The Search for the Best External Video Recorder!

October 8th, 2012 · No Comments · HDGURU3D News

 

The goal of the 3Days of 3D workshops is to show 3D filmmakers, novice up to professional, how to create good 3D on a 2D budget. The inherent problem with this is getting the quality in the recordings that will be acceptable for various TV networks.

The devil in the details there is that different TV networks have completely different standards for 3D. Sky 3D in Europe for instance asks for 2% positive and 1% negative in 3D interaxial settings. They require a bit rate of 100 Mbps which means that easier-to-use Panasonic and even Sony single body twin lens 3D cameras are not acceptable under their guidelines.

So the search was now to find an affordable external recorder that could record 3D.

Here are the external recorder choices:

ATOMOS NINJA
Cost: $ 795.00
Ninja packs a host of features into its compact, rugged aluminum body:
• Recording direct to Apple ProRes via HDMI – pristine HD uncompressed video from camara lens and sensor directly to Apple ProRes via HDMI
• Monitoring – On the Ninja Screen
• Playback – Instant playback for review of Apple ProRes files to the NInja screen
• Touch Screen – Simple intuitive touch screen functionality
• Continuous Power – Atomos Continuous Dual Battery Technology
• Affordable Storage – Infinite affordable 2.5″ HDD/SSD storage capability

And transforms your video production by:
• Eliminating the need for capture cards and wasted time logging and capturing by avoiding the lossy, time-consuming capture-to-edit process
• Bypassing the image-degrading compression needed to squeeze HD onto in-camera flash storage like P2, SxS, SDHC etc.
• Providing limitless and cheap storage through the use of abundant removable 2 ½ inch laptop hard disks
• Including all accessories in one rugged case – Batteries, Chargers, Disk Caddies and a PC/Mac docking station
• Recording to a high quality editing codec at the camera, in the field: simple.
• Recycling older cameras with obsolete tape and compression technology and updating them with a modern, high-quality file-based workflow

 

ATOMOS NINJA-2
Cost: $995.00
Ninja 2 packs even more features into its compact, rugged aluminium body:
• Atomos 3.0 – The real power of the Ninja-2 comes from o, our innovative and intuitive operating system.
• Easy-to-use Touchscreen Operating System – Access all of the Ninja-2’s operations via the fast, responsive touch interface.
• One-touch Navigation – Allows for simple operation – everything is one touch away.
• Audio Input Level Meters + Headphone Line Out Volume – Touch audio meters to adjust 4 channels of audio. 8 channel HDMI audio support coming this summer
• ProRes Codec – select the variety of ProRes® you are recording to: HQ (220Mbps), 422 (150Mbps) or LT (100Mbps)
• Timecode – Choose between On board, time of day, record run or auto restart time code modes or utilize external timecode from camera or any source input
• Continuous Power – Atomos Continuous Dual Battery Technology
• Affordable Storage – Infinite affordable 2.5″ HDD/SSD storage capability
• Unit Name – Name your Ninja-2 by project or camera. Media drives and recorded files are subsequently named with the unit name upon formatting.
And transforms your video production by:
• Recording from any HDMI or HD-SDI source – DSLRs, Decks, Switcher, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone
• Eliminating the need for capture cards and wasted time logging and capturing by avoiding the lossy, time-consuming capture-to-edit process
• Bypassing the image-degrading compression needed to squeeze HD onto in-camera flash storage like P2, SxS, SDHC etc
• Providing limitless and cheap storage through the use of abundant removable 2 ½ inch laptop hard disks
• Including all accessories in one rugged case – Batteries, Chargers, Disk Caddies and a PC/Mac docking station
• Recording to a high quality editing codec at the camera, in the field: simple.

