage of CWDM is that there are nine pairs of wavelengths, so up to 18x 3G SDI signals can be muxed for transmission across one Fiber cable, extending flexibility in the field for running long video signal paths. The CWDM modules plug into AJA's existing SFP cages.
CION 1.2 UPDATE AND #TRYCION PROGRAM
AJA Product Marketing Manager Tony Cacciarelli told me that AJA is committed to thinking long term for products, and the company seeks to "release and revise" over many years, evolving picture quality as they go.
To that end, AJA announced CION v1.2 (the second CION firmware update since December), including updates to white balance (including a new alarm that notifies users if there isn't sufficient white or grey in the frame to properly balance), gamma/color correct, LUT support, and expanded RGB output, as well as a new time lapse indicator on its 4K/UHD camera.
The now-available firmware is field-upgradeable, uploaded to the CION with a web UI from a browser.
Reiterating the commitment to evolving the camera, AJA also announced a new #TryCION campaign -- a "million dollar program" according to Rashby. Cacciarelli told me that the aim is to just get the camera into everyone's hands, so they can see for themselves if it'll work for them and why. The #TryCION loan campaign will circulate 100 CION cameras across the US and Canada for short periods of time, allowing cinematographers and filmmakers of all kinds to give the CION a try for free on their own projects. Lenses won't be included in the loan, but a few additional AJA accessories will be.
The program runs through the end of the summer, and interested filmmakers can apply for the #TryCION program at https://www.aja.com/trycion.
AJA announced CION v1.2 -- the second CION firmware update since December
NEW KONA IO SOFTWARE AND CONTROL ROOM UPDATES
For CION users, the most important part of AJA's KONA update is the new capability for Io 4K: AJA Raw ingest to Cinema DNG files from AJA's CION production camera, at up to 4K 60fps on Mac or Windows. For KONA 4, it's support for AJA Raw capture from CION up to 4K 120fps on Windows. For everyone, 4K Avid DNxHR capture using KONA 4, KONA 3G, and Io 4K has been added to AJA Control Room and Avid Media Composer 8.4.
Rashby added, "AJA Raw support is huge for many of our CION customers who already own and use KONA 4 or Io 4K devices in production, providing a cost effective and flexible approach for CION's Raw workflows either on-set or in the edit suite. The addition of Avid's great new DNxHR codec offers more options for high quality 4K finishing in an efficient file size."
FiDO-4T-ST and FiDO-4R-ST Fiber Converters are available for $1,495; the FiDO-2T-CWDM is available for $1,295 and can be ordered as one of nine supported wavelengths. HA5-4K is available for $595. Dual CWDM Transmitter options for FS1-X and FS2 are priced at $695.
AJA Control Room software is free with KONA products. CION v1.2 is available as a free download.