Blackmagic has yet again thrown a wrench in the budget cinema pricing machine. BMD announced that their 4K, 12-stop, RAW-recording, production camera (complete with global shutter) is now shipping, at US $2995, a price that is a thousand dollars less than it was previously.
BMD will be selling these things literally by the truckload. I personally own the BMPCC, and adore it. It’s the sharpest sensor of any camera I’ve ever used, and the 12-bit raw color is to die for. Now, with this news of the even cheaper 4K camera shipping, I think I know what my plan for the future will be. I simply can’t wait to get my hands on one.Here is BMD’s product page.
Many of you already know about BlackMagic Design’s new SDI/HDMI recording device, the Hyperdeck Shuttle. If you don’t know, then the short of it is that the Hyperdeck Shuttle takes an incoming video feed from either SD/HD-SDI or HDMI, and transcodes it to 10-bit uncompressed Quicktime on the fly, and writes it to a 2.5″ SSD drive. There are several good products that do this, but none that do it so cheaply, at US $350.00. I think the closest competitor is the Atomos Ninja at $995.00. What makes the Hyperdeck Shuttle so cheap is that fact that it’s so simple. No display, no menus (unless you’re using the computer interface app). Just standard record/play deck buttons to worry about, and you’re off to the races. Plug your camera in, hit record, and go.
The only drawback to the Hyperdeck Shuttle, in my opinion, and the only reason why I won’t buy one yet, is the fact that you have to hit RECORD manually; the unit will NOT detect time code from the camera and start on its own. When BlackMagic fixes this issue, I’ll probably buy two of the things. My friend Ed, however, DID buy one, and last week, we found another great use for it: acting as a real-time record backup unit for a TriCaster.
If you don’t know, a TriCaster is a miracle machine made by the folks at NewTek. It is, essentially, a TV studio in a box. It takes in multiple camera feeds and allows the operator to switch, add titles, graphics, transitions, etc. and output a ready-made show while simultaneously outputting to a live web stream if desired, and it’s only the size of a small desktop computer case. However, the TriCaster does have one very annoying trait (at least the model I have): Once your show is finished, instead of copying the final file off of the machine’s internal hard drive for delivery to the client, you have to actually PLAY the file out from SpeedEdit in whatever format the client wants, just like you were writing to — shudder — tape. You can’t copy the original AVI from the hard drive because it is written in some proprietary NewTek codec, and it can’t be played unless it’s on the TriCaster, or at least, taken into SpeedEDIT.
But, thanks to the Hyperdeck Shuttle, we have a workaround. Simply take the TriCaster’s HD-SDI out feed, plug it into the Hyperdeck Shuttle, and hit RECORD. While the show is in progress, the Hyperdeck Shuttle writes the program to a .mov file on the SSD, which you can then simply hand to your client when the production is over. Just bill the cost of the SSD into the job, and you’re golden. DON’T leave it up to your clients to supply the drive; they will inevitably cheap out and think that a slower drive is just as good, and you will end up with an SSD that isn’t fast enough. You should have a drive that can sustain a 250mb/sec write speed, especially if you are recording an HD feed.
My partner in crime, Ed Lozano of LCTV Inc. ordered a Hyperdeck Shuttle from Markertek a few months back, and it finally arrived yesterday. I’ve been very curious about this new, exciting, and attractively-priced external HDMI/SDI recorder from BlackMagic Design, so I met him at his place for the unboximg.
The first thing we noticed was that the device was larger than we thought it was going to be. Scale is difficult to gauge from the product photos, and I guess my subconscious was expecting it to be smaller (I have to stretch my hand to palm the thing). It isn’t too big, mind you, it’s just bigger than I was expecting.
The second thing we noticed was that it looked like it was incomplete. The gray insert that cradles the SSD drive was missing. After double-checking the box and styrofoam inserts, we discovered that yes, it was indeed left out… I’m not quite sure how the thing could leave the factory without its drive caddy, but that’s what happened. To their credit, BMD was cool and offered to send Ed an advance replacement. Obviously, we couldn’t test it, so there’s my first impression; it’s bigger than I thought, and it was incomplete. More later, when the replacement arrives.
OH, one impoortant thing… The SDI ports on the Hyperdeck Shuttle are not the standard BNC connectors. They are the mini DIN connectors, so you will need to buy an adapter cable (I think it’s the Mini DIN 1.0/2.3 cable) in order to record via SDI from your camera. The cable is NOT included in the box.
The second important thing is that the Hyperdeck Shuttle does NOT record automatically from time code detection; you MUST hit RECORD on the device in order to start recording. Booo. BMD said that there may be a firmware update in the future that would add time code detection, but they guy on the phone wasn’t sure about that. More on the topic when I hear about it…
For that reason alone, I wouldn’t buy a Hyperdeck Shuttle yet. But, once BMD adds TC detection, my tune will likely change. At US $345.00, it will be just too cheap to pass up.