 

SAMURAI
Cost: $1,595.00
The Samurai builds on the already impressive HDMI based Ninja to bring a host of new production weapons aimed at camera professionals with HD/SD-SDI cameras:
• 5″ TFT/LCD 800×480 super high-resolution screen
• HD/SD-SDI connectivity
• 24 PSF support with 24/60i 3:2 Pull-down removal on capture
• SDI Play Out or Loop-Though: connect to an external broadcast monitor or director’s monitor and record and playback on set

SDI Arsenal:
• Captive connector
• Long cable lengths
• Time Code and Gen Lock support
• 3D support with 2 Samurais Genlocked
• Multi Camera Support
• More Professional Cameras with better lenses and sensors
• Samurai packs a host of features into its compact, rugged aluminium body:
• Recording direct to Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD* via HD/SD-SDI – Pristine HD uncompressed video from camera lens and sensor directly to selected codec
• Monitoring – Super High resolution 5″ 800×480 built-in Samurai monitor
• Playback – Instant playback for review of Apple ProRes files to the Samurai screen
• Touch Screen – Simple intuitive touch screen functionality – no complicated menus!
• Continuous Power – Atomos Continuous Dual Battery Technology
• Affordable Storage – Infinite affordable 2.5″ HDD/SSD storage capability
And transforms your video production by:
• Eliminating the need for capture cards and wasted time logging and capturing by avoiding the lossy, time consuming capture-to-edit process.
• Bypassing the image-degrading compression needed to squeeze HD onto in-camera flash storage.
• Providing limitless and cheap storage through the use of removable 2 ½ inch hard disks.
• Including all accessories in one rugged case – Batteries, Chargers, Disk Caddies and a PC/Mac docking station.
• Recording to a high quality editing codec at the camera in the field: simple.
• Recycling older cameras with obsolete tape and compression technology and updating them with a modern, high-quality file-based workflow

 

BLACK MAGIC DESIGN HYPERLINK SHUTTLE
(Only SSD’s | uncompressed video, very big files)
Cost: $345.00.
Product Specifications:
• Transport Control – Buttons for Record, Stop, Next Clip and more!
• Display Button – Activates the display mode.
• Power Button – Power on and off. Hold button for 2 sec to turn off.
• Video Status – Shows a valid video input is present.
• SSD Status – Shows reads and writes from your SSD.
• Battery Level – Shows charge state of the internal battery.
• Power Supply Connection – Charge and power your HyperDeck Shuttle. Power supply connection supports 12V to 18V.
• HDMI Connections – HDMI capture and playback connections.
• SDI Connections – SDI/HD-SDI input and output connections.
• Mini USB 2.0 – Update your software and change settings!

 

CONVERGENT DESIGN NANOFLASH 3D
(Compact Flash Cards, runs very hot, shirt record times)
Cost: $6,000.00
Product Specifications:
• Upgrade the video/audio quality of your existing camera:
4:2:0 → 4:2:2 (color)
1440×1080 → 1920×1080 (full-raster)
25/35 Mbps → 50/100/140/160/220 Mbps (bit-rate)
Compressed 16-bit audio → Uncompressed 24-bit audio
• Tapeless Workflow
• Enhance recording capabilities of your camera with pre-record buffer, pull-down removal, interval recording, redundant recording, etc.
• Portable HD/SD recorder for switcher output
• Real-time DVD / Blu-Ray Encoding (.mpg file)
• Field-proven in extreme locations: high/low temps, altitude, underwater, etc.
• Works with most cameras (HD-SD/SDI or HDMI output and compatible format)

 

CONVERGENT DESIGN GEMINI 4:4:4
(records DPX files, proprietary SSDs $1500 512GB)
Cost: $6,000.00
Product Specifications:
• Records 10-Bit 4:4:4 Video to 2x SSDs
• (2) SDI Inputs (3G-SDI/Dual-Link HD-SDI)
• Unlocks Sony F3 4:4:4 Output
• 1080p23.98/25 Recording
• Built-In 5″ Touchscreen LCD Monitor
• S-Log Recording Support
• Record Footage with Burned-In LUTs
• Supports FCP/Avid/Smoke/Flame/Premiere

AJA KI PRO MINI
(with XLR inputs, both SDI and HDMI, and Compact Flash card recording)
Cost: $ 1995.00
Product Specifications:
• ProRes 422 QuickTime Files
• Records to Standard CF Cards
• Footage Ready to Edit in Final Cut Pro
• 10-Bit Capture
• Mounts to Camera or Tripod
• HD/SD-SDI, HDMI
• LANC, Timecode
• XLR Audio Input

 

AJA HI5 3D
Cost: $ 495.00
Product Specifications:
• Combines Dual 3G/HD-SDI (Auto-selected)
• Output on 3D HDMI 1.4a / SDI Formats
• Simplifies Postproduction Work for 3D
• Simple / Flexible Stereoscopic View
• EDID for Multiple Display Support
• Synchronization of SDI 2 to SDI 1 in 3D
• SDI Input Embedded into HDMI/SDI
• Channel Selection for RCA Audio Output
• Features Various Modes / Image Flip
• User Control using Dipswitch/USB
I judged by cost, recording media, features and practicality.

The Atomos Ninja was the only recorder I could find that gave me the combination of price and quality on standard SSD or 2.5 inch standard hard drives. The Atomos also won for practicality. Pro-Res HQ, LT or 4:2:2 will give you 10-bit 4:2:2 recording. This is a very edit-friendly format as well as being practically visually loss-less.

Atomos puts out 3 different drive choices. The Ninja, Ninja-2 and the Samurai.The specs are listed above.

I was given two Ninjas to put to the test.
The cameras I used for the workshop were all Panasonic single body twin lens 3D cameras.

The Panasonic HDC – Z 10,000 only has HDMI output. Using the internal menu I was able to adjust the output from the HDMI port to be side-by-side Stereoscopic 3D. I connected a short HDMI cable to the Ninja perched at the top of the camera to the Z 10K.
The Panasonic AG 3DA1 sports HD SDI outputs for both the right and left channel. The best option would be to use the Samurai which has HD SDI in and out. Unfortunately, one was not available to me so I opted to think outside the box. Using an AJA Hi – 5 3D converter, I connected from the HD – SDI output into the Hi-5 and then used the HDMI out into the one remaining Ninja and recorded in 3D side-by-side mode.

Utilizing the Ninja in this way would certainly be a test of how good quality versus cost could be achieved.

The recording medium used was a Western Digital 2.5″ 1TB 7200rpm HD for static set ups and a Crucial 128GB SSD for shots that involved camera movement.

The scenes included both indoor and outdoor locations. To make things even more interesting I did additional testing using 2 Ninjas with a GoPro3D rig. I even tested the output from my iPad (version 3) connected to the Ninja.

All the clips were imported into Edius 6.5 for evaluation. A Storm 3G 3D output was used to output the 10-bit signal to a 55″ LG 3DTV. Images shot natively on the cameras were also imported for comparison.

Interestingly, the GoPro 3D rig set for 170° wide angle of view was the only camera that gave us a slightly altered perspective when recording to the Ninja. As you can see from the illustration our angle of view was slightly reduced. In addition, the Ninja did not like the signal from the HDMI out on the GoPro until we used the earlier 2.1 version firmware. With that in place we had no further problems with the GoPro.

Both Panasonic cameras gave us excellent results and even though we were losing some resolution by recording in side-by-side mode it was not apparent in our test. In fact, the ability to fine-tune color correction and grading using video recorded at 220Mbps, 10-bit 4:2:2 files was a distinct visual advantage. The differences were especially noticeable at the far ends of the spectrum, between the highest bit rate and the lowest. At the lower native bit rate of 21Mbps for the AG3DA1 or 28Mpbs for the Z 10K you’re more likely to notice digital artifacts, or distortions, in the video.

In conclusion, the Atomos line of external recorders gives the independent filmmaker a practical cost-efficient high-end option to increase the value of their productions. I highly recommend these hearty devices and I personally would not want to shoot any 3D or 2D without them.

 

Source: 3DGuy.tv

 

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